The problem with the ancient Cherokee prophecy isn’t that it foretold that my friends and I were chosen to save the world. No; the problem is that it didn’t predict whether we’d succeed or not.
What if we fail? What if two planets die and it’s our fault?
My eyes follow a shaft of moonlight creeping across the ceiling, casting soft rainbows; each one an endless blend of subtle hues. Even the return of my enhanced vision doesn’t soothe the jumbled nerves tying knots in my gut. I can’t shake the idea that something is terribly wrong. It’s been with me, a constant gnawing presence, since we returned from the Bahamas.
A strange vibration in the bed quickly grows into a ground-shaking earthquake, rattling the pictures on the wall. I hold tightly to the bed frame with one hand while I reach out to save the lamp on my nightstand from crashing to the floor. It isn’t as strong as the earthquakes last fall, caused by Dracans digging tunnels, but someone will undoubtedly report it.
The Dracans have kept their promise. They’ve returned the artifact and sealed the passageway. It should give me some measure of peace. It doesn’t. I watch the light for a while longer, and then get up and dress to greet the dawn, grabbing my favorite blanket on the way out.
Spring comes early in the North Carolina mountains. It’s only the beginning of March and already warming up. I sit on the porch swing, wrap my blanket around me and glance up at two alien discs reflecting the colors of the rising sun; Allaran ships. Invisible to everyone else, they’re a common sight to me, the only human who can see through their cloaking ability. Before I met my three friends, I only saw one and called it my Sentinel. As a child I thought it was my guardian angel. Not anymore. Now I know that we each have one assigned to us, and that the aliens occupying them are not angels.
The Allarans have as much to lose as we do if we fail. More. They’ll lose our planet and theirs, too. The wormholes they created to travel between the planets have formed a permanent connection, giving Terran artifacts a direct link to the ones on Allara. The artifacts, tetrahedron in shape, act as planetary organs, keeping it in balance. If ours die, so will theirs. You’d think they’d be more helpful.
I turn away to watch two does and their tiny fawns at the edge of the forest, each one outlined by bright light in the early morning dark. One fawn frantically butts his mother’s tummy and then stills as he nurses. The other stays close to her mother, investigating the busy forest floor nearby. Although I can’t tell their gender from here, my imagination takes over and gives them identity.
“The Dracans returned the artifact this morning. Did you feel the quake?” My best friend Sky pushes the door open with her hip, carefully holding a mug of steaming coffee in each hand. She settles next to me on the porch swing and hands me one, prepared just the way I like it, with cream and plenty of sugar.
“Is it glad to be back home?” It’s still chilly out and she isn’t wearing a jacket, so I offer to share my blanket.
“Very much,” she answers, pulling her corner over her shoulders. “I felt its joy before they closed the tunnel.” We discovered the artifacts are sentient when we fixed this one last fall.
“Sky, do you think we’ll find them all?
“I wish I knew,” she replies, taking a sip of her coffee. “While you were living it up in Atlantis with your Dracan friends,” she teases, “and the rest of us frantically searched for you, we all wondered what would happen if we fail. Will we end our planet? Would it be our fault? Anyone could break under that weight of responsibility. The stress is getting to all of us.” The concern in her eyes is something I’ve seen far too often lately.
I jab her with my elbow, and she yelps when hot coffee sloshes out of her mug. I’d been abducted by the reptilian Dracans; imprisoned, half-blinded when they blocked my ability, and was cut off from communicating with my friends and family. Their frantic search included diving the stunning barrier reef and exploring underwater caverns. Most importantly, they had each other and could use their gifts freely.
Not that living with the Dracans was awful. I learned to care deeply for them and their hybrids; especially Marla Snow. As much as I didn’t like her during my short stint in high school, she proved to be a great friend when I needed one.
In the end, we fixed the second artifact. It was the first time I’d been able to see normally in months and the colors in my friends’ auras fed my starving soul.
I force back tears. They come too easily these days. Sky is as puzzled as I am, and we’re not the only ones. My mother took several vials of my blood to identify anything that might be causing my emotional roller-coaster ride. She does genetic research in her lab below our house. If anyone can spot an anomaly, it’s my mom.
Sky nudges the porch with her toe, and the motion of the swing soothes me as we stare out at the field. “Do you believe everything the watchers told us?” she asks.
“Not really. They were mistaken about the Dracans’ motives for wanting the artifact. They could have been wrong about other things, too.”
We grow quiet, remembering the little aliens who’d died leading us to the tetrahedron under Clingman’s Dome. If not for them, we would have been killed, too.
Sky breaks the silence. “We almost died getting to the first two artifacts. How often can we do that? How long can we keep it up? It’s crazy that we’re the only four people on Earth who can save the entire planet.”
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