M L Gammella’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: First Contact
Major Jareth Kibben dug his toes into the sand and took a deep breath of the sea air. It was a rare day when he was able to relax, and not just relax but to actually leave the base for a few hours. The respite was much needed from the pressure and stress of his new assignment within the United Earth Navy.
There had been several incidents of activity just outside of Neptune’s orbit that hadn’t originated from Earth or any of the non-terran settlements. With colonization of the solar system finally taking hold, the powers that be within the UEN were understandably nervous. While the colonies were mostly self-sufficient, they were still dependent on the UEN for protection. If there was something approaching the solar system, the UEN had to be ready. It was Jareth’s job to figure out what was going on and if the incidents were friendly or not.
Major Jareth had been on several runs out to various points around Neptune’s orbit and so far his results haven’t revealed anything. It was like someone or something was toying with the UEN, triggering sensors then disappearing. The military obviously didn’t like that and took it as a threat, while many others were excited about finally having First Contact. Despite man finally leaving the cradle of Earth, humanity still had not encountered any other sentient life forms. Perhaps this would be the first time.
Jareth was brought out of his musings by a brush of sand across his chest and a very female giggle.
“Come on, Jer. Stop thinking so much and relax.”
He laughed and brushed the sand from his chest. “I am relaxing, just hard to turn the brain off sometimes.”
“I know, that is why we are here, silly. I haven’t been to the beach in ages.”
“Me either. I’ve been in space more than I’ve been on Earth over the past several years. It’s good to feel natural gravity again.” Jareth reached over and pulled his wife into his lap. “I can think of a few other things that feel good too.”
She laughed again, running her hands across his smooth stomach. “Me too, like back massages and foot rubs...”
“That’s not what I was referring to, Gayle,” Jareth growled, leaning forward to nuzzle her neck, grasping her hips with his hands.
“Stop it, Jareth!” she squealed, pulling away.
“Nah, never!” He tightened his grip on her hips as she continued to pull away.
“Jareth, I’m serious. Stop it!”
“I’m not doing anything,” he protested, removing his hands from her hips as she sliding backward.
“Something is pulling at me!”
Before his very eyes, she started to levitate. He looked around wildly, trying to find the source of what was affecting Gayle. No one else on the beach seemed to notice anything unusual was going on.
“You aren’t doing this?” Her eyes widened in panic as she continued to rise slowly.
“No.” Jareth grabbed her arms to try to keep her from going any higher. Gayle clutched at him desperately, her legs lifting above her head.
“Jareth, what’s happening?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. Just stay with me!”
He dug his feet as deeply into the sand as he could but could feel whatever was pulling Gayle was stronger than he.
“I’m trying!” Her voice had reached the pitch of full panic.
“I know, sweetheart!” The tenuous hold that his feet in the sand started to give.
A spatial distortion exploded above Gayle, glowing and crackling with unseen power.
“What the hell?” His voice was lost in the noise.
While Gayle’s strange levitation hadn’t garnered any attention by anyone else at the beach, this got their attention. He couldn’t hear anyone else but he saw them running away as quickly as they could, leaving blankets and possessions behind.
Gayle looked behind her, her feet nearly straight up in the air, with the anomaly just beyond. Her face turned ashen and she began screaming. “Jareth, don’t let go!”
“I’m not!” He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold on. He was being pulled out of the sand but the pull on Gayle was stronger.
Jareth tried to tighten his grip on Gayle, but it wasn’t working. The pull from the distortion was becoming too great. The anomaly surged, glowing brighter, and Gayle flew out of Jareth’s hands.
Her screams cut off a moment later when the distortion disappeared, just as suddenly as it started, with Gayle with it.
“NO!” Jareth dropped to his knees in the warm, sun-kissed sands, his heart pounding and adrenaline pumping. The few people that were still on the beach looked at him in confusion. He needed to find his comm. Someone had to have seen that anomaly pop up on their scan.
A man in a police uniform ran up to him, his radio squawking. “What just happened?”
“I have no idea, but I intend to find out.” He stood and grabbed the bag of stuff that he and Gayle had brought with them.
“Sir, I need to ask you a few questions.”
Jareth ignored him as he dug through the bag, finally finding his comm buried toward the bottom. It was already pinging with messages, one an urgent message from UEN central command. He pulled on his shirt and tapped out a quick response to one of the messages.
“Sorry, Officer, I need to go.”
“Sir, I can’t let you do that yet.” The officer grabbed Jareth’s arm firmly but gently.
“Yes, you can and you must.” Jareth impatiently flashed his comm to the officer.
The officer’s demeanor changed immediately. “Major Kibben! Sir, yes, sir! Whatever I can do to help. I’ll escort you to the base. I can get you there faster than anyone else.”
Jareth nodded and followed the officer, skimming his comm as they went. The United Earth Navy was mobilizing. The spatial distortion that he just witnessed had the same energy signature as the anomalies that they had been tracking near Neptune. Gayle wasn’t the only one taken either. At least twelve other anomalies popped up all over the planet, all at the same time, all taking a person. No one had any idea what the anomalies were or where they had originated, but the UEN was going to find out.
Jareth flipped his comm to a picture of hi wife. “I’ll find you, Gayle. No matter if I have to travel to the other side of the universe.”
Earth finally had First Contact, and it meant war.
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M L Gammella lives in Ohio with her husband and their three pets. She is currently working on her first novel, a paranormal suspense based in Maine. Please follow her at @MLGammella and visit her website at Onward to the Written Word.