The Devil's Tramping Ground

The Devil's Tramping Ground

A Story by Gedalya
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A Novelette that I am now considering for e-book & audio-book. The Devil's Tramping Ground Copyright 2013 by Gedalya. All rights are reserved by the author.

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The Devil’s Tramping Ground
By
Gedalya


Delilah folded her arms together trying to stay warm
as she sat upon the outstretched length of a fallen log. She and her hover-bot Spunky, were camping for the night in a place they welcomed- but not by choice. For her, it was the only home she had ever truly known. . .
The great outdoors.  
Situating the pair, in a small diameter of open land in the midst of a trembling forest. Delilah spent her remaining time awake, day dreaming. And with disenchanted eyes, she stared through the licking tongues of intense flames. 
  While across from her, was Spunky effortlessly hovering. Perched like a falcon on a branch that stretched out upon an invisible shelf of air. Fearful of the fire and what it might attract. But equally afraid should an event arise that the gentle breeze become too cold, with the consequence in mind of making Delilah sick.
The surrounding trees of the forest, began dispersing untold scores of leaves. Shifting, their entire weights from side-to-side like wet dogs, shaking out the rain from their coats or as mangy cats, shedding matted fur in the Winter. 
Their dying leaves, the color of green tomato skin, tapered into sharp edges, shaded with the pulp of passion fruit; floating, gracefully down to unbefitting graves of parched grass and muddy soil. 
While above the figures of Delilah and Spunky, the mysterious fading blue canvas covered by slowly sailing clusters of deformed cotton balls, Laced in fuzzy weavings of tangerine, shaded at the rims in hazily piqued red; Hung in the great gallery of heaven. 
One of the falling leaves fell upon Delilah’s left shoulder. The shoulder where the broken overall strap folded over her stomach as she sat, bent forward; holding herself. She didn’t notice it at first. Not until the leaf tickled the side of her neck. 
Some parts of the leaf were breaking into smaller pieces, wedging and sticking to her skin under her t-shirt and lodging in the creases of her overalls. She twitched- momentarily startled. The cause for alarm dissipated along with her wandering imagination, when realized that it was merely a leaf.
She put the leaf in the palm of her hands. Its veins streaking throughout it, like capillaries and arteries of flesh. She could swear that she saw the letter M initialed in the pattern of intersecting and dislocated lines. Delilah told herself that it must’ve stood for M as in Momma. She couldn’t avoid herself from thinking of Momma and Papa. . . 
Delilah looked up at Spunky, who was still hovering in the air across from the crackling fire. The small drones’ disk-shaped, cobalt-blue-tinted metallic body, glistening like a bubble; reflecting the flames of the roasting bristle of sticks. Distorting the image of Delilah’s emerald eyes, curly black hair, pale skin and toothpick thin body.
“Spunky. . .” Delilah asked, massaging the oils of the leaf between her fingers.
Spunky responded, “Yes, Delilah?” 
Fearing something was wrong, Spunky glided in a crescent trajectory, across the small expanse of air around the fire, coming to a halt beside of Delilah, who was still fiddling with the leaf.
“Why aren’t we looking for Momma and Papa, Spunky? They’ve been missing for two days. I miss them, and its hard for me to sleep without them. I don‘t like being alone. This place is different from all of the others. Something is wrong about it. I just know it. . . I can feel it.”
“You are not alone. Besides, it was your parents who requested that we do as we are. Do you not remember us discussing the possibility of dislocation? Well, now it has happened.
“And so, we must continue moving forward upon the trail. They insisted it of us. So, before you begin to resent yourself or me for that matter, know that we have handled the situation accordingly. Your parents, I’m sure would be proud, for we have done exactly as we were directed. Our actions have been logical and crucial to the chances of human survival. 
“After all, I am programmed to insure human safety. You are a human and I cannot negate my instructions by placing you in jeopardy- intentionally or inadvertently. You are their child and therefore are more qualified for protection. If there must be compromise of this rule- It is necessary that you continue living where as they may not. But, as of yet, we do not know what has become of them. . . Therefore, we should still act as if it is a worse-case scenario.
“In the morning, we shall need to find food for you. The fire will keep you warm through the night. And, The night will arrive soon. You should be going to sleep now. I will watch over you, and therefore you should have nothing to fear. Finally, know that I would prefer to have their company at this moment also. Although, I do not agree with your assessment of our present location. There is no difference, not even a neutrally subtle one. It is a completely natural, environment.”
Delilah’s lips curled at one end into a half-smile.
“Spunky, you have always had, the darn funniest way of speaking about things. Thanks, for trying to cheer me up. But, I doubt you‘ve succeeded.”
Self-consciously, Spunky replied, “I do. . ?”
“Yes. Now, will you help me set up my tent and make my pallet?” asked Delilah, semi-assertively.
“Of course.” 
Delilah got up from the log and they both maneuvered themselves over to the beige drapery of cloth to pitch a tent. However, Spunky mostly directed the construction and Delilah did the laboring. 
But, even so, when all was said and done and Delilah’s body was tired but not completely exhausted. She crawled inside and laid down with her favorite pillow and small blanket on the pallet. Watching the cloth of the tent form dancing shadows from the nearby flames. Her mind, still frantically content on racing around the subject of her parents. Her stomach tied in knots of anxiety and anticipation. 
Telling herself over and over, that there was something wrong here. . .
Spunky flew over her, staying low to the ground near the entrance of the tent. From time-to-time, scanning as far as he could. The fire was slowly dying down. Due to their absence, Papa couldn’t continue kindling the embers from becoming ashes, and Momma couldn’t tell her daughter a bed time story . 
Delilah lay listening to the wheezing heave of the fire. She still missed her parents. . .  
#
Delilah shuffled her feet, as she and Spunky continued walking the lonesome trail. Her thighs, ankles, heels, and toes ached to the very joints. All day, from sunrise until now- in the early evening, time had been spent traveling further away from the cities. Further, from the presupposed creatures that Momma had spoken endlessly about, especially before Delilah would fall asleep. Recounting the stories of the days before she was born. 
They had Stopped, only once to hunt a squirrel. One of which, now adorned the side of Delilah’s waist. The body of the animal was dangling and swaying from a string on one of her belt loops.
Rain was about to be conjured by the gloomy skies. Spunky predicted that it would be a viscous storm in times to come. For now, it was merely bubbling itself up, the way that a timid man boasts to boost his confidence before a fight. The hail would not be large, Spunky said. But in the event that Spunky were wrong. The two would divert to the side of the path and find somewhere to hide, Away from the trees and out of the open country. 
Delilah waited for the peels of thunder to signal the commencement of the spellbound shattering of the heavenly vase of Aquarius‘ burden. Waiting impatiently, for the liquid water to begin pouring so that she might collect some of it in a plastic container. Musing over the ritualistic flashes and flares of lightning as it journeyed either by beaming through the clouds or directly striking the ground. 
Unlike her, lightning never had a destination, it was simply recycled. It was expendable while she had been reminded time and time again by Spunky and her parent’s that she were not. Since the day she was born, listening to the repetitions of significance until it had lost all meaning. This was the only way of life that she could remember. This running in an attempt to stand still. . .
“Spunky, when can we stop for rest?” Delilah asked.
Spunky who was flying ahead of Delilah, always at head level with her, didn’t turn back to reply. 
“I’m really tired. . . Can we just stop for a moment?”
“We must keep moving, Delilah. There is no time for us to rest until we reach the valleys.”
“That’s all we’ve ever done! Run here. Run there. Where are these creatures at Spunky? Show them to me. I want to know why I’ve spent my whole life hiding! There are still other people like me out here- I‘ve seen them. So, why are we running from them?!”
Delilah was fatigued and it showed in her cracking voice. She couldn’t handle all of this moving. She was battling depression and anxiety. These of which, she had never emotionally touched upon, not at least until the near-present, when her parents had gone missing. 
And, this place. . . This god forsaken, forbidden place. A place like the cities, in that the cities were the only places she knew to be returning to the dust of earth. But, this place she thought, where monuments, skyscrapers, artificial dwellings and rummages of ancient treasure were nowhere to be found. Where there was an ultimatum of human absence, and not even the signs of man‘s achievements relished with age. 
She found it to be abhorrent to look upon. . . because everything here reminded her of decay. It was a dying nature. Mountains that cried in pangs like pregnant women. 
Where it was not Autumn, and yet the leaves were disembarking from the rooted mother. The equivalent of prodigal sons and daughters fleeing from the bridge-like branches, and leaping to their premature deaths. . .
“If we stop now we run the risk of being found. Do you want to be like all of the other humans? Taken away? Is that what you want? Need I remind you that there are few humans left now, Delilah? Very few, indeed. No, we will not chase disillusioning dreams of your imagination. The cities still stand disserted as evidence of what that sort of thinking has done for humanity. 
“We stay away from those places. You know that, or did you not listen to your mother‘s retelling of the stories? It was not a rapture or some blissful intervention that took those people away- it was a mass-abduction.”
“By who? For what? Where is everyone?! Where is momma and papa? I know that you know- tell me. Now. . .”
“How should I know? And to what avail would it be if I did? Either way it goes, I am in the dark just as much as you are. What became of your parents when I was left to watch over you is a mystery to us both, now isn‘t it? There is no way of suggesting that they were taken by the sky-people. Nor is it plausible that they would abandon you. They went to get water. Something must‘ve happened along the way there, While they were there, Or on their way back.” 
“Spunky, I hope that you’re not trying to make me feel like my hands are dirty- that I‘m the one responsible? I’m not going to feel guilty for something that I had no say-so about. It’s not my fault that they went searching for water- even if it was for me! And guess what, Spunky? I’m not afraid of no sky-person or whatever. You want me to live on the faith that what I’ve been told my whole life is true. Yet, I’m finding it very difficult within myself to keep on believing it. Give me something tangible, or just mute your voice, okay?”
Spunky spun around, stopping just before Delilah’s startled and offset balance caused a collision. 
“You say that now!” Spunky began, “But I don’t think you would enjoy the outcome very much. All the humans wanted to believe different at first. . . You can see for yourself where that got them. I’m sure none of them would do it again, if they had the. . . ”
The center eye of Spunky’s domed face shifted away from Delilah’s face. It was connected to a band of white glowing light, that wrapped around the machine’s entire circumference at the equator of its body. Spunky slowly, hovered past Delilah, transfixed like a moth to some invisible flame. 
She followed Spunky, curiously with her eyes. 
Spunky was lowering to the ground behind her. Looking over the ground that the two had just walked over, upon, and away from. . .
“What’s the matter Spunky?” Delilah asked, curiously.
“Something is wrong here. . . “
“I told you that to begin with, Spunky!”
  “There is a chance that we are being followed. Look at the ground Delilah. What is missing?” 
Spunky was moving along, examining the ground.
Stopping at moments and hesitating to move again. But, persisting anyways.
“I don’t. . . I don’t know? Spunky. . .”
Spunky stopped hovering and slowly turned to confront Delilah, who stood shivering as frigid, drops of rain, like falling acrobats began landing and sliding down her frightened face.
“Your footprints. . . There are none. See for yourself.”
Delilah could not see any of the footprints that should have made impressions in the ground. They were simply washed away from the whitish sand and fool’s gold path of the trail. She thought to herself, that it was as if an indiscernible ocean’s wave had rubbed the last remnant of her memory out of existence. Stealing it away and devouring it. . . 
“What does that mean?” Delilah asked, confused.
“Don’t speak. . . Just listen!” replied Spunky.
Delilah froze stiff. Silent. Holding her breath as she stood suspended in animation. She could hear the unison of sounds that were familiar. But not familiar enough to be recognized. She had never heard anything quite like it before.
“. . . Is someone singing? . . .” 
Delilah was interrupted by one of the automated voice recognition programs. . .
Initiate: scan. . . The voice said. 
The center eye of Spunky, emitted a light that scanned the area. The light shone in rays, as if transparent, butterfly wings were flapping up and down. Brilliantly, high contrasted- to the point of egg-white in color. The scan was almost instantaneous.
“I’ve detected the presence of multiple, living life forms- All with the exception of one of them are the same in nature.” announced Spunky, with cold-fact assertion.
“Are they. . . sky-people?”
“I cannot know for myself. I have never encountered one nor have I been given an accurate description of their appearance. So, it is not for me to judge.”
“What should we do Spunky?”
“We turn around and we keep moving on the trail.”
#
The more progress they made walking, the more that Delilah felt as if she were being lowered down in a Halloween basket into the hollow mouth of a spiraling well. Until, eventually reaching the bottom where the river Dis ran through the bowls of Gehinnom and the souls of the dead lathering in anguish; clawed at themselves. 
The bushes and all of the other plant life at the banked trenches along the edges of the sandy lane, suggested one thing. They reached out howling to gain her attention but she knew, that should she concede in administering to their whimpering plights of perdition. They would without question, make merry ensnaring her. Peeling her flesh back like barren skinned potatoes, with the use of their thorny dull-knives. 
And, so when Spunky decided to stop at an old, small, rustic kiosk, shaped like a ticket-booth. They did not know exactly what the building was other than that it smelled. The glass pane at the top-right corner of the small shacks only window was broken. There were scattered yellow-paged newspapers and beat up, soup-bean cans lying spread out on the floor. The floor itself was partially tile layered on concrete, covered in half dry leaves and half mud. 
Delilah was relieved. They would be out of the chilly rain, away from the outside world, safe long enough for her to rest and prepare her hunted animal for eating. This time, there would not be a need for pitching the tent. Despite this, she would once more have to build a fire, in order to stay warm; nestling her limbs together, waiting for her squirrel to finish roasting. 
Nightfall was now steadfastly approaching. The two had divided themselves up to search and retrieve dry branches- that is, if any could be found. They were separated only by a small margin from one another; Delilah going to the west of the trail and Spunky heading in the east. They wanted to be close. If something were to happen to one, the other would be able to inspect and come to their need.
Delilah let her fingers skim along the bases, gently drifting against the rimmed bark of the trees as she passed through them. They were not as frightening as the rustling bushes that lured her near with menacing eyes and grimacing smiles. She steered clear away from those. But at the same time she couldn’t very well avoid them, as she would’ve like to altogether. There was no escape from them, They enveloped the world surrounding her among the ebbing, flowing, waxing, and weaning of the trees in the forest. 
There was difficulty staying dry for Delilah, and such was the case with the branches that there were few untouched by the dripping faucet of drooling sky in the uncharted landscape. 
Suddenly, she heard a sound like a large exhaled breath, followed by the chiming tunes of piccolos, and tiny voices chanting and humming what might‘ve been folk songs.
Gleaming pairs of lights in great numbers began popping up here, there and everywhere around her. Fireflies that did not move- but blinked. Lights that when gazed upon, stared back with cogent eyes relaying signals to sentient brains. 
The dying world was alive.
From behind her, coming from the east of the trail, Delilah could hear Spunky breaking through the barriers of rain and icy winds; dashing towards her as rocks were cast into the air, smacking, denting, and pummeling the hover-bot‘s body.
Something moved inside the bush beside of her. She felt pressure as something grasped one of her ankles. She looked down to see a small, ghoulish, charcoal-grey hand clutching it, with a firm grip. A bald and spotted head now appearing from beneath one of the bushes along with the neck and torso. The other arm, with outstretched fingers, was clawing at the earth. She could not see the face as it was turned away from her.
She ran towards Spunky who was in flight, rushing towards her. She tripped, falling forward, and hit the ground. She lay only a moment before quickly, pressing herself up; scrambling to her feet without success. When she looked up to the path, there was Spunky, crossing over the middle of the trail. 
A pebble was shot, hit and spun off of the center eye of Spunky. The lens was cracked. Spunky was falling from midair towards the surface of the muddy trail. Tossing and turning over and over, Colliding with the small, protruding arrowhead shaped stones blended in the soil. It all seemed to happen so fast and yet, frame-by-frame in slow motion, as Spunky slowly slid over the surface to a complete halt. 
Only ten feet away from her, she watched in horror as those same creatures like the one in the bush, were lunging from the branches of trees and launching out from the bushes and shrubs. 
They were only a foot tall and their bodies were not clothed. They began piling on top of Spunky, who’s white lighted eye was dimming with each blow consumed. The creatures came running from behind her, using her body to propel them onto Spunky. Pieces of metal, wire, and glass flaked into the air like flying sparkles of dust.
Spunky, tried to lift off from the ground. One of the creatures stood upright and turned back towards Delilah. It’s eyes were without pupils, glowing bright with black circles around them as if they had never seen light before. Blue veins streaked from the eyes across the cheeks and brows. It hunched over. Appearing, to be regurgitating something. When its straining body extended out, it revealed not partially digested food but rows and rows of small, sharp teeth. 
It hissed. Turned back to Spunky and began aiding its fellow-kind in destroying the machine. Spunky managed to speak but the tone of its voice was lowering in pitch more and more increasingly, fading away. . .
“Runnn. . . Runnnn Dellllillllah. . .Rrrruuunnn Awwwaaaayyy. . .”
The resistance that from moment upon moment would show in the top of the pile came to an abrupt stop. There were no more waves of force pushing back.The small light at the bottom of the pile, just barely visible was now gone.
Delilah stood to her feet and brushed through the oncoming legion of small creatures advancing towards her, swiftly as the breeze, sweeping beyond to the delectable, metallic feast of sadistic onslaught that was the death of her life-long friend.
Delilah ran without thinking.
In her chest, there was a great ache and coinciding with it, was an unwanted emotion, filling the interior space within her. She ran deeper and deeper into the pitch blackness of the drenching wet forest, dissenting further from the trail. Leaving everything behind her. . . All things except her clothes and the lump in her throat.  
#
Delilah awoke to the sound of fresh water spewing from a crack in the cavern wall. The water fell into a shallow pond just beside of her head. In the night before, she had ran to the point that her limbs cried out in aching overexertion of energy and will. 
It was because of her growing weakness, that she stumbled unto the little burrowed entrance to the cave. A cave that glowed inside with phosphorescence, with stalagmites glistening in relation to the unseen source of illumination.
For now, this new dwelling was in her mind, considered a sanctuary, a haven, a refuge. . . Any word would do to describe the peaceful enclosure that so distinctively contrasted her former home of wilderness. Delilah was evermore aware of her situation. 
She was lost. 
It may have been a sunny day outside but as of yet, she did not bolster the confidence to venture back out into the external dying abode. For now, she slowly sat forward, putting her hands to her face, smearing her fingers across her eyes, cheeks and jawbone; ridding herself of the dry, crystallized powder of tears that had hitherto lined her face. 
Delilah didn’t waste any time drinking from the short faucet of water. Gathering a portion of the essence of life at a time, with her hands cupped together as the sparkling water fell. It tasted sweet and was soothing to her sore throat. 
She rinsed herself with the water. Her body felt more sustained and rejuvenated than that of its previous condition of parched lips, aching bones, sweat dried skin, scraped elbows, knees, knuckles and joints. 
There was at least a full day’s worth of dead skin behind her ears, along with small flakes of dandruff in her hair. She was still wearing the same muddy clothes as before.  
Delilah’s stomach growled and she began worrying of how and what she would eat. She had gained rest and hydration, however, the one other factor of self-preservation consisted of consuming nutrition. And, that was a reoccurring problem that when it arose she had to deal with pronto. 
There were many insects and small animals that lined the ground. Some traveled in linear packs, some were waiting nestled in webbing, some hung from the ceiling. . . None appeared very appetizing. And then there was the minor selection of flora, which was mostly mushrooms and other forms of fungi. The only alternative vegetation, were things that she didn‘t want to gamble her life on. 
Most of these creatures did not have to be specially prepared, and for that she didn’t concern herself with the possibility, of yet another excursion to find firewood. 
She closed her eyes and opened her mouth, trying deliberately not to allow the insects innards to reach her taste buds. She simply chewed rapidly, swallowed and repeated the process. 
Difficult though it was in avoiding bug and taste buds, she managed to gulp down a mass of ants and spiders and a few creatures that were entirely unidentifiable. She overlooked their imagined squeaking glib as her teeth grinded together.
Delilah had explored many chambers of the cave, leaving  behind dead butterflies and mushrooms so that she would not become lost. Eventually, she returned to what she considered her nest. . . Trying to sleep.
She found it more than difficult to do so. . . As the last images of Spunky continued playing back and forth in her mind. She missed her parents even more so now, now that she was completely lost from the trail and utterly alone. 
“Spunky. . . Come back. . . Momma? Papa? Please, I promise I‘ll be good. . .” she whimpered as her eyes filled with tears, curling herself into a fetal position, sinking her head into her arms, and shaking violently as she wept. 
She stopped moving altogether, hearing a noise come from around a bend in the cave. . . A corner that led to the entrance tunnel of the outside world.
It sounded like the flipping and flapping of wet-webbed feet upon the ground, and their was a warm yellow light illuminating the sides of the walls, displaying distorted shadows creeping to where she lay. . . Frozen. 
She looked around in a panic fearing for the worst. There was nowhere to hide. . . She looked for anything that she could use as a blunt instrument to arm herself with. . . Nothing qualified. Delilah, hugged the ground and tightly closed her eyes. 
It seemed that those horrible creatures had finally caught up with her. She knew that she was gone for good when she heard their movements stop only a few feet away from her. Her fingers dug into the moist soil, clawing so frantically that the nails felt as if they were going to begin bleeding and tearing off. . .
“Dear child, why do you lay frightened?”
Delilah’s eyes opened for a second, wide as if pried open; her thoughts hung in the air. . .
“There is nothing to be afraid of blessed one. Please, turn around and face me. So that I may properly greet you. I brought you a torch as a symbol of trust to light your way in this cave. I truly mean you no harm.”
The being’s voice spoke as if rushing water were producing syllables. In ways, similar to a glass harmonica mystically and lyrically playing ephemeral notes of music. There was unreserved affection in the creature’s baritone voice. Slowly, letting the words form and producing almost a perfect accent; a hint of paternal love could be detected also.
“No! I know who you are! You’re one of those things that killed Spunky!” she screamed, burying her face; feeling the blood rush to her head. 
“Spunky? What is a . . . oh, child. Do you mean that machine? You’ll have to forgive my little ones. . . Sometimes they behave like raunchy, little minions. I’m sure, after all that they intended no harm. They were only playing. . . You see, they can’t help themselves. Please, allow me to explain. . . “
Delilah rose, turning with blushed cheeks. Her anger and confusion, subsided and the tension on her face relaxed as she stood before the creature robed in worn-out, black silk, draping over the entire seven foot figure of his body. The face was hidden by a hood, but when the being lifted it’s face slightly, she could only see those same white eyes. . . Like the ones that were in the forest.
“What. . . I don’t understand? “ Delilah cautiously cleared her throat, and tried gulping down her awe and fear.
“What exactly do you mean that they can’t help themselves? they killed my only friend in cold. . .” her voice trailed off and her eyes became passive, her shoulders lowered and so did her defenses, “Are they loony in the head?” she asked, perplexed.
The being seemed amused, “No. But, should you see the palms of their hands, and the tips of their fingers you would find little pores. The only analogy that bears in mind at the moment, is of suction cups found on the tentacles of an octopus. However, don’t be fooled. . . They happen to be microscopic in size and in order to survive, They rely on them to drain another organism’s kinetic energy.”
“That probably explains why the forest was dying. . . But wait! Why were they following me and Spunky?” Delilah asked, feeling heated with the conviction of conspiracy.
“First. . . Allow me to introduce myself. I have gone by many different names and I have held numerous titles. . . But, I suppose you may call me Shindoh. From now on that is how you may address me. You see, the little ones- the Yehasuri, were merely concerned for your safety. What you will begin to understand very soon from now, is that you and I, and the creatures of my craft have a very common enemy. . . “
Delilah became transfixed into a moment of deep thought, “The sky-people?!. . . But. . . How do I know that you’re not one of them? I’ve never seen any animal look like you before. . . And, Momma would have told me if there was an animal that could speak. So, you better ‘Fess up and start explaining to me. . . ”
“You have a bright head resting between your shoulders. You and I can speak the same language because the language comes from a common root. One which derived from my race of beings. I will agree that the patterns of our vocal chords are considerably different, however, I have the capability of changing the pitch, and tone of my voice to match that of your hearing and therefore can communicate similarly. It is not very difficult to learn new dialects for myself- let alone entire languages. And so, to answer your other question, You are correct in your evaluation, I am what you may generally define as a sky-person as I did not originate from this world. . . “
“I knew it! Now you. . . You, stay away from me! Go away, I don’t want you near me! You’re not going to take me like you did Momma and Papa or hurt, or even kill me the way you did to Spunky!” Delilah screamed wildly, losing her composure; flailing her arms in the air. 
“Listen. . . “
  Shindoh whispered, glazing across the ground with his robe motioning like a bat spreading its wings; covering Delilah’s mouth and leaning, face-to-face with Delilah; her eyes were filled with fright. 
For the first time she saw the figure beneath the hood. The face was similar to the Yehasuri, but was distinctive in many different ways. For one, the face was longer, the chin was more pronounced and the cheekbones were more protrusive. He barely had a nose, mostly it was a downward, and narrowing slant spreading into a flat surface with two nostrils. The eyes were almond shaped. The mouth was thin and the color of skin was like that of a dolphin. There was no hair or fur of any kind. . . Scars lined the being’s entire face, even going down the neck and across the forehead. They appeared to be glistening burn marks. . . 
Delilah felt weak. . . As if something were pulling her out of her body. . . She almost gave way to fainting.
“I must let go child, or you will die. . . But before I can do so, you must remain calm and listen. Do you understand?”
Delilah’s head loosely rolled around, nodding that she did. Shindoh let go of her and she fell to the ground.
Turning his back to her and speaking pensively, Shindoh folded his arms behind him and began pacing, slowly about.  
“Yes, at one time I was one with my brethren. But that was long ago. . . Now we are very much, like differing, polarities of extremities. I know the very core of their striving, their yearning and their thriving. In ways, I still resemble them in external appearance, but as far as internal qualities- we may as well be seperate species. However, the majority of what you see on the outside of this shell of mine, is the result of. . . Modifications.”
“Modifications? Like what?” asked Delilah still shaken a bit, coming to her feet again. 
Shindoh, turned for a moment watching her get up, smiling, “Allow me to get to that in its proper time, child. Now, to recite our long history into the form of summarization for the convenience of the moment. I shall begin with the time relevant to this planet and your species. 
“I was the first to arrive here, and my reasons were clear enough. . . I had to escape from my estranged father, who happened to be a very prominent figure in our civilization, and needless to say, we do not speak anymore. 
“I saw upon this world, a race of beings that were developing consciences- souls, if you will. I placed myself in charge of studying this phenomenon, and it was brought to my attention- that the conscience forms through chemical mutations in the brain, insanity- if I may be so blunt. This insanity, respectively, was similar to genetic alterations in the physiological makeup of the body. To put it simply, The conscience is nothing more than a virus- killing it’s host. 
“It led the species to methods of escapism, such as forms of primitive art and eventually the human brain became what it is today. Now, to further illustrate this case against my father and those of his followers that found me here, they had the perverse inclination to watch over mankind, seeing some way to exploit humanity for their own benefit. Naturally, Humanity with its casual tendency to ride upon the wings of progress soon found itself swarmed with advancements in technology. Several times, this has been the scenario. 
“Well, those of my kind that did not see eye-to-eye with me, my father being chief among them- considered this as a threat. After all, they did not want a rival in what they considered an expansion of their empire. To say the least of the episode, Humanity wasn’t qualify to join us in our expanse. 
“Now, I will explain my role in this little cosmic dance of misfortune. I, being the charitable soul that I am, advocated on behalf of humanity, pleading for their case to the laymen and elite of our societies. . . It was fruitless, for nevertheless, They still distrusted humans. I was labeled a nihilist, parading about on a genocidal mission to destroy all of that which we had developed. 
“And why? Because I was secretly developing a synthesis between the two, I figured this would bridge the gap, you see? Well, from my own genes and those of willing human volunteers- women. . . I created what I believed at that time, to be a means to an end. It wasn’t long after they discovered what I was doing, that they attempted hindering my so-called ‘pragmatic’ endeavor. 
“So, when the first generations of technologically advanced human beings began to crop up on the scene, including those that followed after, and leading to more recent times, they began the task of devolution in a sense. Dismantling man’s rising reign to glory and providence by hindering their technological pursuits. 
“Throughout their course of action, many humans have been shipped off to numerous planets with likable conditions as the Earth. There, the humans are forced into laboring without cause, endlessly, day after day after day ad infinitum. They break their spirits and those of their descendants. 
“Those that laterally survive and return to earth, and depending on how long their departure, may attempt new pursuits. But, typically they’ve been so far removed from the initial link in the chain, filtered and weeded out like bad sheep in a herd; processed through the channels of this system and squeezed out the other end of the meat grinder that all hope seems lost to them. 
“Those left behind during the periods when they come to collect, often live with so much xenophobia and paranoia that they never return to their shrines but instead, prefer impoverishment. Eventually, cutting the cards and leaving behind myths and such, that at some point seeps out of the blood and marrow of their descendants. 
“Once at this interval of time, the cycle repeats all over again. I know all of this, because I was aiding in this resolution- I say resolution because we did need reform, only a resolve to a problem, you see? Their supposed motto of pacifism was rendered, put to its limits, if you will. “My kind, would not destroy me- of that they all agreed. No, they did much worse. They changed the makeup of my body, so that I like the creatures I was creating were cursed to drain everything dry. . . And therefore would be able to survive, but only under the conditions set before me by them. 
“It is my curse and those of my creations. The bitterest aspect of it all, is that my species tend to live extraordinary long lives, in relation to humans, but this is all due to the relative distance of our own sun and home planet. Our home planet, of course, is mostly fresh-water oceans and subterranean islands. 
“Therefore, appearing as an aquatic mammal, although, in actual truth I am much closer to terrestrial-born amphibians. I find it very difficult to be away from fresh water and now, I must cling to darkness and shade to prevent myself injury. If you need another example, consider a snail for just as salt destroys their bodies, I too am vulnerable. 
“For years, we had worked in the orbit of Earth, only going down to the earth when we were outfitted with specially designed suits. Moreover, when the decision was made we were cast down to the surface, forever written in their history as a heretic. 
“We were sent down in pods. Our bodies, even now, after all of this time, have not adjusted to the gravitational pull of this planet. And, although we breathe oxygen, we had to develop methods by which to breathe it in large quantities, as was not the usual case. 
“Suffice it to say, that was the verdict for being virtuous. It just so happened to be one of those unfortunate circumstances of happenstance. . . When we were disserted here, some of our pods had landed in a lake of salt, I later heard humans had thus called it the Dead Sea. Mine was one among those pods to be ensnared by it. I don’t think I need to describe to you the agony of the experience. 
“As we made our way onto land it nearly destroyed us- permanently, scarring me as you can very well observe and then once upon land, we were provided the opportunity to dry ourselves in the baking heat of the sun. 
“For a long time, we could not live in water as their was scarcely enough fresh water in that region of the proportions that was required to sustain our bodies. We lived in the dark as we do now and it has changed the nature of our sight and senses. 
“Many times over, I have taken Human vessels, disguising as many of us as I can, as roaming lepers, traveling the world for a more suitable habitat, which is inevitably how we found this land as our destination and this cavern as our home. Many humans, except for those young in age still retain a belief in us- they always do in some form or another. They have considered me and the Yehasuri to be monsters, a learned behavior with regards to my brethren. We are very lonely now. . . But, our attempts to continue what began our perdition, is still fully underway and I am very much still in command of it.”
Delilah stood trying to absorb everything that was spoken to her. Shindoh seemed to want to discuss more but was hesitating to do so. Instead, he gestured from behind him and some of the Yehasuri, shyly approached from the sides of his body.
“I must warn you child. . . Our touch is as lethal to you as your tears are for us. It is important that we do not exchange in physical contact. Also, It may be important to inform you. . . There are other creatures that were left on earth as well. . . They were products of testing that never made it out of their early stages of experimentations and my brethren has felt no sympathy for scattering them upon the earth so that they may monitor us. 
“You should beware for they will pose a threat to you also. We call them Husks for they are a very disturbing creature to look upon. . . I am afraid I couldn’t succeed with them. Now they have turned on me as they are easily manipulated. Should there come a time that you need defend yourself. . . They have the same deficiency as do we. . . Take this, it may at some point come to your aid.”
Shindoh placed a small bag made from pelt and tied with yarn on the ground so that Delilah could pick it up, “What is it?” She asked, having reached down and was now holding it in her hands.
“It is salt, child. . . “
“Why are you being so generous to me for?”
“Because, like the other children we have saved. . . Some of whom, the little ones took a liking to, and subsequently brought here to this cave, or as like you, stumbled upon it for themselves. We consider them to be wunderkinds on the individual basis. You in particular, show great potential among them. 
“So, when I say this, know that I am not asking for your consent. . . If you will follow me now, I will show you sections of the cave that I am certain have slipped through your detection. You will find it more comfortable as we descend further down. 
“Remember now, the purpose of this place has been to develop technology and educate a new generation of humans that have yet been tainted by my brethren’s tasks. When the time comes that they decide to come down once more. . . They will be ill-prepared, as humanity will be awaiting them. They will be ready to defend themselves. . . Rising up, to bring an end to their oppression and tyranny. 
“Please, let us go now, as not to further prolong the imposition of those expecting us. . . “
Delilah wasn’t sure. . .  What about finding Momma and Papa? she thought. It seemed so hopeless to her without Spunky. However, the notion of other human children and the sense of unity for a cause was interesting. The idea partially reduced some of her loneliness and anxiety. . . As she followed behind them.
#
When they arrived to the dormitories in the lower levels of the cave, There were many other children coming around; some fumbling out of dens and cubbies. She was able to greet them only with gestures and facial expressions as she could not fully think of something meaningful to say. She tried to warm up to them, for this was exactly what she had always longed for, even if it wasn’t specifically how she planned it in her mind. 
The environment was an oddity. It had a charm and magical atmosphere much like Shindoh, himself. It reminded her of her mother’s stories of human cities with their advanced and intricate patterns of lights and strange things, some of which, resembled the body of Spunky, as there had been times when her father would repair or clean him, revealing the inner wires, circuit boards and such that was the inner-sanctum of the machine. 
There was one child close to her age here that was somewhat new; Delilah really hit it off with him. His name was Homer and he too, was missing his parents. He described them to her and his own upbringing. They had much in common and she found his bashful, facsimile of a smile to be enchanting. 
Before Shindoh left her on her own to wander about with Homer serving as her guide from here onward, he explained many of the sights and wonders to her. Some of which, he explained were salvaged from Human inventions; re-engineered and elaborated upon. 
They powered their devices with a form of bio-mimicry. Engineering the patterns of storage, distribution and so on based upon a certain generator that would gather energy; recycling waste into energy reserves. The generator was connected to wires that collected energy from the soil. In a way, Shindoh accompanying the two on the tour, explained that He saw in it something good, a way to utilize their burden- reverse it, and use it to serve a better function. But only in terms of machinery and even so, with al of the elaborate details, Delilah could not fully grasp with fine comprehension all of its intricacies.
Later, when it was time for ‘lights-out’ the two went to their bunks, to sleep in something like a bunk-bed carved out of rock from the side of one of the chambers. She slept in the bottom half, while Homer slept atop and the many other children slept in the same sort of bedding around them. 
Homer kept her awake a few hours later than was customary. In his short time here, He told her how he had already heard of rumors from the other children, whispering to her about a woman named Mirabelle. Long ago, before Shindoh was banished they said that she was a human assisting Shindoh’s endeavor- It was suppose to have been a joint effort; a collaboration. 
She did so in a place called, The Abode of The Gods, on a large continent in the southern hemisphere. Homer had to explain to her what a continent was, and proceeded telling her that somehow Mirabelle had passed away, days later Shindoh and his creatures were exiled from their orbit in space.
He said that Shindoh was shy of the topic and to not approach him about it. . . The story was old and had been passed down from children-to-children throughout many ages; confirming that all of this had been unfolding and expanding throughout a long process of time. 
Homer never explained how he had ventured into this magical world. . . He scarcely spoke of his parents, considering his chief concerns in life now, as this place and Shindoh. He spoke, as if wanting to include her into his circle. Delilah mentioned how she was trying to find her parents, and that if she had a remnant of Spunky to hold on to she‘d feel a little bit better about everything. He spoke of the dorms and the other children until they both fell asleep listening to each other‘s voice. . .
When she awoke the following time, as she was still uncertain of whether it was day or night; she had a migraine and it felt that her arm was asleep. It ached and was tender to the touch along the crease of the forearm opposite of the elbow. 
After the morning meal, They began their education. . . 
There were no teachers. . . Only children helping other children. Their education consisted of studying and translating, old blueprints, mechanical devises, literature, art, music, science, religion, philosophy, mythological works, and political compositions- both human and those of a race called the Miragummi. The Miragummi were the race that Shindoh belonged to. . . He had single handedly comprised his own compendiums and wrote down as much of his knowledge as was possible. Spawning from eons of experience and observation. 
Later, Delilah was distracted as one of the Yehasuri requested the attention of Shindoh. Even though, Delilah could not understand the language between the two, she felt nervous. When they were finished conversing. Shindoh walked towards her and pulled her aside from the other children, telling her that one of the Yehasuri had located what they presumed may be her parents. . . 
The only problem was that they had been discovered outside of an old mineshaft, escorted by Husks close to a near-by city; perhaps twenty-five miles or so, from the cave, heading in the direction that Delilah had first been traveling with Spunky. 
Delilah was uncertain, for how they knew about her parents, she could not say. . . The Yehasuri probably had overheard her and Spunky, after all she had been discussing the matter a great deal, while they were following the two on the trail. She relieved herself by suppressing such things, in exchange for finally finding her parents. . . Maybe, they could come here too? she thought. 
Now, Shindoh was being led by a trio of the Yehasuri with Delilah following behind them out into the dark forest. Before they had left, she had managed to round up a few supplies. Some of which had been salvaged from her excursion on the trail. Brought back to her by the Yehasuri. She had insects and fruits and bottles of water in a little bag, in case she became dehydrated or hungry. She even brought her quilt in case they couldn’t return to the cave and had to camp somewhere. 
Homer seemed down, and so before leaving, Delilah tried lifting his spirits, telling him that she would return, and that it took three petals to make an orchid; that they were family now. She felt better for having said that to him. 
However, a recurrence of fear emerged when they began exiting the burrowed cave entrance. . . Overlooking it, She saw the warm sun for the first time in what must’ve been a few days. It was setting. . . But its light still conveyed hope upon the clouds, coveting them with it’s arms as if trying to hold on to them for one last time. 
The screeching of bats, the wallowing, wailing of nearby wolves and the hooting of owls dominated their ears passing through the woods. Delilah followed behind Shindoh and the Yehasuri in good formation. They had traveled half of the way and decided to rest. It was nothing special, only a little time to mend their bones and vent the fever in their spirits.
  They nestled themselves to the edge of a lake. The Yehasuri ceased the opportunity of song and dance with their woodwind instruments and strange assortments of bodily maneuvers. Delilah watched as the Moon above, idly observed with her; reflecting in the waters of the lake. 
Delilah fell flat on her bottom beside the crossed legs of Shindoh who appeared meditative. For a while, it was only a passage of glances and comments concerning the Yehasuri and their amusements, and then Delilah who found it hard to be entertained and enjoy all of this, as the thought of her parents, Homer and the rumors were too strongly possessing her. Took a leap of faith. . . 
“Who is Mirabelle?” she timidly asked. 
Shindoh turned to face her, confusedly. 
“How have you come to know that name?”
“I heard a few stories. . . That’s all.”
“Oh, yes. . . I see. Prying into the affairs of another.” He looked at her again, and his guard slightly lowered, “Well, if I can probe into your sphere than I suppose you may do the same with me. Besides, who am I, to stifle a child’s conviction for curiosity?. . . So to answer your question, Mirabelle was both a student and a companion to me.”
The music of the Yehasuri became more somber and less boisterous, with touches of arabesque and English folk qualities. 
“It’s an ironic thing that a person can live so long a life, never truly hearing a name mentioned such as that. . . And yet, in one’s own mind a name never seems to stop echoing. Haunting one. . . Whether awake and fully conscious, or soundly sleeping; unaware.”
Delilah looked down at her feet, one of which was rubbing the heel of the other. “I think I know what you mean. Nobody has to say anything about Mamma or Papa, but I think about them all of the time. . . And now, I think about Spunky and Homer.”
“Precisely, my meaning. By the way, I am sorry about your machine. As creatures of our sort that are denied such true joys, I hope that you can forgive us. . . “
“It’ll be hard too. . . “ She smiled to him softly, “But I’ll try. Sadly, the sky-people- The Miragummi, I think Homer called them? would have probably found us because of him anyway.”
“Yes, the Miragummi have ways. . . They always have and I suppose they always will. . .” Shindoh looked up at the Moon hanging above them.
“So, what ever happened to your friend, Mirabelle?”
Shindoh’s face lowered slowly down, folding his hands together.
“The price she paid was far greater than the fate to which my little ones and I have succumbed. Ah, you know I see her same spirit in your eyes. I noticed it long ago, when I grabbed you the way that I did, feeling your energy circulate into my pores. I knew for certain then, that there was something inside of you that could turn all of this around. You are so unlike any of the children in so many ways. . .”
“Even Homer?”
“Yes, even Homer.” Shindoh seemed to smile beneath his hood, and then became more rigid. 
“Poor Mirabelle. . . I knew for some time then, that the Miragummi were watching her, trying to dissuade her; trying. . . But not succeeding. 
“We were at that time testing a new sample of DNA, sampled from my own genes and some of the others human participants. It was to bridge the gap and provide for us two species, a far superior being- a hybrid. 
“Unfortunately, not many survived and those that did were covered in mossy black hair, extending all over their bodies and I would have never imagined that they would come to be nine-feet tall. Moreover, much like a child they were extremely impressionable but violent. 
“You see, these little ones here are the complete opposite from the ones that we refer to as Husks. They- Yehasuri- have more of my DNA than do the Husks, which tend to come mostly from Human DNA. The Husks are very rare to come by. . . Likewise, they are better suited to thrive on Earth than to strive near death as do we. They adapt very rapidly. . . In ways I succeeded with them. In ways, I also failed.”
Delilah shuffled her feet because one of them was becoming numb. . . 
“So, how are they born?”
“From the human female’s womb. Where as the little ones had been fostered from the ground up. This is where we come to that point about Mirabelle. She was too stubborn, too afraid. . . I tried to talk her out of doing it; she persisted despite such attempts. After all, there was an iron curtain of atmosphere dividing us.
“She took all of the procedures- things that you wouldn’t quite understand- in order to see her goal achieved. She died giving birth to a Husk. . . Her body had tried to reject the fetus when the Husk within her was draining her dry from the inside out. It became anemic for some time, which resulted in it being born albino with much higher degrees of survival instincts, intuition, hand-eye coordination and muscle reflexes. 
“When it arrived into this world, it fed on its mother. . . Its mother happened to be Mirabelle. The way that it consumed, was not like the way that you would imagine, but in the way that the little ones and I must feed. 
“Ever since landing here, That creature has stalked me. . . The Miragummi unleashed those of my development, to join the former mentioned; creating a coalition against me. I have always felt that the Miragummi and my father played some hand in her demise, I could just never tie the two together. 
“I have believed that the Husk have begun preying upon my little ones. I can sense it, it leaves a trace in the air that I am able to detect. Sort of like an odor every time it eats, but in different ways- more akin to brain waves. 
“One day, I shall find that albino and settle what began years and years ago between itself, Mirabelle and I. I’ve found it hard to forgive myself. . . Knowing that I’m responsible. See, I was banished when Mirabelle died. That is how I came to be exiled along with my pet projects. . . 
“. . . So now you wander the Earth?”
“Looking for retribution. . . Yes, only in attempts to find retribution. I fear it too, for once one imitates the monster that they want to destroy; they in turn become the monster and destroy themselves. 
“Delilah. . . Dear, child. Once we are all connected like constellations. Little stars with lines connecting us together. Now, we are fragments and there is no glue to hold us together any longer. Because, As long as there is chaos- ever present and meaningless change, there cannot be unity or stability. Remember, this Delilah. . . Never forget it.”
“I won’t Shindoh. I won’t allow myself to forget any of this. . . ”
Shindoh smiled, sobering a bit and returning to the present, “Don’t make promises, if you don’t intend to keep them. . . “
#
They traveled until they reached a large, almost crater-like hole in the earth with strange and megalithic machinery covering the spiraling roads leading down into what appeared as the mouth of a Kraken. . . 
Once they descended all the way down to the bottom, They hid behind one of the metallic machines; awaiting to go inside of the entrance to the mineshaft. A large, abysmal tunnel that lay in the side of the decapitated mountain. 
Far into the mineshaft now, it became evident that the last rays of sunlight were fading away into a brilliant light behind them. The air was tinged with mercury and tasted of iron; Delilah’s head felt faint. 
The world of her senses could have been an old, abandoned, amusement park. But Delilah could not venture away from Shindoh to explore as Shindoh was the only one carrying a light. The light however was for her. . . It was only a stick with a piece of cloth wrapped around the top, caught aflame. 
The others with their cat-like eyes traveled without focusing their fields of vision on the ground. Delilah, moved slowly and carefully, watching every step she made with precision. 
The ground was littered with rusting nails and other odds and ends, that now served only one purpose and that was to maim. . . Delilah held tight to her bag of salt, fearing that she may need it at any moment. 
Up ahead was the sign of an infrastructure. . . A building of some sort that had been built onto the side of the interior of the mineshaft. It appeared to have been used for the purpose of storage but resembled an aircraft hangar. She could only see of what was probably the right side of the building. The door was left open and from their angle of approach, Delilah could see a window. Through it, a light the color of crimson, was flickering on and off; probably installed for emergencies only and somehow recently triggered. . .
The Yehasuri scurried ahead to survey the area, each of the three going in different directions. They gave the appearance of a band soldiers performing a skirmish of gorilla tactics, as they crept on the sides of the building; clinging to the walls. 
Delilah could only see the outlines of their bodies, when the light would pulse on or when their anglerfish eye’s opened; and the moon-glow from them reflected back to her. Shindoh stopped, placing his arm out in front of her. Delilah stood still waiting for Shindoh to decide the next course of action. He turned behind him, looking in her passive eyes as he knelt down to be at eye level with her.
“You will go first. . . “
“What about you and the others?” she asked.
 “We shall keep watch for anything that might threaten your life. If you see any Husks. . . You know what to do.”
After Shindoh spoke he stood back up and brushed off the bottom of his robe. He gestured with the same arm as if opening a door; suggesting that she proceed forward.Delilah trembled, looking Shindoh in the face as she passed him by. Shindoh seemed agitated, but it could only be perceived in the flaring of what little nostrils he had, along with the constricting corners of his weary eyes.
Each step, coming closer to the door and the blinking light, while also moving farther away from Shindoh; crossing the sawdust covered floor and stumbling on chunks of coal. Inside of her, emotional nerves were being struck by lightning. The blood coursing quickly through her veins, her heart seeming to miss a beat and with every breath, the feeling of her lungs deflating; her chest felt heavy and her stomach empty. 
All of the world was vanishing around her and all that remained, was the radiant glisten of the door knob taunting her with a mild reflection of something she couldn’t quite make out. And what would she see when she would turn to look within? She wondered, What lay hidden within?
The fear of anticipation was paralyzing. . . The Yehasuri were no longer within her peripheral vision. Shindoh’s feet were no longer heard following behind her. She couldn’t even feel her own body motioning towards the door. All there was- was a golden knob enlightened with crimson and some strange detachment in her mind. She knew vaguely that she was still alive, but in the misty domain of her inner-self, everything must‘ve been operating on auto-pilot. 
Everything was fuzzy. . . She stood a foot away from the door. Lines of cracked, antique-white paint, grey chipped wood and scarlet resonation flashing before her eyes. . . Her eyes closed, and her throat strained to swallow the last drop of moisture on her parched tongue.
When she turned to look within. . . As if staring down a hall or a thirty foot vista of desert in the midst of a garden. There in the middle of the humongous room- Two bodies, one female and the other male, were seen in the nude; hanging. Through each hand were blown-up sized fishhooks linked to large steel chains, that came down from the ceiling. Beams of dry-rotted wood supported the soles of the feet at right angles.  
Their heads laid on their chest, while their bodies were stretched split-eagle; like nightmarish depictions of The Vitruvian Man. Strains of hair from the scalp, that fell upon their faces; swinging side-to-side from a musky breeze. They were nothing more now than dissected frogs with their abdomens gored open. Whatever, human spirit once filled their bodies was completely vacant. 
Delilah screamed aloud. Her harrowing voice echoing throughout the mineshaft before her body gave out and she collapsed, beginning with her knees. . . Her head hit the floor first; all became black and white static as if someone had pulled out the umbilical cord to a television in the outlet of the wall. . .  From her lips, a sigh filtered out of her lungs and her scream fell off the currents of fragrantly, stagnant air.
#
She came to her feet at the side of the lake. The sky was grey and the ground was covered in dew frosted over. The dawn of a new day was approaching, and the hidden Sun, was attempting to peer through the smoke-like clouds. Delilah arose feeling herself coming to as if from a dream. . . 
“So, to the land of the living, we now have returned- have we?” she heard spoken from a disembodied voice.
Her thoughts swam through her mind; each competing for recognition. “Shindoh? Is that you?” She dizzily asked.
“I am sorry for having caused you such fright. . . “
“Who were those people? . . Shindoh?”
“I am behind you child. . . And, I assume that they were your parents, were they not?” asked Shindoh, squatting like a gargoyle upon a large slab of granite rock.
“No. . . I think they were Homer’s parents?” She said, seating herself carefully on the cold, moist grass.
“Homer? No, that can’t be. . . “ Shindoh’s head turned facing the Yehasuri, who huddled together closely, each trying to hide behind the other; shifting behind one another like a never-ending line of changing bodies. . .
“I see. . . “ Shindoh sighed. 
“Well, let us return- shall we now?”
“Whose footprints are these here?” Asked Delilah, looking at the ground with her senses coming into focus.
“Those. . . Why I haven’t the slightest idea? Tramps passing through here some time ago, perhaps? They could even be yours from earlier? It’s hard to say really. . .” Shindoh seemed uncomfortable. 
Delilah placed her hands on her face, burying her face into them; a vein began to bulge in her forehead. 
“Shindoh. . . Tell me how you knew about my parents. Tell me why you destroyed Spunky. . . I want to know everything- now. . .”
“Are you accusing me, child?!” Shindoh said raising himself.
“If you can accuse everyone else of having treated you poorly. Then, I believe I can turn the tables around on you for a change. I mean nothing bad. . . I just want to know Shindoh.”
Shindoh became defensive. . . 
The woods erupted with the sound of hurrying feet, breaking the air, with screams and shouts following along with them.
“Delilah! Delilah! . . . Delilah, here I brought this for you!”
A little figure came tumbling out of the woods, carrying something in its extended hand.
“Delilah! Hurry! They’re right behind me! . . . A whole gang of ‘em!”
Delilah strained her eyes looking into the brush.
A shimmer of a face appeared. 
She caught only a glimpse again. . . 
“Homer?! Homer, is that you out there?!”
“Yes! Hurry!”
Delilah motioned her leg to move forward. . . There was the sound of something crunching. She turned to look at Shindoh whose hands were placed at the base of a tree, the tree was changing colors, the bark was peeling away and the leaves came down in flurries. . . It was dying.
She tried to run but the tree fell before her, blocking her way. . . Suddenly, Homer cut through the line and came dashing towards her; tripping over the fallen tree and colliding clumsily into her. 
They both fell onto their backs. . . Both groaning in pain. Homer began to rise up slowly and stiffly, “Here Delilah. . . I saw some of the Yehasuri bring these in, I thought it was that thing you were talking about?”
“Spunky!” cried Delilah taking the broken pieces of the machines body, holding them close to her chest; her eyes closed.
“I won’t have the two of you spoiling my plans. . . I’ve already got the samples I need from you Delilah. . . And You! You, I do not need!” Shindoh said pointing at Homer.
Shindoh began pacing quickly towards them. 
Once more from the opposite direction as before, the sound of prowling feet were heard coming. Trees began to fall, and the sounds of boulders pouncing to the ground with multiple god-awful cries, blasted as if from a trumpet. The forest was a symphony of grotesque noises and oddly arranged, metrical beats. . .
Legions of Yehasuri began to poor themselves into the small area of open land. They seemed to be in a panic, flooding out in long launches from the forest; landing hard on their knees and elbows; tumbling. 
“I don’t want explanations! No excuses will take the place of what you have all failed. . . To. . . “ Shindoh’s voice trailed off. . .
Delilah caught the sight of large creatures chasing the Yehasuri. One by one a half dozen creatures- nine feet tall, covered in quill-like black hairs; with elongated craniums began to break onto the scene.
They stood hunched downwards, almost into a crouch as if they were lions about to make their moves on a gazelle.
They circled around, covering almost every opening leading to safety. . .
The last of them swiftly leaped from a tree onto the ground. . . The ground shuddered as its feet ferociously landed onto the soil. It was at least twelve-feet tall; white with red, fire-blazing eyes focused on Shindoh. The creases of its mouth were twitching, revealing fangs that resembled small horns. Shindoh’s feet were motioning backwards. . .
“So, the prodigal maverick as come back has he?”
The Husk. . . The Husk that haunted Shindoh stood before him as if summoned by his reminisces not so long ago. 
“I suppose, you will not want to consider postponing this little escapade for just a moment?“ Shindoh asked the beast with a sardonic smile.
The figure stood motionless; breathing heavily.
“I didn’t think so. . . “ He turned towards the many Yehasuri around him, “Take the children back to the cave. Be sure that they are alive when I return. The rest of you, hopefully your practice has served to benefit you well in these matters. . . Kill them all.“
Delilah looked at Homer who stared back with eyes wide.
“All of this because I left the cave?! This is crazy! What’s going on Delilah?” Homer asked, trembling.
“There’s no time to explain. . . “
The Yehasuri began to look towards the two children with vehemence in their radiant eyes. One of them, couldn’t resist the urge and began charging towards them; many joined behind it. 
Just as it lunged towards Delilah who fell back onto the ground, covering her face with her arms. One of the large Husk tackled it to the ground in midair, squeezing its head until it was nothing but a bag of bones in its palms. It smeared the head into the ground looking at the others as if to challenge them. 
The Albino let out a rupturing scream. . . A battle cry to it’s fellows. Shindoh slowly began shedding his hood and his entire robe. . . He gestured to the Yehasuri that stood with fingers meticulously stretching in and out, bowing their backs; hissing with their teeth protruding out.
“Let’s not bother to get involved Homer. . .”
Homer stood and so did Delilah, both trying cautiously to avoid the forthcoming scuffle. 
The last images that Delilah saw were Shindoh charging towards the oncoming Albino; both locking hands in a grand duel. While, most of the Yehasuri jumped onto the backs, hanging from the hairs and limbs of the other Husks. . . And finally, a group of Yehasuri leaned forward, staring Delilah and Homer down, getting into gear as she turned away. . . Holding Homer by the arm; running away. . .
#
From above, the sun shown, rising like a cogwheel in the sky, pulled along by a flaming chariot; It’s rays breaching through the melancholic nimbus clouds with glorious zeal; twisting and turning, as if to reach full zenith over an invisible Zion below. 
They ran through a clearing of trees. A vista of decayed bushes and saplings the color of sour-apple green, pear, and peach; out onto the faded blackness of a stretched out highway that resembled a concrete and tangible form of space. 
They stopped, their shoulders slouching; heavily panting. Both catching their breath; looking all around them with a subdued wonder and relief. They heard the sound of rustling leaves and screeching from behind them and continued dashing off in the direction of an unknown destination lying in the distance ahead. 
There, as they ran looking forward, they saw what appeared to be a rolling hill of megalithic spires and pillars rising from the ground; licking the sky with their blinking red tongues. To their sides, fields of golden wheat passed them by, while their feet skipped over the unfolding white-dotted lines.
Catching up with them now were some of the Yehasuri, advancing steadily behind them; roasting in the sun. Delilah looked back for a moment, untying the bag of salt in her hands; opening it and spilling out the contents onto the highway. 
She continued running forward as some of the Yehasuri now began crossing over the streaks of salt. Many of them let out yelps; tripping themselves, stumbling over others and falling behind. The remainder, jumped over the fallen and continued racing after Delilah and Homer.
One came mere inches away, as it’s hideous hand extended towards the sole of one of Homer’s feet. Another now side-by-side with the other, leaped in for a tackle. It managed to slow Homer down while the other knocked him to the ground. All three were now fumbling bodies on the highway. . .
Delilah continued running not noticing that Homer was in peril. The others piled on top of him, beating him and slashing at his clothes; no longer pursuing Delilah.
Homer cried aloud. Delilah turned to look behind her. When she saw the Yehasuri attacking Homer she face towards them. Sprinting to reach Homer, Screaming at the Yehasuri and wildly, waving her arms in the air. 
She stopped, seeing a stick the width of a tree branch, to the side of the highway. She ran over to it, picking it up and clutching it in her hands like a baseball bat with all of her strength circulating and transferring into it. 
The Yehasuri were completely oblivious of her approaching fury. Just as she came within yards of Homer, one looked up at her and it’s eyes widened as she slapped it across the face with the stick. The stick snapped in half, she turned to another and jabbed it in the eye with the jagged splintered end of the broken stick. 
The rest of the Yehasuri, either ran away or were inching away slowly, staring at her with their vicious eyes.
Homer lay partially unconscious, bleeding- but from the outset was not very badly wounded. Delilah reached down, placing him on his feet; carrying him. She leaned over, slowly jogging away; supporting most of his weight as Homer limped alongside of her; trying to maintain the same speed. 
The Yehasuri, whose faces were beginning to blister; their skin splitting and cracking from the sun’s light, ran back into the shade of the forest; hugging onto the trees. They opened their wide mouths, hissing at the two children as Delilah and Homer became only mirages to the Yehasuri; fading out of sight and superimposing onto the background ahead. . .
Delilah felt the need to be strong for Homer. It was her turn to look after someone rather than be nurtured by others. Homer needed her now. . . She had to be there for him. 
“Delilah, why are we going towards a city?” 
“Because. . . “ Delilah said trying to find air to speak clearly, “Shindoh won’t follow us there.”
“Why? Why did the Yehasuri attack us? What’s going on? Were those Husks back there? Did you find your parents?! Delilah. . . Delilah?”
“Homer! Stop. . . I don’t want to talk about it right now. Just be quiet for a moment. . . I can‘t think with you asking me so many questions at one time.”
Homer’s face grew tense. 
“My leg hurts pretty bad Delilah. . . We’re going to have to stop somewhere soon. I think one of them managed to bite a chunk out of me.”
“That’s the idea Homer. . .I’m trying to find somewhere now. I just don’t know where.”
“We’re taking a big chance Delilah. . . What if the Miragummi find us?”
“I’m not scared Homer. . . I’ve been through enough already. I think I can handle it. . . For the both of us.”
Homer’s lips thinned, his eyes lowered. 
“Alright, Delilah. . . Alright.”
They kept walking forward until the golden wheat was out of sight, and a spiraling staircase of highway became visible ahead. 
Walking carefully, they slowly traveled down the motionless rollercoaster of pavement; down unto another road where a gas station sign was covered in dead vines with the gas station set off to the side of it. 
Its pumps were rusted, windows fogged and the front glass door shattered. Inside, items here and there covered the floors and counters as if pillaged by a hurricane. 
Delilah helped Homer to the ground, where he sat beside of the front door as she hesitantly drew herself in; peering around. “Keep an eye out for me, will you Homer?”
“Yeah. . . I’ll keep watch. You go on ahead. I’ll be fine. . .  Let me know if you find anything.”
Delilah put one foot in front of the other, cautious of the noise she made when stepping over broken shards of glass and other debris. She ran her fingers over the counter, looking at the dust collected on them and wiping her hands on the back of her overalls. 
“Have you ever been to one of these places before, Delilah?” she heard Homer yell to her.
“No. . . I’ve never been this close to a city before. Or. . . At least, not that I can remember.”
“Me either. . . “
“There’s a lot of stuff lying around. . . Some of it looks like this food Papa use to bring me, every now and again when he would go off somewhere.” 
“What kind of food?”
“I don’t know. . . Some kind of wrapped up sweet things and bags of. . . Chips and pretzels? I think that’s what we called them?”
“I’m not sure if I’ve ever had any of those before? “
“I’ll bring you some! By the way, I’ve found some water. . . Already in bottles, some kinds are different colors too!”
“Phew. . . Good thing, I was starting to get thirsty.”
Delilah went into a room where the door was hanging from the hinges. It was a bathroom. . . She found in a cabinet under the sink, a small first-aid kit, and brought it out to Homer with bags of expired chips, pretzels, candy bars, bottles of soda, water and a few, old magazines. 
She plopped down beside of Homer, opening the first-aid kit; gathering supplies and setting them out.
“What is all that?”
“Oh. . . Momma had one of these when I would get a cut or something like that. Spunky usually guided her on how to use it. . . She said fondling the pieces of the robot she had stuffed into her large, front overall pockets, “I think I can remember. So, where was that bite you were talking about?”
Homer showed her his right leg; above the knee was a bite mark with dried blood around it.
“You’ll be alright now. . . “ she said after applying the creams and wrapping the bandages around it.
“That stuff sure does sting Delilah“
“Yeah, well. I forgot to mention that part. . .”
They sat leaning against the outer wall of the gas station, eating and drinking.Quietly, Delilah thought to herself about the city in view to the right of them. The only way to reach it was to climb up another one of those highways; leading to a bridge over troubling bruised water. 
A breeze was beginning to come. 
The sun was breaching more and more through the swimming clouds that drifted further out of sight; revealing the blue sky above. 
#
After some time, the two traveled along the highway ramp, leading to the city opposite of the one coming from the forest area. 
They made their way onto the bridge.
Delilah was now walking ahead of Homer, who was following behind of her with the aid of a cane. The cane had been found in somewhat of a basket, with sunglasses, hats and other things back at the gas station; before they left.
A fourth of the way across the bridge they noticed a glowing light that they couldn’t quite define to their west. 
“What do you suppose that is, Delilah?”
“I have a pretty good idea. . . But, I hope I’m wrong.”
“You mean. . . it’s one of them?”
“You shouldn’t wish such things on us Homer. . . let’s just think about getting to that city, so we can find shelter.”
“Right. . .” Homer said, never taking his eyes off of the object, shimmering with a gold-tint beneath the sun. 
They walked along the center of the bridge, ignoring the sidewalks to either side of them. Homer’s pace gradually became slower and more groggy and Delilah had to encourage him to keep up. 
And then they heard a voice calling out to them from behind. . .
“Where do the two of you think you’re going?”
They turned around, looking behind them to see Shindoh standing only fifteen-feet away from them. Hunched over slightly, slowly advancing further towards them. He was bleeding, and bruised and wore his robe without the hood over his face; letting it hang on him like a loose fitting overcoat. 
“I asked you two a question. . . “
Delilah stopped in place; alarmed. Homer fell onto his bottom by the sight of Shindoh. 
“Shindoh! What’s going on?!” Homer asked him.
“Delilah hasn’t told you?” He sneered. 
Homer looked back at Delilah, whose face was tense and resentful.
“Tell me what?” 
Shindoh began laughing, “Don’t mind what I said. Now, the two of you are going to come back with me.  “
“Why did the Yehasuri harm me for, Shindoh?”
Shindoh looked down at Homer, irritated. He looked over at Delilah and tried to paint a weak smile on his face.
“Delilah. . . I need you for my- our program. You must understand. . . Some things have had to be managed in certain ways.”
“You mean like killing Homer’s parents?”
Homer’s face twitched and turned back and forth between the two of them; their eyes locking together as if waiting to draw their non-existing, holstered weapons for a duel. Homer’s nervous voice, self-consciously cracked with disbelieving laughter, “What are you talking about Delilah?”
She kept her eyes on Shindoh; his eyes became narrower and stern. “It wasn’t my parents that I found Homer. . . It was yours. Somehow or another our parents met at that lake we were at earlier. He and the Yehasuri must have been following us longer than I thought. I wouldn’t doubt that Shindoh told the Yehasuri to butcher your mom and dad. I just can’t figure out what he did with mine. But, if he had done the same with them. . . He wouldn‘t have tried to make me think that your parents were mine. But I keep asking myself the question, why? . . Why bother with all of this trouble Shindoh? I mean, after all, I‘m not the person you‘re looking for. . .”
Shindoh exhaled heavily. . . 
“You see I put these things together, when nothing added up. Did you think that because I was young that I was so naïve, like the others? You said it yourself, I’m different the way that you are. That makes us similar. . . But that’s where the line is drawn. Also, There’s no way that those little monsters of yours killed Spunky for any other reason than because Spunky would have figured you out sooner. You and all of your little tricks and scams. . . The Yehasuri erased my footprints so we would become lost and they could then ambush us! You wanted them to run me off into that cave!”
Homer looked as if he were about to begin to cry, “Shindoh? Is it. . . Is what she says true? Did you?”
Shindoh propelled himself towards Homer, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him up. He grasped Homer’s throat, lifting him off of his feet until Homer was at eye level with himself. Shindoh’s fangs were visible, while a demon became caught in his view as he stared at himself in the reflection of Homer‘s tearful, two-way mirror eyes.
“Little boy, I’m afraid that I no longer require of your services . . .”
“Monster. Murderer. Freak!” Homer managed to squeeze out of his mouth. Shindoh squeezed tighter and the cuts and wounds on his body began to heal. Homer’s eyes opened and closed rapidly; trying to maintain consciousness. 
“Stop it!” yelled Delilah.
Shindoh turned to his left, seeing Delilah standing on top of one of the small columns. “I’ll jump. . . put him down. I know how much you need me. . . Leave him alone, and I‘ll go with you.“
Shindoh grunted and groaned and his eyes protested with defiance. He turned his eyes back on Homer, who was looking as if trying to swallow.
“I hate you. . . “ Homer said. He leaned his head back as far as he could, lunging forward; spitting in Shindoh’s face. Shindoh dropped Homer onto the ground and began holding his face screaming with a wretched tone that neither had ever heard. It was like the sound of a dying star. . . 
Delilah watched with horror as the frantic Shindoh traveled in circles screaming in agony. Even Homer’s face displayed his own inert fascination with the damage he had single-handedly caused. 
Shindoh’s right eye was twitching, his bottom lip quivering; his hand slowly sliding off of his face revealing partially melted flesh. 
He breathed like a bull about to charge with rage, his eyes blackening out as they stared into Homer’s terrified soul. Shindoh’s skin becoming more and more exposed to the light of the sun; his skin scorched and seemed to boil. . .
“Say hello to your parents in hell for me!” Shindoh screamed aloud, with spit and foam flinging forth from his lips as he closed in towards Homer who tried to kick him away. . . “Leave him alone!” cried Delilah. . . 
In Shindoh’s rage, he grabbed Homer by the arm, thrusting him into the air to his left. Delilah’s eyes widen as the falling body of Homer collided with her, sending both falling towards the water below. As they began falling, the golden light was seen coming faster towards them. 
Shindoh’s face changed from anger to regret, his eyes grew with fear and his mouth hung open. He dashed towards the edge of the bridge, Delilah watched him as she slowly fell. She saw his mouth moving but she could not hear the words coming from them. 
She closed her eyes and when she opened them a golden halo encompassed her entire view; while Shindoh looked up and pushed away from the edge of the bridge; disappearing. Delilah faintly smiled as a sense of warmth filled her spirit. The golden light enveloped the two children. Neither of them had so much as a hair touch a drop of water. . .
#
Delilah awoke to find herself lying down staring at a strange ceiling of marble and white tiles, small like the spaces of a chessboard. Timidly she rose from the sarcophagus-like bed. Turning, dipping her legs over the edge of the frame and letting her feet dangle in the air before letting them touch down.
They firmly took to the floor like roots returning to the soil upon a foundation of glass that shimmered with the full range of a spectrum- resembling a rainbow as an unseen light source penetrated from the floor up; giving a misty aura to the surface and the surrounding room itself.
She looked down at herself to see that her belongings and her clothing had been taken. She now wore something that she couldn’t quite describe. 
She felt relaxed, trying to collect her thoughts.
Delilah looked up to see a figure standing at the open door way. She became stiff, tensing up as if to brace against a frigid wind.
“Shindoh?!” 
“No. . . However, I am one of the Miragummi. I am a scout, performing my duties as they were ordered. My name is Corinthius. I would presume that you are- Delilah, is it?”
“Yes. . . How’d you know?”
“Well, when we picked up your parents. . . “
“My parents- they’re alive?!”
“Well, yes. . . Of course.”
“So are you going to make slaves out of them- out of me and Homer?. . . Homer, Where is Homer?”
“I will let the Emperor Akiba, discuss that matter with you. I am sure that your time with his son Shindoh, has been formerly educational. But I can assert that it is mostly fallacy that he has preached to you. Oh, and the other child that you mentioned is in another cell, being treated. I hope that you don’t mind waiting before attempting to see him again. He will need to rest the same as you. . . He wasn‘t in very good condition when he arrived here” 
“That’s fine, and I‘m glad to know he‘s alright. . . Go on, I’m sorry for all of the interruptions. I‘m just. . . Well, taken aback a bit. I wasn‘t expecting such. . . Hospitality?”
“It is quite alright. Now, as I was. . . When we discovered your parents it was similar in the way that we have found the two of you. They were obviously nervous when they boarded. But, as always we were able to calm them down to a mild degree in order that we may properly introduce ourselves and explain our vocation. 
“After which, your parents, then explained that they were searching for water, and came across a lake. . .”
“I know that much already. . . “
“Well, nevertheless, they came across another couple, doing similar but in the process they encountered some of Shindoh’s experiments- the Yehasuri; they chased away your parents. Your parents claim to have no knowledge of what became of the other couple. They informed us that they had subsequently left you and your. . . Machine behind?”
“Yes. . . Spunky, and those people were Homer‘s parents.” Shindoh murdered them. . .
“The other child said as much. Myself and the Husks have since, taken it upon ourselves to locate you. At first, we weren‘t certain, if you were the one. Either way, our goal is to find as many of you left; before we disembark from this planet.”
“Where are we now?”
“Just outside of Earth’s orbit. . . The Emperor wishes to speak with you before we depart to join the last remaining space-vessel capable of traveling to your new home. But, I’ll leave all of those details for you and him. . . When you feel ready, let me know and we will go to see him.”
“Didn’t you say that he was Shindoh’s father? If so, then I’m ready now, if you don’t mind.”
“Yes and Certainly, Let us go then. . .”
“I’m right behind you.”
She walked beside of Corinthius around a walkway that gave the appearance of a gallery. The walls were not walls at all, but glass covering the outer edge of the hallway. Delilah let her fingers sweep across it looking out and upon the Earth. 
“It’s so . . . So, much more than I ever imagined.”
She whispered to herself. 
Ahead of them, as she glanced forward she saw the back of a figure dressed in black coils. The coils were like rings on a finger, covering each limb and interconnected by a weaving pattern of silk.
Corinthius, stopped. He turned to her smiling, patted her on the arm and walked away. Leaving her alone with Shindoh‘s father, the Emperor Akiba. . .
“You may come closer if you desire. . .”
Delilah walked forward and stood beside the figure, whose face was so much like that of Shindoh’s that she almost mistook him for the other. Moreover, There were differences in his features, his face was tranquil and serene, lacking in scars and all of the horrors Shindoh had brought upon himself. 
Even his posture, gestures, and expressions were entirely more remote. They were better coordinated and less flamboyant. In ways he was a great contrast to Shindoh. 
“Look down. . .  “ He said.
Delilah gazed hesitantly down.
“We have been repeating this act for a very long time, Delilah. But, each time as each human- is always different. Before, I can speak any further, I must present you with a question. .  . Do you wish to remain living on this planet?”
“I’m not sure. . . I’d really just like to be with my Mamma and Papa.”
“The reason I ask is this will unfortunately be the last time that my kind comes to this planet. Therefore, this will be the last time that they leave it also. Before, this conversation comes to a conclusion, I‘d like for you to make a decision. 
“In the meantime, I understand that you have spent a little time with my son?“
“Yes. . . Your eminency?”
“There is no need for titles. If you must call me anything, call me by my name. So, how is my son?”
“That’s a difficult question to answer. . .”
“I understand. It is only that we have not spoken in a very long time. But I’m sure that you’re aware of that already. So then, Delilah. . . Must I correct the slanderous account of our past, or are you confident in recognizing the truth from Shindoh’s version?”
“How do you know that he told me anything?”
“Because as a father, I know my son very well. . . Even though time has separated us for so long and this space that you see before you keeps us from touching. . . I know, that my son will never change- he is compelled by an urge to rebuke his traditions and interfere where he is not welcomed.”
“The way that Shindoh spoke, I was led to believe that the two of you disliked one another. I mean, I knew you were somebody important too. . . But, you don’t seem to feel that way, it‘s like you don‘t see yourself as a ruler. . . I can even tell that you miss Shindoh.”
“You‘re right, I‘m not much of a ruler. . . I am simply a director. And well, We’ve had our moments. . . This being one of them, I suppose. We have never been able to show much affection for one another. Between his passions and my own, There didn’t seem a necessity for it, until it became apparent that there was a lack thereof.”
“But now?”
“Yes now. . . Now, I watch this planet with every waking hour. I think of those, such as yourself whom have been effected by my son’s inability to leave things to their natural order. You would presume I’m sure, to think of me as ashamed of my son. . . But the truth is the very opposite. I love my son very much, and because of my love I hurt more so than any evil can bring upon me. It was I, that chose his path. . . Exile. But I will not tolerate aggression of any kind, whether inadvertent or deliberate. 
“The problem with my son is that he wants to save everyone from themselves. He sees technology as the answer, but I know it to be only a means- a limited one at that. You may think of me as a hypocrite, contradicting myself for we are in my own personal spacecraft. The difference lies in it’s utilization. My son, exploits whereas we do not. . .”
“Well, what of all of those people you’ve taken? Didn’t they ever have a choice?”
“You’re right- they did. They chose a way of life without technology, without governments, without laboring for money and without suffering. . . Those that chose otherwise were returned. You see, my son is the reason that your kind are aware of their existence. It has been my job to clean up behind him. Surely, you do not wish to take part in our misfortune? 
“Forgive me, if I come across to you as a cynic, but as I have learned, knowledge can only be gained through observation, and understanding comes only through experience. And in my lengthy expanse of life, I have gained much wisdom from both sources. Because of this, I have aspired to and have acquired much; I know that humanity would not desire our way of life. 
“Well, thank you for picking us up. . . Um, by any chance, was Shindoh picked up too?”
“It wasn’t I, but Corinthius that you may thank. I have not left my place here since his exile. And yes, he must remain upon the Earth, despite his rendering of it into a playground; obstructing the lives of it‘s natural inhabitants.”
“What of the children that are still down there? Living in the dormitories with Shindoh? What shall happen to them?”
“When they, or generations after, realize that there shall not be another return. . . . A mutiny may arise. . . They will find their own way for themselves. Shindoh however, will continue to exist, never ceasing to find an opportunity to create a resurgence against the inevitable. I know that He must speak as though he wishes to leave. . . But he has lived upon the Earth so long that I doubt that he would ever do so.”
“Do you know if he killed that Husk?”
“I would think so. . . In all of this time, you would think that my son’s guilt would be apparent to him. If it is, it serves only as fuel for vengeance and propaganda. He will not allow himself to be redeemed through it. Shindoh runs in place, like the Earth caught in the gravitational spin of this Sun’s cycle. Always moving but going nowhere. . .”
“Did you know Mirabelle?”
“You mean did I partake in her death? No. I tried to convince her that Shindoh was not to be trusted. Luckily, you were wiser than her. . . I know, that my son may have saw in you a certain likeness of her; but for once it was he who deceived himself. If I‘m not mistaken, I would assume that you still retain an affection for him?”
“It’s just that he was so alluring. . . Like a phantom. He was and still is somewhat of a mystery to me. I suppose it is because of his passion and dedication. I know that it is wrong. . . I just pity him.”
“Don’t waste your pity on a creature that very likely envies you.”
Delilah turned, facing Akiba, “You’re right. . . Shindoh is only smoke and mirrors. Beneath, all of that. . . He is just a tragic, shallow abyss trapped in a shell.”
"You and I suffer from the same incurable ailment. We know the real from the superficial and yet, we are still mesmerized by the latter.”
“Akiba. . . Will I be able to see my parents soon?”
“Yes. They have already left for another planet outside of this solar system. I take it that you have made up your mind now? You will go and not stay?”
“As I said before. . . I go where they go.”
“So be it. I hope that I did not influence your decision. But now that it is said and done, know that you have chosen the best possible alternative. I only wish that the same were true for me. . . “
“What do you mean?”
“When you and Homer, as Homer has decided to go along with you, having confessed to me earlier that he no longer feels an attachment with this planet anymore; are ready to leave- I shall remain here. You will be with those you love and I will be separated by a gulf of space and time.”
“You mean, you won’t be leaving with us?”
“No. You and Homer and one other will be taking another ship, already waiting in one of our expanse bays. It is the same one by which you arrived to this ship. From there, you will travel to join with your parents on a planet far away from this solar system. There will be no return. . . But, I feel it is the right thing to do. I will stay even until the sun’s flaming existence dwindles. . . “
“Who is the other?”
“I’m glad you asked although I was hoping to surprise you. . . I’ve made an exception to our rules; seeing in you a grace that others do not possess. I issued that your machine be repaired in it’s exact proportions as before it was damaged. There was enough material that it was possible. We did not have to reprogram it as there was still a trace of sentience residing.”
“Spunky?! You fixed him?. . . That’s just the greatest!”
“The only thing that I ask is that you watch over that boy. . . I’m afraid that what has occurred will lead him to a life of vengeance.”
“Homer?. . . Yeah, I’ll look after him. And it won’t be so hard now, because I’ll have Mamma and Papa and Spunky to help me.”
“I wish you the best of luck Delilah. Go now, they are waiting for you.”
“Thank you. . . For everything.”
Akiba nodded to her almost in a bow, and then requested for Corinthius. When Corinthius arrived, the two left together, heading for Homer’s cell. While, Akiba continued to look down upon the Earth, placing one hand against the glass. . . The last thing that Delilah heard Akiba say was for Corinthius to begin preparing his pod for launch; and to set the course of destination as close to Shindoh as possible.
As they came to the door. . . Corinthius stepped aside, smiling at her and walking away. She could hear Spunky talking and Homer laughing. She slowly opened the door, while a light glowed from inside. 
Before her eyes settled on either of them, she already knew for the first time and from now on, until the end of her life- that she would no longer be running in an attempt to stand still. . . 



END


© 2014 Gedalya


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Author's Note

Gedalya
I encourage feedback and it is one of the main reasons I am moving from professional writing towards self-publishing. I want to reach the reader more-so than go through middle men. Please, comment below or PM.

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A few things may not have been indented due to the reformatting on here, I'll have to correct it later.

Posted 6 Years Ago


this is so mesmerising and lucid as it flows
great work poet!

Posted 6 Years Ago



Your generous review of The Hitchhiker prompted me to return the favor, but to be honest I don’t think my experience as a public relations hack qualifies me to judge your work. Your write in depth and your descriptive prose is far beyond anything I could do. Thanks again for your comments.


Posted 6 Years Ago


Gedalya

6 Years Ago

I applaud you. This is a long yarn and a strange one at that. I appreciate your feedback. Like they .. read more

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Added on January 24, 2014
Last Updated on January 24, 2014
Tags: Gedalya, Devil, Tramping, Ground, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Terror, Speculative Fiction, Fiction, Novelette, Story, Literary, Popular, Science-Fantasy

Author

Gedalya
Gedalya

VA



About
I am a Professional Writer dipping my feet into the Indie world. This is my second account after a 2-year absence. I am very open & honest, but equally private. I'd like to see a new generation of wri.. more..

Writing