Shortly before the perfection of the universe there was a renaissance period of communication and creativity. So it wasn't an international event when there were occasional disappearances of children. Hind site is 20 20 but it seems like more people would have noticed the millions of missing children. Desperate families all over the world pleaded with the police and government officials, but there was barley more than the usual numbers attributed to parental kidnappings, runaways, and lost kids.
Alka was five years old and she was with her parents at a temple dedicated to Ganesha the god of good fortune. Outside the city of Madras there were few luxuries but the temple is clean and Alka's little brown eyes watched the smoke rise from the altar. She watched the point where it disappeared near the ceiling and she thought about why it held together so long before it disbursed so quickly at the top. She wished she could get away so easily.
Cassy was not watching the smoke. She was looking at Alka. Cassy's parents were on vacation visiting as many of the ancient temples as they could in three weeks. She was glad to have a break from the hectic schedule of running from one statue to another. She didn't care about the thousands of tiny carved figures that circled like a halo around the gigantic black stone elephant headed God. Cassy could only think how soft and beautiful Alka's glowing face looked so lost and delighted in the smoke ballet. When Alka began to look fuzzy Cassy didn't think it was unusual in the candle lit dark. But when Alka vanished completely Cassy looked around and was astonished that no one else noticed. She sat up to get a better look and none of the meditating adults budged when she got up and stood where Alka had been sitting. But the smoke was stirred by Cassy's movement and in the mist she thought she was guessing where the little dark-haired girl went. But it was more than a guess.
Cassy was also five years old and this was the first time she saw true stories in her thoughts. She saw where Alka was now. She saw that Alka was not alone and that other children ran to her and were careful not to scare her. The kids were obviously trying to comfort Alka but she was looking over the group. Now she wanted to be back with her parents.
The kids followed Alka outside where she ran. She looked around the trees that leaned away from her as she passed. The movement of the trees made her think she was off balance and she almost fell. The children were following and calling questions to Alka, asking what language she spoke and what she was trying to get away from at home. Finally she answered, "Where are we?" The tallest girl answered," We are in a place where everything is alive."
Back at the temple, Cassy could tell that Alka had been collected by someone. It could have been any one of the millions of collection planets. She was lucky it was one of the relatively comfortable ones.
The other kids were signaling to Alka to come back inside and when she realized the thousands of movements around her she turned back toward the house of doors. That's what it looked like. Tall crystal doors with long light colored curtains blowing out of the open ones.
The kid's all started talking at once saying things like, "You will get used to it." "Come in for now." "Let us tell you about the things out there first." "Come in. Come in."
Alka could not walk fast enough to get away from the feeling that something was going to grab her ankles. This was too much for little Alka and she threw herself to the carpeted floor and burst into tears. All the children kept their distance except the tallest girl who said, "We were all just like you when we first got here."
Alka cried, "Why am I here?" And almost all the kids answered with questioning gestures and words like, "I don't know." Then the tall girl said, "But it is not a very bad place to wait while we are figuring how to get home."
Just at that moment a tall male figure walked up to one of the doors and as the shadow covered Alka the tall girl immediately walked to the fountain in the center of the room. Alka looked up at the doorway where a well-dressed and strong looking silhouette stood. She would have screamed at the sight of the insect-like head of the stranger but no one else in the room moved an inch, so she did the same. The tall girl passed her hand over the trickling jet of water in the center of the small tiled pool and the fountain stopped. She looked down in the water and said, "Mother. It's me, Asha. Will you please let me know who this is at the door."
Alka could hear a warm and friendly woman's voice saying, "It is Toybo and he brings a warning and assistance."
With that the figure entered the room saying, "You have very little time to find your hiding places." Alka felt her arm pulled and she was suddenly running with the group through the back garden and under the great rocks and boulders. When Toybo stepped into the garden and saw that everyone was hidden, there was a startling blast and flash of light at his feet as he exploded into the sky. Asha finally loosened her grip on Alka's arm as she slipped a metal disk from the pocket of her cottony blue dress. It opened like a powder compact and the reflection from the mirror inside lit Asha's face. She asked, "Mother will you let us see what's happening up there?" And at that moment a flash completely washed out the color of her face and Alka scooted closer.
In the mirror they could see Toybo falling backwards through the darkness of space with his clothes in tatters. From the distance another muscle bound figure was tearing toward the injured hero. The monster opened his arms and an immense circle of light started growing around him. The circle of light formed a lightning filled sphere and when he pointed his fists at Toybo the ball struck him, twisting him tighter into the fetal position. As he started to reenter the atmosphere Asha sat up very straight and said, "Mother please help Toybo!" From the mirror the voice said, "Call to him!" and Asha yelled, "Toybo!"
His face was upside down in the little mirror and closing in from the distance was the red-faced monster building another ball of lightning. Toybo was startled by Asha's call and looked up and crossed his arms just in time to be ripped by another blow. Now the girls could feel the shock wave and could see what looked like a meteor flashing in the distant sky above them.
Asha asked, "Mother, Who is that attacking Toybo?" The voice said, "It is Torfire. He is here to test the new girl."
Alka shouted, "Does she mean me?" Asha only had to look at Alka and she knew it was. Then flash, another blast sent Toybo spinning and he crashed all the way down to the ground so close to the girls that the ground shook all around them.
Alka could see there were symbols around the edge of the mirror and she asked, "What do those symbols mean?" Asha said, "They tell information about the ones we are viewing. You can see the symbols always stay on the edge and they always stay on the same side as the one it is reading. See the ones at the bottom right side show that Toybo's and his powers, at the bottom, are very low. Torfire's powers are very high and they are at the top of the mirror because he is up there." Alka asked what the little images all around the sides were. Asha said, "Those show all the other creatures in the area. If I ask Mother about them I will be able to see their information too." Alka asked, "Could any of them help Toybo?"
Asha became excited and asked, "Mother will you ask the Waterfage to assist Toybo?" Instantly a new set of symbols appeared on the mirror and a mist began to rise from the river valley. As Torfire descended from the sky his shock wave ripped up stones, dirt, and whipped the growing mist into a small twister. But when he started to build another sphere blast the mist shorted him out and he burst into flames. He began to howl like a bull as he fell backward. Toybo took his chance and threw himself onto Torfire with his hands circling in front of him. His hand movements formed what looked like a saw blade of heat waves. The blade cut through the mist and at the last moment Torfire turned to see it crash into his chest. The explosion blew a great crater in the ground.
It seemed like a long time before the mist rose from the crater and settled back into the river. Alka drew a sigh of relief when Toybo marched from the steaming hole. Asha jumped over the rocks and was running toward the sweaty hero. Toybo stepped into the air, which created a stiff breeze that, blew Asha's dress like a flag as she ran to him.
As they met, Toybo settled next to her and they were walking toward Alka and talking, when Asha yelled to Alka, "The Moltoids helped Torfire to get away underground. He could come back or send someone else."
Alka was visibly worried and climbed on a rock yelling to Asha, "Can he come up anywhere?" "What does it mean he wants to test me?"
Toybo finally spoke again, "The Collectors need your help." Alka almost collapsed in disbelief saying, "Wha?" Asha continued, "Toybo just explained it to me. You are genetically predisposed to teach. The part of your brain that is most useful to teachers is going to develop more than any other human since Buddha. Torfire and his Masters need someone to teach large groups of humans.
"But I'm only five!" Alka burst into tears and yelled. "What do they want me to teach!"
Toybo interrupted, "They want you to teach all humans to fight for their religions!" "The masters need human tissue and human workers but the universal laws will not allow direct collection of humans. "There is no universal law against collecting dead humans, deeply meditating humans who wish to be elsewhere and there is no universal law against teaching any of the religions." "If the Masters can get someone to teach humans to fight for their religion most humans will kill each other as they have throughout history. The remaining humans will pray to escape what is left of the earth."
Alka stood on the rock and the wind blew her little sari dress with tears still drying in her eyes. She said, "I know what to do!"
For the first time they could see a smile on Toybo's face and he said, "I knew you would." He stepped back and the dust flew as he shot into the sky.
The sun was going down as Alka looked over the valley and the other kids were gathering around as Asha told them the story. Alka listened to it all again and when Asha got to the end all their little faces looked up at Alka. Some of them asked, "Are you going to fight the Eye Blood?"
Alka jumped down from her rock and said, "I'll explain it to you in the morning but I have to sleep. Where is the safest place for us to rest?"
Asha lead the whole group to the gazebo at the top of the rock hill. They all cuddled together among the breathing pillows and fell to sleep with the sound of the quietly singing stones.
The morning light woke Alka and the other five kids. But something was wrong. The part of the sky that she could see had long ribbons of red that looked like still lightning bolts stretching across the sky. Alka saw that the other children were huddling together the moment they saw the weird strips of red. Alka leaned toward the open wall of the gazebo to see more. She could see that the red lines led to what looked like two large red orange planets with black centers. Then she realized that the whole sky was filled with two gigantic eyes. Asha was making her way to the small pool in the center of the gazebo floor. She looked into the water and asked "Mother, what do the Masters want?" At that second the ground began to shiver at the sound of a deep voice from the sky, "You will need to follow our instructions precisely. You have wasted valuable time."
When Alka started to speak Asha and the other kids vigorously signaled for her to stay silent. So Alka sat and listened.
The voice continued, "All of you will report to the training complex at once. There will be food and then you will perform the tasks indicated by the monitors provided for each of you. Follow the directions precisely. Mistakes will result in consequences." At that, the other children looked to each other with fear in their eyes, stood up and made their way down the path. They seemed to know what the voice meant by "consequences" and they waved for Alka to follow.
When Alka turned defiantly toward the eyes, some of the blood shot looking strips of red in the sky began to vibrate and from them fired a bolt of shocking pain to her chest. Alka squealed and fell to the floor as the voice rumbled, "Now!" She scrambled to her feet and followed the others as she wobbled noticeably.
The group followed the stone trails down to a beautiful hill of grass. It looked like a grassy volcano in the bottom of a valley. The stone trail led up like a screw around and around to the top of the hill and then screwed it's way back down into the large opening in the top of the hill. The trail continued around and down into the hill where there were six tall crystal doors leading out from the center courtyard.
In the center of the large circular courtyard was a fountain that had been bricked over creating a round table. On the surface of the table was a collection of familiar and some very odd-looking fruits. Alka went straight for the mangos cut one open and started to eat. She hadn't noticed till now how hungry she was. But as she ate she quietly told the other kids about her plan. When they all finished eating, each of the kids went into a different door and Alka went into the one that remained.
Inside there was a large monitor the size of the back wall. It had images of the planet outside alternating on the screen. Soothing music was coming from all around and equipment that looked like exercise machines were lined up against the two side walls.
As she noticed the equipment she could feel and see the room was shaking slightly. Bits of the walls were falling to the floor when Alka ran back outside to see that Asha and the other kids were looking up at the explosions in the sky. They could see Toybo creating an enormous umbrella of energy over the whole building and horrible flashing bolts were shuddering against it from the eyes in the sky. The kids were yelling, "He's trying to stop the Eye Blood!" "They are going to get to us!"
Alka yelled to the children to push the back of their exercise machines against the crystal glass windows that faced the courtyard and she ran in and did it herself. As she thought it would, the dark backside of the machine made the crystal glass wall into a mirror into which she asked, "Mother, may I see what is happening out there?" Instantly she could see the bolts doing serious damage to the blazing umbrella of light and at the top there was a very long symbol for the Masters power. At the bottom of the mirror was the shrinking symbol for the power of Toybo. But what Alka was interested in was the many little colored symbols all around the edges. She called out, "Mother please ask everyone around us to help Toybo and to get us all home." By that time the other kids were speaking to their makeshift mirrors. Eapin, who was a small boy with long red hair called out, "Mother please send Cloudshares to help Toybo!" Dowin was a little older boy whose hair was kept clean shaved and who called out!" Mother Nature, please let Redmarks help Toybo!" Julie who was the youngest with wild blue eyes and short blond hair yelled, "Mother please send Clawboys to help us." Silver was a dark skinned girl with pigtails in all directions who was already calling out, "Mother please send Storocks to help us!" Asha was tall and slim with the wind whipping her shinny black hair as she called out, "Mother please send Waterfage to help Toybo again!" And for a time it seemed like there was nothing that was not moving. Storocks were huge stones who came up from the ground forming a bowl under the group as they ground up and destroyed everything in the building. Cloudshares where billowing dark clouds firing lightning straight up into the eyes in the sky. The Waterfage mist grew as far as they could see in the distance. They were grounding the electrical bolts from the eyes safely into the planet. Clawboys were bear-like creatures with huge paws and great jaws and no neck. They stood tall over each child gnashing their teeth and swinging their fat claws at the sky. When a bolt would knock down one another took it's place. Redmarks were the last to become visible. They are worm like creatures that crawled onto Toybo's energy umbrella leaving a sticky trail that quickly hardened into a clear red protective shell. The bolts from the sky that got through the Waterfage were breaking off large portions of Redmarks shell and the pieces fell all around the children. The Clawboys reached and pounded the glasslike shards safely to the center of the courtyard where a pile was developing. When Redmarks shell ultimately became very thick and covered the whole complex in a beautiful red-orange translucent sparkling dome. When the bolts from the sky were stopped by the dome Toybo fell to the floor and Asha yelled that she could see that his powers were almost gone. The Masters powers were still as great as ever but the forces of Mother Nature were keeping them at a distance.
When Alka started toward Toybo the worst possible sight appeared like lava between the Storocks. Asha looked at her compact mirror to see that something of monstrous power was coming up from below and all the kids started screaming, "Moltoids!" At that moment the ground shook knocking everyone down as one of the Storocks was sputtered up from the ground. As it fell to the side Torfire burst out of the glowing fiery opening shooting electric spheres in all directions. When most of the Clawboys were downed Torfire hovered above the group shouting, "You are making this needlessly difficult!"
Suddenly the Redmark dome was breached in a long growing crack headed for the center. Apparently the dome was hit by many blasts at once because the red glassy covering then smashed into a million flying pieces crashing on them all. By the time Torfire looked around Alka was scampering out of the building and rolling down the outside of the hill. Before she knew what happened she was hit by bolts from all sides and was laying face down in a puddle of water. As she came to she saw her reflection in the water and she whispered, "Mother?" Power indicators appeared all around the edges of the puddle. She could see Torfire and the Master's indicators more powerful than ever but the reflection was almost completely filled with even higher power symbols. When a drip of sweat fell from her nose and broke up the image she looked up to see that the mountains in the distance and what looked like tidal waves where moving quickly toward her from all sides. She was shocked into muscle spasms by another blast from the sky as she could see Torfire coming from behind. Out of the corner of her eye she could see an area of total blackness. Torfire's footsteps crackled on the shards of broken Redmark glass and Alka couldn't believe her eyes when the blackness began to spill over the edges of the puddle as it crawled closer. The mountains of rock and water loomed inevitably to crush over her and Torfire grabbed Alka's foot as the blackness opened under her and she fell leaving her sandal in his hand.
There was erie silence as she fell seeing the mountains and ocean splintering in a torrent that smeared Torfire like jelly across an invisible barrier above her.
When she woke she was in a magnificent cave surrounded by moist and colorful blossoms of stalactites and stalagmites. Asha and Silver were cuddled at her front and back like spoons. Just next to them where Julie, Eapin and Dowin with their feet in a small pool of water. When Alka stirred, the two girls next to her were roused and they made their way to the water. Silver said, "Darkness got us out, but Torfire and the Masters will never stop." Alka interrupted, "Torfire was killed! I saw him get crushed when I was falling into Darkness." Dowin and Eapin laughed and hit their heads together. Alka interrupted again, "I think I learned something from the Darkness." Silver said, "I think I know what you're going to say." Alka looked at Silver and continued, "You felt it too? Darkness has something to do with getting us home." Silver finished the thought; "We could be home now if we had known to see our home through the Darkness." Julie finally spoke up crying, "What are we waiting for!" Eapin said, "Are we going to see each other any more?"
Alka looked into the water and said, "Mother Nature, may I see Julie, Eapin, Dowin, Silver, Asha and myself." And at the feet of each child appeared a set of symbols. Julie squealed with delight and all the children looked up at each other with a look they would always remember. Facing each other with their feet in the small pool they burst into a combination of laughter and tears and fell into each other's arms in the center of the water.
After a few minutes they gathered their wits and agreed to communicate in secret until they decided what to do with their new knowledge. Seated again on the edge of the pool Asha called, "Mother, please bring Darkness to help us get home." And in a moment the water was being replaced by an abyss that the whole group leaped into together as they thought of the homes that were waiting for them.
Cassy and her family were resting comfortably in the Ahuja Motel when they heard the excitement. Apparently the missing girl was found in the same temple complex where the whole town searched all the night before. Cassy knew what was happening when her parents went to the windows to see the celebrating crowd. Her parents were calling her to see the child being held in the air by a hundred loving hands. But Cassy was already in the bathroom looking in the mirror whispering, "Mother may I see Alka?" and there was a better view than her parents had. Cassy could see Alka laughing like a baby and thanking everyone in the crowd. But even in all the excitement Alka could feel Cassy watching, and she looked in Cassy's direction. Cassy heard her father calling to her saying, "Cassy! You missed it. The little girl looked right up here at us. Didn't she Betty?" Cassy's mother was corroborating her husbands' excited statement as Cassy noticed the edge of the mirror.
At the bottom of the mirror was a strange group of symbols indicating Alka's power level and all the way around the edge were thousands of beautiful and tiny colored icons of every animal, mineral, and energy type.
To Be Continued