THE ABDUCTION (PROLOGUE)
Blinding light slips through Ken Brody’s bedroom window, consuming everything from visibility. He tries to open his eyes but it’s as if he were looking directly into the sun as it races toward Earth in a mad pursuit to end everything.
Squinting through the glare the best he can, Ken rises from his bed and searches his way to the large bureau near the bedroom door. He ruffles through various nick-knacks that had been thrown on there like wasted memories over the years and finds a pair of dark sunglasses he bought when he and his first wife, Gloria, were on their honeymoon in Hawaii. Stroking his ego, she said they made him look cooler than Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Several years later, in one of many fights that exploded out of thin air, she said they made him look foolish. He hasn’t worn them for over ten years but kept them as a reminder — for the sake of the one she left behind.
It takes a couple of minutes for his eyes to adjust to the subdued intensity of the light, but making significant shapes out of anything is still extremely difficult. He staggers to the window and sees a small, black rectangle lined with tiny square lights where the lawn should be. They rest in a large, circular void connecting both halves of the light as if it were a pathway between separate worlds.
“Stacey,” Ken whispers to his wife still slumbering in their bed. “Stacey. Come over here and look at this. It’s like the X-Files out here.”
Ken grows concerned when she doesn’t respond. Stacey, whom Ken met a few weeks after Gloria disappeared, has always been a very light sleeper — but not tonight.
Why not tonight?
Trading his focus from the light to Stacey, Ken walks to the bed. He repeats her name over and over, each time pronouncing it louder and more elongated. As he reaches the corner edge of the bed, a glimmer of movement near the bedroom door flashes past the corner of his eye. He turns, but can only see the bright white void.
It’s your eyes playing games.
Ken shakes his head and turns back to the window when he hears a hushed growling — or a huffed grunting —
What’s the difference?
— much like a couple of wild dogs. He can’t move.
It’s all in your head, Ken. All. In. Your. Head.
Just then, ripples break through the light and Ken becomes overwhelmed with fear, yet at the same time, feels more secure than he’s ever been, as if he were suffering a heart attack while stealing a nap after work. Ken hears waves crashing on the shores of his life, his love —
Beauty is a picture of the one I see…
A soft air of fog hits Ken’s face, sending a chill down the back of his neck.
Ken’s euphoria subsides as the ripples dissipate, leaving him breathless within the silence of the light. Ken isn’t sure if his heart has stopped or if it’s racing for freedom, but his lungs finally take in the crisp night air, now hinted with the sweet scent of honey and roses. Ken quickly shifts around the bed, wanting nothing more than to take his wife in his arms. As he steps up to the headboard, the light casts a small shadow in the shape of his body over the flattened — and painfully empty — sheets.
He is alone.
“Stacey?” He crawls onto the bed and searches for her. Never has he been so scared of losing someone. Stacey is more than just his wife; she is a piece of him. Without her eyes, he cannot see; without her ears, he cannot listen; without her lips, he cannot speak; without her touch, he cannot feel. Unlike Gloria, Stacey has consumed his soul and replaced it with her spirit, a spirit that now calls to him — screams for him — to rescue her from a fate he is not ready for.
Ken sucks in a breath of air that sticks to his throat. Of all of the thoughts that he could have had, the one he cannot shake is the one that kills him. But he isn’t dead; so Stacey can’t possibly be either. It’s impossible. The only other explanation is one he never thought he could believe.
The X-Files. What else could it be? But if that were true, then —
Ken whips his head to the door; it’s the only thing that makes sense. Those mysterious, growling ripples, for a reason that not even Ken can fathom, came and chose their newest victim.
He leaps to the door in two giant steps but can’t go any further. Across the hall, bleeding in bright red on his daughter’s bedroom door, the light casts a crescent moon. The familiar shape — the sheer splendor of its radiant glow, the superiority of what it symbolizes — holds him mesmerized in a breathless grip, one of which he is more than happy to remain for eternity.
The front door knocks Ken from his fugue state. He grabs his forehead in light-headed confusion before he remembers what’s going on. Stacey.
“Stacey!” he screams and rips off the sunglasses. The light is extremely painful, but going blind would be an acceptable exchange to have his wife safely in his arms. He jumps down the stairs like a rabbit from a fire and runs out into the icy night, instantly overcome with consternation. The wind blows steadily from above and all he hears is a soft, soothing hum emanating from the endlessly starless night hovering quietly above the green and brown patches of his lawn. Three rows of purple lights form a crescent moon that ultimately wraps around the edges of a small ramp digging itself into the earth. Two large, burly creatures — things? — carry a lifeless body amidst two rows of runway lights lining the ramp.
“Stacey!” he screams to no avail. His anger and fear are enough to compel him to strike the nearest thing like a leopard attacking its prey — swift and quiet. It drops one of Stacey’s legs as it loses its balance. After readjusting its footing, the thing grabs Ken by the throat and picks him off the ramp with ease. Just the sight of it (or maybe it was the stomach-inducing smell oozing from the thing’s drooling mouth) disgusts Ken to the point where he isn’t sure if what he’s seeing is real or a manifestation of too much television and hoagies before bed. Its head is almost perfectly round, bald and lumpy, and its eyes are like two slits in a piece of paper drawn approximately four inches apart from the center of the circle. Two horns protrude from both sides of its head where the ears should be and wrap around both slits, touching each other in the middle where the bridge of its nose would have been if the thing had a nose. A large mouth filled with sharp, fanged teeth rests approximately two inches from where the bottom of the horns wrap around the eyes.
As Ken grows faint, losing both air and his grasp on reality, the other thing grunts in asperity. Before completely losing consciousness, Ken is thrown thirty yards away. For a few seconds, the only sensation he feels is the sharp burn in his lungs as he searches for air. When the asphyxia does finally fade, his mind continues to find its way back from death. He composes himself with a cough and sets his wavering sights back to the things. He chokes out Stacey’s name one last time — unable to call out any louder than his own hearing could bear — as she disappears completely into darkness, leaving only the purple crescent floating among the patchwork of light and dark. Ken reaches for it in a vain attempt to hold it in place, but in the end, all he can do is watch as everything becomes a void of disillusionment.