It was good to be home from the hospital even though Dad wouldn’t let me out of his sight for a second. I felt like I was in prison the way he watched my every move.
The hospital tests came back normal. No one detected that the blood had been switched. The only thing the tests showed was the person was a little deficient in B vitamin. Thank God nothing more was wrong with the blood Cassiel stole from the blood bank at the hospital.
The exam showed no abnormalities, and the doctors had no idea what caused the bleeding or what the puncture marks behind my ears were.
Something happened but what? How did I get back here? How long was I really gone? These questions are what I had to struggle with as time moved on. Nothing made sense, and everything was baffling.
One night for the first time since I had been home, Dad left me alone. I didn’t waste any time; I had to go to the mountainside. I ran out the front door into the snowy evening air where the pitch-black sky encircled me. The moon had a purple hue, reminding me of the lunar eclipse on December twenty-first. Pondering what happened on the hillside, I stood looking up at the snowflakes before I got in the Mustang. What day was this? Was it still December? Ever since I had gotten back, my thoughts were jumbled like something was missing. Nothing could explain what happened, nothing except…. No time to rationalize. I started the engine and made my way back to the eerie spot.
I edged the Mustang right where Lucien’s Camaro was parked that night. The park was deserted. I opened the car door and trudged up to where Lucien and I had been standing. My shoes disappeared into the snow as I climbed. The cold wind bit my cheeks. I shivered. As I walked to the spot where the light had taken us, I kept my eyes on the sky for a sign. Nothing but snow fell.
“He’s not here,” said a familiar voice behind me. I turned quickly to see Cassiel walking towards me. I held my
arm around my chest, trying to keep warm. He looked sad, and his steps were heavy in the snow as he approached me.
“I remember I was with him, but I can’t remember what happened….” My voice trailed off as I searched his gray eyes, hoping he had the answers.
“Sam. Why did you hold onto him?” Cassiel said, his words slow and steady. He shook his head. “Silly female human.”
“I had to…” I said. The way Cassiel stared it was almost like he was upset with me for wanting to leave with Lucien.
“You’re right you shouldn’t have done it. You weren’t supposed to.” I have to do a better job in blocking my thoughts from him reading my mind. Think of my favorite cartoon. Fred Flintstone. Yes. That will do it.
“Fred?” Really?” He grimaced. “Why did you do it?” There was sadness in his voice, not at all like Cassiel. Was it his guilt getting the better of him for not telling me Lucien was going to leave, I couldn’t tell. “Let me look at you,” Cassiel said. He took my hands in his turning them to look at my palms. “You look better than when I saw you at the hospital.” He was quiet a moment. “You know you’re lucky… they brought you back. Some aren’t so lucky.”
“Why didn’t you tell me he was leaving?” I said pleadingly.
“They brought you back. That’s what matters.”
“How did I get back?”
“You don’t remember, do you?” he said.
“Why? What don’t they want me to remember?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know. Another truth I may regret.
“Everything,” he said, settling next to me looking so much like his brother, even his mannerisms. It was frightening and comforting at the same time. Part of me wanted to scream and yell and smack him for deceiving me, and part of me wanted to fall into his arms.
“How long was I gone?” I said. Cassiel blinked a snowflake away from his eyelash.
“Long enough for you to see things you weren’t meant to.” His shoulder brushed mine. “You should have a coat.”
“So they made me forget,” I said, ignoring his comment.
“Yes.” I watched the snowflakes fall one-by-one onto his black hair.
“Why? What could they possibly gain from me not remembering? They did something to me. What?” I mused.
“What they do.” Steam billowed from Cassiel’s lips as he spoke.
“Alien experiments… don’t they do unthinkable inhumane things? Don’t they, Cassiel? Is that what they did—to me? Tell me you’re not one of them” I was angry, hurt and humiliated; but most of all I was sad.
“They feel they have the right. You shouldn’t have done what you did,” Cassiel said with flared nostrils. I hated his patronizing attitude.
“What does that mean?” He edged closer, almost touching me. I hated him right then, the alien he was and the man he wasn’t. My world was upside down, all because of a freak twist of fate. I thought back to when Lucien saved me and wished it had never happened.
“Samantha, you’re lucky they let you live. What were you thinking, grabbing hold of Lucien?”
Lucky… they did something to me; how’s that lucky? You’re insane.
“I’m not insane. You’re alive,” Cassiel said, reading my thoughts.
“I would have rather died than been brought back, not knowing if I’m the same person I was before I left—and what about Lucien? I feel alienated from him. He deceived me.” What’s happening to me? This isn’t me talking. I love Lucien. Don’t I?
“He didn’t deceive you, Sam; he had to go.” He glanced around, struggling to find words.
Cassiel moved my hair from my cheek, lifting it revealing my ear. “Did you notice any marks, scars, burns anywhere?”
“How’d you know? Let me guess.” I moved his hand. “You read my mind again?”
“Sam… It’s just what they do.” A disturbing look washed over Cassiel’s face.
“Why! What for?” I touched where the doctors saw the puncture wounds behind my ears.
“It’s an implant. Jordan says it has something to do with a tracking device.”
“Why didn’t it show up on the CT-scan or MRI?”
“It wouldn’t; it’s undetectable.”
I thought back to Area 51 where the government had cut open Lucien’s leg to remove his chip. It seemed like a nightmare ago. The snow was beginning to increase into a squall, making me begin to shiver. “Why would they want to track me?”
Cassiel’s expression told me the obvious; he didn’t need to tell me. I already knew what he was going to say. My thoughts were spinning out of control.
He hesitated before answering, “To keep an eye on you. You have Lucien’s DNA coursing through your veins now.” I pondered his answer.
“They put one of those in me, what they took out of Lucien at Area 51 when he was kidnaped!” I couldn’t breathe… to keep an eye on me? I shuddered at my own frustration.
Cassiel nodded. “Let me see,” he said, lifting my hair again from my cheek. He took a moment to inspect the puncture wounds that were already beginning to heal. “Clean-cut, almost perfect in dimension and diameter. A highly-advanced surgical instrument made these.”
“Can you take it out…” my question trailed off.
“I don’t know, maybe.” He sighed…. “Jordan can take a look at it. Just wait and see; maybe it’s not that simple a task,” Cassiel said in almost a whisper.
“What else,” I said, “did they−do?” I said panicky.
“Sam…” Cassiel said. “I’m not sure, possibly something to make you forget.” He took hold of my shoulders. I didn’t believe him; he wasn’t telling me everything.
“I don’t feel normal…. I can’t remember…. ” I felt like I was suffocating.
“You’re overreacting,” Cassiel said.
“If they wanted me to forget, why didn’t they make me forget about Lucien?” I fell to my knees. I wanted to remember. “Why didn’t they take my memory of him?” I cried.
“I will never stop loving you, Samantha Hunter,” Lucien had said. I remembered that much. Staring into the sky at the empty spot where Lucien had been, I couldn’t believe he was gone. I could pretend it wasn’t true, but Cassiel was there to remind me.
“I can take your memory of him,” Cassiel said in a somber tone.
“No, don’t.” I sobbed.
An icy breeze blew by me like a kiss of betrayal, an aftereffect of what was once Lucien. It started to snow heavier. I blinked, suddenly aware that Cassiel knelt beside me. My legs wobbled where they lay prone, soaked in the slush of winter. “What happened?” I asked. “What really happened to me, Cassiel? How did I get back?” I asked, not holding back tears.
“The same way they took you… through the light,” he answered. I could tell by his tone he was telling the truth. I looked up; his eyes met mine. His eyes were glassy. I was confused.
“I was naked and bleeding, Cassiel! They found me at the ranger station that way,” I said, looking at Cassiel. He frowned and nodded.
“Sam…” Cassiel said. He touched me.
My eyes met his. “What do you see?” I whispered.
Did he really not know or did he? “Why did they take my clothes? What did they do to me? I can’t stand this.” My teeth chattered from the cold.
“You really do not recall anything? They erased everything?” Cassiel grimaced, holding his chin. “You said you were bleeding….” His voice trailed off to a whisper.
“My nose, ears, just about everywhere…” He grimaced and looked away into the snowy sky. “Not good.”
“What did they do?” My eyes followed his gaze.
“I have my suspicions. Sam….. It’s not going to help matters if you know.”
“I have to know.” I could feel tears welling over.
“Your memory is completely wiped out, it seems; maybe it’s for the best.”
“I have flashes of memory. You know what they did, don’t you, Cassiel?” I tried to remember. “There were lights and sounds, nothing I’ve ever heard. I remember floating through a tunnel into a blue beam of light.”
“Let me try and help you remember.” Cassiel took his hand like Lucien did when he helped me remember the crash. He pressed his palms to my forehead.
“They speak to me. But I don’t hear with my ears; it’s as though the words are in my head—like whoever has me says thoughts—which aren’t my thoughts! I see their hands pass in front of me, touching me. My God! I’m on a table with no clothes on whatsoever! I can’t move—and for some reason, I’m not scared. I’m not supposed to talk about what I’m seeing. That’s why they took my memories,” I said. Cassiel removed his hand and backed up with furrowed brow.
“Why didn’t you stay on the mountainside with…Why didn’t you stay with me?” Cassiel’s eyes locked with mine for a moment. We didn’t speak. “They don’t believe what they did was wrong. It’s normal for them…. it’s all they know. They have their reasons for what they do,” he said in a low whisper.
“Of course, you’re going to defend them. You’re one of them,” I snapped.
“Biologically yes, but, Samantha, I never knew them. They’re strangers to me. I know them no more than you do.” I clutched the icy substance beneath my fingers with such force that my fingertips split open my skin and heat escaped.
Cassiel took my bloody stiff hands from the snow and held them. “You have to get out of the cold.” He helped me sit. He put his leather jacket around my shoulders, unbuttoned and removed his white shirt to wrap around my bloodied hands. I watched specks of snow melt as they touched his warm skin; I wanted to pull away from him. I didn’t want his help, but I couldn’t. He was all that was left of Lucien. I met Cassiel’s dark gray eyes for a moment and then looked past him to the spot where Lucien and I had disappeared into the beam of bluish light. I tried to stand, but my feet were stuck awkwardly to the ground, and my weight wouldn’t bear me. I was rooted in a cold familiar place I knew all too well. “I will never stop loving you, Samantha Hunter.” Lucien’s words had reverberated in the air surrounding me.
“Why did they bring me back?”
“Samantha…I don’t know, but they did. You’re here now, for what’s it worth.”
“Will I ever see him again?” My eyes boiled over in tears.
“You will…” Cassiel said. “He’s not really gone.”
Cassiel held me until I felt grounded. Patience wasn’t his virtue but with his help, I gradually stood on my own. My eyes were heavy and tired. I wanted to sleep more than anything. I felt drained. “Can you drive?” Cassiel said. I nodded yes and we trudged back to my car as snow showered down on us. If it hadn’t been for Cassiel, I would have collapsed and frozen to death. He pulled me along to my car as if I were a rag doll. I paused as Cassiel opened the driver side’s door, and he took his shirt from my hands. I turned back once more to look at the spot where Lucien and I had disappeared.