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A Long Journey
Present – Crookston, Minnesota, USA
The ground moved, shuttered, and swayed sideways, as the gigantic round metal object landed with a thud in the rich green forest.
Faint metallic sounds echoed in the air and disturbed a variety of animals that lived in a once peaceful domain. Then there was the defined sound of something or someone moving.
Soon all was still and surprisingly quiet.
Rourke Fallon, chemical engineer, exited his office at Tyron Petroleum Company. It was Friday, 4:30 PM, and he was bone tired.
He was glad the company parking lot was not too far from the plant. He was too tired to walk further.
He spotted his car. As he opened the car door, he glanced up at the sky. He spotted fluffy white clouds, blue sky, and no sign of snow flurries. Just where were the snow flurries which were supposed to fall that day? He was disappointed and moody.
Christmas was one week away. He paused to think about this. Last year, on the day before Christmas, his fiancée ended their engagement.
She told him she didn’t want to get married after all, that her career took priority over all else. In a way, he couldn’t blame her. Her recent promotion would take her to Switzerland. Nice promotion, and lots of money.
He didn’t date after that and didn’t care to. His ego had taken a beating, and he hadn’t yet recovered. Time passed quickly, however.
He stepped into his Honda Accord and headed for home. The home was a stylish ranch situated atop a steep hill. Once inside, he threw his hat on his sofa and sat down with a thump. No sooner had he started to relax, but his doorbell rang.
He got up and headed for the door. As he opened the door, he spotted a battered woman leaning on his doorjamb. Before he could say anything to her, she fell, face down, at his feet.
Oh, my God! This couldn’t be happening.
He quickly lifted the woman and laid her on his sofa. He removed her coat and shoes, then raced to his bedroom for a blanket.
He glanced at the unknown woman and concluded she was indeed a woman with all the right curves, in all the right places. She was badly bruised and quite dirty. He wondered what happened to her.
He checked her pulse and found it to be satisfactory. Other than the obvious bruises and dirt, she was healthy and sound.
Until she wakened, he decided to make supper. Tonight, for a change, he would make supper for two.
He cooked the noodles first, then started on the meat sauce. While the sauce cooked, he washed some lettuce. As he placed the washed lettuce in bowls, he heard a thud.
He yanked his apron off and ran to find out what the thud might be. He suspected the woman fell off his sofa. He was right.
As he was about to help her get up, she looked at him. Starring back at him was a pair of blue, very blue eyes. His stomach did flip-flops.
“Here, let me help you get up. My name is Rourke.”
He helped her back to the sofa. Not only was she still dirty, of course, but now she looked frail, almost sickly.
“Please take me outside. I need to be warmed by the heat from your Sun. I’ll feel better then, you’ll see,” she mumbled.
After a few minutes in the sunshine, he noticed a complete change in her coloring and appearance. Her bruises were gone as well as the dirt. He couldn’t figure out how the physical changes had been carried out in such a short time.
“Before we go back inside and have something to eat, what is your name,” Rourke asked.
“I’m called Quasar.”
He stopped abruptly and stared at her.
“What’s your full name?”
“That’s it,” Quasar replied nonchalantly.
“Well Quasar, let go in for a bite to eat.”
An hour later, the food was gone. Rourke watched Quasar as she finished her drink. He didn’t know what to say to her.
She was a stranger. He had been taught to beware of strangers because you never knew what they might do. He realized that not only did a person not know what a stranger might do, but one didn’t know what they might say, either.
“Thank you for the food,” Quasar remarked.
“You’re more than welcome. Now tell me about you. Where do you come from? Do you have a family?”
He watched her fidget. She was uncomfortable with his questions. Why?
She didn’t answer his questions. She left him sitting and staring as she headed back into the forest. He wasn’t sure she would return.
In the meantime, he celebrated Christmas evening alone, though his thoughts centered on the stranger he knew only as Quasar.
Sunday, Christmas Day, came with sunshine and a few flurries. He took a brief walk toward the forest, stopped, and headed back home. He wished Quasar was with him. He was lonely and didn’t like the feeling of being alone. Suddenly, he heard a familiar female voice.
He turned to see Quasar heading toward him. Her smile was radiant, her walk lively, and she glowed as brightly as the Sun.
She was a foot away from him. She took his hand and held it. He knew she was leaving him. True, she hadn’t yet said the words, but he felt it.
“Come, walk with me, Rourke.”
He couldn’t help but do as she asked. He was more than fond of the stranger called Quasar; he was in love and didn’t know when it happened.
“You want to know me and where I come from. If only I could answer those questions for you. Suffice to say, I’ve been on a long, long journey. I’m fortunate to have come to this planet you call Earth, where your Sun provides me with sustenance.”
“Sustenance? I don’t understand,” Rourke remarked.
“Your Sun provides sustenance for those who require life-giving heat in great amounts. Some planets don’t have this benefit, and the repercussions can be deadly.
“I want you to know that I will never forget you, and even though coming to your world was risky, I would do it again because you’re here. There aren’t many people like you in this universe.
“I do wish I could tell you what you want to know. However, I’ve been here too long already; and I must leave. I’m so sorry.”
Quasar kissed Rourke on his cheek and turned away from him. She headed back into the forest.
Soon Rourke heard an unusual hissing noise and saw a huge round object levitate above the forest. It sped away, fading from his sight.
She had come from another world, maybe from another time. He felt fortunate to have known her and was now no longer alone because he would have memories of her brief visit.
He focused his eyes on the skies above him. She was out there somewhere. He wished he could have gone with her but that was not to be.
This story was originally published in the Ariel Chart Literary Magazine.
Edited by Steve Hovland
Gerri Zimmerman lives in Crest Hill, Ill. and likes to write sci-fi and fantasy stories that challenge the reader to think and wonder. She has two published novels to her credit. A few of her short stories have appeared in Soft Cartel Magazine, Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Ariel Chart Literary Journal, Aphelion Webzine, and Metastellar Magazine. Follow her on Facebook.