The July Selecteed Story is by
Please feel free to email Ashley at: email@example.com
They were not dreams. If they were, then there would be nothing wrong with me. But there was something wrong. I was losing memories bit by bit every time I walked between worlds.
Yet, I couldn’t stop.
The other world consisted of spaceships and intelligent beings amongst other strange curiosities. That world was perfect—at least I thought it was at first. The inhabitants were friendly and more advanced than us in many ways.
It started when I was twenty-one. My mom, Jasmine Delaney, worked for the Corporation. She never talked about her work and I didn’t even think my dad knew anything about it. She was a scientist but that was the extent of our knowledge.
One day Mom ran through the front door and told us that we had to quickly pack and leave. My dad, of course, objected and wanted to know why.
“There’s no time for that, Aaron! We have to leave now! Come on, Karina!” Mom said urgently as she rummaged through her purse. She grabbed one of my shoulders and handed me two vials. “Take one and drink it now! And guard the other one with your life! They’re important, and you will need both to defeat him and to stay safe.”
“What are you doing?” my father asked, but she ignored him and shoved one of the vials that looked like blue liquid to my lips. I drank a little and then she stopped me from drinking the rest and told me to put both in my pocket.
Suddenly I heard a BLAM as the front door was kicked open. I turned to run out of the living room as a man in a suit and tie held a gun and crossed the threshold, slamming the door behind him.
The intruder bellowed with an enraged insanity and I looked over my shoulder as I ran. He lunged at me and caught me as I screamed in intense fright. My heart pounded against my ribcage and vomit rose in my throat.
I couldn’t understand why my parents just stood there, staring at the man. And then my father jumped into action. He grabbed my arm and yanked me out of the intruder’s grasp.
“I want your daughter!” the intruder said.
“Arden, no!” Mom screamed. My dad widened his eyes.
“Arden Blair? You’re Arden Blair from the Corporation?” he asked, taking a step backward with me still behind him.
The man pointed the gun at my dad’s head and shot him between the eyes. My mom screamed again but I was unable to make any sound at all. My dad fell limply in front of me like a giant rag doll—except the solid thud gave the morbid reality that he wasn’t a doll, but a dead human being.
And then he shot my mother. Her body fell backward and landed on the kitchen table. Her soft blonde hair was sticky with blood and her eyes were wide as she gazed straight up into nothingness.
I looked from Dad to Mom and then to the monster named Arden who charged at me. I was at first paralyzed until he touched me and, as if it was the magic button, I was in instant action.
With primal reflexes, I blocked the hands that reached for me, yet with unassuming strength and prowess, he snaked his arms around my neck and just held me. Tight.
Terror’s icy grip coiled around my insides and I tried to scream but nothing escaped my lips. I clawed at his arms and struggled with every force of my body but he held his grip around my throat until I passed out.
When I woke up, I was strapped to a bed in a white room with medical equipment all around. I could hear the cries of what must be other patients and I started to panic.
A nurse sat next to me, filling a syringe with an electric green colored liquid. I yelled and struggled violently against my restraints, but she was able to get the needle in my vein and injected me. A sudden coldness filled me like I was being injected with ice. The feeling took over and I couldn’t stop screaming as it felt like my insides were about to be frozen solid.
As I writhed in pain, I could see the nurse running out of the room. When she returned, she brought Arden Blair with her. I felt an intense wave of fear: he murdered my parents! He looked at me and I felt even icier than from the injection.
The nurse discussed the information on the screens but Arden didn’t seem to be listening. He just kept looking at me. My every spastic twist and convulsion of pain seemed to intrigue him. He moved closer to me and reached out to gently caress my skin.
As soon as he touched me, something happened. He recoiled as if he just touched fire and then I realized the heat was coming from me. I was burning up now.
Adrenaline raced through me and my ‘flight or fight’ response kicked in. With all my might, I ripped through the cloth straps and flew off the bed, barreling through the nurse and Arden. I threw open the door and raced into the hallway.
It was some sort of hospital corridor and there were people hurrying by me—and I suddenly realized that they weren’t human. They had exposed wires in their arms or light bulbs for eyes. But robots weren’t the only ones rushing by with pressing tasks. Aliens moved just as swiftly as their mechanical counterparts. Some were scaled and reptilian but most were human-like, yet not human at all.
I looked back at the room I came from expecting to see Arden and the nurse chase after me, but there was no door or room. Just the hallway.
That told me I had changed worlds again. I was no longer in the same hospital as I was just a second ago. Thank god! I had escaped from Arden Blair!
Yet I still seemed to be in some sort of hospital, or a similar institution. I turned back and saw an alien come toward me and help me out of the center of the corridor to the side. She looked female, with purple skin, dark purple lips, and entirely black eyes and hair.
“Don’t be afraid, little one. You are a walker,” the alien said. Her heavy accent made it difficult to understand.
“What?” I stammered, not sure what she meant.
“A walker between worlds. You’re human,” she said, and it sounded like an accusal.
“Yes. Please, I want to find my own world. I want to leave this one.”
“My name is Sasha and I’m a Vexterian. All of us are. You are on Vexteria,” she said.
“Is that a planet? So, this is not only a different world, but a different planet?”
“Vexteria is not a planet, it is a spaceship. I know someone who might be able to help you. Come with me to see Dr. Rogers.” She gently took my hand and led me through the sea of beings. I realized I felt fine now. No ice or heat tingled beneath my skin.
We crossed several walkways and entered a hallway. She came to an automatic glass door and entered while I followed behind. We stood in an office, and the physician stood up from the desk.
“Dr. Rogers, I’ve found a human walker,” Sasha said. She moved out of the way so the physician could see me. He appeared to be human, or was he?
“I bet you are confused,” he said, shaking my hand vigorously.
“Are you human?” I asked looking him over.
“Yes, I actually came from Earth, like you.”
“Please send me back there!” I exclaimed.
“All in good time. You can leave, Sasha,” Dr. Rogers said. Then he continued, “Now, Vexteria is really not that different from Earth.”
“But this is a spaceship.”
Rogers smiled grimly. “Vexteria was the home planet but it has become unlivable to its inhabitants. We are on a spaceship above it with the same name. Now how about some rest? There’s a bed—”
“No. I’m not tired. I want to go home,” I said, but after I said that I wondered why I wanted to go home. There was nothing there for me anymore. Both my parents were dead on Earth and the Corporation would never leave me alone.
“Delaney? Jasmine Delaney’s daughter?” he asked, seemingly surprised. My eyes widened.
“Yes! How do you know her? Has she been here before?” I asked frantically.
“She was one of the scientists who discovered how to get here. The Corporation was trying to design ways to get to other planets outside your own galaxy in search of other intelligent life. They ended up successfully creating a formula that allows a person to travel to planets specifically with intelligent life,” he explained.
“My mom gave me a formula to drink! Is that why I ended up here? I think she was trying to save me from Arden Blair.”
“Yes. Your mother discovered something strange about the formula when she continued to test it. You see, the people of Vexteria have little interest in war and brutality. When the same formula was being taken by different people, they would end up on other planets. I came here, but mostly others wouldn’t. Your mother wanted to find out why and for better or worse, she did.”
“What do you mean, for better or worse?” I asked.
“She discovered that a person who took the formula would end up on a planet with like characteristics. For instance, your mother, being a sweet and loving woman, would end up on a planet with friendly inhabitants, such as Vexteria.”
“That’s good, then! That means Arden Blair can never come here!”
He looked grave. “You can travel to worlds and planets without taking the formula; you just have to be holding on to someone who has. Arden Blair could easily tag along if he holds onto that person when the formula is being drunk.” Then he asked, “Now Karina, where is your mother? Why didn’t she come with you?”
Hot tears began to well in my eyes and I had to level my breathing before I spoke. “She’s dead. That monster killed her and my dad.”
“Oh Karina, I am so sorry,” Rogers said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “We don’t have to discuss this right now. You have been through a lot already.”
“No!” I exclaimed. “I need to know why Arden was after my mom and why he’s now after me!”
He looked away. “Do you have the formula?”
I paused with suspicion. “Why are you so interested in the formula?”
I pulled the vial out of my pocket and looked at it. A look of surprise came over Roger’s face as he saw it. It was not the blue liquid I drank but a red liquid in a similar bottle still sealed.
“That’s not the world-jumping formula. Give it to me!” he said.
Instead, I reached in my pocket and pulled out the other vial containing the blue formula. I drank a bit and put the rest back in my pocket.
I turned around, racing for the door and hurled it open. I crossed the threshold between Vexteria and Earth.
But what if I really wasn’t back home…on Earth? What if this was another world very similar to mine?
No! This was Earth. It had to be!
I turned to my right and saw a friend of mine, Jeremy. I ran and wrapped my arms around him just as he was getting up from his seat.
“You have no idea how happy I am to see you!” I cried.
“Oh my God, Karina, I thought you were dead!” he said, appearing shocked.
“Dead! What do you mean?” I asked.
“The police found your mom and dad all dead in your house last week and you were nowhere to be found!”
“What?” I whispered. “No, I was kidnapped and I escaped!”
Suddenly the words last week registered in my head. It had only been yesterday that they had been killed and Arden grabbed me.
Was I losing my memory? The injection they gave me has to somehow be affecting me. That must be what he was trying to achieve—to make me forget. But why not just kill me? What did Arden Blair want with me?
“Karina?” Jeremy broke into my thoughts.
I blinked and looked back at him. “You’ll have to do it, Jeremy. Go to the police and tell them that the person who shot my parents is a man named Arden Blair and that he kidnapped me. I have to find out what he did to me during the past week.”
“Karina, watch out!” Jeremy yelled.
I turned toward him but I realized that I was turning around in a rotating chair with my hands on a steering wheel. I had somehow ended up in a spaceship and was co-piloting it.
“Karina, watch out, you almost hit the side of the cliff!” Sasha cried as she helped me guide the spaceship away from a jutting rock formation.
I blinked in surprise. “But I didn’t take the formula this time. So how did I end up back on Vexteria?”
“Something’s wrong,” Sasha said. “We need to land.”
I realized that we were on a glider. Gliders were small lightweight spaceships and their models were called Vixens. They were designed by Sasha herself. “I’ll take over, you just relax,” Sasha said.
After we landed, I took off my seat belt and pressed a button to allow the door to open. As I walked up the exit stairs, a resounding alarm echoed throughout the entire ship. I turned and saw a monster.
I wouldn’t have recognized who the monster was if I didn’t remember those cold green eyes.
Arden Blair no longer looked as he had on Earth. His skin was red with veins clearly defined under his flesh, he had no hair, and though he was still wearing his suit and tie, the sleeves were torn off to reveal massively built arms.
As he got out of the glider, he was dragging what looked like a frightened scientist by the arm. The scientist was wearing a white lab coat that looked worn and was sprayed with what looked like blood on the sleeve Arden was gripping. He had disheveled dark brown hair and glasses with one lens cracked.
I looked back at the monster and could see Arden’s sharp white teeth clearly for he was grinning at me.
“Karina, it’s time to come home,” he said as he snapped the scientist’s neck with ease. I watched the scientist fall limply to the floor and then I ran like Hell.
I pushed past robots, aliens, and machines of all kinds as I raced on metal walkways. Adrenaline fueled my legs and I felt no pain until I crashed into an office, and there was Dr. Rogers.
“Karina, what happened, what is it?” he asked, standing up.
I didn’t know if I could trust him or not, but I had no other options. I was at the end. There was nowhere else to go, no one to turn to. “Arden’s here and he’s after me! You’ve got to hide me!”
“Quick, lock the door,” Rogers said.
I turned the deadbolt, then said, “He doesn’t look human anymore! He looks like a monster!”
“He’s made too many jumps and they are altering him. You’ve got to stop jumping worlds, too. It will change you too, just like Arden. Already your memory is affected, isn’t it?”
“Dr. Rogers, what is the red vial for?” I asked.
“Not worlds, but dimensions. Your mother found out that it was possible to jump between different dimensions.”
I was about to ask him what he meant by dimensions when a crash echoed not far away from the office door. I knew that it had to have been Arden on the walkway.
“Give me the formula!” Rogers yelled.
I remembered what my mom said before she slipped it into my pocket. They’re important, you will need both to defeat him and to stay safe!
A thud echoed soundly on the door and I screamed. “No!” I gulped the red formula.
And then I jumped dimensions. I was driving my black Mustang out of a parking structure and onto a street vaguely known to me. It was all familiar, yet different.
In this dimension, I wanted to confront Arden Blair. I knew my memory was affected, but somehow I still found my way to the Corporation.
And on the huge sign that loomed over the building, containing the Corporation’s logo, I saw the difference that this dimension contained.
Nowhere on the sign was Arden Blair’s name like it used to be. Instead, in this dimension, the sign proclaimed:
Dr. Rogers, CEO and Chief Scientist
Realizing that I was in an infused reality barely fazed me. I had learned a lot and felt confident I could make my way in this dimension. But I had never learned if I could trust Dr. Rogers or not.
Ashley Dioses discovered the thrill of creative writing at a young age and began developing her skills with mostly dark poetry with her main goal being a fantasy novelist. She has written the occasional short horror or science fiction story here and there and got her first horror work titled “Out of Reach” published in Tales from the River. Her other works have been published at Horrotica, Blood Moon Rising, and Dark River Press.
When she is not writing, she spends her time at the dojang training in Soo Bahk Do.