"It's starting to rain," Cari said. "We'd better run for the house."
They'd been exploring their uncle's farm all day, trying not to notice the darkening sky.
"Too late," Greg mumbled. "Come on." He grabbed his sister's hand and pulled. Wind tore at their jackets, and a lightning sword split the sky above the old one-room schoolhouse across the road.
"We can't go in there!" Cari squealed. "It's haunted, Greg! Aunt Laura said so. I'd rather get wet..."
A bolt of lightning crashed into a tree just behind them, and Cari stopped arguing. They raced to the porch of the schoolhouse.
"I bet it's locked," Cari said and hoped she was right. But the door opened easily. Inside, they blinked away raindrops and peered into the shadows. The rain pelting the roof seemed far away.
Cari stared uneasily at the rows of desks. Beyond them was a platform with a teacher's desk on it. A torn map hung against the wall. She shivered. "I don't like it here," she whispered. "It's spooky! Let's go Greg."
But her brother was making his way between the rows of desks.
"There's something back there behind the teacher's desk," he muttered. "I can just see the top of it. Let's look." And then he jumped back so fast that he almost knocked Cari down. The "something" had moved. It was rising! A rough shape loomed behind the desk, and a pair of glittering eyes glared down at them...
Cari and Greg stood paralyzed with fear as they watched the dark figure slowly rose. Suddenly a bolt of lightning and a crack of thunder brought Cari and Greg back into reality. They both dashed out of the old school house and sprinted as fast as they could across a wheat field to the closest house they saw. The house belonged to a quiet kind man named Mr. Wilson.
Cari and Greg ran faster than ever before, partly because behind them they heard the wheat rustle as the creature chased after the two frightened kids. Greg mustered enough courage to look behind him to see how far behind the creature was. When he looked back, he saw the wheat about twenty yards back being thrown up into the air as the creature hunted them down. To Greg it looked like the creature was not in much of a hurry, it seemed like it was playing with them like a cat plays with a cornered mouse. As the two got closer to the house they started yelling and screaming for Mr. Wilson. They saw him come out onto his front porch with his shotgun and start looking around searching for what was causing the racket. Cari started screaming, "It's after us! It's after us".
As if Mr. Wilson understood exactly what was going on he raised his shotgun and shot twice into where the wheat was flying up and then opened the front door beckoning the children in. Once the three were inside they slammed the door shut and locked it tightly. All three went into the next room, which was the kitchen and watched the door waiting for a pounding at the door. Suddenly Mr. Wilson's face turned white and his eyes got wide. Cari asked him what was wrong and Mr. Wilson then looked up at the ceiling and said, "I left all of the windows upstairs open".
Cari gasped and Greg's face turned whiter than Mr. Wilson's. All of the sudden they heard a thump on the ceiling. Instantly Mr. Wilson brought the shotgun barrel up towards the roof and shot through the ceiling. He shot over and over again until the ceiling was riddled with holes and all they heard was the click of the empty gun. Mr. Wilson quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out his last two shotgun shells and then he quietly loaded them into the gun. Then he told Cari and Greg to stay there unless they heard him say otherwise. Cari and Greg then watched helplessly as Mr. Wilson crept up the stairs with his shotgun ready. Soon he was out of Cari and Greg's view and they waited for any sort of sound from the upstairs. Suddenly Cari and Greg heard Mr. Wilson gasp and heard the shotgun go off twice. Then they heard Mr. Wilson yell to them to run as fast as they could to the sheriff's station. Instantly the two children dashed out of the house towards town. When the two were about a hundred yards away from the once peaceful house they heard Mr. Wilson let out a blood-curdling scream that chilled their bones, but at the same time encouraged them to run even faster.
After what seemed like an hour, but was only about five minutes, they reached the sheriff's station. They shot through the door and instantly locked the door behind them as fast as they could. Once the sheriff realized what was happening he asked the two frightened children what was wrong. After about ten minutes, once they had calmed their nerves, the two were ready to explain what had happened. Then they remembered that it had been raining outside and they were freezing. Then sheriff got them some blankets and gave them something warm to drink. Finally Cari and Greg were ready to explain what had happened. So they started at the beginning with how they went into the old schoolhouse and how the creature had killed Mr. Wilson, but Cari and Greg could tell by the skeptical look on the sheriff's face that he didn't believe them because they had absolutely no proof to back up what they were saying. Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door and all of them looked up at the door and watched as the second knock dented the metal door and caused it to bend inward...
Cari started to scream and Greg just stood staring at the door with a look of terror on his face. The sheriff reached in a closet and pulled out a shotgun. He aimed at the door and fired three times through the door. The pounding had stopped but Cari continued to scream. Greg suddenly came out of his trance and tried to calm Cari down. After five minutes he had calmed her down. The sheriff reloaded the shotgun and said, "Don't move from this spot unless you hear otherwise."
He then crept toward the door with the shotgun ready. He then reached toward the handle and he unlocked it with a quiet "CLICK". Suddenly a dark slimy hand shot straight through the door and around the sheriff's neck. The sheriff cried out and dropped the shotgun to the floor as he tried to pry the slimy fingers off his neck. The sheriff's face was turning blue and then he lost consciousness. Then the dark hand withdrew back out of the door and Cari and Greg who had been paralyzed with fear just stood perfectly still as white as ghosts. Greg came to when he heard the door being opened from the outside slowly. He grabbed Cari by the shoulders and shook her and yelled, "Come on, we have to leave!"
Suddenly Cari awaked from her nightmare and screamed. Greg pulled her towards the back door. Within seconds the creature realized that its prey could escape and opened the door in a hurry and dashed in and sprang towards the two frightened children, but they were already out the back door and had locked it. Cari and Greg heard the door explode outward as the creature plowed through it. Greg suddenly realized that the creature was just toying with them. If it could just plow through the door like it was made of toothpicks then why hadn't it done that to the front door of the sheriff's office? Greg was so confused and was trying to figure out why this was happening but he realized that now wasn't the time to think, it was a time to run. After all, it wouldn't matter why if he were already dead.
For a while the two frightened children just ran down the road as fast as they could but soon they noticed that the creature wasn't rushing itself and was just waiting for them to tire out, and it was working. Cari and Greg could hardly breathe normally with the rain pouring in their open mouths and now they were running at full speed into the blinding rain and wind. They knew that they couldn't keep this up for much longer so they had to find some help. Greg's mind was racing, trying to figure out what to do, Cari on the other hand was too terrified to think and was numb all over. Greg tried to think of the place that would have the most men at one time and then it came to him. The town tavern! He looked franticly at the street signs for the one he wanted. Suddenly he saw it and turned right as fast as he could, almost slamming into Cari. Cari was in a daze and seemed oblivious to everything but running. Greg yelled at her as loud as he could muster. She snapped out of her daze and dashed after Greg. Soon they spotted the tavern and Cari realized what Greg was thinking. They put the last bit of their energy into the final sprint. Cari and Greg dashed through the door of the tavern and right into the arms of a man. He looked down at them in wonder and then they dashed in farther and waited for the creature to dash in and try to kill them again, but it didn't come. They stood there in the same place for an hour before someone came up to them and asked what they were doing here in a tavern with no parents around. They couldn't answer those questions and refused to leave when some of the adults told them to leave. In the end the adults saw that Cari and Greg weren't going to leave so they just left them alone in a corner. It was like that for about two hours. By now it was starting to get dark so Cari and Greg would never leave the safety of the building unless they were physically forced. Greg's mind was still boiling on why this was happening to them. The creature should have had them many times but it seemed to just be playing with them, and he wanted to know why that was and why it hadn't come in the tavern to get them. In the end he decided that he had to find out because this couldn't go on because sooner or later the creature would get tired of playing with them and just... What would it do to them? Would it kill them like poor Mr. Wilson? Or would it just knock them unconscious like the sheriff? It seemed to be only concerned with them and not the people who got in its way. Why? What had they done? They had just gone in the schoolhouse to get out of the rain. They hadn't disturbed anything or anyone. Had they? No, they couldn't have. They had only been inside the schoolhouse for a couple of minutes. Then why was this, "thing" after them? It seemed to be after them only for sport, but why? It was driving Greg mad. He just had to know.
After another hour (which to Cari seemed like another day) of waiting for the creature to burst in the door and come after them, Greg decided that they had to go outside and try to go home to their uncle and aunt. He said to Cari, "We should go home now, they're probably worried about us." Referring to their aunt and uncle.
"But, but... that thing is still out there..." Cari stammered.
"Yes, but it could get us here right now if it really wanted to but it hasn't."
"I don't know but I want to find out why. Please let's just go."
Cari paused and thought for a few minutes. Greg could see the fear in her eyes but knew that she trusted Greg.
"Okay. Let's go home." She whispered.
Greg smiled and hugged her. "It's gonna be okay. I know that we'll make it."
Cari tried to muster a smile but just couldn't. She was terrified, and didn't want to leave the so-called "safety" of the tavern.
Slowly they got up off the floor of the corner of the tavern and started slowly walking toward the door. They got a few looks from some of the adults saying, "Finally, they're leaving."
Cari and Greg slowly crept out the door and looked cautiously all around. They saw no one on the street. Cari felt the fear bubble up in her as she saw that they were all alone on the street. Greg tried to comfort her by saying, "Don't worry, it's just late and people have gone home."
Cari tried telling herself that, but it didn't help much. She kept hearing Mr. Wilson's scream and seeing the hand around the sheriff's neck. Cari was picturing the same thing happening to all these innocent people in town so that there was no one left. Greg held her hand as they walked down the street towards the edge of town. Their uncle and aunt lived on the far outskirts of town, about a half hour jog, so it would be about an hour walk. Within ten minutes they got out of the town and were no longer on paved roads, but on the dusty back roads. After another ten minutes they were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing to hide in or behind; just some three foot tall grass on one side and on the other low cut grass but the home was a mile away. For another ten minutes nothing out of the ordinary happened. Still, Cari and Greg were terrified because they kept hearing the grass rustle because of the wind. They walked on towards their aunt and uncle's house still in fear but nothing was happening, it was just as a normal day.
It was getting very dark now and Cari and Greg could hardly see two feet in front of them. The rain had stopped but it was still cold and the wind chilled their damp clothes. After twenty minutes they saw the lights of the farmhouse that their aunt and uncle lived in. Joy and relief filled up Cari and Greg almost totally drowning out their fear. Suddenly the clouds of rain came up again and started to bring the fear back to Cari, but Greg remained calm. They walked faster, wanting to get home to safety as soon as possible. As they walked, they passed under a large, old oak tree. All of the sudden they heard a harsh, cruel laugh come from the tree branches above them. Their eyes shot up and they couldn't see anything because of the darkness. Cari stood terrified and Greg was thinking about what that was. Suddenly a bolt of lightning broke through the darkness, and Cari and Greg saw a dark shape silhouetted against the light. The dark shadow glared down at them with the same glittering eyes that they had seen in the schoolhouse. Cari fell backwards over one of the oak roots as she tried to back away from the creature. Greg caught her and then put himself between her and the creature. He glared back up at the thing that had stalked them and terrified his sister. Greg tried to show no fear even though it was boiling up in him more than ever before. He yelled up at the creature, "What are you and what do you want with us?"
The creature's eyes showed a smile and it let out that laugh, a laugh that sent chills through the children's blood. Cari fell to the ground behind Greg and cried, but Greg stood his ground even though tears were streaming out his eyes. Again Greg screamed at the creature, "What do you want with us?!"
Again it merely smiled at them with its cruel eyes. Then Greg snapped. He looked down at the ground and saw a dead branch lying on the ground near him. He reached for it but the creature was far too fast and jumped down from high in tree and landed on the branch and broke it into a million splinters. Greg then broke down and fell to his knees. Tears were now flowing out his eyes like waterfalls. He screamed at the creature, "Just leave us alone, please!"
The dark shadow looked down at him and cocked its head and then a voice came out that was barely audible. It said, "Fine, just because you used the magic word."
Then it stepped forward closer to Greg and swung its huge dark hand and smacked Greg in the head. Greg fell over and lay on the ground. Cari felt the fear in her melt away and turn to a burning anger. She reached beside her and grabbed a large rock that she could barley pick up and charged the creature, furious at it for hurting her brother. She screamed and the creature snapped its head towards her and watched her. It seemed to be amazed that Cari had suddenly gotten the courage to attack the thing that had terrified her so much. That amazement quickly changed to amusement. Cari brought the rock up above her head as if to try and smash the creature that so much larger and stronger than herself. The creature stood completely still and watched Cari charge towards it. When Cari was only a couple feet away she brought the rock down trying to smash the creature's head. Suddenly, like a flash, the creature stopped the rock a couple of inches in front of its head while at the same time its other hand grabbed Cari by her neck and lifted her off the ground as if she was as light as a feather. Then slowly, just to put fear back into Cari's heart, the creature closed the hand that was holding the rock and Cari watched the rock crumble into little pieces. The creature raised Cari up higher until their eyes were equal. Cari's anger had now given way to the terror that had grasped her when she had first seen the creature. Now the creature was just toying with her because she knew that it could kill her and her brother at any second. Neither of them moved for what seemed like an eternity to Cari. She was grateful that it had done nothing to her or Greg, but she had a terrible feeling that that was about to change very soon. Finally she mustered up enough courage to ask the creature a question that was eating away at her, a question that her brother had not thought about. "Where are you from?" Cari whispered.
She saw those eyes that glittered smile at her in that strange way. Suddenly but quietly she heard the answer. "You wouldn't know."
"Please," begged Cari, "just tell me, I want to know."
This time the creature didn't just laugh with its eyes, it laughed out loud. Not very loud but loud enough that it scared Cari even more. Then the creature answered one of Greg's questions, but first it asked Cari if she wanted to know. "Do you want to know why I am doing this?" Asked the creature.
"Yes" whispered Cari. " I want to know that too"
This time it chuckled to itself and said, "Fine. To my kind this is a game."
"Your... kind? There are more... like you?" stuttered Cari.
Again the creature chuckled to itself and said, "Yes, there are many more like me. Some are even stronger and meaner."
Cari was shocked. She had thought that this thing was some kind of an experiment gone wrong or something along those lines. Then, after a few minutes she asked the creature, "Where are you from?"
Those eyes smiled at her and it said, "Far, far away. About 10.4 light-years away in your form of measurement to be more exact.
Cari gasped. That meant that that this thing was not some science experiment or a freak of nature, but an alien from far away. Then Cari asked the creature, "Why are you here after me and my brother?"
The creature smiled yet again and said, "I already answered that question."
Cari thought back and remembered how this was just a game, something to do for enjoyment. Cari didn't know what to say. She was too shocked that anyone would do this just for the fun of it, even more that an entire race enjoyed doing this. She just stood like a statue for a few minutes with the creature's hand still around her neck. Then the creature looked at her with those cold eyes with no remorse and said, "Now I have told you but, there is a price to pay for your new knowledge."
Cari looked at it with a new terror in her eyes and gasped, "You never said there was going to be a price."
The creature then chuckled, "Nothing in the UNIVERSE is ever free."
Cari finally mustered up enough courage to ask, "What is the price?"
The creature replied, "Your life."
Cari gasped but knew that there was nothing she could do to stop the creature, so she did the one thing she could. She begged the creature to do whatever it wanted to her but not hurt her brother. The creature then answered her with a laugh and said, "You misunderstood me. I'm not going to kill you, I'm just going to take you back to my home planet for the rest of your life so that you can't tell anyone else on your planet about me and my kind."
Cari was shocked. She had thought for sure that her life was over and that the "thing" was going to kill her right there and then kill her unconscious brother. Then a thought came to her, what would it do to Greg now? Would it take both of them to its planet? Or just kill Greg and take Cari? Cari didn't want anything to happen to Greg so she begged the creature again to leave her brother here. She reminded the creature that Greg didn't know about it. In the end the creature agreed to leave Greg here and allow Cari to write him a brief message as a final good-bye. Cari picked up a branch to write her message in the soft ground and for a second she thought of hitting the creature and trying to run. She quickly pushed that thought out of her mind because the branch probably wouldn't do anything but anger the creature and then it might kill Greg. Cari knew that this was the only option she had and she knew that if Greg were in the same situation he would save her and sacrifice himself, so that was what she was going to do. After Cari was done writing her final words to Greg she got up and walked over to the creature and said softly, "I'm done."
The creature smiled and replied, "I'm impressed by how noble you and the other were, offering to give your lives away to save the other. My planet's leader will like to meet you..."
Greg was unconscious the entire night and woke up when the first rays of the sun had touched his closed eyes. He got up slowly and looked around wondering where he was. Then it all came back to him. The creature and how it had hit him. Then he remembered Cari. He searched all over for her or any sign of her and that is when he found the writing in the dirt. It read:
I am writing this to tell you what has happened to me and how much I will miss you. I was given the choice of having it take both of us or just me, and I knew what you would do so I did that and gave myself for you. I wanted to tell you how much I loved you as my brother and how much I will miss you to your face but "it" told me that we didn't have the time. I have to go now but I will never forget you and I hope that you will never forget me. Good-Bye...
Greg read the note in the dirt over and over again. He knew it was Cari's because he knew Cari's writing style very well. Greg at first just stood like a statue and read it time and time again and then he fell to his knees and wept. He wept all day until his aunt and uncle found him there lying by the road asleep. Greg woke up in his bed back at his uncle's farmhouse and immediately looked at the bed beside his and saw the bed was empty. No Cari. He knew that what had happened was not just some horrible nightmare but reality. Greg stayed in bed for a week straight. His aunt and uncle brought him food and drink but Greg would never talk he would just stare into space. They knew that this would be difficult for him but they had no idea how difficult it really was, knowing that your sister sacrificed her life to save yours. Greg was never the same. He rarely talked and his school and social life dissolved away.
Meanwhile, far above...
Cari looked out the small window she was standing beside as she stood in the creature's ship. She wasn't tied up or anything because there was nowhere to go and even if she still tried she knew she wouldn't make it away, but the main thing that kept her there without trying to escape was how the creature had kept its end of the bargain by leaving Greg on Earth, so she had to keep hers and stay there with it. Cari sighed and looked down at the beautiful sphere, but it began to quickly get smaller and smaller until Cari couldn't see it anymore. She knew that she had now begun her journey and would never see Greg again. In her mind she cried out over and over, but now the voice was getting quieter and quieter until she didn't even hear it in her own mind, "Good-bye, Good-bye, Good-bye, Good-bye..."