1. 1692 – Salem Village, MA.
Sarah Good was homeless, though no one used that term in those days. Most considered her strangely attractive, which did her no favors with the Elder women in the small village. She was lean and tall for Puritan women of the time, with thick sandy blond hair pulled beneath her cap. Town gossip said that her odd behavior was likely brought on by the unexplained loss of both parents when she was a young teen. Her parents were thought to be loners and behaved strangely at times, which was off-putting to the other villagers. So when they did not return from a day trip exploring a nearby native burial ground, the village did little to investigate their disappearance. Her life took another turn for the worse a year later when strange, seemingly unexplainable events began to happen around her. Eventually, she noticed odd things happen when she became excited or distressed, so she did her best to keep her emotions in check. The villagers claimed that it must be demons that would cause objects to rattle and bounce though none actually connected it to her when she was upset… not at first.
Sarah’s only sources of income were occasional tutoring of the village children and doing odd jobs that paid with leftover food or a place to sleep, generally in the barn. She always seemed to have a special way with children who loved their time with her. There had been no work on this breezy and chilly late Spring day, so she was foraging in the forest to fill her empty, grumbling stomach, though with little luck. After searching for hours in the dense forest for berries, she came to a point where she, growing frustrated and lonely, fell to her knees to just cry – not that tears ever really helped. As the emotions finally began to subside, she sensed a presence nearby. It was more of a strong gut feeling than anything. The abrupt sensation frightened her at first until she saw it was a doe and her young fawn who had walked right up to her. After a moment of looking at her, the way deer do without blinking, the pair turned and walked back down the animal trail a bit, then stopped to look back at her. She felt the two were almost beckoning her to follow them. Sarah got up, feeling it couldn’t be any worse, and followed them deeper into the forest. It was only a short distance down the trail when they came upon a large blueberry patch not discovered by the other villagers. The doe and her fawn glanced back at her with a knowing look, almost a smile, and then trotted off into the forest.
Wild animals never feared her, and villagers often saw deer walk up to her out of the forest, and birds would sometimes land on her outstretched arms. Once, she encouraged a skunk to follow the village bully into an outhouse.
Over the years, she discovered there were times when, secretly, she could concentrate hard, and small objects would vibrate, and people nearby would feel uncomfortable for no apparent reason. Mostly she only did this to the Elder women who constantly chastised her. As the years passed into adulthood, she was increasingly shunned by those in the village who whispered that darkness must follow her and her family.
She had an unusual sense of when bad events were about to happen, which she mostly kept to herself except when it would happen to one of the children or animals in the village.
Many of the Elder women felt she was a little too knowledgeable of village happenings. Combined with her seemingly odd behavior and sharp tongue, these events eventually led the village leaders to realize she must be a witch and a clear danger to them all. One day, when coming out of the forest, it was too late when Sarah sensed something was wrong.
2. 1920 – Cherokee, NC
Little Raven sat cross-legged on a large boulder along the edge of the Oconaluftee River and breathed in the cool, moist smell of a stream in the early fall morning. As one of the few remaining Cherokee Healers in the region, he worked hard to ensure he was in balance with nature and Mother Earth and that his clan was in harmony with its surroundings. He began this day, like every day before, by Going to Water at sunrise, a ritual where he walked into the gentle, calm river and allowed it to center his thoughts. He must be balanced to reach harmony with nature, and once in balance, he would then find a favorite spot to sit and commune with the Gods of Nature for his ability to help all he met this day.
The previous village healer had approached him one morning in his early teens and told him he had been gifted by Mother Earth and would be the next healer. His family was very honored by the announcement and encouraged him to begin his training right away. The old healer didn’t tell him why he was picked for many years but eventually said he just knew Little Raven was touched by the Ancient Spirits. He grew a strong respect for the old healer and worked hard to learn all that could be shared. One of the first lessons the old healer told him was that nature would talk to him if he listened closely, and with practice, he would soon hear much from all creatures. Tribal Healers were generally considered to possess magical abilities. However, no one could actually say they saw a healer do anything magical, but it was just assumed they were discrete. As a rule, tribal members commonly considered it best to stay on the good side of someone that might have the ability to smite you with halitosis or worse.
He had just settled on his favorite boulder in the stream when his senses told him he was being watched. He never questioned or spoke to others about how he knew things others didn’t. Right now, he knew it was the large mother black bear that had recently killed several of the village livestock. Little Raven never before had sensed emotions this strong, and they told him the bear was very angry. He knew her story at that instant; her cub had been killed earlier in the spring by two young teens hoping to bring favor from a young girl in a neighboring village. The big bear was no longer in harmony with nature and became a danger to all in her path. The bear had chosen Little Raven as her prey to release her anger against humans on this day. Little Raven knew it was too late to run, and it would be difficult to escape the pending attack of the deeply grieving mother bear. As she approached, Little Raven reached out to her with his sorrow for her loss and immediately felt her intense pain for the lost cub. Tears came to his eyes and heart as he took in the loss she had endured, and she slowed her planned attack as she approached him. Little Raven knew every animal and human was essential to the balance of nature and told her without a spoken word that the teens were young, and it was a mistake of youth. The big black bear came to a slow stop a few meters from where Little Raven sat anxiously on the smooth boulder. He knew that this mother bear would take her revenge on someone in his village if this wrong was not corrected. At that moment, he knew what he must do by tribal customs; then, the two came to an agreement without an audible sound. The big mother bear sat on the course sandy shore and waited while wailing in deep sorrow while Little Raven went into the village.
A short time later, much of the village quietly followed, at a distance, as Little Raven went back to the river with the two teens at his side. The three silently walked down the slope through the brush to the rocky shore, where the large mother bear cried out in pain as they came to a stop in front of her. The two young teen’s hearts pounded with fright, something they had never experienced. They knew they must show no fear for whatever must be done to restore the honor they lost and restore balance and harmony with the surrounding nature. The mother approached them and stood up though she did not strike. Instead, she slowly raked her paws across the chest of each teen, leaving gashes but not sufficient to kill them. She cried out slowly and deeply, and Little Raven sensed her release much of the anger from the loss of her cub. She turned, walked into the water, and did not return to the village. The two boys’ honor was restored, and the attacks by the big black bear on the community would now end.
Little Raven had never felt or sensed so much in his connection with nature and his village as he did this day. His father and grandfather were both considered strongly connected to Mother Earth, but never did they speak of communicating the way he did today, nor did the past healer. Little Raven knew that his senses had started expanding as a young teen, but after today he knew he was different than others in what he could do. He began quietly working each day to learn more about his talents and connections to nature. He also began to document what he saw and felt as well as the gifts he continued to discover with time.
In his healing travels, Little Raven would sense others who were like him from time to time. Occasionally, he would have the opportunity to share his knowledge and learn from the other Gifted Ones, as he called them. Late in his life, Little Raven had the opportunity to attend a traveling minor League Baseball game when he sensed a very strong presence as he approached the field. The presence was another gifted person and a very strong gift this one had. Little Raven never feared other Gifted Ones, but this one was very different, and the power he sensed was immense. He cautiously scanned through the small stands looking for an individual that stood out to his senses. With none there, he looked out to the field. As his view scanned past first base, he caught the eye of the young player casually standing on the bag, and he was looking directly at Little Raven. Their eyes locked, and after a moment, the young man smiled at Little Raven. Jerimiah Lee found Little Raven soon after the game ended, and they became close friends over time.
In his remaining years, Little Raven helped Jerimiah in his quest to search out and educate others with their talents. Later after joining the Freemasons, he discovered that they had been quietly doing the same thing for over 200 years and had a long list of exceptionally talented members. Eventually, with the support of the Freemasons, the two started their first small school for Gifted Ones. With its eventual success, the Freemasons created a charter high school in Atlanta. They soon after duplicated it in many other cities around the world.
Grayson had procrastinated on preparing for his math exam all week. It wasn’t that he was busy as a high school freshman, other than with his gaming squad and sports, but sometimes he just couldn’t take that first step and open his books. It had been hard losing his parents, and the recovery was slow. Now it was the night before the exam, and it was late. Grayson was not a night owl like most of his friends, and he struggled to keep his eyes open for one final pass of formulas. Then he was dozing again, and it was too late when he sensed himself falling from his bed and thud as he hit the floor. While he slowly gathered his senses from the fall, he realized it was a hard floor, not his carpeted bedroom floor covered with clothes and peanut butter cup wrappers. He closed his eyes for a moment to clear the disorientation, then looked up and around; it wasn’t his bedroom.
He was alone in a large atrium, like at a mall, with many small potted trees and shrubs and a glass ceiling that looked out into the night sky. He felt it was a little bit spooky with the emptiness. Had he been sleepwalking again? No, he remembered falling asleep, so he couldn’t have wandered off after falling off his bed. Where am I? Thought Grayson. The sounds and smell reminded him of an airport late at night, and every sound had a distant echo of emptiness. If this was a dream, it was very vivid, he thought. Off to his right was a long hallway with the faint sounds of gathered people. After wandering around the atrium, a bit, he decided it was probably best to stroll in the direction of the people sounds down the dim hallway. The white and gray passage had almost no features except at the distant intersection up ahead of him. A large rectangular window looked out to the cloudless night sky. As he approached, he could see through the faintness of the hallway a small gathering of people standing against the wall or sitting on the floor lounging against the wall near the intersection. Some appeared to be sleeping while others urgently talked in hushed whispers as they anxiously looked around them. As he moved toward them, he could almost hear their rapid conversations above the quiet hum coming from within the building. He was aware that he should be frightened or at the least seriously concerned about where he was. Still, he wasn’t afraid and sensed the place was friendly and calming, like sitting on his porch at home watching the world go by. Despite the oddness of the circumstances, he didn’t feel this was a dream, and he remembered dozing in and out and thinking of his math exam tomorrow. This wasn’t a nap and definitely wasn’t Kansas or home in Atlanta.
As he walked toward the people attempting to grasp what was happening to him, the group began picking up and quietly waking those few still sleeping. They looked very much like exhausted holiday travelers stuck in a distant airport. They began to collect themselves and form in a loose line facing down the hall ahead of him. All the while, they frequently looked back over their shoulders into the dim hallway. Once everyone was up and collected, they began to shuffle down the hall and around the corner. No one seemed to have noticed Grayson, or at least hadn’t shown any signs of concern that a random kid who just appeared was approaching them from the atrium. Whoever it was that they seemed apprehensively expecting, it wasn’t a fifteen-year-old boy. His gut told him he needed to join the group, so he began cautiously moving closer to them, looking for a polite opportunity to get someone’s attention. Introverts like Grayson don’t typically approach crowds, which made this all the more unreal in his mind. He wasn’t sure where he was, but Grayson did know that he had a growing feeling that it was time to get out of this place. As he approached the group, an older man looked up and made eye contact, then motioned him to move quickly and join at the end of the line.
Grayson heard him quietly say to those in front of him, “We have a new member,” as he fell into the end of the line. His feeling was that it would be safe with the group and ok to follow them. When he rounded the corner, he saw ahead the hall ended, and there was a large square bank vault-like door that stood open as the group shuffled through it. Lemurs came to mind, but Grayson was too tired to think about it and followed them toward the immense door. Oddly he knew this was not usual in any way. Yet, right now, he didn’t feel the need to immediately investigate his situation, at least not until he and the rest were away from whatever was coming.
He glanced left at the big window near the vault door, now much closer, and what he saw made his stomach clench. In every direction were stars and more stars, more than he had ever remembered seeing from his backyard in Atlanta. Looking around to see if he was drawing attention, he walked toward the window. As he approached the window, he felt a chill coming from it, like windows on a cold day at home.
The man that had motioned him into the line spoke up and said, “Hey, young man, they don’t wait. You need to come on now or be left.” Grayson, still confused by what he had just seen, moved quickly to catch up and past the slab of a door. He felt like his brain was dazed in a fog yet being drawn through the large door with the rest of the weary group.
As he passed through the door, he was in a room much like a wide travel bus with two rows of comfortable-looking seats on either side facing the front. There were windows next to the seats, but the view out was dark, and there was no driver or anything at the front after the first row of seats. Upfront, a sandy blond teen girl turned in her seat and glanced back at him as he stood there, taking in all that he saw. She held his gaze until he was uncomfortable and looked away. She was pretty and seemed to have the ability to look into a person, and to which no young male was ever comfortable.
Again, the man spoke, “Hey son, you need to sit down,” as he quickly glanced back out the door to the hallway. Now he was feeling an urgency to go, and he could sense the others here felt the same. He wasn’t sure what was coming, but he knew they needed to leave.
No sooner had Grayson sat down next to the kind-faced man than he felt a slight nudge pushing him back into the seat from movement. Then out of the windows, he saw the stars, and he knew this wasn’t a bus, and it couldn’t be anything but a dream. There were stars in every direction, and he had a sudden queasy feeling like when you look over the edge of a tall building. The door he came through had a large window like the seats, and he could see they were rapidly moving away from an immense floating building. What he looked back at was out of science fiction, but it didn’t look active like it did in the movies. Actually, it felt almost abandoned and lonely, with many dark and dimly lit windows. He found himself just for a moment looking for the Millennium Falcon parked nearby.
Grayson, suddenly very energized, stood up, “OMG, I’ve been abducted by space aliens… No math exam tomorrow!” he said with his hands in the air. Those around him seemed to just take his enthusiasm in stride like it happened every day.
Feeling awkward again, Grayson was glued to the view out the window as he put a knee into his chair to get a better look.
“This is too cool!” Grayson mumbled as they passed the end of what he was certain was a space shipyard like the one in Star Trek – not the old shows, but the cool new stuff.
“They’re gone now,” the older man said. Grayson was captivated by what he was seeing out the window and didn’t respond at once.
“What? I’m sorry, sir, say again?”
The rest of the group was still mainly ignoring him as they appeared to settle into a long ride, but he caught a glimpse of the girl in the front looking back at him again.
The kind-looking man gestured out the window and said, “The ones that made all this, they’re gone now, and for probably a very long time.”
The fact that Grayson was no longer at home in bed and was now traveling through space with a completely unknown group of people was far behind in his thoughts. After passing the end of the space docks, there wasn’t much to see other than billions and billions of stars, which to a 15-year-old boy got boring quickly.
Grayson watched the stars go by at increasing speed, then eventually looked over to the gentleman and said, “Where are we? Are you from another planet?”
The gentleman chuckled and said, “I’m from Virginia, and honestly, we don’t know where we are.”
Grayson sensed great fatigue about the man. Sitting down again next to him, Grayson was about to start teenaged 20 questions in a rapid-fire when the man said, “My name is James, what’s yours?” as he extended his hand. Grayson looked at the man dressed in loose-fitting out-of-date clothes and appeared to be around 60-something years old. Reaching out to take his hand, Grayson responded as he had been taught to say so many times, “Grayson Wright, pleased to meet you.”
“What do you remember?” James asked him. Not the question Grayson expected, and he wasn’t really sure what he was asking.
“Huh? You mean, do I remember home and my family, or are we talking like past life experiences?”
Chuckling again, James said, “No, no, what do you last remember before you were here?”
Stifling a yawn, Grayson said, “Well…I was studying for a math exam all evening and was getting pretty tired and fighting off sleep. I guess I closed my eyes just for a second to rest, then Bam! I hit the floor, but it wasn’t my bedroom floor. It was here. That’s about it.”
The man looked at him for a moment and then said, “Ah, yes, that would explain the matching Sponge Bob sweats and tee-shirt.”
Crap! Grayson hadn’t even thought about what he was wearing until this moment. He was still studying for the exam when he started dozing off, so he really had not gotten ready for bed in his usual minimal attire – that would have been really awkward.
“Interesting,” James continued, suddenly focused. “So… you went to sleep, and then you were here? That’s not how it usually happens. There has to be a medium to assist the transport.”
“A medium? Like a psychic? I’m confused,” began Grayson, “We’ve all been abducted, right? They come down in a flying saucer and float you out your window in the middle of the night. WAIT! Are they going to do experiments on me!?”
James smiled and chuckled out loud for a brief moment before Grayson saw the weariness ease back into his face. Then he responded, “No, you’re pretty safe, I think for now, and no, you weren’t abducted, at least not in the way you think. Well, there’s not really any good starting point for explaining what happened to you and where you are now, but what we do know is the Milky Way galaxy is full of life. Some are new to space travel like us, and some are very old, like those that built the place we just left. Those past inhabitants don’t seem to have a name that anyone remembers. Still, we’re told they have many names such as ‘the Builders, the ancients, and the architects’ – just like far too many Sci-Fi storylines… almost too coincidental if you ask me. You’ll find a surprisingly large number of coincidental similarities to science fiction writings out here. Also, it turns out some of the species out here are not so nice, and the rest have little interest in us from Earth because we have so little to offer advanced civilizations. Apparently, we are a bit boring and childish in their eyes and difficult to communicate with too.”
Grayson held down another yawn as the excitement of the happenings continued to drain him. At the same time, he attempted to take in what James was telling him.
James continued, “You’re 14 or 15 years old, I’m guessing. I know that because before I left, we didn’t see anyone younger than that disappearing. However, it’s odd that you don’t remember the exact moment you were transported off Earth. The rest of us here all know the exact moment when we touched the object that sent us here.”
Grayson jumped in, “Wait! What? Is it like one of those Harry Potter porta-potty things? I always wanted one of those to get to school.”
James smiled, “Porta what? No, never mind …yes perhaps, but not magical if you understand a bit of science. Our best scientists on Earth are just beginning to understand the fuzzy quantum world that makes everything work at the sub-atomic level.” James sensed Grayson wasn’t getting the connection. “This is boring, perhaps, until you understand that the wizarding world actually ran on quantum mechanics and could be explained by many physicists that study the quantum world. In our case, we touched an object that was very old, which had been quantum entangled by the folks that made that station we just left. I was a high school math and physics teacher at a new charter school teaching quantum gifted kids just like you before I ended up out here. I pretend to understand only a little of what is going on with the science. We were reasonably certain before I left that only those Qs that were past physical maturity were disappearing. After so many years out here, I’m pretty sure we were correct. So, as I was saying…” then he realized that he was losing Grayson with the technical descriptions. “Son, follow me for one more moment here, ok?”
The glaze left Grayson’s eyes, and he refocused on James.
“So… anyway… they entangled objects that they left all over Earth with its twin out here in the stars. There are always at least two objects entangled, and the twin is left at places like that station we just left. When certain people touch the object, they are instantly transported to wherever the twin object has been left. We believe now that this happens because a gene was inserted into the human gene pool at least two thousand years ago. If that gene is activated in you and you touch an entangled artifact, then bang, it happens. You’re suddenly a bazillion miles away, stranded alone on a station like we just left behind.”
Grayson interrupted, “But I was in bed and had nothing around me in my room that I had not touched a thousand times before.”
James paused a moment, thinking, then said, “I understand, and that’s what puzzles me. No one can just spontaneously quantum jump. It’s just not scientifically possible, at least as far as we knew back when I left Earth. Everyone here encountered the objects in museums, archaeological sites, or other remote locations. That lady up front arrived in scuba gear, and her wetsuit was dripping water. Apparently, she touched an entangled artifact on the ocean floor. Son, I don’t pretend to have many answers, and we just do our best to survive daily.”
“You said activated. What do you mean? I didn’t feel anything activate in me.”
“I’m not a geneticist,” began James, “but genes have an on and off state. Meaning that they do something, or they’re just sitting there doing nothing. In most humans, the Quantum gene just never gets activated for some reason. For those of us here, the gene has become active, and the same for you. In the coming years, you may have an assortment of enhanced abilities that most humans never dreamed of having outside Harry Potter or the Jedi.”
This was a lot for Grayson to take in. With each passing moment, the lack of sleep was catching up to him.
“Ok …” Grayson responded, “Then if you don’t know where we are, where are we going, and when will I get home? The Starlings are going to freak out when they discover I went out after curfew.”
“Good questions. Every so often, some of us get a strong feeling, like today, with some urgency, that it’s time to leave, and we just know where to go. The rest just follow us. The feelings come with a sense of trust, and no one has ever questioned that we were being told it was time to leave by someone. We’re trusting that whoever is assisting us is not leading us all into danger but away from it.”
“Yea, I was feeling the same thing. I felt it was time to go, and it needed to be now. Very weird.” Said Grayson.
“Hmmm, so you felt it too?” said James
“I think she was trying to talk to us.” Grayson looked up, and it was the girl from the front of the bus now standing in the aisle next to them, listening intently.
James looked up and responded, “Grayson, this is Alex. Alex, who are you talking about?”
“Not a who really, it’s the station. I think she is trying to talk to us, and it’s like I can almost hear her, but not quite.”
She reached out her hand to Grayson and said, “Very nice to meet you, Grayson.”
“Likewise.” Said Grayson as they shook hands.
James spoke up again, saying, “Alex, why do you refer to the station as she?”
“It’s all kinda vague, but that part I’m sure of, it’s a ‘she’ no doubt, and I think she’s protecting us too. Something was coming, and she wanted us to leave before it arrived, and that’s why she told everyone to board the shuttle. None of us understand her, but we sense her feelings, and that gets the point across.” She paused for a moment when there was no response, then said, “Well, sorry to interrupt. Go back to chatting amongst yourselves.” And with no further comments, she walked back to her seat.
James looked at Grayson and shrugged, then leaned back in his chair, gazing off into the distant stars. After he had collected his thoughts, he knew it was time to share more of the difficult part with Grayson, including the likelihood of never getting home. He saw that Grayson’s head had nodded down to his chest, and he was fast asleep. James had been traveling with the lost group of humans for many years now. He knew Grayson would have to accept many difficult facts when he woke up and regretfully learn the rest of the challenges he faced.
James gazed out the window for some time and was dozing himself when he felt a slight air movement blow past him and, looking up to see what the source was, he realized the kid was gone. Suddenly now wide awake, he sat up in the seat to look around, expecting he had just moved seats, but he was gone. There was nowhere for him to go; he was there, and now he was gone. He turned around and asked the two ladies behind him, and they both agreed that he had been there, but they had been napping and couldn’t pinpoint exactly when he was gone. They were all part of this strange world, nothing surprised anyone anymore, but no one just disappeared before either. James had a nagging uneasy feeling in his stomach, and the group had been moving to new stations more often than they had in years past. Many of them were experiencing signs of emotional and physical fatigue. Now this kid Grayson pops in, and then a few hours later just pops out again.
“Alex.” He whispered loudly. When there was no response, he spoke a little louder, “Alex – do you sense Grayson? He’s gone.”
Alex popped her head up and looked back at James and the rest of those who were still awake. Then looking around, she saw that Grayson was indeed gone.
Before, when they shook hands, it had created a temporary link to him, so she closed her eyes and concentrated. “Yes, I do sense him, but I think he’s asleep somewhere, and I don’t think he’s near us. James, how did he leave the shuttle!?”
James shrugged but didn’t answer. There was no answer. After almost ten years lost in the stars, he sensed something was changing. Their recent moves had been much more urgent, and he, like many others, had a gut feeling something bad was out there. Maybe… just maybe, this kid was part of their way home. Sometimes prayers do get answered.