Science Fiction and Fantasy Romantica* Novels
From Forbidden Darkness into Enchanting Light
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Spring 2002 24-Hour Short Story Contest
TOPIC! - Use the sample below and incorporate it into your story.
The cryptic message had enough personal information about her that she knew she had to take it seriously.
The last part said, "Be at the corner of Third and Main at 10:30 with the recipe and the child or you will be sorry."
She looked at her watch. It was already 10:00!
Title: Red Ingredient
MSWord Count: 990
He had saved Felicia’s life, but he wasn’t supposed to exist.
There was no intelligent life out there, and especially not on Nebo, according to NESPE (National Exploration of Space, Planets and Exobiology). Nebo sustained only primitive life and had no valuable resources, thus it was stamped by NESPE as “inconsequential” allowing biologists like Felicia’s parents to come and go to the small planet as much as they pleased. Yet, Felicia knew otherwise and for sixteen years she never told.
Now, someone else knew. And they knew about her child.
Be at the corner of Third and Main at 10:30 with the recipe and the child or you will be sorry, the last sentence read. Its cryptic message had enough personal information about Felicia that she knew she had to take it seriously. It listed the dates of her parents’ expeditions to Nebo, her intimate relationships since she was eighteen, and it narrowed down the date and time of her daughter’s conception with the question: “When was she conceived exactly, Felicia?”
Felicia’s heart stilled as she stared at the holographic message. Its letters floated harmlessly above the small table, yet its words attacked her soul. Someone knew she had not been intimate with a man for the past five years, yet she had given birth to Veria only three years ago. They knew about her child and they knew that Felicia created the “recipe” for Ferre.
She had never brought Ferre to the FDA knowing that Nebo would be in jeopardy if humanity ever found out its true nature. She had been so careful in distributing the drug to the community, keeping her identity anonymous and Ferre’s ingredients a mystery. No one had ever been able to synthesize this elixir that guaranteed permanent health, but did not promise eternal life.
She had been so careful. Damn her conscience to help humanity! Now her child was in jeopardy and so was Nebo.
Felicia covered her quivering lips with her hand. Did they know the connection? Her child? Ferre?
She looked at her watch. It was already 10:00!
Her mind whirled as she struggled for a single thought of action. Escape, was the word that sprang to her first. Escape and take your child with you!
Felicia got up quickly and headed to her daughter’s room.
“What’s wrong mommy?” Veria looked up from the model dollhouse she had been constructing. She was so intuitive.
“We have to go.” Felicia immediately began grabbing a few of Veria’s favorite clothes. “Help mommy pack your things.”
Veria did not say a word as she did what her mother asked, but concern clearly showed on her face. Felicia ignored her daughter’s look and headed to her own room, scavenging for a few items.
“Hurry, Veria!” Felicia yelled from her room.
“I’m already done.” Veria’s voice made Felicia jump. The child was standing in her doorway. “I’ve already called a shuttle.”
Felicia held back tears. Veria was such an obedient child and undoubtedly beyond the age of a three year old. And her eyes looked so much like her father’s . . ..
“Time to go then?” Felicia tried to smile, but failed. Grabbing her daughter’s hand, she quickly left the room and headed for the door.
Felicia wasn’t thinking as she took the first flight to Nebo, passing through several stargates. Veria stared out of the window not knowing how close they were coming to her father’s home. She had never met him, and Felicia hadn’t seen him for eleven years.
Felicia was thirteen when she first saw him watching her from across the gurgling river; his skin was the color of dawn. He looked very much like a human except for the two small tentacles that wiggled between curls of black hair growing from his head. Prominent cheekbones accented his slanted, black eyes, which had no pupils from what Felicia could see. His nails were black as well, and he wore a breechcloth that glistened from one color to the next.
She had been hopping on the slippery rocks, making her way to the other side of the river, when she spotted him. His bright skin stood out from the dull colors of the cave, and the sight of him made her slip and hit her head against a rock. He had saved her from drowning, instantly healed her wound, and warned her not to tell.
For the next five years, Felicia was discreet when she visited him. They learned each other’s languages, customs and behaviors, and somewhere between the years, they had become lovers.
Then the day came when Felicia’s parents could no longer afford to travel to Nebo. Filled with anguish, her alien companion revealed to her that he had done something terrible, but Felicia didn’t know what he meant until she found herself pregnant--years later.
His seed lay dormant within her for eight years, and in nine months, Veria was born. There was no mistaking his eyes, and as her daughter grew, her intelligence only confirmed her genealogy. And so did her blood.
Veria had saved her grandparents’ lives--just as her father had saved her mother’s--when they were stricken with an incurable disease created during the biological war.
Felicia then created Ferre to save the world--using only a drop her daughter’s blood as the key ingredient.
He was there waiting for them as if he already knew they were coming. Veria ran to him as if she’d always known him, her arms wide-open, her smile as bright as his skin. “Father!”
And then the ships came. Of course, they had followed--their weapons drawn, their eyes hungry.
Felicia had always known, deep down, that someday they would find out and come to Nebo, but not by her leading them there. She was so foolish!
Now, they would all come, hunting for the beings that secretly lived underground, to take their blood . . . like vampires.