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The moon had taken the night off and the city was experiencing a power outage due to a recent storm. For the residents of Wayville, OK, this was a normal part of life during the volatile tornado season. Luckily, there had not been a tornado today, but the storm had raged enough to damage some of the transformers in town. The blackout allowed Ezra to peer into the past through the stars in the sky. As he looked toward Cygnus, the Swan, he began to remember the nights that he spent awake as a child thinking of the immensity of the universe. While other children dozed off to experience myriad dreams, he laid awake wondering how the universe could be so large and limitless, how it continued to expand, but was beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Ezra recalled being filled with a sense of awe and wonder, while simultaneously fighting back a fear that began in his bones and seemed to grow exponentially through his body. As a child, he would wonder where he fit in the vast cosmos and tonight was no different. Lost in thought and beginning to feel those same feelings from childhood, Ezra was startled by a hand on his shoulder.
Kassi, Ezra’s wife, said, “Sorry to scare you honey. I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to let you know that dessert is ready. Hopefully, the power will come back on soon. It would be a shame for it to be wasted. What are you doing?”
Ezra replied, “Oh, nothing much. Just enjoying the stars. Without the power on the night sky is much more vibrant and alive. And don’t worry about the dessert, we can give the rest to the neighbors. I’ll bet they would enjoy it.”
Ezra followed Kassi to the dining room table, where the candles’ flames danced in the breeze coming from the balcony doors. “Nice touch, dear.”
“Thanks, Ez. It’s easier to eat when you can see what is on your plate. Especially something as messy as lava cake,” Kassi giggled.
The two sat in silence, enjoying the cool breeze and the delectable cake. As they finished their final bite, Ezra asked, “How was your day?”
“It was okay, I guess. Dr. Calhoun was on edge today and seemed to get mad at some of the smallest things. We had some issues with the drill and it seemed to ruin her day. She wouldn’t hand me the instruments correctly, and almost stabbed me with the probe. It was a little better after lunch. We had a lot of root canals today. They are rarely fun to deal with. How about you?”
“I went to campus today and tidied my office a bit. I also met with a couple of new professors about their fall courses and went to lunch with Scott. We discussed the science standards for some time and then watched the Yankees and Red Sox on the big screen. Not a bad day, really,” Ezra recounted.
Kassi nodded, gathered the dishes, and took them to the kitchen. Ezra began to think about the night sky that had captivated him a few minutes prior. When his wife came back in the room she could tell he was lost deep in thought. “Ezra, what has captured your imagination so well? You seemed to be in a trance on the balcony and it seems to have returned.”
“Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about the stars and how they used to keep me up at night when I was a child. It’s strange. I rarely even think about such things anymore. The challenges of everyday life seem to take up most of my time and I never think about the bigger picture.”
Kassi laughed, “My little scientist and professor is lost in boyhood memories. It looks like this storm and power outage have transported you through time.”
“Maybe so. It reminds me of the stories that my grandma used to tell me. She said that I was descended from the Anasazi people who had built some of their dwellings in line with the stars. The funny thing is that nobody really knows what happened to them. It has always fascinated me, but I have never really thought it was possible to be a descendent.”
“You know, I have two weeks’ vacation coming next month and I have always wanted to visit Mesa Verde in Colorado. We could make a road trip of it and enjoy the sights along the way. We could even hit portions of Route 66. I know you have always wanted to do that!” Kassi exclaimed.
“That sounds like a great idea. I kind of feel like I have been in a rut lately, and a road trip sounds like the perfect remedy. I will start planning the route and itinerary next week. Is there anything you really want to do along the way?” Ezra inquired.
“I’d really like to ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. My grandparents used to take me on the trip when I was a kid and I have always wanted to go back.”
“Fantastic! I will get everything squared away. I am really excited about this, babe.”
“Me too,” Kassi replied.
Ezra and Kassi had just finished their train ride from Silverton to Durango and were back on the road to Mesa Verde National Park. The sun beat down on the landscape giving birth to a variety of mirages on the blacktop. The train journey had been pleasant in the morning hours, but the stifling heat had erased any memories of the cooler temperatures. The little rental car’s air conditioning was at full blast and Ezra and Kassi sipped ice water as they made their journey to the ancient ruins of the Anasazi. The trip was only about 60 miles, but the drive seemed to stretch for hours. Kassi dozed in the passenger seat as Ezra pulled into the parking lot at Mesa Verde. “Honey, we are here.”
“Wow. I wasn’t sure we would ever make it. The road is so desolate. For a minute, I thought we had entered some sort of time warp and were driving in an endless circle.”
“Yeah, you should try driving through Wyoming some time. It seems like the entire state is one endless drive. Plus, the towns are so far apart you had better have a few gas cans, just in case.”
Kassi laughed. As they got out of the car, the hot, desert air seemed to suck the air out of their lungs and perspiration immediately formed on their brows. “Goodness, it is hot. No wonder they disappeared. They must have went looking for a place that had more water and felt less like an oven,” Kassi noted.
Kassi and Ezra walked hand in hand toward the visitor center to purchase their tour tickets. They had a six-mile hike ahead of them and the next tour group was preparing to leave for Balcony House and Cliff Palace. They quickly bought their tickets and rushed to join the group. They were both sporting small backpacks filled with water and snacks. It weighed them down a bit, but they would soon be thankful for the supplies. Others around them seemed to be ill-prepared for the heat and sun. There was little shade in the area and it only seemed to get hotter as the day wore on. The tour guide began her story as Ezra’s thoughts drifted back to his grandmother sitting at the dining room table. She would regale the family with her stories as grandpa dozed in his recliner on a Sunday afternoon. He wondered if he could really be descended from the Anasazi people. He was so happy to be here with his wife. Even if the stories were nothing more than tall tales, any trip with his wife was a welcome respite from everyday life. They had been married eight years and were quite content with their lot in life. They had never had children, but it was not for lack of trying. They each knew something must be wrong, but neither wanted to find out who might be hindering their attempts. They silently agreed that it was better not to know and allowed life to unfold as a mystery. They both preferred it that way. This was one reason Ezra’s love for his wife had grown so much over the last few years. They seemed to communicate on a level that escaped others and it made Ezra feel like Kassi had been chosen just for him.
Kassi leaned toward her husband and whispered in his ear, “Ez, are you listening to the tour guide or are you lost in your head again?”
“I was lost in thought. Did you get everything?”
“Of course I did, Ezra. A couple of people went back to get some water and provisions. We are waiting for them to return. The guide made it clear we are not to touch or disturb the dwellings in any way.”
“I assumed as much. I am glad we came prepared, though I am not sure why we have to wait on those who did not, Kassi.”
“Just be patient. Most people do not plan as much as you do.”
“True. I just hope we can leave soon. I am excited to see the place. Plus, there should be some shade down there.”
The group began their trek toward the ancient cliff dwellings as soon as the others returned. The trail was hemmed in by sagebrush, snowberry, dwarf larkspur, and a dozen other species that Ezra could not remember the names of. The yellows, purples, pinks, and other colors seemed to jump out of the landscape like the brushstrokes from a master painter. Dust from the trail soon shrouded those ahead of them and Kassi and Ezra gulped water to quench their thirst. As they came closer to the ruins, they had to climb ladders and watch their step along narrow pathways. The journey was not easy and the elevation made it even more difficult. However, it was well worth it as the group caught their first glimpse of Cliff Palace. The 150-room structure erupted from the cliff side. Ezra felt as if he had been transported 800 years back in time. Ezra gasped as he saw the dwellings and wrapped his arm around his wife. “This is amazing, Kassi. I cannot believe they would have been able to make this so long ago.”
“It is remarkable. It is so beautiful, but I bet it would have been even better when it was occupied by its original inhabitants.”
“Definitely, let’s get a closer look,” Ezra said, with awe and wonder in his voice.
The couple descended toward the ancient structure as quickly as they could. The others in the group seemed to be as lost in childlike wonder as the Bosas. The group arrived at the dwellings as the tour guide filled them in on the history and architecture. But her words seemed to drift off into the heated air and away from the group as they approached the magnificent home. Ezra found himself standing at the edge of a kiva, his wife at this side, arm around his waist. Archaeologists had determined that these kivas were used for religious and political meetings, but Ezra suddenly felt as if they had been completely wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he had an uneasy, yet exhilarating feeling as he stood at the precipice of this recessed room. He turned to Kassi and her face revealed that she must feel something similar. “Do you feel that, honey?”
“It’s weird, Ezra. It almost feels like a hum or electricity, but I only feel it in my stomach. It kind of feels like butterflies when you are nervous.”
“It is weirdly calming and disconcerting at the same time, but I can feel it all over. I feel drawn to this spot, but can’t explain why,” Ezra answered.
Suddenly, the air around Ezra and Kassi seemed to drop 20 degrees and everything became silent. The world slowly started to spin around them as they embraced one another tightly. Others in the tour group seemed to be completely unaware of the event. Then, in an instant, the other tourists disappeared from Ezra and Kassi’s view, replaced with bright, spinning, ethereal lights. Ezra felt as if he was moving and standing perfectly still at the same time. As quickly as it had begun, the lights and air all seemed to return to normal. However, Ezra and Kassi were now alone at Cliff Palace. None of the other group members were present and something seemed starkly different. As Kassi stared into the kiva, Ezra turned to look out into the valley below. “Honey, do you see that?”
Kassi spun around, “Yeah, it looks like the valley suddenly grew more trees and plants. It is much more lush and green that it was a few minutes ago.”
“That is true, but doesn’t it seem utterly strange to you?”
“You mean, aside from everyone disappearing?”
“Yes, that is strange, but the plants, no, the entire area seems foreign, almost alien to me. It is like we are in a completely different place.”
Kassi and Ezra were startled as a person walked from behind one of the adjacent walls. “You are correct. You are in a different place and time,” the stranger announced. “Hello, I am Mikana and I am very pleased to meet you both.”
Ezra stuttered, “I-i-i-it’s nice to meet you as well, Mikana. I am Ezra and this is my wife, Kassi. What do you mean? Where are we?”
“You are on the planet Sandia in the year 2300. Our people visited your planet many years ago and you appear to have stumbled through our space-time portal.”
Kassi retorted, with more fear in her voice than she cared to admit, “Sure. And I am the President of the United States.”
“Actually, you are a dental assistant and your husband is a professor at Sandstone Community College. We know much about each of you as we had plenty of time to prepare for your arrival. While the trip here felt like an instant to you, we have actually known of your arrival for quite some time,” Mikana explained.
“How is that possible? I mean time travel is not possible,” Ezra whispered.
“Actually, it is quite possible, Mr. Bosa,” another voice declared. “My name is Naha and we welcome you to Sandia. We have much to share with you. Why don’t we get away from here and head to our home?”
“Um, okay, sure,” Kassi stated.
Mikana and Naha motioned for the couple to follow. As they departed the cliff dwellings they could see the land around them more clearly. Where the desert had once been, a busy city teemed with strange looking creatures and a few others who looked like their mysterious tour guides. The trees rose higher than any trees Ezra or Kassi had ever seen and their leaves shimmered with a bioluminescent glow. Everywhere they looked was foreign, alien, and unknown. Ezra felt those familiar feelings welling up inside of him as he followed his new acquaintances to a mystery destination. His hair stood on end and a shiver ran down his spine as he thought of the implications of their journey. Could it really be possible that they had traveled to another planet in another time, or was it just a case of shared hysteria between spouses? They had been walking miles in the heat. Maybe, he was merely suffering from heat stroke, had passed out and experienced hallucinations. Yet, he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all too real.
Kassi was overwhelmed with rival emotions and her head began to dance and spin as if she would pass out. Naha reached over to Kassi and placed a hand on her shoulder, which immediately made Kassi’s equilibrium return. It was a relief to be steady again, but startling to know that the stranger could have such an effect on her. “Where are you taking us?” Kassi implored.
“Don’t worry, Kassi. We are not going far on foot. Soon we will be in the tubes, which will take us to our little home. We have prepared a traditional meal for you as well as some of our favorite beverages. We mean you no harm and want you to get to know us better. We also want to explain what happened to you today. You will be well cared for and we will explain everything to you. Afterwards, you can decide whether you want to return home or not,” Naha explained.
Kassi and Ezra both fell silent and walked, zombie-like, behind their guides. The possibilities of their journey and future seemed to have exhausted them of the ability to think clearly. It was all so frightening and mesmerizing at the same time. They took the opportunity to look around as they walked toward the tubes. Ezra noticed numerous species of creatures that looked like they could have been designed for an online video game. Nothing Kassi or Ezra saw looked much like anything on earth, except water. There was a small stream that ran next to their path and the water still looked like water, but the flora and fauna of the area was so different that Ezra wasn’t even sure it was real. As they neared the tubes, Ezra finally broke the silence, “If we went through some type of portal, I assume you and your people made it. But, how did it only transport us and no one else that was nearby?”
Mikana answered, “Great question. We will be at the house about 2 minutes after we enter our pod in the tubes. Once we get there, our explanations should answer most of your questions, but if you have any more, you can ask them then.”
“Ok. How far is it to the house?”
“About 50 miles,” Naha stated.
Mikana chimed in laughingly, “You just crossed the cosmos in a few minutes, yet traveling 50 miles in a similar time seems difficult?”
“Uh. Good point,” and both Ezra and Kassi allowed themselves to chuckle a little as well.
Ezra and Kassi sat in high-backed chairs covered in a luxurious fabric that molded to their individual form. It was the most comfortable chair either had ever sat in and the home seemed so inviting. It was warm, comfortable, and invited them to relax just a little. Kassi and Ezra glanced at each other as Mikana and Naha entered the room carrying platters with colorful foods and a variety of drinks. The platters were sat down in the middle of the table and all four began to load their plates with food. Mikana and Naha quickly grabbed their favorite morsels and watched curiously as the earthlings studied and smelled each item before placing it on their plate.
“I know this is much different than the food on earth, but we believe you will rather enjoy it,” Naha shared.
“Thank you, Naha,” the couple stated together.
Ezra and Kassi were soon devouring the food as if they had not eaten in days. Each bite was better than the last and the beverages quenched their thirst and gave them more energy than they thought possible. As the two ate ravenously, Naha retreated to what Ezra assumed was the kitchen and returned with a pot of what appeared to be coffee. “Is that coffee?” Ezra asked.
“As a matter of fact, it is, Ezra,” Mikana replied. “Although we greatly enjoy the native food and drink of Sandia, we discovered coffee on one of our trips to earth and decided to bring it back with us. Everyone here loves it.”
“What better way to discuss what happened than over a hot cup of joe!” Kassi exclaimed.
“Joe?” Naha queried.
“Oh, joe is a slang term we sometimes use when referring to coffee.”
“Well then, let us get started with a discussion and a joe!”
The foursome sat down in the living room and Mikana began, “Sandia has been our home since the beginning of our species. We devised a way to travel great distances and across time long ago, though no one is sure when it was first devised, or by whom. It just seems to have always been an option for us. We used the portal to travel to many planets to study their inhabitants and learn what we could from them. In some cases, we took things like coffee and developed a way to grow them here on Sandia. We first visited earth in about 100 BC, earth time and had different scientists in residence there until about 1400 years later. We utilized our technology to scout the entire planet, but made our home in what you call Mesa Verde. We attempted to blend in with local people and traded with them to ensure we would not be discovered as visitors from another planet.”
Kassi interrupted, “Are you human then?”
Naha jumped in, “Not exactly. We call ourselves the kokopel, but we can manipulate our genetic code to mimic your DNA. In fact, we can even make the transformation permanent if we choose.”
Ezra interjected, “Wait, kokopel? Would this happen to be the basis for Kokopelli?”
Naha continued, “Yes. One of our younger scientists became delirious with a fever while on earth and rather than allowing it to run its course, he transformed back into our normal form. Some of the others on earth witnessed this and the legend of Kokopelli came from this. He was soon transported back to Sandia and was never allowed to return to earth. Now, back to Mikana’s story.”
Mikana continued, “While on earth, we found the native people to be very attuned to the land and one another. We found earth to be quite fascinating and although they did not possess advanced technology, they seemed to have many things figured out. There was very little sadness and people stuck together to meet the needs of the group as a whole. However, as we expanded our observations to include Asia, Europe, etc. we noticed that some humans had developed a hunger for power and used weaponry to take what was not theirs. Nations and empires were born, but only at the expense of other people. It frightened us quite a bit and we knew that humanity was destined for destruction if they continued the path they were on. Although we were reluctant to leave the planet, we had developed a new technology to keep tabs on earth without any of our scientists actually being there.”
Mikana stopped, as it appeared Ezra was ready to jump in. “Go ahead, Ezra.”
“You can observe us on earth without being there? How?”
“Let me take this one, Mikana. You see, we found a way to capture data on a subatomic particle that earth science has yet to discover. This particle travels instantaneously to any point in space and time we choose, collects random bits of data, and then returns to Sandia through the portal. Our scientists then use computers to analyze the data and report back to our high council.”
“Yes, Naha,” Mikana continued. “Our data observations have continued since we left earth. We have learned a great deal about humanity and were quite glad we chose to leave. We knew our predictions about humanity’s capacity for destruction were correct when an atomic weapon was developed before space flight. Rather than seeking to explore the cosmos, earthlings decided that the destruction of one another was more important. The bomb to ruin life for thousands of years was developed long before a trip off the planet.”
“Yes, but we did eventually travel to space,” Kassi responded.
“True, but annual spending on weapons of war is staggeringly higher than that allocated for space exploration in most countries,” Naha answered. “When the bomb was dropped on Japan, our high council met to discuss the future of earth and what could be done to save humans. However, after many months of discussion, debate, and voting, the council decided that the best course of action was one of non-intervention on earth. The council felt that an attempt to intervene may eventually lead to destruction on other planets if they were able to get access to our technology.”
Mikana interjected, “Plus, we have been able to document the consequences of intervention in other cultures and nations on Earth. Even with the best of intentions, intervention often led to the exploitation of other people and resources.”
Ezra lifted a single finger to indicate his desire for clarification. “Naha, Mikana. What about the portal? Why has no one on earth found it or been able to use it until today? Will you still choose not to intervene even though we are here?”
Mikana looked admiringly at Ezra, “The portal has always been active, but only to people who possess the gene that was given to descendants of the scientists that chose to remain on earth as human beings. That unique gene allows the portal to open when someone carrying it is nearby.”
“Ok. That would explain why I was able to come through, but why is my wife here? She doesn’t have the gene, does she? My grandmother always said I had come from the Anasazi, er, um, kokopel, but Kassi doesn’t.”
“True, but the little one she is carrying does.”
Ezra and Kassi were immediately overcome with emotion. Kassi turned to Ezra and embraced him, “Honey, I did not think we could have children. That would explain why I only felt the hum in my abdomen. It wasn’t me feeling it, but the baby.”
“Amazing. I love you so much. I think it may have been better to find out in a different way, but I will take it.”
Naha smiled at them both and said, “Congratulations!”
Mikana agreed, “Yes. Congratulations are in order. Now, back to your other questions. As I was saying, the high council decided that we could not intervene unless a human were somehow able to make the journey to Sandia. In that case, we are allowed to do three things. First, we are able to explain things as we are now. Second, we will allow you to choose one place in time to view earth from a distance. No one on earth will know you are there. Finally, we are allowed to send you back to earth, in your time, to share what you have learned. However, we are not allowed to use any technology to help you prove your claims on earth. You will have to use your powers of persuasion to convince your fellow humans that they are on a path of destruction and death.”
“Really? Do you think anyone would believe us without any evidence? People who claim to have seen or communicated with aliens are viewed as crazy people. No one ever listens to them,” Kassi blurted.
Naha replied, “This may be true, but I seriously doubt anyone has talked about aliens warning them of a cataclysmic future event. Maybe they will listen if you are armed with that information.”
“I seriously doubt it, Naha,” Ezra retorted. “In fact, we might be hauled off to prison or a mental institution for making such claims.”
“Ezra, I understand your plight, but the council has spoken and we are all bound by their decisions. We will give you and your wife the evening and night to discuss your newfound knowledge, celebrate the addition to your family, and attempt to decide what you will do. Until the morning, we bid you good night. You will find your sleeping quarters through that door behind you.”
Before either Ezra or Kassi could object, the two guides glided out of the room as they took their normal kokopel form. Their transformation startled both husband and wife, but it was quickly replaced with awe and wonderment. The two arose from their chairs and made their way to the bedroom.
“I am not sure I will be able to sleep tonight, or ever again, for that matter,” Ezra shared.
“I agree. What are we going to do? I cannot believe I am pregnant and staying on another planet in the future. What a story we will have to tell.”
“I think we should at least try to get some sleep soon, but what do you think we should do? I mean, we can’t just let earth head toward destruction, but I also don’t want to return and have no one listen to us. Then we are stuck and have to go through the disaster ourselves,” Ezra shared.
“Maybe it wouldn’t even be in our lifetime, but it would be hard to go on as if nothing was going to happen. I think we should take them up on their offer to visit future earth and then make our decision based on what we see. We cannot really make a good decision unless we are armed with all the necessary information.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. Let’s try to get some shuteye,” Ezra said as he wrapped his arms around Kassi and reclined upon the bed. Soon both were asleep even though neither thought it possible.
Ezra and Kassi stood at the portal with Mikana and Naha. They had set the destination to earth in 2126. The kokopel stood confidently in their natural form and smiled warmly toward the couple. Kassi and Ezra were nervous, excited, and eager to see what earth looked like in the future. The portal quickly opened up and enveloped Kassi and Ezra. Within a few moments, they were flying over earth in a specially designed vehicle that had been waiting at the other end of the portal. It had been preprogrammed to take the couple around the earth to see what had transpired in the future. Mesa Verde did not seem much different to Ezra and Kassi, but soon they witnessed massive destruction throughout the United States. It seemed as if all life had disappeared from the country and entire cities had been razed to the ground. The countryside was grey and devoid of any animals. Trees were little more than charred trunks that looked like a macabre forest of the damned. Buildings were completely flattened in some areas and nothing more than ruins in others. As they flew over Washington D.C., they witnessed the entire seat of government destroyed. It was only due to their knowledge of the area that they even recognized the place. The only obvious evidence that this had once been D.C was the tip of the Washington Monument sitting in a pool of water.
“Oh my, Ezra. It is all gone. There is nothing left.”
“I know,” he said as he pulled out his phone, turned it on, and snapped a few pictures. He had turned it off when they had arrived at Mesa Verde to ensure no interruptions and completely forgot that he even had it.
“Mikana and Naha said we couldn’t use any technology. What are you doing?”
“No they said that they could not offer any technology, but they didn’t say anything about using our own.”
“That may be, Ez, but I wouldn’t let them know about it. They may try to take it from you. They sounded pretty adamant about their position on non-intervention.”
“I wasn’t planning on letting them know.”
The couple continued their flight over the Atlantic, Europe, and Asia to see a similar situation in every place they encountered. It was as if the entire northern hemisphere had been sterilized of all life and activity. Their mood quickly soured as they took more photographs and witnessed untold catastrophe. Finally, the craft changed course and began to fly south along the eastern coast of Asia. Nothing had been spared, until they flew over Australia. While there was some destruction there, it did not appear that any nuclear weapons had been detonated there. There were cities, animals, and people were walking up and down the roads. It looked as if Australia had survived in the long term, though the population was much less than that of the Earth that Kassi and Ezra lived on. Their voyage continued and the couple saw similar situations in South Africa, Guam, Argentina, Chile, and a few other South Pacific islands. The world had not been completely destroyed, but these small nations were the only remnant. The couple felt a small bit of hope for humanity, but were silent as the craft made its return flight to the portal.
“Make sure you put your phone away, honey.”
“I am, Kassi. I was able to get a lot of pictures. I just hope that people back home will accept them as real. It is pretty unbelievable.”
Back in the bedroom at Mikana and Naha’s house, Ezra and Kassi had been given some time to make their decision. They sat on the edge of the bed, holding hands and staring off into the distance. Ezra finally broke the silence, “Honey, I think we have to return to Earth and try to warn others about what is going to happen.”
“What if nobody listens? What if we just end up being victims of the disaster?”
“I thought about that. If no one will listen, we will cash in our retirement, sell most of our belongings and head to South America or Australia, maybe Guam. We can ride things out there, maybe even help warn people there so they can be even more prepared than they already are.”
“That is a good idea. I still feel a little apprehensive about heading back, but I am not sure that I want to stay here either. Mikana and Naha seem quite nice and the planet is beautiful, but others may not be as nice and we would have to learn so many new things. What would we even do for work?”
“I don’t know, Kas, but I know we have to try to warn Earth. I would be willing to stay here if we had to, but I would rather take our chances back home.”
“Okay. It is settled. Let’s go tell Mikana and Naha.”
Kassi and Ezra arose from the bed and headed to the kitchen where the kokopel were preparing a light lunch for everyone. Mikana and Naha looked to the couple expectantly. “Well, what did you decide?” Mikana implored.
“We have decided to head back to Earth to convince our government that they are headed down a bleak road. We aren’t sure if anyone will listen, but we must try. Your hospitality has been remarkable and we would like to thank you for all you have done,” Ezra intimated.
“Excellent. We hoped that would be your decision. Maybe not all humans are shortsighted. You will leave first thing tomorrow morning, but tonight we would like you to meet the high council. They are interested in meeting you both and may be able to offer some advice.”
The morning dawned with the dual suns shining brightly through the Bosa’s bedroom window. Their meeting with the council had gone well and they had been wined and dined like royalty. The council did not offer any advice, but meeting them had been an honor. Ezra and Kassi would soon be returning to Mesa Verde to attempt to convince those of Earth that something needed to be done to prevent the destruction of most of the planet and its inhabitants.
Ezra and Kassi accompanied the kokopel to the portal after their wonderful breakfast. They were nervous, but expectant as they approached the door home. Mikana and Naha had been quite silent most of the morning and their arrival at the portal did nothing to change their demeanor. As the portal powered up, Kassi and Ezra embraced one another once again as the hum began to ebb and flow through their bodies. As the portal began to open, a look of horror crossed Mikana’s face as a piercing alarm began to sound. The Bosas were confused and scared, while Naha appeared to be angry. Naha reached out and grabbed Kassi by the wrist, pulling her and Ezra back before the portal could envelop them. Mikana stared at Ezra. “Empty your pockets, NOW!” he shouted over the noise of the portal.
Ezra immediately knew. His phone had been detected and the kokopel were not happy about it. He slowly pulled the phone from his pocket, but before Mikana could take it from him, Ezra flung it through the portal, hoping it might reach someone on Earth. Mikana yanked Ezra toward him and said, “What have you done?”
“I had to do something. I cannot let Earth be destroyed without doing anything.”
Naha chimed in, with less anger than Mikana, “Do you realize the consequences of what you have done? You will never be allowed to return to Earth and you will live out the remainder of your days on Sandia.”
Kassi began to cry and whimpered, “Ezra it was the right thing to do. As long as we are together, I can be content living on this planet, but it will take some time to get used to it.”
Mikana’s demeanor and booming voice softened back into the normal, gentle tone Kassi and Ezra had been accustomed to, “I am sorry that you cannot return home, but you have made your decision. You knew we could not allow technology to assist you in your quest to save Earth.”
“Yes, but I thought that was only if you supplied it to us. And how did you detect it during this trip, but not on our last?” Ezra asked.
Before Mikana or Naha could answer, Kassi replied, “Honey, you had it turned off the last time we went through. This time it was on. That must be the difference.”
“Now what?” Ezra asked.
“We will explain everything when we get back to the house. Unfortunately, no more will be done to help humans on Earth. Maybe your phone will be enough or maybe the Earth’s other visitors will intervene,” Naha said quietly.
“What, who?” Kassi blurted.
“Last I knew, their leader was named Rameses,” Mikana replied.
Ezra nodded sullenly. The four began their journey back to the house as Mikana and Naha explained what would happen in the coming days and weeks. The couple would be given their own home and asked to work with the scientists studying earth to help clarify some things that they could not decipher. Their needs would always be taken care of as long as they worked to help understand Earth. During their free time, they had freedom to explore the planet, visit businesses, and converse with other kokopel on the planet. After a time, if they had cooperated and acclimated to the planet well enough, they would be given full citizenship and allowed to pursue other areas of work if they chose to do so. While it was not their ideal vision of the future, Ezra and Kassi knew they would be fine since they had one another and a little one on the way. At least they would be spared seeing the destruction of Earth and witnessing the deaths of friends and family. While they may never return to Earth, they both quietly prayed day and night that the phone would be found and lead to changes on Earth. It was the only thing they could think to do for their home planet.
The day was blisteringly hot as the visitors to Mesa Verde continued their tour. No one had even noticed that two were missing from the party as they were so enthralled by the ancient architecture and the stories from the tour guide. A young boy, tired of listening to the oration, snuck away from his mother’s side to explore on his own. He quickly began to enter areas clearly marked off limits and came upon a kiva. As he stared to the bottom, his mother hearkened for his return. He climbed down into the Kiva and his mother was soon standing at the edge glaring down at him.
“Son, what are you doing? You are not supposed to be in there. Get out of there this minute!”
“But mom!” The boy shouted. “I found a phone. It looks like someone dropped it. The screen is cracked, but it is still on.”
“Bring it here.”
The boy climbed out of the kiva and handed the battered phone to his mother. She swiped the screen and began to look through the phone for anything that might identify the owner. “Did anyone lose a phone?” she shouted to the tour group, but there was no answer. The phone had definitely seen better days and was probably dropped by a previous group. She looked through the phone book and a few apps, but there was nothing to indicate who had owned the phone.
“Check the pictures, mom. Maybe there is something in there.”
“Huh, that is weird. There is only one photo.”
“Why is that weird? The boy asked.
“It looks like the picture was taken in Washington, D.C., but it is completely destroyed. Even stranger? The date says the picture was taken on July 4th, 2126.”
“That is weird. What do you think it is?”
“I guess it is a picture from a movie or something. Probably one of those doomsday movies that uses special effects to make it look like D.C. has been destroyed. It probably belongs to some Hollywood type.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“We will take it to the visitor center and give it to lost and found. Maybe the owner will come back to claim it.”
“What if they do not? What will happen?”
“The person will probably just buy a new phone. No big deal. It’s not like it is the end of the world. Let’s go.”