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Chapter One

"It's hot" I thought, as I wiped the back of my left hand across my damp brow.

Opening my eyes, I strained to hear the familiar sounds of my companions as they went about their usual daily routines.

Nothing. No sounds, not even that of the forced-air blowing through the ducts.

Odd. Rising up, I looked to see what time it was, wondering if I had overslept again. The face of the digital clock was a blank rectangle.

Hurrying from the room, I broke into a run as soon as my bare feet hit the passageway floor, hearing their hollow slapping sounds reverberate off the metal walls.

Where was everyone?

As I ran from cubicle to cubicle, frantically searching for my companions, not believing this could be happening, I felt the temperature rising. A sure sign that the coil stabilizer had malfunctioned.

Thinking that Jake would be down in the engineers room, working on the finicky environmental stabilizing system, I made an abrupt turn and headed into the compound dining room, knowing this to be the shorter route to the engineers room.

And stopped short. There was no furniture. No tables, no chairs, not even the small rug where Gretch knelt to say her prayers. Nothing.

Looking over at the far wall, I then felt a chilling numbness running over my limbs, making it's way to the core of my being.

The door leading to the south passages was gone.

Walking over, I ran my hands over the smooth unblemished walls, not believing the strange events of this day.

Turning, desperate now to get out of this ship, if I could, if there was still time, I involuntarily jumped when I heard the familiar chime that announced the arrival of the ships sentient guardian.

"Good afternoon Ashlyn, I see you've overslept again."

Covering my ears from the harsh sound, a sound that was far too loud for any human to tolerate, I ran from the dining room and headed for the closest airlock.

"Ashlyn, where are you going? What about the others? They will be looking for you soon."

Choking back a sob of fear, running so fast I thought that my lungs would burst, I threw myself against the airlock, wrenching at the wheel even before I had the locking pin fully out of its holder.

With one final jerk I heard the well oiled pinions begin to turn, and then the welcomed hissing noises of escaping air told me that I would soon be outside. Free.

Pushing too hard at the hatch, causing it to crash against the outer wall, I ran out into the hot steamy atmosphere of this world, remembering how overpowering its heat could become in a very short time.

Still, it felt good to be out of the ship. Turning, I looked back to see if the hatch was still open.

It was gone! Where the ship should have been, where I know it should have been, the area was all overgrown and full of tangled vegetation. It was as if the ship had never been!

Not knowing what to do, where to begin, I began to turn back around and continue in the direction that I had originally been running. The direction that led to the small dank caves of the strange creatures that inhabit this world.

"Hiya Ashlyn. Where ya goin' in such a all-fired hurry?"

Oh no! God, not him!

Chapter by Angel™

Chapter Two

Even if he hadnt spoken, I'd have known he was there by the acrid smell of him.

At the sound of his voice I whirled around. My eyes fought to focus on him, not that I wanted to actually see him. It was in my best interest to stay face to face.

"I needed to be by myself for awhile", I said trying to keep my voice even.

I could see him now. A Mutant. An Aldorte.

Unlike my companions and I.

My companions.

The Enkori.

The Perfect.

The Aldorte began to circle me as I turned ,too, maintaining eye contact.

"It's happening again, isn't it, Ashlyn! You can tell what is real, can you?"

The heat of the planet and stench of the Aldorte was nearly unbearable now. My white robe was soaked. My nostrils burned.

"Am I not right, Enkori? What plane of existance are we on, Enkori? Do we exist at all, Enkori Ashlyn!"

My throat had now tightened. My mouth was dry.sweat poured forth. Tears were welling in my eyes.

"Do the Keepers exist outside your mind, Enkori," he continued, "Do I?"

Chapter by Witchyway

Chapter Three

The book slipped off Sally's chest and onto the floor, making a loud thud. Waking up from the noise, she glanced at the clock and noticed it was already 6:30AM.

She had fallen asleep while reading a science fiction book.

"Darn right when Ashlyn had meet the Aldorte!" she mutterd.

  She leaned over, picked up the book, and marked where she had stopped reading. Then got out of bed.

Sally wished that she could call in sick from work, so she could stay home and finish reading the book. They were short handed already at the bookstore, and she knew she couldn't.

  Bill from work, had recommended the book to her. She never read much science fiction, but he had insisted she would like it.

She glanced at the book sitting on the nightstand, walked over and flipped it open, and sat back on the bed.

"Oh heck, I'll just read one more chapter before I go to work."

Chapter by Becky