From the short story in the collection, Titanium Flow
By Elyse Salpeter
1913, in a Kansas field
An October dusk settled over the hundreds of rows of withered corn stalks standing like sentries in the Kansas field. The full moon was rising and a brisk wind whistled through the dry shoots, creating a noise like paper crinkling, and drowning out the sounds of the young girl crying.
No one was working in the field that day. It was Sunday, the one day I gave my farmhands off. My own homestead was but a few trots down the road on the only hill this side of Kansas, but everyone in any direction could see we were home that evening from the smoke swirling from the chimney. I always wondered what the girl did that long cold night while my family and I slept. Wondered why she didn’t come and seek our help.
We wouldn’t find her until late the next afternoon when the workers had returned to pull the stalks and ready the field for winter. I remember exactly where I was when they found her.
“Boss, help!” The farmhand ran out from one of the rows frantically, carelessly stomping through the dead plants. If it were summer, I would have docked his pay for doing something so flagrant, but I knew this man. He was a good worker and was a family man. It must be bad.
I rode up on my horse. “Langston, what’s the problem?”
He leaned over, his hands on his knees, wheezing and trying to catch his breath.
I stood up on the stirrups, able to peer over the stalks and saw a group of my men converging in an area about a quarter mile down the rows. Great, it was probably a cow from the McKensey farm next door that had wandered over and died in my field. It had happened before.
Langston stood up, huffing. “Boss, we found a little girl.”
Dread ran through me. “Is she dead?”
He shook his head. “No, she isn’t, but she’s sick. We gotta get help.”
I yelled at my foreman to run to my house and call for my wife and then jumped off the horse and raced with Langston through the rows toward the child. Thoughts competed in my head. Why would a little girl be here? Did someone hurt her? Did an animal drag her here? Images of my own three children coursed through my brain and made me run faster, but when I pulled into the clearing the men had created, everything I expected was shattered.
This wasn’t a toddler. It was a young girl of about fifteen, curled into a ball and lying in the dirt in the middle of my cornfield. Strangely twisted and charred hunks of metal smoked in the field around her, creating a clearing. The air reeked of scorched corn and burnt oil, and as I stared at the boulder sized lumps glowing red-hot in places, they reminded me of the color of the branding irons we used on the bulls in stock.
The men squirmed nervously. “Extraterrestre,” they mumbled. You could practically smell their fear.
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just a child, nothing more,” I admonished, trying to convince myself as well.
I leaned down next to the girl, her long white-blonde hair covering her face. Pushing the locks away from her forehead, she turned her ice blue eyes to mine and something in her stare shook me to my very core. To this day, I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was about her, but it was something. Her face was heart-shaped, her features petite and mystically beautiful, but she was hurt. Bruises covered her forehead, cheeks and arms. Her plain white dress was filthy from ash and dirt and there were blisters forming from burns on her bare legs. The child craned her head to the sky and I could see little tattoos of stars and musical notes scattered on her neck, directly under her right ear. Her eyes bubbled with tears as she stared at the rising moon. She seemed so lost, so terribly alone. I tried to take her hand, but she clutched a strange instrument to her chest and refused to let it go. They told me later it was a musical instrument, resembling an ancient Greek lyre. To me it just looked like a small harp. Instead, I patted her hand, surprised at how warm it was and thought she might have a fever.
“It’s okay, miss. We’ll get you out of here. Langston, have one of your men hook up the wagon.” I picked up the girl, contraption and all, and cradled her in my arms. She was but a doll, so slight. As we moved to the main road, she made the slightest of noises in her throat, but I couldn’t tell what she was saying. In fact, no one could.
Why pick only one sci-fi genre when you can have them all in this collection of exciting science fiction stories!
TITANIUM FLOW: It was supposed to be a simple mission. Mine the titanium on a deserted planet and return it to earth. No one knew they wouldn’t be alone.
In A BAD DAY AT SCHOOL, find out what was in that jar that little Roger brought to school and why it terrified everyone.
In THE GARDEN, discover why a loving husband has walled up a section of his garden in the back of his property. And why he refuses to let anyone go near it.
And in THE FLIP, you learn how very important it is to drink all your tea… because if you don’t, you might simply disappear.
This collection will scratch all the sub-genre itches, from hard science, to speculative fiction, to sweet romance. Discover a new favorite sci-fi genre today!
is an author who loves mixing “the real with the fantastic” in her books. She likes nothing better than taking different scenarios and creating worlds where things just aren’t what they appear to be.
Her six-book supernatural thriller series, beginning with The Hunt for Xanadu, is about a brilliant and fearless young woman named Kelsey Porter, whose life is steeped in Buddhist spiritual mysteries and she is constantly discovering the world around her is not what she believed it to be.
Her YA paranormal suspense series, Flying to the Light and Flying to the FIre, are about a young deaf boy who knows what happens to you when you die and now people are after him for the answers.
Horror novel, The Mannequins, is about a film crew that enters an abandoned mansion and disappears, while her short story horror collection, Ricket Row, is filled with creepy tales guaranteed to keep you up at night. The World of Karov and The Ruby Amulet take us to a fantasy world where twins, good and evil, and magic are all intertwined.
Get to know Elyse at her:
- BestSelling Reads author page
- author website, www.elysesalpeter.com
- Amazon author page
- Facebook page
and follow her on Twitter @ElyseSalpeter.