(Christian Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy Adventure)
Steven screamed as the energy field ripped the nails from his left foot.
'Subject shows low tolerance for sudden onset of pain.' He heard one of the alien's think to the other.
The second alien made the shimmering gesture Steven guessed meant something like a nod of acknowledgment.
'Begin slow increase of intensity.' His mind translated the being's thoughts.
"God, give me strength." Steven prayed with his eyes closed against the energy field hovering over his other foot.
'Subject continues to exhibit remarkable adherence to the false hope.' One alien thought to another.
It was a simple overnight trip to a cabin in the Adirondacks. Steven and his friends owned a cabin near west Canada mountain, and spent several weekends a year hunting and fishing in the area. They had driven in early that morning and went into their routine. Airing out the cabin, setting up their bunks and evaluating the firewood for the cookstove.
Steven was the chief cook and camp master. He stacked clean wood by the stove and made sure the firebox was ready to go. Bob had cast himself in the role of hunting guide and was currently sorting fishing gear for a trip to the river for lunch. Ron and his grandson were packing in gear and engaging in the age-old argument about who had to sleep on the top bunk by the door.
After the others had argued a suitable amount of time, Steven piped up while wiping out the dry sink and volunteered to take the bunk.
"You sure?" Ron asked. Bob grinned.
"Yeah, I'm getting used to it."
"OK." He nodded to his grandson. The younger man put Steven's old pack on the bunk.
"Thanks Dan." Steven said to him.
"I'll take this one." Ron patted the lower bunk, "Closer to the door for necessities."
After things were settled they took the fishing stuff out and piled into the van for the short run down to the river. They spent several hours fishing. The trout didn't want to cooperate, but they landed several good sized smallmouth bass.
By early afternoon they had enough for lunch and went back to the cabin.
Everybody pitched in to clean the fish, then Steven took over and fixed the meal. Dan spent the time chopping more wood for a campfire, Bob got the guns ready for a evening hunting trip for quail and pheasant.
Nobody missed telephones, or the TV, all they had was a small old radio they left in the cabin and changed batteries in when needed. Every morning they turned it on for the forecast and the latest sports scores.
They walked through the meadow not far from the cabin and enjoyed the evening hunt. Not worried whether or not they'd get enough birds for dinner or not. That wasn't the point.
That evening they sat around a slowly dying campfire and talked about odds and ends, finally sitting around lost in thought listening to the silence of the night sounds.
Bob turned in first. Telling the others he had an early morning appointment with a wild turkey. Later the others debated putting another log on the fire or just going to bed. They decided bed was the least work and left the fire to burn out in its stone ring.
It was well after midnight. Ron had just come back from a late night call of nature. Once again Steven was awaken by the inside door banging against his bunk, which was the main drawback of sleeping where he did. He saw light reflecting from the small front windows.
Steven woke up shivering. The wherever he was, was pitch black. He was completely naked and lying on a surface that felt like a hard plastic. It took a minute for him to find his voice.
"You put something on the fire?" Steven asked him.
Ron was scooting into his sleeping bag. "No." Then he saw the light. "Wind must have kicked it up." He got comfortable. "It'll go out in a minute."
It was a lot longer than a minute. The light seemed to be a lot brighter than the fire could have made. Then suddenly the radio started making random noises, very loud random noises.
Dan looked out of his sleeping bag. "What's going on?"
Ron was sitting back up. "I think somebody's playing a joke again." He glanced over at Bob still snoring. But now he saw the light through the window in the back of the small cabin. "Wait a minute."
Steven hopped down from his bunk and walked over to the radio. Its noises continued, playing with the knobs made no difference at all.
It was obvious this wasn't a prank. Now even Bob was awake. The men looked from one to the other and tried to hide the fear that was coursing through their veins.
In a minute the roof of the cabin was torn away violently and the room was filled with a blinding, almost liquid light. Bob was swearing incoherently, Dan moved close to his grandfather, either to protect him, or for protection, even he wasn't sure of which.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...." Steven started to recite, but terror had erased the rest of the Psalm from his mind, he continued anyway, "Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come..."
The next thing the men knew is they were all screaming together.
"Hey. Anybody there?" He asked the darkness.
"Yeah. Welcome back." Dan answered. "You OK?"
"I don't know yet. I'm awful stiff."
Steven tried to sit up but was rewarded by scorching pain from his back. He fell back to the surface breathless.
"Don't move. It hurts too much." Dan said.
"Thanks, Dan." He took a deep breath, the air smelled and tasted strange, almost oily. "Are any of the others around?"
"I don't know. I've only been awake for a little bit."
He moved his head and tried to see shapes in the darkness, but only succeeded in making his eyes water. "Where are we?"
"I don't know. But I don't like it."
"Hello? Danny?" Ron said into the blackness.
"Grandpa! Are you OK?" Dan said gratefully.
"Don't move Ron. It'll almost kill you."
"I believe you. I'm OK Danny, I've been laying here half awake listening to you."
The men stayed still in the darkness, unmoving, talking, for a long time.
"Hey something's happening over there." Dan said.
"Where?" Steven asked looking around, then he saw a red gleam in the darkness.
"Bob? Is that you?" Ron turned a little to see.
They heard shrieking and muffled speech from Bob. But there were other figures in the red light. Then they were gone and the darkness returned.
"Bob?" They all said with concern.
"What? Who? Steven? Ron? Is it really you guys?"
"Yes Bob. It's us. What happened?"
They heard Bob crying, and that was worse than anything he could have said.
It may have been only a few minutes, or it could have been an hour, Bob managed to say what had happened to him.
The others almost didn't believe it. Almost.
"So we have been kidnapped by a UFO." Ron said, "Terrific, there goes our deposit on the rental boat." He tried to laugh at his own joke.
"There has to be another explanation." Steven looked at where Bob's voice had come from. "Did you see anything familiar?"
"I don't know. It was all so weird, but some of it looked normal, if you know what I mean." He was still breathing heavily.
The shimmering red light appeared next to Steven. He looked into it trying to see, but all there was were forms and shapes, nothing definite, then three of the forms moved closer. As soon as one of them touched him he was wracked with mind-bending pain.
When he could focus his eyes again he realized he was lying on his side and they were pulling things off his back. Steven was afraid to move, nearly too scared to breath. But as they worked the pain in his back decreased and he felt better.
'Subject is responding well to decrease in stimuli.'
"What? Subject? Me?" Steven said surprised.
'Subject responds with observed sonic intonations.'
He realized he was not hearing them with his ears exactly. It was like they were talking but the sounds came from everywhere, including inside his own head. He moved his eyes to get a good look at the closest figure.
Then he was very sorry he did.
It didn't have a face, even an alien face. No mouth or eyes. Just a bare lump on what passed for a neck over a body that was almost shapeless. Several arm-like tentacles protruded at various places from its body. To call it squid-like would have insulted any self-respecting squid.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on other things. "This has to be a nightmare or something. They are not real. This is not happening." He told himself.
Then the 'unreal' creatures pulled him from the workbench and carried, dragged, forced him back to the holding area with the others. But now, the outrageous pain was gone. He was just extremely uncomfortable.
He was even more uncomfortable with the idea that maybe, just maybe, by some outside chance, this was real. The idea that maybe the creatures were demons had occurred to him. But why would demons torture Bob, who didn't even like driving by a church?
Steven found he could sit up and look around without blinding pain. Now he could see an orange glow on the floor around him, just out of arm's reach. Curious he leaned over and slid his fingers along the floor toward it. As his fingertips got within about an inch of the glow the hair stood up on his arm and his skin began tingling fiercely.
"I'm not that curious." Steven said quietly to the glow.
"Hey! You're back." Ron said. "What did they do to you?"
"Took something off my back." He thought about the question, "You think these things are real?"
"I thought this was a dream. Until I had to go to the bathroom."
"How did you go? You can't move can you?"
He heard Ron chuckle in his raspy way that sounded more like a mild coughing fit.
"I really don't want to know that badly." Steven said as he scooted to a modified lotus position trying to get halfway comfortable. "Maybe this means Paul was serious when he said, 'Go Everywhere and Preach the Good News.'"
Bob chimed in this time. "You mean you're going to preach to these things?"
"If they have a soul, they need to hear too." Dan was an occasional church goer who didn't mind some of Steven's testifying and witnessing.
"And Ron is just the guy to bring them the word."
"They can hear us." Steven said with a slight smile. He was running through some of his favorite verses in his mind.
"Oh yeah. And I gave them something to listen to." Bob said adding a few choice words for any of the aliens that were listening.
"And we can hear them too." Dan said. "When they took me in, they talked about me a lot, but they never 'talked' to me."
The red glow appeared, this time close to where Ron was. As the figures moved toward the older man Dan went ballistic.
"Danny..." Ron began but was cut off by his grandson.
"NO!" He shouted. Dan jumped up despite the pain he felt and rushed toward the figures. He hit the orange glow full force. It arced and flashed around him, holding him for a second as the energy of his movement dissipated, showing the room in a glaring relief of bright light, then he fell backward. Landing in a heap on the floor.
'Subject exhibited protective mannerisms observed before in other subjects.' One of the creatures said in their peculiar way. 'Other subject expressed concern sonically.'
"Danny? Danny?" Ron said, slightly struggling against the creatures. Steven and Bob echoed the name, blinking as the aftereffects of the flashes cleared in their eyes.
"I'm OK." Dan said breathlessly. "I'm OK."
He didn't sound OK, but Ron nodded. "You stay put. I'll be all right."
Ron moved to go with the aliens without being forced. Steven closed his eyes for Ron's well being.
They forced him anyway, the red glow died, then the darkness returned completely.
Ron was gone a long time. The others wondered about the energy field that Dan had tested, and about the red glow that appeared around the aliens when they came into what was evidently a prison block.
"We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto." Dan said with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
Steven had fallen into an uneasy sleep while praying silently to himself, when he heard Ron's voice and stirred back to the horrible reality.
"They didn't Do anything to me. They just made me stand in one place and seemed to take pictures of me." He said.
"Maybe they like you." Bob said.
"I have a way with people." He chuckled, "And with whatever they are."
Steven awoke in the examination chamber again.
'Subject exhibits continual faith in delusion observed by others.'
"It is not a delusion. It is faith in God."
The closest alien stopped its manipulation of a panel on the table in front of it and seemed to look at him even though it had no eyes. 'We have found there is no being you name God. Your faith is void. You are nothing more than an animal. As are we. When you cease, you end. As do we.'
Steven stared at the alien with sadness. "I know I am a spirit that will live forever with my Lord."
The creature stood still for a second, then with a shimmering sweep of a couple of its tentacles it began working the panel again.
'Subject expounds its belief with no provocation.' The other creature said.
He was forced to lay flat on his back and stare at colored lights and lines until his eyes watered and burned.
It was done, he was pushed to his feet.
'You maintain your belief?' The alien by the panel asked him.
Steven wiped his eyes and took a deep breath, the oil smell was stronger in here. "I will never deny my Lord Jesus."
The alien shimmered. Two others took Steven with their hand-like projections from their tentacles and towed him out of the room. It wasn't far to the holding room, Steven tried to look around, but there wasn't a lot to see. In a minute he was back in the holding room.
"What did they do to you?" Dan asked him.
"I got to look at colors."
"They took Bob right after you. He's not back yet." Ron said.
Steven began to pray for him.
"Amen." Dan said.
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was praying out loud."
"That's fine. It's kind of comforting. Reminds me of when you pray over every meal at camp."
"And before he goes to sleep." Ron added. "And when Danny drives up Canada Mountain Road." He continued kidding his grandson.
"We all pray then, even Bob." Steven said. Then he was sorry he did, they all fell silent worrying about their friend.
After another bit of sleep that didn't give rest the were lying in silence when one of the aliens in its red glow walked into the space between their cells. It had four containers of the same plastic the floor was made of. It stopped in the middle of the area and pushed the pans through the orange glow that flickered slightly then returned to normal. When it had finished this it 'spoke' to them.
'This is food. You may eat it when you wish.'
The men could almost see each other by the creature's glow. They glanced at each other, Bob was there now, laying silently on the floor. Nobody else moved.
"Thank you. I'm not hungry right now." Steven said. It wasn't a lie. He had been hungry. Until he saw Bob's body sprawled where he had evidently been dropped unconscious by the aliens.
Later, in the dark, They each crawled to the pan and carefully tried the stuff inside. It seemed to be a moist paste that had a flavor like the smell of fresh cut grass. But it was wet, and they were dying of thirst.
Bob was the first to eat his. He said they had put him on a spinning table and made him remain there long after he had gotten sick and passed out several times.
"Lord, even for this, provided by those that deny Your existence, I give thanks."
"Amen." Three of them said together after they discussed eating it.
"So how long have we been here?" Dan asked licking the stuff off his fingers.
Ron felt his cheeks. "Almost two days, as the beard grows."
"They should be missing us." Steven said quietly.
"Good luck finding us." Bob said sourly.
'We need one of you for a test. I will tell you now. You may not survive.'
The alien was standing in the middle. The men woke up and looked at the thing in its red glow.
"Drop dead, dry up, and blow away." Bob said.
'If you do not choose. We will.' The creature said.
"I'll go." Dan said and got to his feet.
"No." Steven said. "No, Dan, if you get out of this your grandfather will need you." He faced the alien and squared his shoulders. "I'll go."
"And may God have mercy on your soul." Bob said to his friend.
"Thank you." Steven said looking him in the eye by the pale red light.
"You'll come back." Ron said.
"We'll pray for you the whole time until you do." Dan said wiping his eye as the creature walked through the orange field and took Steven by the arm.
Then the darkness returned and Bob sat in his cell in the dark. He heard Ron reciting a prayer Bob half remembered from childhood. He joined in softly, "Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...." He had to stop and clear his throat and sob to himself.
Steven was in a room he hadn't been in before. It was larger, with obvious doors in several places. Other creatures were watching from behind a faint blue haze of energy. Steven was pinned to a table by the same orange field from the cell, unable to move at all.
The closest creature leaned over a panel. The onset of pain was so sudden and so complete Steven swooned into unconsciousness immediately. He was brought around quickly by the aliens.
'This test will measure your resilience to various types and sources of pain. The danger is the complete collapse of your nervous and circulatory system. For obvious reasons we cannot temper the stimuli at all, that would invalidate the test.' It paused, maybe it was looking at him, he couldn't tell. 'We will continue.'
This time the pain was shot through him in waves. He screamed and struggled. When he could breath again he found it had stopped.
'Next' The alien said.
This time his left foot was raised slightly into a greenish glow from a small dark machine hanging from the ceiling. He could see the glow intensify quickly.
His scream was sharp and quick as the nails were pulled from his foot.
'Subject shows low tolerance for sudden onset of pain.' He heard one of the aliens think to the other.
Steven took several deep breaths against the pain.
'Begin slow increase of intensity.'
"God, give me strength." Steven prayed with his eyes closed against the energy field hovering over his right foot, focusing on the nails. The glow increased again.
'Subject continues to exhibit remarkable adherence to the false hope.'
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you." He took a massive breath as the pain built in his foot, he could feel the joints in his foot pop as the nails were drawn upward, "Do GOOD to them that HATE you! AND PRAY FOR THEM THAT DESPITEFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU!!!" He shouted with fury as he felt his flesh tear, then a scream took over and he ended up collapsing on the table panting.
His mind noticed a scattered muttering from the observing aliens.
'Stamina of subject is increased by recitation of his documentation.'
"That's." He panted. "From the Bible. The Beat... beatitudes." He caught his breath, "Of Jesus."
'So noted for reference.' The creature said. 'But you know there is no such being. False hope abounds in creatures with limited life spans.'
There was no more time for discussion. Steven was racked with pain again. It seemed this time it ran for hours. He would pass out and awaken again to even more intense pain from every inch of his body.
"Lord." He prayed between screams. "Please God. A sign. Anything." He spoke through gritted teeth, his eyes streaming tears from the torture.
After what seemed like ages the pain subsided.
'Resistance to extended sensation marked at relative to intensity.'
Steven looked at the audience. One of them turned to leave. The doors opened.
Through the blue field, behind the departing alien, Steven saw a single star shining through a porthole. One lone bright light in the heavens.
He realized several things at once. They were on a spaceship. These were beings from another world. And there was a God in Heaven.
"The heaven's declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Steven quoted. He sighed and got up on one elbow, the orange energy field started responding, "Do what you have to do. I know my Redeemer Lives! And I can take your best shot. For me, to live is Christ. To DIE is GAIN!" He sat up against the field's arcing and sparks. Glaring defiantly at the alien by the panel.
'Subject has become defiant and spirited.' It leaned to the panel.
"You ain't seen nothin yet."
The pain this time was unbelievable. Steven knew this was the end. But the only thing he could think about was a hymn they sang in church while he screamed, "Coming Home, Coming Home, Lord I'm coming home."
"Coming home, coming home..." He sang softly.
"He's coming around."
"Ron?" Steven opened his eyes. "Wow. I thought I was dying."
"We thought you were dead. Lay still. Dan went to get some help."
Above Ron's face was sky. And trees behind him. "Where?" He managed to say.
"We're back at the cabin. And no. It wasn't a dream. We bandaged your feet. And Bob is missing some teeth. But we lived through it."
Steven relaxed. "They were going to kill me."
"We know. The alien that brought us the food brought you back to the cell. It said it couldn't let you die." Ron's lower lip quivered and he looked at the trees. "It laid you down and turned to leave, then it said, 'I believe'" He patted Steven's hand. "You did it. You converted an alien! And it saved us!"
Steven sat up a little. Bob was right there. Wrapped in a blanket staring at a small fire. He nodded to him, "OK. You got my attention." Bob said thickly. Steven saw he was missing his front teeth. "Tell me about this Jesus."
End Steven's Star.
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