Story Title: Zandra’s Kiss
by: Stacy Fileccia
Object: Time Travel Device
Cultural Influence: Arabic
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*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*
By Stacy Fileccia
Zandra missed her mom. Body aching, Zandra had awakened on the sandy floor of an old wooden shack. Bound—hand and foot—with what looked like sticky, braided hair, she couldn’t even see her special birthmark on her wrist. Blood seeped into her mouth from her swollen lip. That had happened when a bearded brute punched her as he dragged her into an ice cream truck. All she could see now was four drunken men—playing cards on an old picnic table—and a guy, with diamond-stud earrings and a sickening smile, examining a scalpel.
Three certainties blasted through Zandra’s mind. She’d be tortured. She’d never see her mom again. She’d likely die. If she was lucky. Her heart pounded. The roof of her mouth ached and swelled—like her lip. She took in a deep breath.
Without warning, cards, men, and beer bottles flew in all directions. The lion’s roar of strong wind exploded the air, shaking the shack. With a whip-crack sound, it stopped. No one moved in the resounding silence.
The door burst open.
Whispered echoes of “Bertrand” poured from her captors’ lips as the man, himself, ignored them. He strode directly to Zandra, grasping her chin and chuckling, “Fighter, eh?” Standing, he said, “Ser goot, gentlemen. Let us get started.”
In the flurry of activity that followed, “Bearded Brute” sliced through Zandra’s ankle bonds, but she had a plan. She landed a kick, square on his squat nose.
As he howled and Bertrand laughed, the other cardplayers seized her. Her mom’s sweet face dancing in her mind, Zandra heard herself screaming as they carried her across the room, slipped her bound hands over an anchored hook, and hoisted her writhing body onto the bloodstained table. Stretching her painfully, they strapped her ankles to the bottom corners.
Bearded Brute stomped over, looking murderous, but Bertrand wagged a finger, “’Ave your fun with her after I remove her Ghudat Aljilatin.”
Bearded Brute seethed, turning an almost inhuman gaze to Zandra. He wiggled his fingers in her face. They had odd scars on the tips, almost like closed eyes. He jammed his index finger between her lips and teeth, making her gag as it hit the back of her throat. Something shot from his finger until her mouth was completely full of what felt like the sticky braided hair that bound her wrists. It tasted worse than old earwax.
Jaws aching, she could barely breathe.
Her captors held her down with their stinking bodies, making Zandra feel about as powerful as a butterfly trapped between book pages. Bearded Brute sliced open the left side of her T-shirt.
Pain exploded through her like lightning fire as Bertrand stabbed between her ribs, slicing, cutting, digging. Unendurable. Yet she endured, squeezed to breaking against the warped wood.
“Goot, goot,” Bertrand kept saying.
Not good. Not good. Zandra screamed inaudibly. The roof of her mouth suddenly broke open, causing a flood—that tasted like cotton candy—to fill her mouth and spill from her swollen lips.
Would she drown?
Ignoring her torment, Bertrand sliced away while the nasty gag dissolved into the sweet taste of cotton candy.
Like a psychotic tiger appearing from nowhere, a tornadic wind burst to bloom in the middle of the shack. Sand and surgical equipment flew everywhere. Bearded Brute’s knife flew from his hand into Diamond Guy’s neck, who crumpled where he stood.
The tornado tipped like a wilting flower until Zandra could see it as if from above. A knife-wielding, ginger-haired woman in peacock-blue medical scrubs stepped through it as the wind whip-cracked and vanished. While the men seemed stunned, the woman slashed through Zandra’s ankle straps.
Except for Bertrand, the men fell into chaos, grabbing for weapons to fight the woman.
But “woman” she was not. Not anymore.
At first, she looked like a holograph of herself. Then her entire body morphed into something like molten amber. Yet she moved as if she were fully human. Bullets, knives, and more went pelting through the air, but, rather than harming her, the projectiles only slowed as they went through her.
Zandra’s head spun. Had the men drugged her? She couldn’t be seeing a woman of amber stepping through a torrent of bullets. Could she? The amberized woman engulfed Bearded Brute. Obviously unable to breathe, Bearded Brute’s eyes bulged as he fought in slow motion.
“Salt!” screamed Bertrand. “You, fools! You can’t …” He fumbled through his clothes, pulling out what looked like a pistol-sized, metal squirt gun.
But Zandra’s other captors had already run away.
As Bearded Brute convulsed in death throes, Zandra decided what she saw was real. She spat out the disgusting, disintegrated gag, twisted off the table, and unhooked her still-bound hands. Once Bearded Brute stilled, the amberized woman let him sink through and out of her.
Then she strode toward Bertrand, who shot her. Something white streamed from the gun, causing the woman to catch fire where it hit.
Zandra slammed her bound fists onto Bertrand’s weapon and kicked it away. She tried to run as the woman rolled on the floor to put out the flames, but Bertrand caught Zandra by her long red braid. He held her around the neck, using her as a human shield against the woman rising from the floor.
Inspired, Zandra flung her bound hands in a double fist into Bertrand’s face while back-kicking him in the balls. He fell to the floor on top of her. She felt her ribs crack. Barely able to breathe, new pain exploded in her side as Bertrand stabbed her in the hole he’d made.
Unbelievably, Zandra’s neck elongated. As if she were snake, she whipped around and bit the back of his neck.
Screaming, he pushed through the amber. He squeezed Zandra’s neck, cutting off her air. Growing weak, her neck retracted.
As if they’d been thrown into a pool of partially-solidified gelatin, amber flooded over Zandra’s vision. The woman had engulfed both Zandra and the fat torturer atop her. Neither could breathe. As he struggled for air, Bertrand released Zandra’s neck. Miraculously, the amber around her face opened, and air rushed into her lungs. This time, Zandra’s entire body elongated, and she slid out from under Bertrand while he fought for his life. She coiled her turquoise scales in the corner of the shack, raising her head high, swaying as she let her instincts guide where next to bite.
Bertrand’s entire body had blackened—Zandra supposed—from her venom. Yet he fought with inhuman strength. Hairy, spidery legs shot from his sides and out of the amber.
From somewhere, a voice screamed, “Cut them off!”
Zandra swooped down and bit completely through a leg. The others retracted. Bertrand soon moved no more.
Finally, the amber drew away, and the woman reformed, massaging the amber stuff into several nasty wounds. “Thanks for that. He could breathe through the spiracles on his legs.”
For a tangled minute, Zandra and the woman stared at each other. “Zandra, I’m Qadira. I’m here to help you.”
Serrated protrusions—fangs? Could they be fangs?—pulsed at the roof of Zandra’s mouth. Zandra hissed, “How did you know I’d been kidnapped?”
Qadira sighed. “It’s complicated. Neither of us is from this time or this world.”
Zandra felt her body shrinking, reforming into human shape. On her arms, she could barely see the faintest outlines of the beautiful turquoise scales, melding into her skin. She said, “I’m … an alien? Some kind of monster?” The thought made her sick to her stomach.
“You’re no more a monster than any other race. Our people are a lot like the humans. We … we crashed on this planet and hid the children from our pursuers throughout … time.”
Longing for her mom, Zandra rubbed her the heart-shaped birthmark on her wrist.
Qadira smiled sympathetically. “Right now, I just want to get the Qalam Almusafir safely out of your Ghudat Aljilatin.” She pointed to Zandra’s side where—Zandra realized—she’d been stabbed with a golden pen, not a scalpel. Like armored guards, vivid turquoise scales still encircled it. Zandra nodded.
Qadira transformed her left hand into the amber stuff. A kind of euphoria washed Zandra’s pain away when the amber swallowed the pen—the Qalam Almusafir. With her right hand, Qadira pulled out the pen and gave it to Zandra. “This traveler’s pen is yours. It will take you to any place or time on this planet. I’ve got one, too, see?” Silent tears slid down the woman’s cheeks as she raised her own pen in the weak light, revealing a birthmark on her wrist uncannily similar to Zandra’s. “Bertrand stole the one he used to find you from my other daughter—your… your sister.”
Zandra gasped. She thought of her mom, the one who had kissed her boo-boos and sang sweet songs to her before bed. “You’re my …”
With unchecked tears, Qadira continued, “Last night, I … I couldn’t get to her in time…”
A slim, forked tongue flicked out from between Zandra’s teeth, tasting … honesty. Qadira wasn’t lying. Zandra choked on a sob.
Turquoise scales flash appeared along Qadira’s arms. “We are Alkubra. The reptile aspect came out early in you. Probably a defense mechanism.”
“Wait. What? What does that mean?”
“It means you can transform into a giant, venomous snake, closely resembling an Arabian Cobra but with a bright red mark like braided hair down your back. Given enough time, Bertrand would have died from the bite—the Alkubra Kiss, your kiss.”
“Why didn’t my … sister … do that?”
“Too young, I guess.”
Zandra didn’t know what to say.
With effort, Qadira turned her obvious grief into facts. “Bertrand was trying to remove your Ghudat Aljilatin—a defensive gland that causes our bodies to gelatinize.”
“Did he do it?”
“Don’t worry. My Alyt Aldifae will heal your gland.” Qadira held up her left arm to show a missing hand.
Zandra gasped as she looked down at her sided where the pen had been. Qadira’s Alyt Aldifae looked like a mound of honey on her wound.
“No worries. My hand will reform in a couple of months.”
Rubbing her birthmark, Zandra said, “What was that braided hair stuff?”
“The men were Aleanakib, the alien race that conquered our world. They can shoot spider webby stuff from their fingers. Forget about it. They’re dead now, and we need to get out of here before more come. Do you want to come with me?”
Thinking of her mom, Zandra hesitated. “You’re really my birth mother?”
Nodding, Qadira said, “I live with other Alkubra on a beautiful, tropical island.”
Realistically, with her mom dead from the Aleanakib attack, Zandra had no better choice. She nodded.
Qadira pulled a prescription pad from her scrubs and scribbled something with the Qalam Almusafir. “We sign the bottom together.”
Zandra hissed, “Let’s go.”
*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*
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