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Croatoan

The hot, humid air caused Sisabel's hair to frizz, her curls growing larger and more pronounced in the small mirror.

Her heart jumped as her thoughts drifted, and she placed her sacred prayer beads back down on her neatly folded quilt, hoping for the hundredth time that day that her betrothed was safe.

John White had been courting her for two years now, but had left a few months ago from Roanoke to visit their home country. She missed him severely, and tears threatened to spill from their small reservoir every time her thoughts chanced upon him. She had to resist the urge to bring her troubles to her best friend, Elizabeth, every day. But her patience was waring down to a small stub, and would be completely gone soon enough.

Elizabeth was short in stature, but held her head high—her voice loud and sure—in everything she every did. She was the only image of a truly sturdy woman that Sisabel had ever witnessed.

“Speak of the devil...” Sisabel muttered softly, as she caught a glimpse of Elizabeth running towards her cottage through the soft summer rain. Elizabeth seemed to be looking behind herself every few steps, and Sisabel wondered what could cause her best friend to be so on edge.

Elizabeth rushed through the door, panting heavily. “Pack...” She whispered, “Grab what you value most and I will store all of your dried foods in my carrying sack.”

Sisabel could only stare, and when she finally spoke, it was only a stuttering 'Why?'. Elizabeth grabbed Sisabel's shoulders painfully, and shook her—her eyes wide and unblinking.

“They've come for us. They've come to... to... we don't know why! They've taken Abraham, and left a large amount of blood behind. Mother told me to gather everyone. We are to meet them at the ridge in minutes!” She released Sisabel with a shove, and ran quickly to her small pantry.

Sisabel bit her tongue to still her next question, and began to gather her clothing. They were out the door in but a minute, and Elizabeth ran in front of her—never stopping to rest or check if Sisabel was behind her.

And that's how Sisabel became lost.
* * *
“Elizabeth?” Sisabel whispered—trying to squint past the bright sun and the annoying pattering of rain. No answer. She called out again—a bit louder this time. Still no answer.

Sisabel groaned softly, pressing her body against a nearby stone wall of a large building that rested in the middle of town.

Her heart quickened as she finally let her ears wander—hearing the blood-curdling scream of a young child. She shuddered at the very thought of something out there... something evil, and just... wrong.

Sisabel closed her eyes tightly, willing away this terrifying dream... this nightmare. She wished for the childish worries of waiting for her love to return. This kind of thing wasn't supposed to happen here... here in the new world—full of wonders, hope, and new opportunities. This was impossible... unreal... unbelieva—

Her breath caught in her throat, her eyes opening wider that they ever had. Blood ran from the five puncture wounds in each arm, and the scaled and clawed hands that had caused her injuries were traveling slowly up to her shoulders—towards the steady flow of blood resting below a thin layer of skin in her pounding neck.

She tried to scream, but she was immobilized by the sickeningly lovely eyes of this... monster. They were a gold, ringed in a brilliant blue. But they closed from the sides, like a frog, or a serpent...

That simple fact pulled Sisabel away from his gaze, and she sank to the hard earth, pulling the creature with her. She took one look at its muscled body, and gave up. Gave up trying, hope, love... life.

The naked flesh of the strange figure from its head to its abdomen glowed eerily, and its leg-like appendages looked to be covered in dangerous spikes. There were at least fifty of them on each leg—and there were three legs on the creature. Surprisingly, not one of the spikes rubbed against another.

His breathtaking face was what distracted her from the fact that she was about to die. His lips were full, tinted a plum-violet color, and his face was lacking the scales that began halfway down his arms. She could almost pretend he was human—a male, about her own age.

She even swore she saw a glimpse of humanity in his transfixing gaze—it's light fluttering out like a small candle blown out by a harsh wind from a nearby window.

Sisabel barely noticed when his steadily moving hands stopped, lifting slight from the security of her skin. The small movement brought her back to the warped reality she was living in, and the lack of pain in her body caused her newly gathered breath to leave her body.

The creature's fingers rested gently on her temples now, and his eyes were rolled back within his head. She thought of escaping, but the idea seemed to vanish as soon as it had entered her mind.

Finally, the alien's eyes opened—wide in an eery shock—as had been her own not much earlier. He slowly brought his arms down, resting them against the bare flesh of his stomach. His three legs shifted slightly as he found himself in a comfortable squat, his face perfectly level with hers.

He studied her contemplatively, and his hairless eyebrows raised in intent listening as a shark cry and several oddly pitched tones carried through the air toward them. He gave her a quick glance, then made a sound similar to what they'd just heard—his much louder, and full of unspoken authority.

There was a quick reply, then all was silent but the crazily beating heart of Sisabel. She was utterly confused, her own fear hidden by her fascination in this stranger.

He stood, and her body was automatically following—not waiting for the confirmation of her mind. “Child.” He said, gesturing to her—his voice light and airy, not tinted whatsoever by an accent. “I see a future within you... it contains... life. So go. Live it. You shall dwell with the natives of this land. Speak of us as you wish, but do not forget to thank your powerful creator for sparing your life with nothing but a future.

“It will be millions of years from now until we return... perhaps there will be no need... perhaps not. Farewell significant one. I do believe your life will be worth living.” He turned away—Sisabel still trying to comprehend all that had been spoken.

“Oh, yes.” He said, turning back from the all but ten meters away he was. “Tell them... Croatoan.”
* * *
Sisabel didn't realize she was crying until the breath in her throat caught—causing her to choke on her own tears.

She eventually found her strength—forcing her body to stumble along, searching for any sign of life in her forsaken villiage.

Nothing. Empty. Gone.

Sisabel thought back on the words he had spoken, and she laughed aloud—reveling in the sound of it.

“Yes.” She whispered haughtily, “Thanks, God. Thanks.”
* * *
Her tears were soon dry. It was time to go, time to leave. She picked up her pack where it had dropped what seemed like years ago, and turned her back on her home.

She began at a walk, but soon was running. Running into the everlasting expanse of forest.

Running into her future.





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