It’s hard to know what someone feels unless you’ve experienced the very same combination of events and circumstances — injustices. Short of the Eternal, even I can’t go into someone else’s body to know such things. Even when that person hops out to escape the cruel treatment that the world doles out to them. You’d think a vacuum would allow someone like me to jump in and take over, but not the case.
If your lips crack, and your throat dries enough and you understand why you’re thirsty and hate that desire enough, then hope can cause change to occur.
Cat fretted over the day while running through her simple morning beauty routine. After a towel drying of her short hair, she thought about her function on the team for the better part of the summer. Her drawings and others in the group covered the walls at the lab with great success in moving closer to their goal of finding Saidi.
Over and over Cat tried to find the right way to tell Shenser about taking the locket, but she hesitated each time by virtue of the progress they had made as a couple. Wow, A couple?
Ouch, I have to fess up. But she felt disarmed like a vehicle pulling a trailer of lifetime memories and then all the sudden the trailer comes unhitched without the driver even knowing it. The first evidence showed the trailer racing ahead on the road, with no one driving and navigating it. Oh jeez, soon it will crash. Will that trailer survive the inevitable crash? Will all the individual memories inside stay intact?
She hydrated her skin with oil and then lengthened her already long lashes with some Splashproof mascara. As a fearless child, she often pondered lifting off into the sky and touching downward, then discovering herself in one smooth plunge. Not at all afraid of commitment when she found something she liked she’d revisit it again and again. But things have a way of evolving. Soon she wanted to control her freedoms. Eeek, I’m a control freak.
And then she recalled a boy who didn’t demand enough from her. As a grown woman, she continued to toy over wanting too much from him. Such sad thoughts sent her spirit crashing. As a child, she braced full of possibilities. The magic personified. In her imagination, she flew as easily as running. Yes, she had that now in remote viewing, but she still needed that control and couldn’t function with such abandon.
She’d catch herself in moments of unlikelihood, captured in time — in a vacuum or spiral. Sometimes she needed a shock to bring her back to reality, such dangerous introspection.
As a survival skill, she developed ways for adrenaline to rush through her veins. She combed her existence for a thrill where she could find it. Ugh, stealing isn’t a very righteous way to feel human.
Not every single adrenaline rush came in an illegal manner though. She had a gift and burden to help sick and neglected animals. She dropped everything to help a creature, especially an amphibian or four-legged animal in need. That almost overcompensated her other weaknesses.
Just another reason she loved scuba diving and surfing so much, again the adrenaline rush. She craved other inherent dangerous types of sports that gave her a surge as well.
Whoa, I suppose that’s why I steal things. I need that racing heartbeat. Also, she noticed, during her shoplifting episodes, she’d experience significant stress in her life. The unfair loss or confusion over Gram set her into her present day habit.
She flossed her teeth and revisited this weakness from childhood, then later again after the death of her parents. Each time, she’d experience the rush followed by remorse and guilt like a sugar high only to crash.
Get a grip on yourself. Damn, if not for these patterns in my life, I’m perfect. Oh yeah, how pompous? She knew that the problem would remain dormant until the day came, that she could understand the underlying stress factor and deal healthfully with that stress.
Looking back to her childhood, she stole something every time she returned home from summer camp. She could go back and remember each and every episode. As a result, it became a photograph in time, and she wouldn’t forget what happened previous to taking things.
Partly, I wanted someone else to feel the same pain of loss that I felt? Great, now I’m a shrink. She stuck her tongue out at the mirror in defiance. Then laughed at how funny she looked. Why should I have to carry that heavy weight all alone? Angry at how unfair life treated her.
Regardless how I look at it, I need help. But she had tried that route before, or her parents tried it for her at age 13 after stealing she went to a psychiatrist. She drew a lot of stick figure pictures for him. It did nothing at all. Though it did get her parents off her back. After she had gone through the process, her parents gave her back some privileges they took away.
She tried to make some sense out of her unruly hair, parting it in different ways. My hair’s acting like my personality. Hmm, like my hair, I have to get to the root of my stealing problem. She stared into the mirror. That’s it! Recognizing that expression as complete insight, she gasped in hyperventilation. When I steal, I’m in control of the situation. It’s my way of having control over something in my life.
Cat determined that the next time she had a private moment with Shenser she’d tell him she took the locket out of insecurity. She wanted control of that part of him as well.
When the king and queen heard that the border authorities refused the Infinīte’s entrance, their plan, or primarily the queen’s plan backfired since they refused them at the boundary. But having an image to keep and maintaining Ningen as the crime-free place to live, the queen had to devise another plan.
To discourage disorder, every public space had cameras watching the citizens. Though some of the public might view the queen’s next plan of having the Infinītes in captivity as inhumane if not a crime.
Again, with images to hold they had to devise a place to hide the Infinītes. Tucked away in a cove south of the castle existed an abandoned work camp once wholly inhabited for mining gold. Though with all the computerization in recent years, the mine remained empty with hundreds of people out of work.
The last few years the pollution problem escalated with the chemical drudge that leaked into the sea. The environmentalist protested the modern day mining again. But Queen Bruni, a huge environmentalist herself, thought of housing all the Infinītes at that abandoned work camp to use them as free labor in gold mining, one of their most profitable resources.
The manual labor method of mining caused much less pollution. Additionally, their energy would provide work for the periwinkle salt mines as their second and most sought after resource. Periwinkle salt only existed in The Ningen Range, gold, on the other hand, worldwide.
After the train had returned to retrieve all the Infinītes at the border, Gram felt better she stayed with her group. But she wished she wouldn’t have mailed a letter to Ajel because he didn’t have to worry anymore. Though the guards still pushed and herded them around like animals. But in all the excitement seeing the train approaching everyone’s expectations restored.
“I knew The Eternal would answer our prayers,” one Infinite said.
Then others clapped and wept in excitement. Still Gram felt somewhat dazed and as the train approached her heart raced. Then skipping a beat entirely, “It’s a trap,” she cried. But many couldn’t hear her or chose not to hear her and after she screamed again, “run, it’s a trap,” The solemn truth came too late.
Seconds later armed trucks appeared out of nowhere while eyes darted from the trucks to the train moving toward them. The train pulled up with a squeal and screech breaking to a stop with a small air release hiss. The doors flung open by more angry-looking armed men and women. And the guards pushed the Infinītes toward their ride back to freedom, or so they previously thought.
Still some hopeful Infinītes wondered why the barking guards pointed their guns at them, instead of the gentle care like the volunteers that delivered food and water to them earlier. They could smell the hatred and disgust in the air like a rotten plant.
The guards bickered at the people moving slow still weak from lack of food.
“Get in now, or they’ll leave you behind,” screamed a worried child to a parent.
The guards glared at the panicked voices.
“We’ll just shoot them if they don’t hurry up. That’ll leave more room for the ones inside,” said an armed man.
While Gram helped others inside, able Infinītes formed a chain to pull and hoist the weak ones in to prevent a shooting. At this point, Gram didn’t like the looks of this at all.
As the guards pushed and pulled the last few people inside one of the guards said as an afterthought, “Oops, careful.”
Sweat dripped down this Infinīte’s face. But just receiving a kind word he asked the guard, “Can you tell us our destination?”
Other people asked the guards too.
“None of your business.” Another guard said.
And, “shut up,” another. “You’ll see your beautiful destination when you get there.”
The friendly guard now stood quiet. Then all of the sudden volunteered, “But once you arrive, you’ll remain there for a very long time.”
The Greater Ningen Mountain range extended beyond the country of their destination where King Ross and Queen Bruni ruled. Then continued approximately 1,500 miles, passing through four more nations. The entire range consisted of three similar areas that people repeatedly referred to as the Nobler Ningen, the Smaller Ningen, and the Exterior Ningen. The train full of Infinītes moved from the Smaller Ningen and on toward the Nobler Ningen. But they would learn Nobler Ningen did not mean a kinder Ningen.
Stealing Eternity is the (first draft of the) second book in the Infinite Series.
Written by Pam Kesterson