A few times Michael Alter picked Ann up after school. She did not see anything wrong with it. He was just a kind, nice uncle, who filled the emptiness in her soul. But one day...
Ann was working in the laboratory. She had her task almost finished, when a guy working on the next table, grinned: "Hey, Ann! Your boyfriend's here!"
Surprised, Ann looked at the door.
It was Michael. He peeped into the laboratory, he waved to her and smiled.
Ann stood still. She was checking her feelings. She remembered exactly her feelings for Gleb, and it was absolutely another sense.
Their eyes met, and the girl was amazed. The world around her disappeared. It was the Contact. When you do not need to talk to explain. When you understand without words. When souls fused together. She went into the corridor as if she was in a trance. Michael started talking, but she did not understand. Ann just stared at him.
Alter sighed, and repeated himself: "I'm very sorry, I have business to do for the next three weeks."
The girl looked at him. Her naive big dark blue eyes with long eyelashes showed sincere sadness.
"Ann, sweetheart!" Michael took her hands. "You have to rub shoulders with some young people like yourself!"
"I don't need anyone," she replied in an upset voice, and Alter gasped.
"What?" Ann gazed at him. "Gonna visit your wiffie?"
"I'm not married." Michael smiled again.
"Why? Are you gay?"
"If you're sick, I don't mind." the girl was talking as in delirium. "I was just too busy." Michael lowered his eyes. "Ann, look, I..."
The girl wept. Alter became confused.
"Don't you like me?" she showed an unnatural smile. "Am I stupid?"
"Ann," Michael hugged her. They were the same height. "It's too serious, honey. I have to leave the city for a while. I'll be back after the 26th. It's all up to you. You have my phone number."
He carefully kissed her forehead, but Ann emotionally embraced him, and pressed her lips to his.
Michael looked at her with tenderness.
"I'll be back after the 26th."
he repeated and left. But for a long time Ann just stood there, staring
at the exit door, closed behind her beloved man, and she wanted to weep
and laugh at once.
This weekend Ann was with her roommate Irene and her friend Jeff, and they took one couple from the university, Kimberly and her boyfriend Ryan with them. They all made themselves comfortable on the beach at the mouth of the river and started to relax. They got drunk, and became cheerful.
Young people laughed, got into the water, and played. The males rushed after females, they touched and gently pinched the girls and from time to time they grabbed them, threw them into the water, and guffawed. The girls were squealing and splashing their "stalkers". A few times other people on the beach asked them to be quieter, but the young people did not mind.
Thoroughly enjoying the playfulness, Ann asked the thin Kim to climb up on her back and she gave her a piggyback ride. Powerful and well-trained, Ann galloped through the water like a horse, and finally swam towards an island bringing Kim on her back, like Zeus kidnapping Europa.
It was too much. The girls were in the middle of the river when a jet boat closed in on them and the lifeguards told them to stop.
Ann did not argue with them. These guys were nice, and she started flirting. Kim followed Ann, and the lifeguards smiled as they helped the girls get inside the boat. They did not go back at once, they had a little ride. A few times, they rushed along the river past the beach, and the girls shouted and waved their hands.
Merry and satisfied, the girls finally returned to their friends.
"That was so cool!" laughing, Kim fell on the sand. "Eh, Ryan?" She looked around with surprise, and her smile went out. "Where is he?"
She gasped, and gazed at the river.
"What if he drowned?"
Ann did not notice who said that. Nevertheless, it was the common thought. After such games, it was the only possible reason for him to be missing. Ann blanched. Trembling Kim stared at her. All gaiety left the young people at once.
"Go to the river!" Ann told Jeff, she knew he was not human. "Check the bottom!"
Without a word Jeff went to the river, and vanished under the water.
He was absent for so long that Ann started worrying about him also. Sitting on the sand, Kim hugged herself, and quietly wept.
Suddenly they saw Jeff. He walked to them, and held out Ryan's swimming shorts.
"It was clinging to an underwater snag," he said confusedly.
"Where is his body?" a shocked Ann asked Jeff.
"I didn't find it. Maybe the current dragged it away..."
And Kim screamed. She started squealing like crazy. And as if in the fairy-tale about the boy who cried "Wolf!" now nobody on the beach looked at them. They swung their arms to the lifeguards, but they misunderstood them, and just waved back.
Ann grabbed a cell phone, and made a call. And only when the police had arrived did the people around realize that something bad had happened.
Ann hugged the sobbing Kim, and kept her eyes on the river, watching the lifeguards and divers search around.
It was probably the hundredth time that Ann had heard that question.
"One guy has drowned." the girls did not look back.
"What a pity, I missed" the man continued. "But you know, girls, I lost my pants in that damn river, and I had to hide, and get home. I couldn't come here naked, could I?"
Only now the shocked girls turned to him, and gasped seeing it was Ryan. He was alive, safe and sound.
Kim fell into hysterics and people ran to them. Ann imagined all the future talks with police and lifeguards, and she damned everything.
On The Island
Ann liked this rest area. It was placed on the bank of a river, and had a very beautiful view of a few small islands. This weekend Ann was only with her roommate Irene. They were preparing chicken for a barbecue, when some guys came to them. The girls remembered them from the university, and they did not refuse their offer to have a party together. It was five youths and two girls. They brought potato chips and beer.
Ann looked at the guys and chose one athlete with short black curly hair. He was taller than she was, and Ann liked it. His name was André and he was Brazilian. He was an amazing talker. He told her about Rio-de-Janeiro's festivals. He went into details, he sang, played the guitar, and Ann listened with admiration.
When they were dancing, Ann almost lost herself. She was not really drunk. Her parents were able to drink like fish, and her big powerful body could accept a lot of alcohol without losing control.
But a hot August evening, romantic stories, sexy music, and the company of nice guys made her feel insane. She laughed, sang and did not mind that these youths spoke Portuguese and that she did not understand exactly what they were talking about.
Ann did not notice who offered to move the party to some island. Nevertheless, everybody liked the idea. Somebody somehow got a jet boat, and they all placed themselves in it together. They had a little ride, chose the island, and landed.
On the island they drank, and danced again, and everything seemed great.
It was as if she suddenly had awoken from a deep sleep. She found herself with André and his pal, and they were kissing and caressing her. She was still dressed, but these guys had already started to take her clothes off.
Ann squealed, and sprang up. Surprised, the youths allowed her to do it. Ann sobered up at once, and looked around with terror. It was nighttime, the only lights were across the river, awfully far away. The other girls were gone, and Ann did not remember when and how that had happened. Only Irene was sitting on the grass. She was talking with another guy, but she heard Ann's screech and gazed at her.
"Come on," the youths got up. "What's going on?"
"I changed my mind," Ann mumbled. Her hair stood on end when she saw that these guys were drunk and angry.
"Do you think it's funny?" André's voice sounded with spite. "Don't play the fool!"
Ann felt panic. Though she was not a virgin and she liked sex, the thought of rape horrified the girl.
Suddenly she discovered Irene was between her and these guys. Ann was amazed when the girl stealthily handed her a gun.
"Come on, guys! Come on!" Irene said loudly. "Control yourself, guys! Nobody needs troubles!"
Ann heard Irene's voice as through cotton. The girl was persuading the youths, and two of them started to hesitate. But André said something in Portuguese, and they resolutely stepped forward again. And Irene hit André. She threw him backward and everybody gasped with astonishment when that huge guy flew off like a small boy, and rolled head over heels.
"Get out!" Irene held a gun ready to fire. Ann lifted her gun also. The youths stepped back called them a few dirty names then left.
André got up. Suddenly he snatched out his own gun and shot, but Irene pushed Ann and the bullet whistled by them. Next, Irene swatted his gun away.
"Don't make me kill you!" she said through clenched teeth. André looked around, and found himself abandoned. His pals left him, he was alone, and he did not dare to attack these girls. Without a word he turned away and walked into the darkness.
Trembling with stress, Ann sat on the grass.
"Irene," she mumbled. "Oh, my! Thank you! Thank you so much!"
Irene smiled, took out her cell-phone,
and made a call.
The organizer of the trip gave detailed instructions about the place for a meeting. However, Ann had just received a call from her boyfriend Michael, and so she missed a few points. She hoped Irene would remember the route. Besides that, they were giving a ride to a girl named Rhoda, who had no car. Rhoda was very serious girl, so Ann was sure she would tell them the way.
They reached the village without any trouble, but where they had to go now, the girls had no idea. Finally, they parked in a parking lot between a gas station and a local bar, and Irene went to find someone who would know how to reach the farm they were supposed to meet at.
It was a very hot day. Ann felt sleepy and was not in the mood for study. On a day like this she would rather go to the beach or pool, or just stay at home and turn the air-conditioner to maximum power.
A few farm guys were doing something near their trucks. They noticed two nice girls and, not leaving their job, they started flirting with them. Frowning, Rhoda did not reply. Ann found that funny, and flirted back just to kill the time.
Finally, Irene came back.
"We're almost there," she said to the girls. "We have two ways. One is a path through the forest. It can take about thirty minutes to walk it. Or we can drive around, and it should take about the same time, maybe a little longer. So?"
"Let's walk!" Ann suggested at once. "I love the forest, and my butt's tired of sitting!"
They were deep in the forest when Rhoda glanced back and gasped. The other girls looked also. The farm guys followed them. The young men were still talking with each other, and from time to time, they burst out laughing.
"My God!" Rhoda was startled. "Ann! Why did you flirt with them! They're gonna rape us now for sure!"
Ann recalled André. That incident had happened less than a week ago, and she called herself stupid. Irene prepared her gun.
"Don't worry!" she said with clenched teeth. "They're wrong if they think they can do that so easy!"
"Let's go, let's go!" Worried, Ann hastened Rhoda. "Let's just go! The farm is not far away, there we would be safe!"
Although they walked as fast as they could, the men were still the same distance behind them. Rhoda started weep.
"I'm a virgin!" she cried. "What if they all rape us? Oh, God! Please, no!"
"Pull yourself together!" Irene hissed angrily. "I'm a professional! I'm able to kill them all!"
"Let's use the gun as the last way for defense!" Ann frowned.
"Sure, Ann!" Irene grinned. "I can kill with my brass-knuckles, shiv, or black-jack, or even my bare hands!"
"No killing!" Ann became angry.
"Your wish is my command!"
"Knock your off with jokes!" Rhoda sobbed. "I can't stand it any longer! Let's go back! Please!"
"Shut up, stupid!" Irene looked around. "They are behind us! Wanna run straight to their hands? Go! Good luck!"
"Girls, girls, please!" Ann tried to stay under control. "Irene, you have a phone! If something goes wrong, you can call!"
"Call now! Call now!" Rhoda was close to hysteria. The girls moved aside, and Irene blocked them with herself.
The men were getting closer. And closer. Ann hugged trembling Rhoda.
Still talking, the guys passed them. They did not even look at the girls, just threw a few glances. That was all.
Shocked, the girls stood there for a long time.
"Rhoda, you are the stupidest thing ever!" finally Irene said. "No, I am more stupid, because I fell for your paranoid fantasy!"
Ann burst out laughing.
"Well, they didn't even try!" she giggled. "That's not nice! Maybe we wouldn't resist too much, eh?" she gave Rhoda a wink, but the angry girl tore herself off Ann's hands, and continued to walk.
They finally reached the farm. They met the other students.
They got to know the guys who had "stalked" them in the forest. These young men were all nice, and a little shy, and when Ann was leaving the farm, she felt a light sadness about her wrong thoughts.
She was glad that all the worries
were groundless, and that the number of good people greatly outnumbered
the scoundrels. Her love to all mankind overflowed, and she thought with
gratitude about her beloved Michael, who had taught her to feel that way.
The Knights Of Jesus
They had held a grudge against Ann Thorn for a long time. Ann knew about the Devil and angels more than anyone else, and all the time when these guys started talking, she showed her skepticism.
This group called themselves "The knights of Jesus." They handled knives made from crosses, and their guns had a silver bullets in their clips. The police knew about that, but all members of this group had permission, and the law did not specify what material could be used for making weapons.
Ann and her friends made themselves comfortable on the grass, they had a peaceful picnic on the bank of a river. "The knights of Jesus" came to them, and tried to discuss things with them again. Ann laughed, and started as usual making fun of their wild utterances. Then one girl got mad and punched Ann in her face. Next, Jeff threw that girl off, but he missed the lunge that came from her boyfriend.
Jeff was not human. If it was a usual knife so it would not harm the demon in his human body. But that blade was made from church silver and it was deadly for Jeff.
Thoroughly mad, the fanatics attacked Ann, and her friends.
Everybody was fighting selflessly. Jeff was laying on the grass. Ann propped his head up. She stopped his bleeding, but she could not cure him. He was dying in her arms, and the girl felt pity and despair. She took his gun. However, the attackers and her friends were too close to each other, and Ann dared not shoot.
Suddenly a resolute and powerful voice sounded in their minds.
Everybody stood still. Ann saw Michael Alter and she smiled. The happiness overflowed from Ann's heart. She did not expect to see him here. There, in the university, near the laboratory, Alter told her he would be back after twenty sixth, and today was just twenty third.
His face was upset, and showed sincere compassion. He touched Jeff, and Jeff sprang up. He gazed at Michael, trembled, and stepped back. Alter looked around, his eyes stopped on Ann's hands. His face winced, and the girl gasped, and dropped the gun.
Michael stared at the attackers. They exchanged glances and quickly went away. Confused, Irene, and Jeff moved aside.
Alter hung his head and slowly walked towards the river.
"Michael!" Ann rushed to follow him. She started to talk, she tried to explain.
They stopped on the beach at the mouth of the river.
"It's hopeless." the tired voice of Michael Alter sounded with despair. "2,000 years are gone! And what? You, humans, handle guns instead of swords..."
"I told you how it happened!" Ann burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands. Alter hugged her.
"Ann, sweetheart!" he patted her athletic shoulders. "Don't cry! You're a big girl! Oooh! A big, big girl, eh?!"
"I'm not fat!" Ann became angry and stopped crying. "For my height I have a perfect weight! Am I right?" she asked with worry.
"Sure, honey! I just want you back to your senses! I can understand how scared you were! Are you okay?"
"Yes..." Only now she understood exactly all the events. "You! How did you get here? How did you stop them? You cured Jeff! Oh, my! Who are you? Are you an angel?" Ann gasped. Michael slightly bowed. "And you would marry me?"
Alter looked at her very attentively.
"My task is to save people," he laughed. "To save you, I have to marry you!"
"No, you don't have to!" the blood raged into Ann. "I hate you!" she shouted as she pushed him. But, keeping a smile, Michael did not release her, and the girl got surprised at, how strong he was.
"Too late, my dear! I love you, Ann, and I'll not permit you to be the undoing of yourself!"
"What did you say?" Ann mumbled.
"I love you, Ann." he repeated calmly.
She burst out laughing: "And we'll get married?"
"And we'll have kids?"
"Three girls, and two boys."
"Oh, no!" Ann demonstratively frowned. "Too many..."
"And twelve cats..."
"And four dogs..."
"Are we gonna live in a zoo?"
"And a hamster..."
"In that case we should place
all dogs around its cage to protect that hamster from all those cats..."
And they both burst out laughing.
Ann gazed at the building. It was very typical, not big, two story house. Michael Alter parked on the driveway, and honked.
The garage was open, and a tall, hefty man came outside. His hands were covered with machine oil, and he wiped them with a rag.
"Melissa!" the man turned to the garage. "Uncle Michael is here!"
A girl about 17 flung herself from the garage. But she stopped at once, and gazed at Ann.
"Meet my fiancée!" Alter shook the hand of the man, and waved to Melissa.
"Very nice!" the girl snorted, and went back to the garage.
"Melissa?" the man glanced back with surprise, and shuddered his shoulders.
"Sorry," he addressed Alter. "Melissa's so strange lately."
"It's okay, Jerry, she's just become an adult." Michael smiled. "Where are the others?"
"Francine went to take Lil from daycare. She's a little late today. You know, in the beginning of the new school year all teachers are awfully busy, even in the kindergarten. But Mike's somewhere. Melissa!" he turned to the garage. "Do you know where Mike is?"
The girl shouted something, but nobody understood.
"I think I know," Jerry walked to the neighbors yard. "I'll be back."
Michael and Ann went to the house. Melissa, with a dismal face, took out burgers from the freezer and beer from the refrigerator. Waving its tail, the elkhound lay next to Michael.
Suddenly they heard the cry of a some child, and a man's curses. Jerry came inside, he dragged a boy about 8 years old.
"If I ever see you play with a gun again, I'll kill you!" Jerry shook his son, threw a toy gun on the floor, and trampled it. "Go to your room!" he shouted at the boy.
"Jerry!" Alter shook his head. "It's no a solution!"
The boy saw Alter and ran to him. He climbed on Michael and sat on his lap.
"Dad broke my gun!" the boy complained as he hugged Alter.
"Jerry, give me his gun!"
The man obeyed.
"Mike?" Alter looked at the boy. "What do you need this for?"
"An evil alien has arrived!" the child pronounced with deep worry.
"How do you know he is evil?"
"'Cause he has green skin and six eyes."
"Your best friend Samson has black skin, your pal Han has yellow, and I know one nice girl whose skin is almost red. Am I wrong?"
"She's not my girlfriend!" The boy knitted his brows.
"I did not say that!" Michael was talking with a very serious face. "My point is a lot of people have different colored skin, hair and eyes. But that doesn't make them kind or evil!"
"But I have to protect Earth!"
"Don't worry, Mike!" Alter smiled. "He who made Earth will protect it also, I swear!" He fixed the toy gun with one magic motion, and gave it to the boy. But Mike sighed, looked at the toy, and put it back on the table.
He went to Jerry, and timidly looked up: "I'm sorry, daddy! May I stay?"
"Sure, honey!" the man petted the
head of his son, and glanced at Alter with gratitude.
Today they went on a trip to the local zoo. Ann said Michael about it and they arranged to meet here later. It was a small zoo, it would possible to walk around the whole territory in about thirty minutes, so they did not worry about finding each other.
Ann visited that place often, she already knew where the animals cages and the pavilions were. Waiting for Alter after the trip, she went to the flamingos. She loved these reddish-orange, strange looking birds.
She closed the pen and saw a young man. She saw him in the university, but they had different majors, and Ann did not even know what this guy was studying. Now she saw him, drawing a picture of the flamingos.
All the time that guy impressed Ann. It was not a sexual feeling. The girl was very emotional, and the mysterious silence of that guy intrigued her. Tender and shy, he looked like the Little Prince of Saint-Exupery, and the girl wanted to get know him, but all the time something prevented their conversation.
Ann did not understand art, especially modern art.
She came close to the pan, and laughed loudly. He glanced at her with surprise.
"Buddy, could you explain something to me?" Ann asked. "Why are you spending hours to draw a picture, if you can do it in a few seconds?" She took out her Polaroid, made a photo, and when the picture appeared, she went to this guy, threw the picture on his easel, and looked at the comparison.
Her smile died and her face went red. She saw his work, she saw her rudely bright photo, and she understood the difference at once.
She felt ashamed and was ready for this guy to make fun of her act.
But the artist totally confused her. Without a word he took out a notebook, wrote something, and showed it to Ann. She looked. Of course that guy could have only such a handwriting. Very clear, legible, light and flying. However, the contents shocked the girl.
"Sorry, I can't talk." she read. "What did you want me to explain for you?"
"Nothing... Sorry..." Depressed, Ann slowly walked away.
And she met Alter. He went towards her and he was smiling. But he saw her upset face, and became concerned: "What happened, honey?!"
Ann explained, however, she dared not to ask her fiancé to do that, which she desired to ask. Nevertheless, Michael understood and thought for a while. Finally he resolutely tossed his head and strode to the artist. Ann followed Alter.
"Do you like flamingos?" Michael asked, and put his arm on the shoulder of that guy.
"Oh, I do!" he responded suddenly, mechanically taking his notebook. "I think God was in the best mood ever, when he had created these birds..." he stopped.
His eyes opened wide. He touched his throat, then lips.
"Did I say this?" he mumbled. He looked at Michael with amazement. "Did you hear me?"
"Yes, we heard you." Alter calmly replied. Ann kept silent, she sensed her fiancé meant not her.
"Oh, God!" the artist panted. He closed his eyes and quietly whispered. "Oh, dear God, thank You..."
"Do you want to make a call?" Michael held out his cell phone. Surprised, the artist gazed at him.
"How do you know?" he took the phone, but hesitated. "It's another state..."
"It's okay, call." Alter stepped aside, and hugged his fiancée.
The artist dialed the number.
"Dad?" he said into the receiver. "No, it is me, your little bear. No, daddy, it's not a joke, I swear!" he smiled. "I keep all my old crayons in the third drawer, middle section, in the bedroom, right side from the window. Daddy, it is me, honest! I don't know how to explain..."
Ann opened her mouth, but Alter squeezed her hand, and the girl held her tongue.
"Do you remember," the artist continued. "When you were in the hospital, I gave you my first picture, a polar bear? I was four... Dad? Why do you cry?! Oh, daddy! I'm so happy too! I'll be at home on the first flight that I can... You? What about your job?! Day off? Vacation? Are you sure? Of course, I'll meet you at the airport..."
He was still talking, and Michael took Ann to the pen, and for a while they silently watched the beautiful long legged birds.
The smiling artist came to them.
"Forty three minutes!" he shook his head. "How much do I owe you?"
"Can I have your work as payment?" suddenly Alter asked.
The artist looked at him with surprise: "Sure!" He walked to his easel, wrote his name on the picture, and went back. He gave it to Michael, waved his hand, and quickly walked away.
Alter looked at the picture, and sighed.
"I'm a thief," he addressed Ann. "In less than hundred years this masterpiece will be worth millions of dollars."
"Well, this is a nice way to make money!" the girl laughed. "Let's put it on the wall in our living room. And a small table under it. And a tall vase with some long-stemmed grass..."
And they started discussing
how they would decorate their future common home.
Ann was sure Michael would refuse her offer. She dearly wanted to spend a few days with him in the mountains. But to her pleasant surprise, Alter agreed.
That day started perfectly. They were skiing together. For a few times when no people were around they kissed each other, and everything was great.
They stopped again, when it happened. The ground shook and started trembling. Michael sharply spun to the mountain and disappeared.
Ann looked too and at first she did not understand what was going on. It seemed as if the peak of the mountain started moving down. Suddenly she realized it was an avalanche and she gasped seeing a group of teenagers on the slope. Alter was among them, and Ann understood he tried to keep them together for some reason. Ann was in a secure place, the trees and big rocks would protect her. But she could not just stay here. She rushed to her fiancé.
Why nobody had a timer? Why nobody measured the speed she had reached? It would certainly have been a new world record.
She flung herself to the teenagers and grabbed one girl who tried to escape. Though Ann did not understand what Alter was planning, she trusted him. The teenage girl in her arms was screaming and sobbing hysterically. Ann looked up and choked with horror. The oncoming mountain of snow was higher than a two story house. Ann tried to close her eyes, but she could not.
Michael glanced at the people again and stretched his arm to the avalanche. It broke into two parts and skirted them still going downhill. The roar made them deaf. The powerful wave of moving air almost knocked them down. Going crazy with terror, barely keeping her feet, Ann just petted the back of the girl, seizing her, as if she was a life buoy. They stared at the walls of the snow, rushing down past them. It was like a nightmare, and only her love and trust to Michael helped Ann to stay in control.
Everything has an end.
Shocked and exhausted they sat down straight on the snow. Ann gazed at her fiancé, and a weak smile was on her lips. Alter shook his head.
"Ann, honey," he voiced tenderly. "Now I'm sure that I didn't err about you."
They heard a sound of an engine and some ranger on the snowmobile came closer to them.
"Is everybody okay?" he asked with worry. "Thank God! It crashed a few buildings, but nobody was harmed. You guys were lucky! Did you see that rock there, up the hill? It worked like a breakwater!"
"Michael saved us!" Ann shouted angrily.
"Yes!" the ranger shook Alter's hand. "If you didn't keep them together, they would have been crushed by that avalanche for sure! How did you know this place was safe?"
"It's Michael broke the snow!" Ann screamed at the ranger. He looked at her with concern.
"Of course, of course!" he smiled peacefully. "I meant just that!"
Mad, Ann wanted to say something, but Alter seized her hand, and shook his head, and the girl restrained herself, and silently hugged her fiancé.
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Lily's Story List And Biography