A young man learns the truth about his impossible childhood memories
Curtis Ray Jones
Part one page one
More Than Man
May 4 1994, 3:15 p.m. Rural Eastern North Carolina, Trace Manning's childhood home.
'....they think that's a bomb...'thought three year old Trace Manning as he stood in front of the family T.V. and watched an old news reel of the first A bomb mushroom into the sky. A smirk bent his tiny lips. He hoped his mother did not see it.
Even at that tender age, somehow he knew to keep that kind of stuff to himself. On more than one occasion he would have to remind himself to act his age. It was as if his mind was much older and far more sophisticated than his body. Such was Trace Manning's strange beginning...
June 28 2017, 8:30 a.m. Rural Eastern North Carolina, Trace's farm house.
Twenty years had passed since that strange afternoon in front of his parents T.V.
Twenty years of terrifing and delightful visions, inexplicable memories thoughts and feelings that made him question his sanity, his identity even his humanity! More than once he clung to the hope that he was merely crazy. That, he could accept. Any other explanation simply could not be!
However time had only filled his mind with more impossible memories coloring them with irresistible hues of wonder and wildly inappropiate shades of intoxicating comfort and yearning....
"Trace!" His name, her voice were little more than fading echoes. He hardly recognized either.
"Your're doing it again!"
Strong slender fingers suddenly dug into his right shoulder. They gripped his lean frame and yanked him back to the here and now.
"Huh, what?" He sputtered slinging slobber into his girl friend's face when he spun toward her. "Oh, Abby, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."
"You never do Trace,"she replied wiping her cheek as she eased down next to him on the window seat. You missed our breakfast date,again. I was worried. You, you worry me. You scare me! You know I caught myself hoping you slid your car into a ditch."
He started to speak but bit the words off in his mouth as he tried to take her hand. It slid away the moment he touched it.
"There's something wrong with you. One of these days I going to unlock your door and find you convulsing on the floor maybe even dead on the floor. Didn't you hear your phone? I rung and I rung! But you didn't answer! You couldn't, could you? How many times this month have I found you zoned out -three four, just
staring out the window spit dangling off your chin, saucer eyed, dead to the world, dead to me!"
"It's just lately Abby. I have these deep dreams and mem..."
"You think it's a sleep disorder?" Her eyes narrowed.
"I guess, I hope, I don't know, I don't mean to worry you." His eyes darted away from her piercing stare. She saw them jerk.
"What is it?"
"Tell you what?"
"The truth! What's going on with you?"
He looked away,"I can't talk about it, it's, it's, crazy. It can't be, all right, it can't be real!"
"You're not making sense. You know what it is. You just don't want to share it with me!"
"I can't Abby. It's been with me since I was little, a baby! But babies-little kids don't think the kind of stuff I thought, or see the kind of things I saw!"
"What are you saying Trace? Are you trying to scare me off, cause if you are it's working!"
"Maybe I am," he murmured under his breath.
A mask of hurt slid over her features, as tears made her eyes shine like stones in a stream.
"Are you Trace? If you won't open up to me, be who you really are with me, then we can't be together because we never were!"
Silence hung between them like a sheet of cold hard metal.
Trace slumped away from her. The silence only deepened. She slid away, slowly. Was she giving him time to say more. He wasn't sure. In any case he could say no more. He had already given voice to his deepest darkest questions, questions he could not answer, so he had nothing more to say to her. He sat there feeling like a fool and knowing he was hurting her, depriving her of something she deserved, craved, needed-intimacy.
She simply wanted to know him. However, he did not know himself. How could he give her something he did not possess. He was a stranger to this world even to himself-always had been.
His only sense of identity, belonging, purpose and self could be nothing more than an impossible dream-a fantasy. It was something silly he dare not embrace but could not resist for very long.
It was a flame. It warmed and comforted but would certainly consume him if he drew too close and stayed too long.
Only in the past few weeks had he actually lost time, lost consciousness when he induldged his 'fantasy'his impossible childhood memories. Twenty or thirty minutes would simply vanish from his memory and he would find himself drooling at the window like a senseless catatonic, with no recollection of how he got there.
It's power over him was growing stronger! His future was a dark cloud growing darker every day. A storm of strangeness was coming. She deserved better than that!
Is that why he let his mind drift back to his strangness, knowing she would yet again find him in that sorry useless state and finally get her fill of him.
He turned toward her, saw her studying his face, saw nothing but sad resignation in hers.
"I get it Trace. I finally get it. It's time to go, to let go, of us. There was never an us was there, not really. Just you and your distraction. And me on the outside trying get in, trying to break in!"
He nodded yes. She shook her head, stood up and walked away.
"Let go," Trace said as he watched her leave.
She did not look back. Had she heard him, he could not tell.
Ironically, the words 'let go' clung to his mind, taunting demanding insisting. He was three days into his summer vacation, three days since the breakup, and still he could not sling those words from his thoughts. Oddly, he had not zoned out once since Abby left. He hadn't really missed her either. That was clear indication their break up was the right thing for both of them, even necessary for the next part of his life to begin. At least that was how it felt to him, even though he could not understand exactly what that meant. Was something really on the horizon? Was something coming? It sure felt like it.
He had squandered three days hanging around his house waiting for a new sun to rise, a new day to dawn, the big change.
But after three days of sleeping in, T.V. binging,and household chores he was ready to force the issue. The words still haunted him. Let go, let go of what?
This life, his weird past. He had let go of Abby. For the past year she had been the most important person in his life, in point of fact the only person in his life. And now she was gone."
"What more do they want?" He wondered aloud. They? Why did the word 'they' pop out of his mouth? The word swelled in his brain like a tumor changing his inner world, changing his mind, making it's way to the surface until it, they, seeped into the room-his world! A new sun was finally peeking over the horizon.
Suddenly an overwhelming sense of being scrutinized washed over him. They were with him! They were watching! Their presence hung in the air like smoke, smoke that would not dissipate. He spun around in his bedroom. Of course all he saw was outdated furniture, a precious fragment of the inheritance left to him by his grandmother.
There were no eyes peeking out at him from behind the closet door.
Still, they were there, hovering just above his head, hunching over him, unseen but every bit as present and immediate as the air in his lungs! He could almost feel their eye lashes brushing his cheek!
The window! He wanted to look out. He wanted to get out! He raced down stairs almost taking a header down the steps, then sped across the large living room to the sun baked window seat.
Situated atop a high hill, his house looked out over a large grassy field that sloped down to small pond that was back dropped by a dense forest. All his, thanks to a horrible car accident that took his mother and grandmother over a year ago.
The view from there was like looking into his mother's eyes.
Was that what all these narcotic memories and haunting words were all about-missing his family?
He didn't think so. This was something different, something strange, deep and compelling! They really were here. They were the answer and he was determined to find them.
Golden sunlight shimmered on the pond transforming it into an undulating sheet of diamond dust as it streaked through the distant hazy treetops. The view was breathtaking but afforded him not the slightest glimpse of what he knew was out there.
He had to get out. He had to go to them, go as far as he had to go. They were tired of waiting and so was he!
With no thought of his appearance he raced to the front door, his small boney frame clad in nothing but stringy denim cut offs.
Cool wet grass licked the soles of his bare feet. Brillant sunlight blinded his eyes. A gentle southerly breeze combed through his thick brown hair. He noticed none of it. His was running headlong into what this world called insanity. The world and all it's gifts were lost to him now.
The promise of so much more seized him, propelled him, owned him! He had finally let go. But what was he about to seize?
Running in darkness blinded by light he slowly realized it was not the sun blinding him. All encompassing white light was streaming out of ever pore of his body. Energy locked deep within every cell of his being was finally exploding into the world and adding to the ranks of a new species of man. Another homo-chimeran was about to reside over the Earth.
Ever so slowly, the light began to fade, however it's fading only ushered in great waves of pain. The metamorphosis that had begun at the very core of his esssence was now clawing it's way up into his bones, flesh and skin, sparing not one nerve as it burned through every fiber of his body!
Desperate to escape his agonizing transformation, he did something he had only done once before but he was a bored infant then. Weary of looking at the ceiling and not having one word in his head therefore not knowing any better he relaxed his mind and let go of his body.
Like a cork suddenly freed from the mud he broke free from his body and settled on the ceiling like a helium filled balloon. But this little balloon had eyes-big eyes that saw too much, big eyes that saw black snake like flumes of vaporized sewage whipping across the face of the planet tainting and tearing everything they touched! Terrified he dropped like a stone and sank back into his warm bed of flesh determined never to do that again.
This was the incident that caught the attention of those that hover and reside above the heads of man. It seemed another potential homo-chimeran was born. Time would tell. Twenty three years later time did indeed, tell...
Had someone been nearby and witnessed Trace's ordeal, they would have seen a ball of light hovering and swaying forty feet above the field -just another run of the mill UFO sighting. However, inside that twenty-foot ball of light Trace disembodied and pinned against the ceiling of that ball, was reeling at the sight of his writhing body ripping itself apart. A swirling crimson cloud, his vaporized blood, filtered his view, only slightly sparing his Earth bound sensibilities.
In vain he pressed up against the springy interior of the light sphere trying to get away from the terrible image. His lidless eyes swelled with horror at the sight of a bloody rope of organs, tendons and raw red meat twisting and clenching like some hellish viper bent on consuming itself!
Seconds passed ever so slowly until they became minutes. The horror show continued, until bit by bit slimey red pieces of his body began to burrow beneath a quivering sheet of skin that was slowly stretching itself over the whole bloody mess.
Exhausted, Trace felt himself tumbling toward a thing he could not recognize as a human body much less his body. His will was spent. He let it take him. He could fight no more.
Intense electrical currents suddenly coursed through his body making his chin quiver so violently he feared his teeth would shatter. Then it abated with such suddenness he collapsed from relief as unconsciousness claimed him.
The sweet tinny sound of chirping birds was the first welcome intrusion from the outside world to prick his attention. Pins and needles was the first thing he felt. His new body was waking up.
A groan rolled up his throat and out of his mouth. He could actually feel his vocal chords vibrating. Then he felt the harmless stab of pine needles poke his flesh...'I'm in the woods...' he felt the words reeling through his mind trying to find the doorway of his mouth. With realization came strength, strength enough to roll over unto his right elbow and say, "I'm in the woods."
Even though he had started our running toward 'them' he did not expect a reply, but he got one anyway!
"Yes, yes you are", It was a woman's voice. It came from just above him and had a Scottish accent. Every syllable rolled off her tongue like a musical note.
He leaped to his feet jerking his head toward her. A angel was smiling down at him from just below the leafy boughs of an ancient oak. She was slender and beautiful. Long silvery hair undulated about her head and shoulders. It made him think of a sunlit waterfall. Billowing waves of soft white light emanated from her body. Clearly she was not wearing a gown of light but projecting from her skin!
Still smiling she drifted down to him, reached out and cupped his face in her hands. "My little brother welcome home." With that she kissed his forehead and drifted back, his invitation to respond.
"Ah, uh, this is Scotland?" He asked awkwardly. Sensible words were nowhere to found.
She giggled "No dear boy. Your grandmother's house is just below the rise. Your still at home, infact more at home than you've ever been."
"I'm I dead, you, you look like an angel."
"What a lovely thing to say. Do you need me to be an angel. Would that make this easier for you?" She tilted her ever so slightly, closed her eyes as if she were collecting her thoughts then rose up as two great white wings suddenly sprang out behind her. "There, now is that what you had in mind, easy enough to make them smaller, maybe rainbow feathers, no I think not -a bit too garish."
Trace stumbled back. "What is this lady, I,I need some answers!"
"That is so curious, you were so less, fragile, when you were an infant, fascinating, informative. Time-aging."She said word aging with particular disdain. "So very, destructive. Well all that rubbish is slowly winding away, can't come soon enough for me. Must remember not our place to rush things. Pardon my musings, time enough for that later. You're still a babe, so to speak. That's why they sent me to you. Time has not served you well my boy. Twenty three years amongst the dying nearly killed you too! But we all have our weaknesses and strengths."
Trace rubbed his forehead,"I thought I'd be happy. But I'm just confused what happened to me."
"There's that honesty. I do love that about you."
"Do we know each other?"
She folded wings and drifted back down to him.
"Ah, Yes we do, but twenty years of sapian pretense and delusion has so clouded your mind that you don't even know what you are much less who. A malady we must address first. Less us begin with your appearance. I see you're still wearing those awful cut offs. Not even your horrific transition could shake those loose.You are still clinging to your old life-insecurity. I understand, but Trace you are immortal genetically predetermined to be, well for lack of a better word, a god."
"No! No no! That's blasphemy!"
"Well of course it is Trace, but to them that's all we can be. Which is why we must never reveal too much of ourselves to them, unless of course you want to inflate your ego until explodes and you lose your mind! It's happened before. We did them and ourselves no favor when we tried to help them and allowed them to worship us. But that is quite literally ancient history. You want to see our family album just go to any museum of antiquities and you will see us defaced and reduced to crumbling stone."
"Them?" Trace asked glancing over shoulder as if all humanity was staring at him.
"What they are is what Abby is-stunted, sweet cute, but locked in time unable to change, doomed to return to the dirt from they were born. Tragic? Yes, but that is her fate. They can not fly. They can not rise from the flesh of their birth. The vast majority of mankind has reached the pinnacle of their development. They bound by the dictates of their genes. Nothing can be done to change that. But you my boy you have already changed. All you must do now is embrace and enjoy! Now, tell me what you would like to be today?"
Trace looked down at his scrawny body slowly realizing she was telling him he was a shape shifter.
"Wait a minute,you mean I can do what you just did, what with the wings and all?"
She nodded yes and invited him to do whatever he wished with an outstretched right hand. "Just think it, will it and you will change."
"This is nuts."
"And that is precisely why your transition was so traumatic. Relax Trace, just let it happen. You can not live in two worlds. You must learn to live in ours or you will likely go insane."
"So I just have fun while Abby and the rest of mankind suffer and struggle until they die?"
"And what would you do to help them, how far would you go, how much would you interfere. We are not Gods Trace, we are simply what comes next. Their time is running out. We were fashioned thousands of years ago to take their place by ancients who destroyed themselves and their secrets once they successfully introduced the chimera gene into the human gene pool. We wait Trace. That is what we do. When they die out we step out of the sky and claim this world."
Trace slid his index finger over lips as if he was zipping them shut. He did not accept what she was saying and rightly assumed she could read his face like bold black print on clean white paper. No point in debating, too soon to make waves.
"A six pack, I want a six pack and shoulders like oak timbers, you know a comic book physique."
"Don't tell me Trace, tell yourself."
"By the way what are the rules? What can I do, for fun. How far can I go. I mean I don't want to just float around like some lame ghost."
"You may interact, play with them individually, live among them pass for human that will permitted. Just don't over expose yourself. But if you tell, for example, Abby what you are make her believe what we are, go to the authorities, the press, the puny powers that be. You and all you have infected with the truth will be removed from the board, permanently. Is that understood?"
"Yes ma'am I know a threat when I hear one. By the way what do I call you."
"Like the storm."
She just smiled and nodded her head.