A huge storm is coming. And when it does, it will be the biggest Shkiana has ever seen.
Her Fear of Storms
At Age Twelve
“NO,” Shkiana shouts as she runs toward what is left of the only place that she has been living at the last twelve years. Two adults try to stop her from getting there. But her wild movements are stopping them from doing it. It takes two more adults to stop her.
“Where are my parents, my sister, and my two brothers?” Shkiana asks.
One of the adults gets down on one knee to get almost face to face with Shkiana. “There is no easy way to say this. Especially, to someone as young as you. But your family is dead.”
Eight Years Later
Shkiana sits up in her sleeper screaming. “I should be dead too. If I hadn’t been shopping with my friends that storm would have killed me too.”
“We have had enough,” says a female as she responds to the screaming. “Almost every night you do this. Several times a night this happens. And we can’t take it anymore. You are almost twenty. That means you are about to become an adult. So, you are out of here.”
“I’m not surprised. You are the sixth New Parents to take me in.”
Mnathan leans forward in his chair. “Six New Parents in eight years. Are your nightmares the reason why you have had so many parents?”
Five More Years
A clap of thunder sends Shkiana under her blanket that she pulls over her head in a seated position on her sleeper. That blanket starts shivering as more thunder happens near where she’s at. “STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT.”
“It has been almost five years since you became an adult,” says Mnathan. “And I still haven’t been able to get you over your fear of storms. I don’t know what else I can do to help you. Maybe you should look for another MindBuster that can help you.”
“It’s not just the fear of storms. I’m still having my nightmare about me being dead too.”
Shkiana runs back to her cave entrance as she looks at the five individuals who are walking toward her. As she enters that cave she seems to disappear. The individuals stop and look at what has just happened. They start walking again after a few seconds.
When they get to that cave entrance, they suddenly stop again. Only this time it’s because they must do it. The cave opening stops them from moving any further. They bounce off some kind of a force field. But no one falls. All they do is stumble back slightly.
“We aren’t here to hurt you,” says Jlovim. “Who are you? Why are you on Konnus?”
“What are you doing on Konnus?” Shkiana asks from behind that force field. “Why are you here?”
Jlovim walks back to that cave opening. But stops before he walks into it again. “We are Ghoith Investigators sent here to find some Researchers who came here about eight months ago.”
“Now it’s your turn,” continues Jlovim as he places his hand and part of his arm through that cave opening. Both appear to disappear. He quickly pulls it back out. It doesn’t look like it has been harmed in any way. So, he walks through that opening to come face to face with Shkiana. The others follow him into that cave.
“Who are you?” Jlovim asks.
Bhondiv steps around Jlovim. “I know who she is. She’s Shkiana.”
“We are from the same community on Ghoith,” continues Bhondiv. “I also had a nightmare about the storm that killed my family too. But I didn’t have any fears of storms, though.”
“I’m kind of surprised that you are here. With your fear of storms, why are you on Konnus? A planet that has multiple storms on it every day of its year.”
Shkiana doesn’t say anything for several minutes. She just stares at them. Starting with Jlovim, then Bhondiv, and finally the other three. “I’m not here because I want to be here.”
“I can’t hear the storms around here from this deep into Konnus,” says Shkiana as she walks into a large cavern that looks more like a living area than a cavern. “The force field over the entrance also helps too.”
“Why are you here again?” asks Shkiana. “I couldn’t hear what you said because of the four storms in the area right now.”
Jlovim stops slowly looking around that cavern when he gets back to Shkiana. “We are Ghoith Investigators sent here to look for Researchers.”
“They came here to study the storms here almost eight months ago,” continues Jlovim. “But we haven’t heard from them since then.”
“I’m not surprised,” says Shkiana. “Communicating off Konnus is impossible.”
Shkiana sits in one of her chairs made out of rocks. She gestures the others to sit down too. “There are plenty of chairs for everyone. And they are a lot more comfortable than they look.”
Pthani is the first one of the investigators to sit down in one of the other chairs. “She’s right. This may look like a rock. But it feels more like a rock-looking fabric.”
“Who cares what these chairs feel like,” says Jlovim. “We are here to find the missing Researchers.”
“There’s plenty of time for you to find them,” says Shkiana. “You’re not going anywhere for a very long time.”
Jlovim jerks his head toward with a shocked look on his face. “What does that mean?”
“It means that you are going to be here for a long time,” answers Shkiana. “For the rest of your lives, to be exact.”
Now all the investigators are looking at Shkiana with shocked looks. “Are you telling us that we can never leave Konnus?” Bhondiv asks.
“That’s what I’m saying,” answers Shkiana. “There isn’t any way off this planet. At least I haven’t found one. I have tried about fifty times to do it. And every time I try, I have almost been killed by it.
“That isn’t going to happen to us,” says Jlovim. “Our spacecraft will get us off this planet.”
Shkiana smiles. “I will believe that when it happens.”
“How long have you lived on Konnus?” Pthani asks after she gets up and starts looking around that large cavern.
“I’m not sure. But I think it has been about ten years. Why are you asking me that?”
Pthani stops looking around that open cavern to look at Shkiana. “Because this place doesn’t look like it hasn’t been lived in too much.”
“That’s because I haven’t,” response Shkiana. “I live most of my time in the caverns below this one.”
"Why do you do that?” Jlovim asks.
Shkiana gets up and starts walking toward a small opening at the other end of that cavern. “Because I’m still too close to the storms that are almost constantly coming around here. Especially, this time of year.”
“That investigator is right.” Shkiana points to Bhondiv. “I do still have a fear of storms.”
“If that’s true, then why did you come to Konnus? Jlovim asks.
Shkiana stops just before she gets to that small opening. She turns toward the others there. “There is no way that I would ever come to Konnus. Everyone on Ghoith knows what it’s like here. But I had no choice. I was forced to come here.”
“When I left Ghoith, I just wanted to find another planet to live. I thought it would get me over my fear of storms. But I didn’t because of Konnus.”
“I thought I was too far away from Konnus to be grabbed by it. But I was wrong about that too. Just when I thought I was past it, I was forced to land here.”
Shkiana takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “Still don’t know how it happened or why? All I can remember is getting into this cavern before it happened.”
“Before what happens?” Jlovim asks.
“I’m not sure what it is,” answers Shkiana. “But I call it The Gathering Storm.”
Shkiana has taken Jlovim and the other Investigators to a small cavern under the large one they have been in. “My spacecraft was almost destroyed when I was forced to land here. But after that first gathering storm left this part of Konnus, I brought back as much of it that I could here. I created these monitors so that I could keep my eyes on the storms.”
“I don’t know how I did it. but I created these storm monitors. And I placed them all over Konnus. When a storm begins to form and roam a monitor picks it up and follows it. I also follow it.”
“Why did you do that?” Jlovim asks.
Jlovim and the others can’t believe what they are looking at. Their jaws have dropped. And their eyes have almost popped out of their heads. What they are slowly looking around at are several hundred small monitors. All of them have a storm on them.
“About eight months after that first gathering storm formed, another one did. Eight months later another one showed up. For the past ten years, this has happened twice a year. And I want to know why.”
“Every time about ten to fifteen storms gather here to form a huge storm. And another one is about to happen. Only this one looks like it’s going to be the biggest one I have ever seen on Konnus.”
Sitting in rock chairs, Shkiana and the others watch as about twenty storms gather around. Twisting and turning until they start to meet each other. Once they do that, The Gathering Storm forms. Now Shkiana and the others are seeing a humongous storm on a large monitor in front of them.
Shkiana points at that storm as it starts to destroy that part of Konnus. “That’s why you are here. I wanted you to come in here before that storm destroyed you too.”
They watch as it continues to destroy Konnus. Suddenly, Jlovim and the others lean forward in their chairs with shocked looks on their faces again. It sure does look like that storm is about to destroy their spacecraft.
“Still think that you can get off of Konnus?” Shkiana asks as they all look at what little is left of the Ghoith Investigator spacecraft.
“Not from our spacecraft we can,” says Jlovim. “But there still may be a way for all of us to do it.”
Shkiana looks shocked as she looks at Jlovim. “How can you do that?”
“We came here to look for some Researchers. Have you seen them?”
“Yes, I have.” Shkiana points in a direction. “They are about five miles from here.”
Shkiana smiles. “If it’s their spacecraft you think will get you off Konnus, it won’t. Any spacecraft that comes here is destroyed.”
“Which monitor are they on?” Jlovim asks after they return to Shkiana’s small cavern.
“None of them. The monitors are only for the storms that show up.”
Jlovim sighs. “Okay. Then what monitor were they on the last time you saw them.”
Shkiana points to a monitor. “They were on that one.”
“Do you have any way to contact them?” Jlovim asks.
“I know they got some things from their spacecraft before it was destroyed. But I don’t know what they have.”
Jlovim just stares at that monitor for several minutes. “Are there any storms between us and them? Can you help us to get there?”
“Yes, I can help you. But why? They can’t help you to get off Konnus either.”
“We came here to find them. And that is what we are going to do. Once we do that, maybe they can help us all get off this planet. After all, they are Researchers.”
Suddenly, Shkiana looks at Jlovim. “That’s right. They are Researchers. You never have told me why they are here? Did they get here as I did?”
“They aren’t Researchers, are they? Who are they? And what are they doing here.”
Word Count = 1,978