Note: Among us live a group of enlightened nomads that are known as "Drifters". They don't stand out from normal society since they blend in with the rest of us so well (they're shape shifters). When a lonely girl named Nell Knight encounters one of these drifters, she is entrusted with a secret, but will the secret be too heavy of a burden for her to bear ?
Chapter 1—Sunshine for Nell
Nell Knight had been a lonely girl ever since she had been born. No one would sit with her at lunch, let alone play with her. Her parents, Melvin and Simone always consoled her after the day was over, and her only true friend was her Doberman, Dietrich. Dietrich was getting old, however, and it wasn't certain how much longer the old hound could hold out. He had arthritis, had the onset of deafness and was blind in one eye. She had been together with him since her youth and they knew each other so well one might say they had been siblings. Yet, she had accepted that her friendship with her canine companion was about to come to an end someday. It would be hard for her to let go of her closest friend but even at that age she knew that life could be cruel at times.
It had been a terribly rainy day and Simone had called Nell over her cellular phone.
"Honey, I'm so sorry, but Dietrich died today. He wasn't moving when I tried waking him up…he must've passed away in his sleep. Melvin and I said our goodbyes and we're waiting for you to come home to do the same.", she said, holding back her tears. Nell almost burst into tears upon hearing this, but she kept herself calm until she came home to bury him properly.
"Dietrich, you moron ! Why did you have to die ?", she screamed while wailing into her mother's bosom. Her mother did her best to console her but poor Nell decided to spend the rest of the day in her room, lying down in her bed. She had cried herself to sleep and when morning came, she wouldn't be moved from where she was lying.
Suddenly a call came in on her cell phone. The number was unknown.
"How strange.", Nell mused as she heard what sounded to be electronic music and instruments that were unfamiliar to her. Strangely, she felt peaceful and no longer depressed.
"Who are you ?", she asked, hoping for a reply.
"Come down the highway and you'll see. That my friend, is where you'll meet me.", the androgynous voice stated, pleasantly.
"I don't know. Mom and dad told me never to talk to strangers, and…", Nell said before the voice spoke again.
"Actually I am not a stranger. I've known you before you were born and traveled with you in your past existences here and in other realms.", the voice said, warmly. Nell couldn't think of anything else to say but only that what she heard, she knew to be true. Something within the core of her being told her she had nothing to fear when her rationality was screaming at her to stop. It was far too late for her logic to cause her feet to remain planted in one place for too long, for the meeting she was about to have would change her existence forever.
By the time that Nell had ridden her bicycle to the appointed place, a lanky, tall hooded person was waiting for her. He appeared to be human upon first glance and seemed no different from any other person Nell had associated with.
"I knew you'd come, and at last you're here !", he said, approaching Nell to hug her. At first, Nell wanted to resist because she didn't know this person from the local bum on the street. Yet, once she had been held within his arms, she felt serene.
"What you were saying earlier, is that actually true ?", Nell questioned, curiously. The man removed his hood while his true features morphed into view. He had iridescent skin, dark, occidental eyes that reflected the stars, a snub nose, a small mouth and artistic hands. There was little if any musculature to his frame and his voice resonated with the music of the cosmos.
"Yes, my name is Rain. My actual moniker is much harder to pronounce, plus, Rain has seemed to suit me…", Rain said, with a small, congenial grin.
"I'm not certain why, but I feel we were close in the past.", Nell said, taking Rain's hand.
"We were, Nell. You and I were Drifters. Then, sadly, you completed your life cycle and were reborn here on Earth.", Rain stated, matter-of-factly.
"Drifters ? Sort of like time-travelers ?", Nell asked, inquisitively.
"Yes, precisely. We don't exactly exist in one dimension. Since time is an illusion devised by humans, we can 'drift' from one plane of existence to another. We have too many dimensions to cover, and I have only been here a few times in my existence.", Rain said, walking to the side of the road and sitting down to rest a bit. Nell joined him and placed her hand atop his. Her hand tingled from the sensation of his glistening skin and she giggled a bit.
"You want to know when we were together ?", Rain asked. Nell nodded, her smile growing brighter and her eyes glistening. She had never felt so happy, let alone so full of purpose and longing to know the meaning of life.
"It was before your universe existed. Other parallel planes, similar to yours, had already formed and you and I lived on a planetary hub known as Q-1. No reason as to why the Sentinels donned such a monosyllabic name to our domicile, but I digress. You had your designations as I did mine, but after a decade, our paths crossed. From then on we were friends, but something horrible happened.", Rain said, his eyes becoming contemplative. Nell, already knowing what death was, could interpret his meaning.
"I'm glad we're together here on Earth. But why did you come here, Rain ?", Nell questioned, curiously.
"Firstly, I was searching with you. I was hoping you could come with me again. Unless we can carry out the mission we failed to complete the last we were together on Q-1.", Rain said, gently. A flash of memories began flooding Nell's mind, and it was almost too much for her to take all at once. Suddenly she doubled over and grasped her head.
"My head feels like its about to split in two, Rain !", she winced. Rain, feeling a bit badly for giving her "wisdom" back, grimaced.
"That is our task here. We are supposed to help Terrans and improve the longevity of this planet. Even if we fail, we can inform them of our technology and give them means to travel and terraform viable planets. There are more than just Europa, the lunar satellite and Mars.", Rain said. Nell's head was still spinning wildly from the information flooding her entire being. She breathed in deeply and exhaled and began to feel calm.
"When will I know what to do, Rain ?", Nell asked, placing her hands upon Rain's, wondering if he could give her some guidance.
"I'll let you know, now that our minds are linked once again. You must promise me one thing though, my young friend.", Rain said, looking directly into the young girl's eyes. Nell could sense what Rain was about to say was integral.
"Do not tell anyone else about me. You too, are a Drifter and soon your abilities will return, but of course, you must want them to.", Rain said, before he disappeared from view. Nell still had so many questions about what Rain had just said and the massive responsibilities she held. She wasn't so certain now if she wanted to be a Drifter or not even though her heart secretly wished for a life less ordinary.
As Nell went to sleep that night after a stupendous meal, she asked God what her next course of action should be. She was only thirteen and having this amount of knowledge in her mind was hard to keep to herself, and even harder from her mom and dad. She knew her parents would probably want her to seek counseling if she had begun mentioning quantum theory, terraforming and space travel. Stuff like that was for sci-fi nerds and mama's boys that lived in the basement stuffing their faces with junk food and playing video games. She sighed. It seemed all so much to process but her heart already knew the right answer. Just tell her parents the truth and wait and see.
Melvin and Simone didn't know what to think of Nell's overactive imagination. She was a teenager and she spoke of a "friend" that her parents hadn't even seen. They thought of seeking help from professionals until she disappeared without a trace. The only trace she had left behind was a note that stated:
"Dear mom and dad,
If you are reading this it means I have found my destiny. Don't bother to come looking for me. I wish I could explain everything to you, but there is no fathomable way to do so without sounding loony. I wish I could make everything less complicated, but unfortunately I cannot. Please understand I love you and somehow will see you again, even if it is not in this world. Forgive me. Love Nell XOXOXO."
Melvin was shocked at what he had read. Why would Nell run away so early when everything in her life was going so well ? It made no logical sense. Simone was almost frantic but kept her nerves sedated. She knew she had no other choice but to call the police and send a search party out for her beloved daughter. When she returned home she would receive the proper amount of discipline for having run away like she did, but hopefully she was doing so out of rebellion and not because the Knights had been lax in their parenting. As far as they knew they had done everything according to plan and had followed the sage advice of their parents before them. The sad thing is, parenting was subjective and every parent does it differently. They only prayed that what they had done now would be the measure they sought to bring Nell back to them safe and sound.
Nell and Rain had traveled the cosmos searching for secrets to harboring life and producing renewable energy. Having control over "time" meant they could go anywhere they wished and find anything they desired, but they had to perfect these devices for the earth environment. The earth environment was unique because of its changing climate and their machine would have to remain intact for it to work its magic. Such an operation was delicate but Rain had remembered everything from the past. His knowledge far exceeded Nell's, so he remained her guide. Rain had become her new family member, but in her subconscious, she knew she was forgetting someone. Strangely enough, she couldn't remember whom.
The search teams had looked everywhere for Nell but could find no trace of her. There had even been archeological teams sent as well as cadaver dogs for special measure. Still no one could seem to locate her.
"I refuse to believe she's dead ! She couldn't just have vanished !", Simone whimpered, as Melvin embraced her.
"She's been gone for over 42 hours, dear. But I know she's still out there somewhere. If the police can't find her soon, we'll take the search upon ourselves.", Melvin said, stroking his wife's hair to assuage her. Something within her being told her that her daughter was still alive, but she wasn't sure where.
"You're right. We still have hope.", Simone agreed.
Even after receiving word from the police that Nell was "dead", the parents refused to believe it. They had no concrete evidence that Nell was deceased, not even a single follicle of hair. Long after the teams disbanded, the Knights were left on their own to look for Nell, and they searched the whole state before spending the night at a hotel on the outskirts of Nebraska.
Chapter 4—One Last Goodbye
As the Drifters made their organic rhombus-shaped device accessible to the climate, they presented it to the highest scientific minds on Earth, they weren't certain whether to believe the beings that granted them the energy converter were multidimensional beings.
"Climate change cannot be reversed, but this osmosis quartz miner, or OQM for short, will never break. So long as it is exposed to direct sunlight and fed quartz, the miner will provide all the energy you will ever need.", Rain said, expressing the different options the miner had. The scientists were impressed but were baffled by how complex the operation of the device was. Even the most advanced of the scientists couldn't fathom it, especially the fact that it could change to its environment, depending on what it was complimenting.
"We appreciate the gift but we cannot understand how to operate it.", he said, a bit chagrined.
"Keep it. Study it. Perhaps someday you shall understand it.", Rain said, as he and Nell disappeared into the stream of 'time'.
"Will they ever understand the OQM, Rain ? We spent a countless amount of work on it and I never thought you could adapt it to Earth use. At least now we know it won't implode should they press the wrong button.", Nell said, chuckling. Rain had to laugh, even though another mission of his had failed. Rain had never felt so happy in his entire life with his partner being close to him but he had realized dragging Nell into this whole mission was a mistake. He had a family he had to visit back on the complex on Q-1 and she had a family on Earth she needed to be a part of. Something in his heart told him he couldn't stay with her too much longer. He would have to transfer his abilities to another Drifter back on the planet, for his days were drawing short. Even time caught up to Drifters, for they too were mortal.
Back on Q-1, just as Nell had remembered it from her past life as Galena, she felt at peace and at home. She recognized everyone she had seen from other dimensions. Each being was a Drifter like herself and their experience spanned eons. She had so much to discuss with them. She was almost forgetting her Terran ties until Rain pulled her aside to speak with her. He had brought her to the cantina, through the automatic doors and near the windows, where he had met her that first time before their first mission to help other lesser developed creatures in need began.
The panoramic windows showed spectacular views of colorful nebulae and supernovas. The supernovas seemed to be reacting to a stellar symphony of sorts, the kind of fireworks one would only dream of seeing and never thought of existing within the physical world.
"Galena, I need to have a word with you.", Rain said, seriously. He held her hands gently, running a delicate finger across her silken arm and then held her face as he placed his head atop hers in a gesture of deep love and affection.
"What is the matter ? Your vibrations are not in sync.", Nell responded, clearly unnerved by Rain's presence. She could sense something wasn't right in his tone or in his expression. His touch, which usually felt warm, felt aloof and distant, cold and detached.
"Don't you know who you really are ? You aren't meant for this life, even if you are a Drifter like myself ! I never should've taken you with me ! Your blood is searching for you on Earth, my dear. I was wrong to steal you from them. Besides, my time is waning. But don't worry about me, Galena. Another will receive my wisdom and the mission to see how work on the OQM is proceeding shall go as planned.", Rain said. There was a sense of tranquility in all that he had related to her, even in what he had said about Nell's purpose. She didn't fit in this existence that he had wanted for her to live. She was an Earthling and she would remain as such. Her life wasn't going to be lonely anymore, for he gave her something to remember him by.
"Some of this pendant holds my life essence. It will remain with you forever…", he said, as it seemed some of his skin melded onto a tear-drop shaped jewel and a clasp was formed around it to form a necklace. Telekinetically, it fastened around her neck before he kissed her and disappeared. For some strange reason, Nell didn't feel the need to weep since she knew Rain would be with her in spirit. She was never going to be alone ever again, because his soul rested over her most vital organ; her heart.
Chapter 5—Blood Ties
After Rain had vanished, Nell remembered where she needed to be more than wandering about aimlessly on Q-1. She had a feeling that the OQM would change humanity someday, when it was ready, but right now, she felt that making a transition in her life is exactly what she needed. Closing her eyes, she used her mind to locate her family and found them reached them just before they loaded up their family van and headed off.
"I knew you were still alive ! I was searching everywhere knowing I'd find you again. But you know you have a lot of explaining to do, don't you Nell Marie ?", Simone reproved a bit strictly. Nell understood and expected her mother to be a bit upset. Her father, Melvin was a bit more demonstrative in his concern for his daughter.
"Don't ever, ever, ever do that again ! Do you understand me, Nell Marie ?!", he shouted, flaring his nostrils in anger. Quickly, she nodded her head and hugged the both of them.
"I won't be leaving your side. At least, not until I am a full-fledged adult. By then I should be able to take care of myself. That won't be for a long time though. After all, I'm only thirteen.", Nell said, as she was blanketed in their kisses. Even though it was a mixed message to let her have whatever ice cream she wanted, Nell was grounded for a month once she came home. No sooner had that month flown by that she was socializing with people and actually making friends. It was as if she was a brand new girl.
"What happened while you were away ? Are you sure you're not a clone of my beloved daughter ?", Simone questioned, half-jokingly.
"No, I'm your daughter alright, down to my DNA. I shouldn't have run away from home. It was ill-advised. I know not to make that mistake again. If I have a problem, I should simply talk it out with you two. When it comes right down to it, I'm going through typical drama like all teenage girls but together, we can overcome it.", Nell said, sounding rather mature for her young years. Her parents were so pleased for her that they couldn't wait to meet her new friends and start having get-togethers with them. Granted her best buddies weren't the typical kids but they were delightful and everyone had a blast when they were altogether. Each girl had a talent of her own that complimented Nell's and when they put their minds together there wasn't anything they couldn't achieve.
Strangely, Nell hadn't felt empty in a long time. After Dietrich had died, she felt pangs of loneliness deep within the pit of her heart, but those were no longer there. Whenever she felt the slightest bit of sadness, her pendant would glow and she would hear Rain's gentle voice, almost feeling as if he were embracing her. He was dust among the cosmos now, and whoever had his wisdom would retain the mission he could never complete. Yet, she knew in paradise, which excluded no species, would be holding him and she could see him once again. She even wondered what he was doing now and mused to herself,
"Perhaps he's having a tet a tet with Einstein about his theory, or Euclid about his geometric discoveries. Whatever he's doing, I can imagine it's fascinating and enjoyable."
There were "friends" that came and went throughout Nell's existence, but only one best friend stuck through her side throughout everything. Heather, who considered Nell her "sister", had seen her through difficult times in middle school, particularly crushes and breakups. The two had been through various relationships but nothing serious until high school. They didn't start dating until college and both were now married with families of their own, going about typical lives and hanging out together with their kids during the weekend as a kind of reunion. Heather was the only one who believed in Nell's story of the Drifters and had been the only human being she entrusted that information to. She knew, without a doubt, Heather's honesty was fool-proof and she wouldn't dare breathe a word of that secret to anyone. She knew since Nell's youth that her pendant was unearthly and noticed that it gave her wisdom that not very many people had normally. It wasn't magical in anyway, but it provided her solace and serenity and helped her gain confidence even though bolstering her optimism, self-reliance and assertiveness. She was already analytically minded, so course work had been a breeze. Whenever Heather needed help, she knew Nell had the answers to almost every question. Of course, the two would never understand the mysteries of the human mind or the Universe. It was all in perspective really and how one defined "purpose", subjectively. They were happy with their definitions of that and planned to stick to them so long as they lived. All the while, Nell couldn't help but smile at the travels she had and often had dreams of sailing through the dimensions. She couldn't Drift any longer, but it didn't matter. She learned daily, as did Heather. They learned from each other, and they learned from their children. Life, as they say, is a never-ending lesson and learning never grows old.