• Kayala and John laughed as they ran through the fields. These were their fields, fields they were raised in since they were old enough to walk. Kayala and John were the best of friends, having grown into sibling-like rolls towards each other. One of their regular games was to wander out to the old fields behind their farms and argue, play tag, hide and seek, or any other medley of childish activities. Tonight however, John had a new idea.

    "Hey, lets tell stories. You know, good ones. c'mon, it'll be fun!" John pushed Kayala playfully and they tumbled down into the grass, eventually on their backs and looking out into the distant stars. After a long silence, John said, "All right, you go first." He laughed as Kayala squirmed somewhere to his right. He knew she didn't have much of an imagination. The kids at school always made fun of her for it.

    "All right, jerk, but don’t laugh!" Her voice was mimicking seriousness in the usual fashion of their games. John nodded, even though they couldn't see each other, and waited for her to start.

    "Well," Kayala began hesitantly, "There was this big kid, like a 14 year old, who wandered out of his farm house one night to go play in the woods. There were no big animals on their world, so his mom let him go so long as he was back before 10. Almost 5 minutes into the woods, the boy tripped and hit his head on a rock, knocking himself out cold!" Kayalas vehemence in her story got John laughing and she playfully reached through the tall grass and pushed him.

    "Anyways, a few days later, on a search party, they found the boy, but there was no meat left on him anymore, he was a SKELETON!" Kayala jumped on John at that moment, pinning him to the ground and making growling noises, presumably the sounds skeletons made when they attacked.

    Laughing, the two settled back down and John began his story. "All right, there were these soldiers one day, " He began, drawing from a dream he had the night before for inspiration, "And they were on a big ship called the Thor's Hammer. One of them, was a big strong guy filled with muscles, looked like he would rip up anyone who would hurt him! His name was Sven. There was a smaller guy with a long and thin body, like he never went to the gym or anything, but his hands were razor fast, able to do things with a knife that the guys at the circus couldn't even do. His name was Clarence. There was a girl there too with some muscle on her, but not nearly as much as Sven. She also had short hair and a big gun, which is how you know she is a soldier. Her name was Lauren. The last guy was..." John hesitated on the last guy, knowing that it was the eyes he saw through in his dream.

    Deciding to go with a different name, John continued his story. "The last guy's name was Evan, and he was the best of them all there. He wasn't as strong as Sven, nor as fast as Clarence, but Evan could hit can of soup from way down there!" John excitedly motioned back towards their farms, about 80 yards away. Though Kayala couldn't see him, She understood what he meant.

    Evan was talking to the big boss man, the El-Tee," John nearly stumbled over the letter designation, "And the LT said that Evan and his squad were going to have to check out an old abandoned ship floating around alone in space, and return with the black box. Evan thought it was gunna be easy, so he pumped his arms and said 'Yeah!'" John mimicked the action in the grass, scaring away some nearby birds with his loud exclamation.

    "They rode a smaller boat out to the abandoned ship, the kind of boat they use for life boats and for moving people on and off of big ships, and that’s were it all began..." John trailed off there, trying to add a spooky effect to his story. Kayala was just listening intently to Johns story, finding it interesting. He always did have the bigger imagination.

    John quieted his voice so that he wouldn't be too loud, talking at a normal volume now. "When they first got off, they found that all of the lights were off and that they needed to use their flashlights. After a few minutes searching around the storage room they landed in, they told Kelly to wait there for them. Kelly was the girl who flew them over there in the boat, so she must have been upset that she was stuck guarding the boat.

    John propped one of his legs up on the other as the stars made their slow way across the night time sky. "Evan split up the squad so that it was Evan and Lauren going towards the bridge where the black box was at, and Sven and Clarence doing a more thorough look-around, trying to find out why the place was abandoned. Evan and Lauren arrived at the bridge no problem, only having passed 6 doors and all of them were locked."

    John closed his eyes and screwed up his nose in concentration, trying to remember the details of the dream. "The bridge was oval with the captain's chair in the middle. Evan sat down in the chair and began to fiddle around with the computers in front of it, trying to find the black box, when he noticed a little blinking red light on the computer terminal. Lauren was guarding the only door so that nobody could get in without going through her, which seemed kind of stupid since nobody was there to get them."

    "Anyways, Evan pressed the button next to the light and the whole bridge came to life. The red button activated the consoles, but not the lights, so now there were creepy orange and blue lights all over the place. After maybe 20 minutes of copying blocked computer files to bring back to the LT on the Thor's Hammer, Evan stood up and walked over next to Lauren, putting a hand on her shoulder and telling her how easy that was."

    John's voice began to get quieter, as if afraid to say what came next. This got Kayala interested in what he was going to say. "Evan turned on the Radio built into his helmet and called up Clarence, but all he got was static, like the TV does when its cloudy." John seemed to be getting either scared or sad, but Kayala couldn't tell which.

    "But when Evan called Sven, what he heard is something he never wanted to hear again. it was a moan, like a sick cow right before it has to be shot, except so much worse. It made the hair on the back of Evan's neck stand up straight, but the moan wasn't all. When Evan said Sven's name into the radio several times, he heard an evil laugh followed by complete silence. For several minutes, Evan listened to the silence, afraid of what it meant, when he heard footsteps on the radio. One loud and heavy 'thunk' and one long slide, like somebody with a lame foot, than a crunch as the radio was destroyed."

    Kayala got the shivers down her spine, despite the almost 90 degree night. John continued telling his story, his voice low and afraid. "Evan looked at Lauren, who had heard the whole thing, and they both agreed to get out right than. 'Their friends weren't worth their lives' they said as they ran back to the boat and Kelly, but when they got there, the room was empty, the boat floating off lazily into space. Lauren nearly yelled in frustration and Evan was already on the radio trying to get to Kelly, but all he heard was another laugh, followed by a white light."

    "The wall thing keeping the air inside darkened to compensate for the bright light, but both Evan and Lauren could tell that the boat had blown up, and Evan couldn't get through to the Thor's Hammer anymore. 'I guess we just need to find a life boat.' Evan told Lauren. He was the leader, he had to look tough, even if he was scared to nearly wetting his pants." Kayala let off a quiet 'eww' to that, but otherwise remained silent, rapt as John's story continued.

    Kayala’s eyes were wide in a mixture of fascination and fear as John spoke. Her body, though hidden by the tall grass, conveyed this mixture of emotion; of fear and of fascination. John paused while he stared off into the stars, the familiar constellations of the Blade and the Starburst hanging directly over him. “Evan began to walk back to the door of the hangar, hoping that they could find some working lifeboats somewhere inside. Lauren was scared, but she saw how Evan wasn’t letting his fear stop him from finishing their mission. Lauren came to the door with him and said ‘Whenever you’re ready boss. We’ll get out of here!’

    “Evan nodded silently and went into the hallway, gun pointing into the dark with Laurens gun pointing the other direction. Slowly, they moved followed the signs pointing towards the crews quarters, thinking that since that’s where most of the people would have been, that’s where there will be a lot of lifeboats. After around 10 minutes, they found a door that Clarence must have forced open because it was still smoking as if it was burned through. They took a few more steps and found that all the dorm doors were open and led into rooms so black you couldn’t see anything even with a flashlight, only a single circle of whatever the light was hitting.”

    “But that wasn’t what worried them…” John trailed off in his story, eyes closed as if either trying hard to remember, or trying hard to forget. Kayala reached through the tall grass and grabbed his shoulder lightly, trying to comfort him. “I’m sorry Kayala, but I think I’m done for tonight. I need to go to bed. Goodnight.” John stood up and began walking back to his little farm house.

    Kayala stood up and said loud enough for John to hear, “Was it only a story, or was it something else? It felt real! It really did!” Goosebumps were covering her arms and legs and she was shivering, despite the hot night. “That story was…familiar…..really John. Sounds like a nightmare I had a few weeks ago. Is it a nightmare John?” John, who originally stopped to listen to what Kayala was saying shuddered.

    “Yeah Kayala, it was a nightmare, so it cant be real. It cant be anything but a nightmare. Goodnight Kayala.” John began walking away again, but Kayala ran up and gave him a hug before running back off to her home for the night. As Kayala disappeared into the direction of her own house, John stopped and looked at the stars again. “Only a nightmare.” he said quietly to himself, not quite believing his own words. “That’s all it is. Nothing more.”

    But he couldn’t shake the memory of how the nightmare ended. “It really does feel like more than just a story, more than just a nightmare. But it can’t be. Evan is me and I am not dead. I’m alive, I’m not dead…” John trailed off once again as the memories of the horrific death swept over him. When he went to bed that night, John lived through those events a dozen more times, the derelict ship, the disappearance of his partners, the explosion of their boarding ship, their journey into the darkness, their capture, and what must have been their deaths because nothing human can survive a hole that big being blasted in their stomachs. As he laid down to sleep, he said “But the story must be told…”