Sophie shivered for what must have been the millionth time. It seemed she hadn’t been warm in ages; at least not since she was thrown into the dungeon nearly a year ago. She blew air through her hands; sending a small wave of warmth through them and making a cloud of hot air appear in front of her. ‘Will they ever find me here? Or will I become one of the many skeletons decorating this dungeon?

As she thought that, a rustling came from the far side of the dungeon, near the entrance. ‘Tsepisch must be really angry today if he’s sending so many people down here.’ She moved towards the front of her cell, the motion warming her up. There was a sight that she had never expected. Her mentor, the Rebel leader Doug Solo was in the dungeon. He was fighting his way through four Draconian guards, towards her cell. His fighting was an amazing thing to behold as he took on the aliens who were stronger two humans each. He was almost winning. A quick slice from his blade and one fell. Then another and finally the last was gone. He was now on his way towards her. Calmly, he threw clothes and an Imperial Uniform at her as he tried to open the cell.

Sophie sluggishly changed into the clothes, her movements weak and slow because of her lack of food and nutrition. The clothes seemed to be radiating warmth, quickly bringing her body temperature back to normal.

“Come on Sophie, we have to get out now. We have only about thirty seconds until they come to check on the dungeon. Fighting the guards took longer than expected.” He grabbed her arm and practically carried her towards the exit.

“Doug! How, when?” Sophie was stuttering and trying to comprehend what was going on as they rushed out of the dungeon and into a refrigerator.

“Why are we here? This is a fridge, not an escape pathway!” her voice was nearly in hysterics.

Doug made a shushing motion with his hands and reached towards a bottle, pulling it towards them. The back of the fridge opened, revealing a passageway.

“Be quiet and quick. This is one of the old tunnels from when this palace was ruled by the just Mangini family. We must be silent thought, or they will catch us.”

The path was sloping and seemed to be going towards the dungeons again. Doug quickly turned to the right fork and stepped into a wall. He pulled Sophie through and into a car.

—————————————————Many Years Later—————————————————–


The water rippled as the girl’s left foot slammed into the puddle. In the distance Sophie heard the hum of the speeder engine. That was the sound of her impending demise. Sophie had been running from the aliens since they first landed when she was just 10. She sped up again, tearing her white shirt on the briars and leaving a trail of blood behind her. She ran into the muddy lake just as the ship touched down. Her thoughts were a blur. ‘Why do they keep chasing me? It’s not as if I am the only gifted child here on Mars.’ Her throat began to tighten and she reluctantly surfaced for air.

She took in two large breaths, each making a raspy sound that perked the guards’ ears. They turned their heads looking for the source. Sophie was again repulsed by the faces of the Draconians. They were flat, grey, and covered in scales that sparkled. The eyes were red and hollow, like blood.  The lead guard, Gibberish, she thought his name was, pointed at her and a shrill cry came him though he had no visible mouth. Like lighting, a tracking pod had her. She struggled to no avail. The force field she was held in was impenetrable. She knew it was; she had seen her mentor blown to pieces trying to take one apart. Sophie stopped struggling and sank in defeat.  She looked at her torn burlap shirt and ratty leather pants and wondered how long it had been since she’d escaped from the prison camp on the dumpy planet of Earth. It had to have been at least a season since she’d landed here on Mars, the headquarters of the Empire and rebellion. The tracking pod suddenly came to a halt and dumped her into the throne room of the Emperor.

Instinct taking over she bowed and repeated the traditional greeting that meant something like ‘greetings oh great ruler, God of the Universe.’ A high, mocking laugh came from the far end of the room where King Marcus Tsepisch sat. His withered frame was once that of a handsome, strong man who was one the former planets Most Beautiful People. When he had began to take over the galaxy under the Galactic Empire, Mars thought it was a great honor to have the leader of the galaxy come from their own soil.

“You dare to enter my court and mock me with that petty display of false loyalty? I ought to have your head on a platter for that my dear Sophie. I told you the last time you escaped that there would be no mercy.” His voice was low and soft, with a harsh tone that inspired fear from all who heard him.

Sophie defiantly stared at the Lord, twisting her body to face him.

“I was never loyal to you!” she spat out, rushing towards him in her fury. The bolts hit her like a thousand volts of electricity. She lay writhing in pain on the ground as the King looked on in amusement. He felt a strange sort of excitement at watching the former pride of the Galactic Army at his mercy.

“You were never loyal to me and the Empire? Was that before or after you blew up Jupiter or Neptune?” he cackled, signaling for the bolts to stop.

“Never,” she gasped clutching the left side of her ribs in pain, “I was never loyal to you.” Sophie knew as she said this she was sealing her fate. She would be executed for what she was about to say. “Who could be loyal to such a cruel, evil master?”

Her mind was racing. She glanced around, searching for any of the members of the Resistance. None were there. Those who they had planted in his service were all gone now. Either they were dead or with the rebels. She had no way to escape. Death was the only possibility now.

Just as she felt the resignation to her fate begin to fill her soul, there was a loud noise from outside of the throne room. Shouts came from Draconian guards mingled with the cries of humans. Tsepisch turned his head towards the sound.

“Guards, go end this fight now.” He commanded, signaling for two warriors to stop. “Gibberish, you and Klarg take the prisoner to the dungeon. Guard her there until I send two more to relieve you.”

“Yes master.” They whispered in unison, roughly tugging Sophie to her feet and practically dragging down the damp passage way that lead to the dungeons. She had been there once as a child. It was a dark place with never ending catacombs and many dead bodies all around.  As they reached the end of the first level, a cell was opened and she was tossed inside.

This cell was the exact one she’d been forced to live in for a year when she was here the last time. She looked around, shivering as the cold began to seep through her thin, torn clothing.  The cell had tattered fragments of cloth lying around, with a skeleton in the corner. If it was someone who actually died in the cell or simply a plant by the Empire to inspire fear, Sophie didn’t know; it still sent foreboding chills down her spine.

To Be Continued….

Finding Harmony

Harmony Evans was listening to the latest Harry Potter book on her iPod when it started again. They had been fighting for years about his job. Her dad was a consultant to a big oil company based in New York with offices all over the world. This job marked the second time in her life that Harmony had lived in the United States of America. She’d spent time living in Italy, Spain, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

While she enjoyed the countries, it was the moving just about every year that had finally taken its toll on Harmony and mom. She was about to be a junior in high school and didn’t want to move again to another school before starting her junior and senior years. She shook her head as the voices increased above the loud volume of her iPod. It must have been some bad news indeed if her mom was yelling at her dad this much.

“No Dan, you listen to ME!!! I’m tired of this, moving around every year. It’s taken a toll on me and you have no idea how hard it is for Harmony, having to move around every year, leaving friend behind, never having anything stable in her life. You said this would be the last time!!”

“Emma, I-I swear it was supposed to be the last move! They just told me about this on Monday. Plus, it’s a promotion. I’ll make three time what I make now if I take the job in Paris! It’ll be the good life for us baby.” Dan exclaimed, exasperated by Emma’s complaints. He shook his head and wished that it would be easier on his family, but what could he do? Tell the company no? Then get fired and be homeless. He had to do it for the good of his family.

“Dan! You’ve known for a week and DIDN’T tell ME until A WEEK BEFORE we move? Did you think it would make it easier? Because you’d already accepted it without consulting me, it would make me feel better? You know what; I’ve had it with this life. I’m leaving. Harmony and I are going to move back to Evansville. I’m quitting this. I’m quitting us.”

Harmony gasped, having taken her headphones off in time to hear the last few sentences. She inched quietly up the stairs to her room.

She began to cry as the realization sank in. Her mom was leaving her father and wanted to take her to California too. There were footsteps coming up the stairs now. Harmony closed the door, ran into her bed and pretended to be asleep. She heard the door open and her mother step inside. She walked to where she lay and Harmony kept perfectly still, forcing herself to breathe slow and deep. Evidently her mom was convinced she was asleep as she tucked her in.

“Oh Harmony,” she sighed, pain evident in her voice, “I think you need to know. I’ll explain it all in the morning honey.” Emma placed a soft kiss on her daughter’s forehead and left the room, shutting the door securely behind her.

The week dragged on, but in the end Harmony was forced to move with her mother.

It was finally over. The last box was packed. Harmony took one last look at her room that had been her home for the past three years. The walls were bare with the exception of holes where there were once posters, pictures and her various awards. In the corner, a lone dust bunny stared back at her. It was a bittersweet moment, leaving the place she’d called home for longer than any other.

“Harmony, come ON! We’re leaving now! We can’t be late for the plane like Memphis!”

She cringed, apparently her mom still hadn’t forgiven her for the episode back in Memphis. It really wasn’t her fault at all. She’d just been too engrossed in the tale of Hannibal Lecter while watching the Silence of the Lambs that she’d stayed in the hotel room watching, unaware that everyone else had long ago left and she was still there. By the time she’d arrived at the airport, they had missed the flight and American Airlines had refused to change their tickets. Harmony turned, taking one last surveying look at her room and sighed, walking out the door. At least this would be the last move for her.

“Coming Mom!” she yelled, leaving the house for the last time.



She walked through the store, confident in her stride and the plain clothes she wore. It had been years since she had worked here and most of her colleagues had long moved on to larger stores, or other companies. However, she knew the one she wanted most, the one she still saw on a daily basis, as they were married was still here. Kat, her beautiful wife still worked here as head of security for Dart Inc., in the store where they had first met. Joan sighed as she remembered the first time they’d met, her an excited twenty year old, eager to have her first trainee in the infants department. She’d heard of her from another new hire, Sara and was eager to make a new friend.

Joan smiled to herself as she remembered the way she’d been awestruck as she’d seen Kat approach, not at all what she’d expected. She’d been thinking that Kat was a very feminine woman from what had said about her. Instead she had been surprised to see a shorter haired, young tomboy. When Kat approached the desk where she was working she had to clear her throat to get the dryness out of it so she could speak.

“You must be Kat!” she read off the nervous looking girls nametag.

The shy smile she received in return left butterflies floating in her stomach. ‘Shut up,’ she told herself, ‘Just because she looks like a tomboy does not mean she swings your way.’

“I’m Joan, and I’ll be training you, or at least starting training today.” The tingle she felt as their hands met took her entirely by surprise as well.

She came around the desk, and motioned for Kat to follow her. “So, today we’ll be starting in the infants clothing department. Have you had any experience working with infant products before?”

Kat’s voice cracked as she answered, “Uh, yeah, I used to work at Target, I covered a few shifts in the clothing department.”

“Good, I don’t have to explain everything to you then. So, how do you like Dart?”

“It’s okay so far, I was actually hired to be in the electronics department, but there weren’t any open shifts yet so they said they’d put me here.”

“Ah. And here I was thinking I’d found a great new co-worker.”

Kat’s blush made Joan smile and laugh.

“I’m sure we’ll see enough of each other around here.”