A thirty-year-old man stood alone on ancient sands and squinted his eyes against the coming storm. The enemy invaded his country and captured his family five years earlier. Now, exiled in a foreign land, what life did he have here amongst aliens and strangers? For that reason, in a move that defied rational thought, he walked toward the approaching cataclysm willing to embrace whatever it held.
He focused on the storm in disbelief as he brought his hands over his face to protect it from the growing strength of the weaponized dust. The lightning continued to streak outward from the roiling cloud as it unveiled a huge ball of fire at its nucleus.
As he drew closer, he saw otherworldly creatures amid the fire. Their glowing appearance was humanoid and resembled metal in the intense heat of a furnace.
Each of the beings had four faces and four wings and they stood on hooves. They moved forward with alternating altitudes in perfect coordination as gyroscopic wheels spun in dizzying circles below them. Eyes shone out of the wheels amplifying their hypnotic effect.
He was mesmerized and froze in awe as tongues of fire and fingers of lightning zigzagged between each of the creatures as they approached. Their roaring wingbeats sounded like a giant waterfall and an eerie silence fell upon the sands when they stopped in unison.
In the undisturbed stillness of the moment, he saw the enormous dome of something like cut glass suspended over the creatures in the fire. A sapphire colored throne with an immense figure seated on it was poised above the dome. He glowed like burnished bronze yet his legs were covered with fire that radiated against his throne.
Lost among the sand dunes, the man’s knees buckled as he fell to his face in terror. When the storm first appeared, he did not care if he lived or died. Now, he could not imagine a way to survive.
He lifted his head from the desert sands enough to scream and realized the sound vibrated his face but did not project any further. What was happening to him? Arms refused to move. Legs were free, but becoming cold. None of it made sense.
He dared not open his eyes. Mouth was open as he sucked in hot, moist air to his laboring lungs… it felt as if these creatures were pressing down on him and choking the life out of his body.
Now or never. He opened his eyes to be greeted with a dull white view of nothingness. A turn of the head revealed resistance to movement. He felt he was suffocating. With his arms pinned to his sides, he rolled and wobbled until he found his way onto his knees. Kneeling down, he noticed that moving forward and backwards seemed to break his confinement.
His body felt the constant wind from the wings and wheels as he struggled against the power that was holding him down. As sensations of feeling and freedom flowed back into his arms, he moved his arms over his head. The dazzling brilliance of the sudden burst of light and the cold air was enough to push him over on his back.
This time, as he landed though, the sand was wet and soft and fourteen-year-old Mark Shelby awoke in a state of terror.