Beyond Gavia by Crystal Parney by Crystal Parney - Read Online

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Summary

Cancer is killing Courtney Shepard; she's given up, but when she is abducted in the night by a tall dark stranger her life is given an unfamiliar second chance. Courtney wakes to find her health restored yet her delight is squashed when she learns she's aboard an alien aircraft headed for the planet Gavia; another Earth like world. Courtney's abduction isn't the only astonishing news she must absorb; Courtney must marry Antioch, not only the stranger who stole her from her bed but the successor to Gavia's dark ruler. Courtney goes on to tackle more odds as her new life is thrown into an alien frenzy. She must make herself worthy to Gavia's tyrant ruler, comprehend her new and strange love for Antioch, and persist through Gavia's secret past.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611603521
List price: $3.99
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Beyond Gavia - Crystal Parney

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Page 1 of 1

Nanny.

Chapter 1: The End of Possibility

My mother prepared my favorite dinner; stuffed shells with a heavy garlic marinara. I couldn’t help feeling like the feast was a last dinner, like the ones inmates on death row receive before an execution.

I forced a fork full into my mouth though the food was flavorless, even with the persistent taste of garlic. There was no taste left in the world, nothing to savor.

Court?

I looked up into my mother’s eyes, sad yet hopeful. She couldn’t lose hope; she wouldn’t. She cooked my favorite meal, like somehow magically it would make everything better.

Yeah? I swallowed, forcing the food down my throat and into my barren stomach.

How is it? My mom asked; her voice was almost a whisper.

Good, like always, Mom, I responded with a closed smile.

It’s wonderful, Genie, my uncle Pat said, who sat next to my mother at the dinner table.

I looked toward the right at end of the table where my father sat. He dangled his fork in his right hand; his plate nearly untouched. When our eyes met he slightly smiled and I thought he might start crying. He knew, unlike my mother who hoped.

I took another bite then dropped my fork; the sound of the stainless steel utensil hitting the china rang across the dining room. I let out a small grunt, trying to keep my whimpering inside. I swallowed and let out a long breath.

Are you okay, Courtney? my grandmother asked.

My grandfather stared at me as if he didn’t know what to say. His gray eyes shimmered with tears. He sat his fork down, wiped his mouth, and leaned forward in case he would need to help me.

I hurried and adjusted myself. I’m fine. I smiled.

Are you sure, Court, I could call the doctor? my mother said, her voice rising with concern.

I shook my head.

Don’t be afraid to let us call the doctor, Court; you’re not bothering anyone, my dad asserted almost sternly.

I’m fine, really, I said.

I just don’t want you in pain. I hate seeing you in pain, my mother mumbled over her emotions.

I gritted my teeth. I could feel my heart start to hammer as the pain continued to climb. I wanted to throw up the food I’d just eaten.

Courtney? my grandma said.

I let out a breath. I think I’m going to go up to my room, I said, standing, my hands clutching tight to the edge of the glossy wood table.

Here, I’ll help you. My mother stood.

No, I’ll be okay, Mom, I promise.

I didn’t allow my family to help me to my room; I was frail but I wasn’t crippled. I climbed the tall stairs to the second story of my house and hurried toward my bedroom.

I wanted to be alone; needed to be alone. My family had been swarming me like flies on a dead cat; but I was not dead, not yet. I shut my bedroom door behind me, letting the quiet darkness enclose around my body like a temporary protective shield. I stood motionless for a moment, breathing deep, attempting to hush the pounding beat of my heart.

When my heart slowed to an undaunted rhythm I allowed myself to pretend the darkness was death, stealing me away from life. Perhaps imagining mortality could prepare me for its certainty, yet envisioning death did nothing to save me from its horror. Even my family’s doting promises of hope did nothing to alleviate my anguish. The fact of the matter was I was dying.

I switched on my bedside lamp. The dim light cascaded down over the table and several pill bottles that gathered like a mass crowd next to my alarm clock. I stared at the ginger colored bottles for a moment, thinking they were pointless. What were they doing for me but leaving a disgusting taste in mouth? The medicines did nothing but merely ease my suffering; nothing could change my fate now.

I rested at the edge of my bed and began to unbutton my blouse, accidentally allowing my eyes to glance into the oval mirror hung above my dresser. I planned to take the mirror down, but at one point I believed I was going to get better. I had in the past, why not this time?

My appearance was still difficult for me to stomach. My blonde hair was short, maybe an inch longer than a man’s military cut. My eyes looked like they were descending into my head like a sinking ship and my skin lacked any warmth. I had dropped twenty pounds and my bones prominently protruded against my thin gray skin, making me appear anorexic. Watching your body deteriorate before your own eyes was somewhat psychologically damaging. I looked away, pretending the image in the mirror was not mine.

A sharp pain shot from my left thigh; cringing, I squeezed my eyes shut as the pain stole my breath away. I reached and grabbed hold of my thigh, trying to rub the pain away. I had not taken my pain medicine in hours; I was tired of pills, IV’s and hospital beds. A small part of me was glad it was going to be over. I had opted to halt the chemo. This was the third time the cancer returned and this time the disease spread faster, harvesting itself into my bloodstream. It was my fault really. I had gone four years without being sick and I was truly living my life for the first time. I didn’t want life to end; I knew in my heart the cancer had returned but I pretended it hadn’t. I was first diagnosed with stomach cancer at seveenteen, then again at twenty. When I hit the four year mark of cancer free I thought, yes, it’s finally over. I’m free! Then I felt it; I knew exactly what it felt like; like a woman who knows she is pregnant because she has been pregnant before.

I closed my eyes for a moment, attempting to obtain a grip on myself. I shuddered. I hated thinking of the inevitable. The idea of planning my death, like some morbid wedding, made my belly ache. I was twenty-four and I didn’t have much time left.

Another sharp pain cut through my body, this time so shrill I muffled my own scream. I didn’t want my family, who still resided downstairs, to hear me cry out. My eyes swelled with tears and spilled down over my face. I was dying! I could feel it and it hurt! I reached for my bottle of pain meds. I took in a deep breath and tried to stop my hands from trembling so I could unscrew the top. I finally flipped the top off, popped two pills into my mouth and washed them back with bottled water.

I relaxed back into my bed and tried to focus through the climbing pain and my racing heart. I waited with gripping patience to feel better as I clutched hold of my bed sheets. I took another med, but this time for my anxiety. It was too much for me to handle. I didn’t want to die, no matter how much I tried to prepare myself. An innate human instinct, or some chemical in my brain, made me want to live, to survive this. But it was too late now, the cancer had eaten away too much of my body.

A soft rap on the door tore me from the pain-induced haze. I lifted my head from my pillow. The meds were beginning to kick in and the pain and anxiety were starting to cease. I could be strong again, or pretend to be strong again. I cleared my throat and made sure my face was wiped free of tears.

Yes? My voice still cracked.

My mother opened the door. She stood in the threshold for a moment, staring at me. I wanted to say, what, but I knew. I knew she held a fear and sadness any mother would dread. It could be seen in the depth of her tired eyes, the way her shoulders slightly rolled forward and the way her hand squeezed tight around the door knob.

Are you all right? she asked.

Uh huh, I managed. I’m just really tired.

Did you want to come down and say goodbye to your grandma and grandpa and Uncle Pat? They are getting ready to leave.

I tried to lift myself up, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t sure if my lack of strength came from the pain or the meds; probably both.

No, you just rest, Courtney. I will tell them goodbye for you. First let me help you get into some pajamas, my mom said, going over to my top drawer. She pulled out a pink flannel nightgown.

I had forgotten I was still dressed with my blouse half unbuttoned.

Here, let me help you sit up, my mom said, sinking herself into my bed.

What’s Dad doing? I asked as my mother pulled my nightgown over my head.

He’s cleaning up the kitchen from dinner.

There, now get some rest, my mom voiced, pulling the covers over me.

I tried not to cry as I realized my mother was tucking me in at twenty-four.

I love you so much, Court, my mom said. Her eyes glistened with tears.

I didn’t cry. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I didn’t have the strength. I love you too, Mom.

Do you want this light off? she asked, standing from the bed.

Yeah.

I’ll see you in the morning, my mom said, turning away. She eased the door shut behind her, letting it linger cracked open for a moment. She didn’t want to let me go.

Once again I was glad to be in the dark. The meds began to take hold, softening every nerve fiber in my body, and easing the pain and anxiety to a level of zilch. The feeling of euphoria felt good, but I had to remind myself the feeling was synthetic. If not for the meds I would be in utter anguish. But for now I would elate in the painlessness and the feeling that nothing mattered anymore; until morning.

Chapter 2: Taken

My mind was trapped in an unconscious state, but something pulled me from my deep slumber. I heard footsteps on the hard wood floor of my bedroom. I assumed my mother was checking in on me and, judging by my body’s lack of pain, I was still under the spell of the painkillers. I turned from lying on my back and positioned myself in the more comfortable fetal position.

A warm hand touched my face. I cracked open my eyes but I couldn’t see through the unadjusted darkness. The hand lingered on my face, caressing down onto my neck.

Mom? I mumbled, turning my head away.

My mother didn’t answer, which was strange. She usually mumbled something; some kind of loving murmur to let me believe everything was going to be all right, that she was there for me and always would be.

I felt the covers slide down my body until they were completely off, creating a chill that ran up my bare legs. I opened my eyes wider this time, trying to let them adjust to the blackness. Looking up, I saw the outline of a tall figure standing over me, very tall. I blinked rapidly for a moment; maybe the dark and haziness of sleep was making me see things. Maybe I was dreaming. Maybe I had died in my sleep and the figure was an angel here to deliver me to heaven.

A dull pain crept up my legs, crawling all the way to my belly. My stomach began to churn upward; my heart began to pump faster and faster. I could feel the fear of reality creep through my insides, like a disease itself. Horrific symptoms of anxiety occurred every time I woke up, when my mind became aware enough to remember I was dying.

A voice mumbled something in a quick rapid way. I could not decipher if the voice spoke too quickly for me to understand or in a totally different language. I must be dreaming, but then a pain so severe shot up my back I opened my mouth to scream. The warm hand covered my lips and muffled my cry. I tried to pull the hand away, but I was depleted of strength.

The pain subsided in my back and I fell limp against my satin-covered mattress. The hand drew away from my mouth and I took in a deep ragged breath. The outline of the body leaned closer until I felt a warm breath on my face. The person gathered me up from the bed and cradled me against his chest.

What are you doing? Daddy, is that you? I barely whispered. Exhaustion overwhelmed me, ailing me even greater. I couldn’t focus.

The phantom person never answered and I did not ask again. I slipped into a realm of unconsciousness somewhere between awake and sleep. I could sense I was being taken outside. I felt the cool kiss of the night autumn air on my skin. The sound of fallen leaves crunching beneath the feet of whoever carried me could be heard.

Uhhhhh, I groaned as a sharp pain exploded up my back. It was the way the person carried me that made the pain worse. I struggled against the arms that cradled me.

The stranger who held me spoke, but once again I could not understand. Another spoke, in the same rapid manner. I tried to look over to the new voice but my neck was too stiff. I felt myself being handed over to another. The pain began to worsen, ripping through my body the way a tornado rips through a small town; I was so broken. I could barely sustain the climbing ache. I needed my pain medicine; something to dull the pain before I hollered out. Maybe I was being transported to the hospital, but this was too unconventional. When rushed to the hospital it was by ambulance, with my body strapped to a gurney, and my parents rushing alongside.

Mmmmggghhhhhhh, I moaned through gritted teeth.

Was this it? Was this death? Oh how it hurt. I couldn’t feel myself crying but I could feel the wet tears tumbling down my cheeks. I opened my eyes but my vision was shaded in the darkness of night. It felt like the person holding me was running in long strides. The other person ran parallel. Then he stopped, a halt that made the pain shoot up my back, pain that felt like it could crush my spine.

Oh, God! I cried.

I heard the other speak again. The voice most definitely spoke in another language; I could tell now. Once again I was handed to another, to the stranger who had taken me from my bed.

Please, the pain is unbearable, I whispered through grinding teeth.

I know, the voice answered in English.

I felt a needle inject into my arm and before the needle was pulled from my skin the pain subsided and I was thrust into a dominion of unconsciousness.

My eye lids fluttered as I attempted to transition from sleep to awake, but every time I challenged sleep the urge to fall back became even greater. I was lying in a bed, what I assumed was a hospital bed. I had lain in hospital beds enough to know exactly how the thin mattress felt pressed against my body. I shifted and stretched my legs, moaning through the dull pain that embraced my depleted frame.

Strange images flashed through my mind, a tall figure touching me, carrying me, taking me away, and speaking in a foreign language. The image was like déjà vu. I guess it felt like that because it was a dream, or maybe I possessed a distorted memory of being taken to the hospital.

Finally my eyes fluttered open. First, all I saw was white or maybe a light gray. My vision was fuzzy yet from the corner of my eye I noticed the tall figure of a man. He stood off to the side watching me. Where was I? I felt I was in a hospital room but the room seemed untraditional. I remembered my father saying something about finding treatment in another country.

Maybe my parents ignored the doctors who said nothing else could be done. It was hopeless; I was hopeless. A life for me was no longer possible; that acceptance was best for everyone, and that my life was now on an unremitting road to an end. My parents still did not want to give up. Why had I given up, because I did not wish to drag this sickness out even more than I had to? Maybe I wanted to die in peace, without the sick side effects of the treatment.

The man in the corner moved. He was not wearing a white doctor’s coat, or even a pair of scrubs. He was dressed mostly in black. Everything about him was dark, his hair and his skin, except for his eyes. His eyes were vivid blue, which seemed to glow against his dark exterior as he came closer to me. Finally he hovered over me like I was an infant in a crib. I held my breath for a moment, staring up at him, puzzled, as if unable to distinguish rather he was real or not.

My eyes focused more clearly on the man who remained hovered above me. His deep stare made me uneasy. His blue eyes ogled me with a strange curiosity, not as if he wondered who I was or why I appeared so ill, but with a profound wonder, like he was contemplating an imperative decision. Perhaps he was a witch doctor considering if I was worth his efforts.

The man spoke softly, but I couldn’t understand the words. He glanced behind him and spoke again, this time with more intensity; as if he had made a final decision. He returned his stare upon me, leaning closer, as if examining my features. I suddenly felt tiny beneath his glare. His face was strangely beautiful, like some Amazon god. His skin was bronze and he bore a straight broad nose that led down to full lips.

Where are my parents? I asked through a crackling dry throat.

I could tell he understood my question by the expression on his face, but he did not provide a response. He stood fully upright, returning to his soaring figure.

Please, can you tell me where my mother and father are? I asked in a slow clear voice.

I became more irritated this time as he still did not respond. I reminded myself maybe he did not know English. Thoughts of my parents were flanked when a relentless sting throbbed up through body. The pain was always there to remind me.

Uhhhmmmmgghhhh!! I grunted.

Another pain shot through me. This time I screamed. I could not hold the pain in any longer. I had to scream. I hollered like a hundred pound woman on the verge of giving birth to a ten pound baby. I wished for death at this point.

Just let me die, I murmured between whimpers.

You aren’t going to die, I heard a man whisper in my ear.

Daddy?

Another pain exploded in my stomach. I lurched forward and vomited. The agony was too much. My vision became blurred and my head felt dizzy even as I laid back. I could feel the man cleaning the vomit off me.

Please, no more treatment. I just…

Shhh, this time the treatment will not fail you, the man said in a husky tone.

I didn’t believe him. But I didn’t care anymore, about anything, whether I lived or died. I didn’t even object as I felt the chill of a cold needle thrust into my forearm. Once again the pain quickly alleviated, leaving me numb and empty.

Chapter 3: Mended

I awoke, evoked with the memory of my pain, my disease. The cancer was like a terrorist within my body, waging an unjustified war. I asked several times, why me, why was I put on this planet only to be so sick? What grand lesson was I supposed to learn? If it was strength, forget it, yet I reminded myself I had been strong.

I realized through my thoughts I felt no initial pain, just a dull ache reminding me my body had once been racked with it. I urged a snickering laugh, not because my situation was funny, but for some reason the idea of relying on pain killers to feel an ounce of normalcy was ironic to me. I can’t really explain it, so I won’t attempt.

For the moment I relaxed. I softly smiled because there was no pain. I guess dying without pain was better that dying with pain. I opened my eyes, half expecting to see my mom hovering above me with concern clutching her aging face, but there was no one.

I sighed and pulled myself up to a sitting position. I was wearing a plain white gown. There was no IV, which shocked me; usually I was being pumped with something. The room was different than before. The walls were painted a deep green and vacant of décor, but the room was fully occupied with strange plants, plants I’d never seen before. But if I was in some foreign place, I can imagine the plants would look alien to me.

If I felt strong enough to sit, maybe I could stand. I swung my legs to the side of the bed and let my bare feet touch the cold ceramic-like floor. I used my arms to raise my bottom from the bed and rested my weight on my feet. I winced for a moment, waiting for the pain; but there was none. I walked into the middle of the room, almost waiting for someone to come in and tell me to lie back down, but no one came. I strolled over to the door to open it; reaching for the handle, I stopped in astonishment.

The door lacked a handle, only a smooth metal surface. I placed my hands on the cold door and pressed, thinking it might open if pushed. My hands fell to my sides when the door didn’t budge.

Hello? I yelled and then waited.

This was ridiculous. Was I now a prisoner as well?

Hello? I yelled again, but this time I followed my yell by a loud bang on the door.

Still there was no answer. I banged again, harder this time.

Somebody? Nurse? I cried. I turned to see if I could find a button to call the nurse, but there was no button. I realized there were no medical devises, no blood pressure machine, heart monitor, chairs, drawers and no cabinets filled with medical supplies, nothing.

I suddenly realized the other side of the room held a door.

How stupid, I thought. This door probably wasn’t even the right door to go out. I walked to the other door, surprised once again that the door lacked a knob yet the entry stood ajar at least an inch. Placing my right hand on the cold metal surface of the door, I pushed it open. The door did not lead out to an open hall, but to a toilet and sink. A light shifted on automatically as I walked in. Lifting my gown, I sat on the toilet seat and peed.

Mmmm, I moaned, relishing in the relief; it felt like I hadn’t peed in days.

Once finished, I sat on the toilet for longer than needed. I waited, knowing that in any minute the pain would come. Surprised the