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Zero Contact
Zero Contact
Zero Contact
Ebook162 pages2 hours

Zero Contact

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Temperance is desperate to escape the abusive cult into which she was born. She soon discovers a world that is larger than she could have ever imagined, populated with people both like and unlike her. Where can she go? Who can she trust? Most importantly, can she learn to use the inexplicable powers that made her so important to the cult in the first place?

PublisherMW Kaisla
Release dateNov 5, 2020
Zero Contact
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    Book preview

    Zero Contact - MW Kaisla


    Dear Reader,

    Before you embark upon this strange journey, I would like to make a couple of things clear.

    The world you are about to enter is not our world. Many things are the same, many are different. For example, stock abbreviations are longer.

    This book is in no way meant to denigrate or disparage Christianity – or any religion – as a whole. It may, however serve as an example of how bad people can use an institution that is ingrained in the hearts and minds of so many, and twist it toward extremism and hypocrisy. Or it may just be a fun little romp through a world next door. That’s for you to decide.

    Let the journey begin.


    Chapter 1

    The girl lay on the bed and sniffled while her mother dabbed ointment on her back and legs. The mother clucked. Temperance May, why can't you just be a good girl?

    I try, mother.

    Your father doesn't like to punish you.

    The girl laughed wryly.

    You embarrassed him in front of the whole congregation, what was he supposed to do?

    Mother, I can't just make them happen. And I can't make them different than they are. No matter how much he hits me.

    The mother stroked her hair. Can’t you just try, Tempy? God gave you a gift. You should learn to use it

    Temperance hit the bed with her fist. Can’t God just take it back? I don't want it!

    Her mother stood up. Temperance May Ligget! Don’t you dare question the Lord's will! You just stay in here and ask the Holy Father for forgiveness. Then you can come down and eat when you're ready to ask your earthly father for forgiveness. She walked out, shutting the door firmly behind her.

    Temperance sat up on the bed, drawing her knees to her chest, her long hair hanging around her like a curtain. The fresh belt marks creaked with every sob, blood and ointment oozing slowly onto the white sheets, she would have to scrub them tomorrow. A dresser drawer opened across the room and a handkerchief floated to her hand. She cleaned her face. They must never know she could do this too.

    It was all so hard since Verity left. The others treated Temperance like some kind of freak to be either feared or revered. Only Verity had really been her friend. They had camped in each other's dens and begged quarters from their parents to get candy bars from the general store. Fun. There had been no fun since Verity left.

    Temperance smiled at a memory. Two girls with dirty faces and filthy dresses laughing under a natural bower next to the creek. They’d scrounged enough money for a candy bar each and a soda to share. High on sugar, they were giggling about... well, everything.

    Verity had a crush. A boy named Abel who had just the dreamiest blue eyes. I wish I had pretty eyes. Then he'd notice me.

    Temperance laughed. At ten she still had less than no interest in matters of romance. He’d only notice you if you were a baseball. Besides you do have pretty eyes.

    Verity rolled the orbs in question. I do not. They’re brown and boring. Like mud. Blah.

    Temperance looked down at the candy wrappers. They’re not like mud. They’re like chocolate. With little lighter flecks. Like a KitKat. What boy wouldn't like eyes like a KitKat? Only a stupid one.

    Verity giggled and rustled a silver candy wrapper. Well, if my eyes are KitKats then yours must be…"

    The floor creaked outside of Temperance’s door, snapping her out of her reverie. Her father's tread. He had come to apologize, as he always did. Every time - he felt bad, but it never stopped him from doing it again. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

    He tapped lightly on the door. Tempy, you decent?

    No, I’m letting the welts dry out.

    In her mind's eye she saw him flinch on the other side of the door. Good. He was holding a tray, like she knew he would be. Like he always did.

    I brought you your supper. Beef stew, your favorite.

    She hadn't liked beef stew since she was little, but he didn't know that. You ate what was put in front of you or you didn't eat. So, she ate without complaint.

    Will you open the door? Please?

    She pulled a dress over her head, wincing as the rough fabric dragged over the new welts. Unfolding her legs and rising painfully she yanked the skirt down around her waist and went to the door. She turned the knob and retreated back to the bed.

    Her father nudged the door open and set the tray on her night table, then sat next to her on the bed. He tried to put his arm around her shoulders but she jerked away. He sighed. I know you're mad at me Tempy, but you gotta know it's for your own good.

    "It’s not though. Just because I didn't see what you wanted me to see. Or say what you wanted me to say. You raised me to not be a liar and then you punish me for telling the truth. That is not for my own good."

    I’m sorry you see it that way, Temps. But what you saw was wrong. The church will prosper and when Christ returns it will stand strong with him against the forces of Satan.

    Temperance kept quiet. She’d had her say at devotions this morning. She and the church treasurer had been in agreement. Unless Christ got here soon, there would be no church. Her father tried again. I know you think I’m too hard on you, sugar. Hell, maybe I am. But next year, when you marry Brother Saul and have to run a household, you’ll be grateful for everything your mother and I have taught you.

    And that was another thing. Father, I don't want to get married next year. I’m fourteen! It’s too soon! And I don't want to marry Saul. He’s old.

    He stroked her hair, as though he was trying to physically change her mind. Oh, darlin’ you’ve been spending too much time in town. Their ways are not our ways. Fifteen is just the right age for a girl to get married. Don’t want to have kids too late. You want to be able to keep up with them. And Brother Saul isn’t old. He’s only thirty-five. Besides, it’s a good match. He is the backbone of this community. A holy man and the best preacher we've had in decades. You’re very lucky that he wants such a wild girl as you. You’ll see that when you get older. Now eat your stew before it gets cold. He shut the door softly behind him.

    The stew was already cold. She dumped it in the toilet and ate the buttered bread left on the tray. Her thoughts wandered to Brother Saul. Having to marry him was a judgement from God himself. A punishment she actually deserved. What she wanted didn't matter. She had done this to herself.

    Chapter 2

    When Verity's father had been the preacher, the church actually had prospered. He was a strong and charismatic man. A good man, mostly – provided he stayed out of the sacramental wine. Church doctrine said they weren't supposed to drink, but a man of God is under stresses that mere mortals cannot understand.

    On the last Tuesday, his stresses included coming home to an unlaid dinner table. Verity and Temperance were twelve at the time. Verity’s mother had sent them to the general store for more flour. On the walk home Verity noticed tears trickling down Temperance's face. She stopped walking and hugged her friend. What’s wrong?

    Temperance wiped her face. It’s nothing. KitKat, everything's fine.

    Verity held her at arm’s length. Temperance Ligget! Don’t do that. Not to me. What’s wrong?

    Temperance shook her head. I’m sorry. I’m just... she took a deep breath. I’m going to miss you.

    Verity looked confused. Miss me? I’m not going anywhere. Temp. Temp, am I going to die?

    Temperance thumbed away more tears. No. No, you’re not going to die. You’re just going away,

    Verity laughed. We’re just going to see my grandmother, silly. It’s only for a week. Come on, we’re gonna be late for supper.

    Temperance’s lips thinned. She had learned long ago that people only liked her gift when it told them what they wanted to hear. Sometimes it was best to keep her mouth shut.

    They arrived at Verity’s house to find the kitchen in disarray. Verity’s mother was on the floor, hands shielding her bloodied face. Verity’s father was standing over her, red-faced, with a skillet in his raised hand. Verity dropped the flour. Father! Stop!

    He turned angrily and hit her across the face with the back of the skillet. She fell to the floor, clutching her cheek and he pointed the pan at her. Do not interfere! he roared, before raising his wine-crazed eyes to meet Temperance's angry ones. The pan fell from nerveless fingers and he dropped to his knees in the spilled flour. What have I done? Lord forgive me. He began muttering madly in prayer as his wife pulled their sobbing daughter to her feet and went to lock the two of them in the bedroom until his mania wore off. Temperance walked home seething.

    At Wednesday morning service Verity’s family were at church like nothing had happened. No one commented on the bruised faces. If the church members had started commenting on bruises, they’d never have time to hold service. Brother Ralph, Verity’s father, delivered a rousing sermon on the superiority of Christians and how the church was held to a different standard. They were, they thought, given dominion over all creation. He strode confidently to the giant aquarium at the front of the chapel and picked up one of the sluggish, overfed rattlesnakes who resided within. It wrapped itself contentedly around his arm and rested its head on his shoulder. We have power over all creation!

    Temperance watched dust motes dancing in a sunbeam that shone onto the altar.

    The Lord hath given us power over the plants of the earth!

    She focused on gathering the floating particles into a mass no bigger than a grain of sand.

    He hath given us power over the beasts of the field!

    The motes compressed until they were one solid granule.

    And in times of retribution, he shall give us power over the unbeliever!

    The tiny piece of detritus shot across the little church's chancel, passing over the altar and in front of the enormous cross on the wall, to bury itself under a scale and into the sensitive flesh beneath.

    And on that day! Only God shall judge us!

    The snake did what snakes do when they’re hurt and surprised. It lashed out and latched on. The venom pumped into Brother Ralph’s throat. He locked eyes with Temperance and was dead before he hit the floor.

    The snake slithered, frightened, into a corner, as the congregation rushed either toward Brother Ralph or away from the church, Temperance gently coaxed the rattler away. Sensing a familiar presence, it allowed her to pick it up and place it back with its fellows. No one could tell them apart. This one would not be punished for her deeds.

    Chapter 3

    Verity and her mother did not stay for

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