Empyrean Chalice

Author: Rick Tobin

Tight bindings held her fast to something upright and cold. She stood blindfolded before her captors. Sweat trickled over her eyebrows, infiltrating throbbing eyes, and then eroding mascara into rivulets over her black cheeks and paralyzed quivering lips thwarted from screaming. Her flash memories were of a comforting living room couch beckoning after a trying day delivering news headlines from a national broadcast center in New York. Unusually vicious August heat had exhausted her in a short walk from a parking garage to her air-conditioned apartment. Everything was going to hell, providing red juice for blenders drawing violence voyeurs. Her ratings were skyrocketing.

“You may speak soon.” A mechanical voice filled her like an implanted speaker in her head. It shook her body with bass and authority. Was this death? She wondered in agony.

“No harm will come. Be still.” A new woman’s voice soothed her, like her grandmother’s solace on an Atlanta porch when summer lightning rumbled windows.

The male voice took over. “This place is far from Earth. We will return you, but you have a task to perform. You are chosen above all others. Listen carefully.”

Sarah Jefferson did not listen. She shook her head violently, mumbling, cursing and pleading. She prayed to Almighty God. She felt her bladder failing until something warm touched outside her waist. She calmed. She breathed normally.

“Sarah, you are heard by many people on your planet. We could interrupt every radio, television, and phone on your sphere, but it would simply be called a hoax by your governments. That would leave people unprepared.”

Sarah felt drugged as her inner terror dulled…but these kidnappers, whoever they were, knew her name. That alarmed her, but she soon sank back into a dull swamp of buffered fright.

“Here is what you must do, dear one.” The gentle voice returned. Sarah could feel granny’s hands on her neck—safe and soothing.

“In early December of this year, a comet will appear. Your scientists call it 46P/Wirtanen. It will draw attention to the Pleiades. Visible first at night, it will later appear brightly even in daylight. People worldwide will be watching skyward. Then, on December 24th, our mother ships arrive. There are hundreds of them waiting now beyond the planet you call Jupiter. There will be no doubt then that we, as many others before us, have been among you. Now you may speak.”

Sarah felt her lips free. She was still bound and blinded. “How dare you…bastards! Let me go!”

Disturbing silence was the only response. Another feeling of warmth filled her mind as something rubbed against her forehead.

“We anticipated your fear, Sarah. Let us continue, please.” Again, the soothing tones of a female voice gathered Sarah’s composure.

“Your role, child of Earth, is to communicate to your audience that we are coming. They need to know our intentions to help after the chaos they will experience starting now in August. We can bridge their passage through the coming changes. We are embedding words for you to share. You will remember later. You will speak for us. You will do this to help your people be ready for a new Earth.”

Sarah woke on her settee, soaked in sweat and with soreness around her mouth, eyes, wrists, and ankles. She did not know why, but she felt she had something to do…something urgent. Her widescreen TV was on with her station colleagues covering something about multiple massive quakes across the U.S. and in other countries. She rushed to her bathroom to vomit after realizing her blouse and dress were on backward.


  1. kohlersc

    Ahhhhh…so that is how the “End is Near” sign wielders get their info. Very much enjoyed this story. 🙂

  2. SimonJM

    Interesting choice of date 🙂

  3. phillipjhart

    Quite fun. Wouldn’t mind reading what happens next, either.

  4. Jae

    Oh, that works. More of a opening vignette than a flash, but good.

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