Authors: T. Marie Alexander
Copyright © 2015 by T. Marie Alexander
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short passages in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, dead or alive, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Please visit my website at
Cover designed by
Deranged Doctor Design
Illustrations by Deranged Doctor Design
Table of Contents
For my beloved Father,
I miss you everyday
I’d like to thank the following people for their help and support:
To my father, may you rest in peace, thank you for always being my number one supporter and believing in my capabilities. I know you’re somewhere in heaven, watching UFO documentaries, looking down on me proud.
To Debra Hall, thank you for being the very first person to read and edit Zola. If it wasn’t for your encouragement and reassurance, it would probably still be stuck in a binder.
To my husband, Curby, thanks. Although you weren’t around when I first wrote Zola, you have been a huge part in me getting it out there now and getting my mind set right.
To Dylan Comeau, thanks for being a great friend and offering helpful feedback. I really needed it.
THE MISTY WORLD AROUND me has turned into a dreadful frigid dark sky, dead but alive, in some sense. The air that once smelled of sweet gushberries, delicious yet poisonous berries, now smells of decaying flesh and dried blood, as the showering rain comes down in pebble-sized splashes.
I stand and watch as all I hold dear, all I’ve ever known, comes crashing down before my very eyes. And even though no one pays much attention to the youth of this fair planet, I feel what little faith I have vanish from my heart and mind, as all the children, including myself, get carried away.
With the loud deadly sounds of the guns of war confirming my planets defeat, I start to think of my parents fighting against the ruthless Payohlini. What if they don’t survive? What if I never see my loved ones again?
All the things I feel, all the things I am thinking, come rushing to the surface. We all knew this day would come, though. That’s why so many of my people were sent to other worlds—to scout their atmospheric conditions and learn their languages. It’s the only reason all my people were ordered to get polyglot devices implanted in our heads.
Feeling a tug on my bags, I turn to see a tall muscular male standing behind me. Although he resembles a man, I know him to be otherwise, as he towers over me as if covering me from the dreadful night storm.
“It is time to go," the man says in a monotone voice, making him sound more like a programmed robot rather than an actual person. “Grab your things, and board the ship.”
I analyze every feature of the man’s stone-like body. Broad shoulders evident beneath fitted armor, with muscles stacked upon muscles, he is a little taller than seven feet—I’m a midget in comparison. Although they are humanoids, as am I, it’s often their height and strength that sets the Payohlini apart from human males. His facial beard covers most of the lower part of his olive-tan complexion, leaving dark slanted eyes available for viewing. The frown he wears seems permanent, and he doesn’t blink. He should be happy, seeing that his people are finally getting rid of the Victians; something they have wanted since I was born.
“Okay, but I have to get my sister,” I reply, turning away from the man. I grab my bag and look over the crowd of homeless, miserable children and soldiers running through all the smoke, chaos, and crashing building. My sister is not among them, even though she was a moment ago. “She is not in sight. May I look for her?”
The threat I see in the male’s eyes has me drawing back, but no matter how far I retreat, his shadow dominates and fills me with fear, the only thing I am capable of feeling at the moment.
A grin appears across the male’s unsightly face. As if he recognizes the fright in my eyes and likes what he sees, his own light up with joy. “No! She runs off, she’ll die, like the rest of your inferior people.”
“How can you be so cruel and heartless? She is only five.”
“Not my concern. Now board the ship!”
When I do not obey, the male grabs my wrist and makes me follow, but I pull away, stumbling to the ground. A huge imprint from his hand is upon my skin as if it’s solar burnt, and blood rushes to the spot, returning my complexion to its ideal tan state. Times like this, I wish my armor covered more of my arms. As I start to crawl away, the male lifts and throws me over his shoulder. The punches I hammer into his hard back hurt me more than him. I can understand why. His people are not capable of feeling pain of any kind.
“Put me down!” I scream loud enough to be heard a mile from this place, while the Payohlini carries me onto the colossal space ship.
The interior is lined with lime lights on each side of the walls. The air smells of them, terrible and bittersweet. And pungent with the odor of my people’s terror, hatred, and repulse. The male puts me down, still holding on to me like he knows I might still run, before dragging me down a long hallway that contains horrid portraits of their commander. Who would have thought one could be so self-absorb as to line a ship with their own photos?
We arrive at a door at the end of the hallway. The male pulls out a ring of keys, searching for the accurate one. With the time it is taking him to find one petty key, I could have escaped. Instead, I start tapping my foot, thinking, if he is going to lock me up, he might want to be quicker about it.
To my liking, the male seems to become frustrated with my constant tapping. Obviously, this makes me tap louder, and he flinches as he finds the key, opens the door, and shoves me inside a diminutive room.
I spin toward the door that’s already closing. “A supply closet!?” I call.
“Yes. You are lucky to be put here. I could have disposed of you in the trash, seeing as your kind is nothing but trash.”
“You will never get away with this,” I say but his footsteps are already striding away down the corridor.
Left alone, I sink down onto an upturned bucket, and my thoughts quickly turn to my sister—mostly that something ghastly must have happened to her. She is so young and doesn’t know how to protect herself while out there, in the midst of war, and will be helpless and probably terrified.
Biting my lip, I twirl my fingers nervously around my long, pale white hair, thinking of all the horrifying things that could happen to her. She could be trapped under a fallen building, or blinded by the smothering smoke, or captured like me. Or worse.
I progress to gnawing on my fingernails, but a squeaky noise comes from somewhere within the small room, and I spring to my feet, knocking over the bucket. As I glance around, trembling, the weird sound grows louder and closer, until I feel like a small animal about to be preyed upon, helpless with no place to run.
I back up from the noise, seeking shelter, and finding myself face-to-face with an emp, I scream.
Smaller than a new born baby, the emp has tan fur and the most vivacious eyes. It sits on the door, so still it would be hard to tell if it’s breathing if it not for the noise it makes, and it takes only a moment to learn that all of the legends told to me as a child aren’t true.
Assuming it to be also a prisoner of the hatred Payohlini, I step slowly toward it, with my hands out from my body, and pick up the furry creature. As I set it on the bucket, the emp curls itself around my leg. It’s comforting to know that even the smallest, most terrifying creatures needed protecting, but I try to shake the emp off. The tiny creature won’t loosen its grip, though. I give another, harder shake, and it goes flying across the room, landing with a light thump on the floor.
When it doesn’t move, I step toward the creature, and it starts to squeal, the sound high enough to pierce my heart-heavy soul.
Wincing, I cover my ears. “I have to get out of here.” My spoken words echo in my blocked ears, as I bash a shoulder against the door. When nothing happens, I slide down the door and hide my face in my knees.
This is what happens to people who don’t think logically: they end up stuck in a cage with a creature from bedtime stories.
The emp finally stops squealing, and as I look up at the disgustingly-cute creature, it wobbles over to me and curls up in my lap. Sympathy instantly rouses within me. What’s the point in fighting this? According to the legends, the emp is never going to leave me alone. When they attach themselves to another being, the bond is permanent. Only death or loss of loyalty will separate them. Plus, I would be lying if I said the creature isn’t the most adorable thing I’ve seen.
“If you insist I keep you, what shall I name you? How do you like the name Doodle?”
A smile as big as the Ladic Shore, and as small as Victian Lake spreads across its face.
I merely roll my eyes at the creature. “So, Doodle, I think we have been locked up for far too long. How about we get out of here?”
Doodle leaps up and points to an air vent.
Using the shelves in the holding cell as a ladder, I sit Doodle on a middle shelf before climbing to the aperture of the vent, constantly aware of an eye cam that stares right at me. Although, why they would need one in a supply closet, I’m not really sure. Hoping to stay undetected, I jump back to the floor, from where I watch the cam. Even as I stand unmoving, though, the eye cam remains fixed on me.
Doodle points his snout toward some cleansing supplies, and I ease my body slowly to the supplies. While watching the cam, I grab an aerosol can, then, compressing myself against the wall, hopefully out of the cam’s field, I begin re-climbing the ten feet of steel. Once high enough, I spray the cam, before grabbing Doodle. As I leap to another shelf, though, a disturbance comes from the other side of the door.
Not waiting around to find out what it is, I push Doodle into the vent and squeeze in after him, my breaths accelerating as I hold my hand against my mouth behind the vent’s cover.
What if we get caught?
Through the grate, I see the knob rotate on the closet’s door, and as the door swings inward, three toad-like males come in.
They take only a moment to glance around the room, before one of their pair of eyes lands on the vent.
Taking a deep breath, I push deeper into the shaft.