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Thursday, Dec 14, 2017
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

Lights of Life

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Lights of Life - Chapter 3

"And the tracks just disappear after that?"

"Yes, Sir. The team assigned to the investigation, led by Agent Cross, followed them all the way to the road from the crash site. Then there's nothing. The pilot could have been picked up by someone driving by or even walked along the road until he found another place to keep heading down."

"Has anyone reported seeing any strangers in the area?"

"No, Sir. There have been no reports of anyone being found in the mountains."

"Hmmm."

Agent Barlow stood in front of the Director and tried not to fidget, while his superior decided on the next course of action. As far as Barlow was concerned, the path was clear. Cordon off the area and search house by house until the alien was found. Anything less would put the public at risk. For all they knew, the alien was here to unleash some horrible plague upon the people of the earth and the sooner they found the intruder, the better.

"All right. I want you to issue a news bulletin to every single local radio and TV station in the area. Say that there's a fugitive who has been cornered in the area. Make sure that it's clear that the only thing known about the suspect is that they are armed and dangerous. I want those people to be suspicious of any face they don't personally know. Make it a serial murderer of children. But also emphasize the person, gender unknown, is still just a suspect. I don't want some idiot with a gun shooting our missing pilot. Got it?"

"Yes, Sir."

"If the person can produce photo ID upon questioning, then they're cleared to go. Otherwise, detain them. The fugitive thing will cover why you're there. But I want you to keep this quiet."

"I understand, Sir."

"All right. I'll expect an update from you on my desk tomorrow morning. Dismissed."

"On my way, Sir."

Agent Barlow turned on his heel and walked out the door. The Director leaned back in his chair. Why did these people always assume the masculine? If he remembered correctly, very few males ever made it to pilot status.

"In fact, I was one of the few exceptions."

The Director looked over the latest report and noticed the size of the feet. Size 7, Men's. Was he the only one who found that slightly suspicious? And the calculated weight based on indentation of the footprint: 120 pounds. The only thing that worried him was that the foot had obviously been bare.

"Did you heal yourself on the go?"

The Director closed his eyes. It had been a long twenty-four hours.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Jason slung his backpack over his shoulder, which was full of his new games, and clipped his Walkman to his hip. He jumped up and down, simulating riding his mother's horse, and grinned when the CD player didn't skip.

"Thanks again, Mom. This is going to be great."

"You're welcome. Be careful."

"I will," he promised. "See ya guys later," he said, and then left to saddle up the horse, so he could ride over to Carson's.

Kaylee watched him go, and then went back to helping with the breakfast dishes, drying them and putting them away, as Jess washed them. When they were all done, Jess dried her hands, and then turned to Kaylee.

"How would you like to do a little shopping with me in town while Jason's off with Carson?"

"Okay," Kaylee agreed, and they were quickly on their way.

Once in town, Jess and Kaylee went to the grocer's. Jess picked up a load of vegetables to replace the ones they'd eaten the past week, and decided to splurge on some expensively priced fruit. She just couldn't resist strawberries, especially when they were out of season. It made them a winter delicacy.

She went to the checkout and her groceries were bagged for her. Kaylee helped her bring the bags to the truck and then they went to the local clothing store.

"You can pay me back when your memory returns," Jess explained, and Kaylee nodded.

Kaylee went through the store and picked out different items of clothing that caught her eye, while Jess went to the front counter. She was immediately greeted by the owner and her clerk.

"Jess! Did you hear? We have a serial killer in our town."

"What?"

"Yeah, it was on the news this morning. Some child murderer is running from the Feds and they trailed him here."

"Oh, now Louise. Remember, they said that it was just a suspect. They don't even know if it's a man or a woman."

"Well, I can't imagine a woman killing children. I mean, what about a woman's maternal instinct?"

"They did say the person was only suspected, right?" Jess knew she could get tied up all day trying to get accurate information from the two gossipmongers.

"Well, yes, Jess, but do you really think the FBI would be sending so many people here if they had the wrong person?"

"They've been known to make mistakes before, Sue."

"I guess so. Just makes me glad I don't have any children to worry about. You on the other hand... How is Jason doing, by the way? Didn't he just have a birthday? How old is he now?"

"He just turned twelve."

She could see the women calculating in their heads, for the millionth time since she'd had Jason, just how old that made her at the time of his birth. She had just turned twenty-nine in December, making her seventeen when Jason was born. Which meant she had been just barely sixteen and a half when she'd conceived him.

"And where is the dear boy?"

"Oh, he's off with one of his friends. He got a bunch of new games for his Nintendo and he wanted to try them out with his buddy."

"Oh, you know those things will rot the brain. Why, I heard about one boy..."

Jess moved away from the women, who had thankfully become oblivious to her presence, and went to check on Kaylee. She found her wearing a pair of black form-fitting jeans, a black ribbed midriff cropped blouse, and a black leather jacket. She was standing in front of a mirror, staring at herself. Jess hadn't realized that the items were even available in the store owned by the old woman, hadn't really bought anything more than a hair-tie in the store in several years. She looked around and saw the mostly GAP-meets-JCPenney clothing and then saw the leather jackets along the back wall. The place had really changed and she hadn't even noticed. She brought her eyes back to Kaylee.

"That looks really good on you. Do you always wear all black?"

"I don't know. I don't think so, but... I don't know."

Kaylee turned to face her and Jess tried to control the beating of her heart. As good as the clothes looked on Kaylee, Jess just wanted to rip them right off of her.

"All right, if that's what you want, no problem." She turned her gaze aside, afraid of giving her desires away. "Did you find anything else?"

"Yeah." Kaylee pointed to a pile of clothes. They were actually quite colorful, lots of greens and blues mixed in with more blacks and a couple grays. "Is this good?"

"Yeah, sure. Come on, let's get you checked out."

Kaylee changed back into the faded old jeans and T-shirt she'd borrowed from Jess's dresser and followed Jess up to the counter.

"Oh, Jess, she's with you? You should have told me. I would have been happy to help you pick some nice things out. What's your name, young lady?"

"Oh, Louise, this is Kaylee. Kaylee, this is Louise." Kaylee reached out her hand and Louise took it, while Jess came up with a quick story to explain Kaylee's presence. "Kaylee's staying with me and Jason until she can find a place of her own. She's a friend of one of my cousins."

"Oh? That's sweet of you, Jess, offering a helping hand like that. So, Kaylee, what brings you to our neck of the woods?"

Sue folded up the individual items of clothing and placed them in a plastic bag while she listened to Louise's conversation. Jess broke in before Kaylee could answer.

"Oh, Kaylee's going to be helping me out with the ranch come spring. I figured she should come out here early and get used to the area. You know, make sure she really wants to live in this one-horse town. And I can say that, since I happen to be the one that owns the horse."

They all chuckled at the joke, except for Kaylee, who didn't get it. Sue finished ringing up the sale and Jess passed over her credit card. The transaction completed, Jess led Kaylee towards the door.

"Don't be such a stranger, Jess. And good luck to you, Kaylee."

Jess waved and then they headed for the truck. Jess put the bags in the back, and then climbed in the driver's side. Kaylee settled herself in the passenger seat, and then turned to Jess.

"Why did you lie to them? And why are you scared?"

"I'm not scared. And if I hadn't lied to those two, it would have looked suspicious. Apparently, there's some APB out on a child murderer and I have a sinking suspicion it's you."

"What?"

"I don't mean I think you're a child murderer. I mean, I think the FBI really wants to find you for some reason and this was the best they could come up with. It's just too much of a coincidence."

"But I can't really remember anything. Maybe these FBI are right."

"No. You're different, I'll give you that, but you're no murderer."

"How do you know?"

"I don't know how, I just do. I guess it's because you don't know even the most basic stuff. Like you said 'these FBI.' Do you even know who or what the FBI are?"

"No."

"Well, see, that's really basic stuff. Most five-year-olds can tell you who the FBI are. Amnesia tends to block out things like who you are, not informational things, like root beer floats, Nintendo, and the FBI. Unless it's specifically informational things, like reading or something."

"Then who do you think I am?"

"I don't know. But you're not from around here. And you're not a child murderer."

They drove home in silence. As soon as Jess had finished putting away the groceries, she called the doc.

"Dr. Sheridan speaking."

"Hey, it's Jess."

"Hi, Jess. Is everything all right?"

"Yeah, everything's fine here. Kaylee has started talking, though she doesn't remember how she got hurt yet."

"Kaylee is the woman's name?"

"Yeah. Kayleeya, actually, but Jason shortened it to Kaylee."

"Beautiful name."

"Yeah. Look, I have a favor to ask. Can you not talk about how I found Kaylee? There's some FBI bulletin about a murderer in the area and I don't want anyone getting confused and thinking it's her just because she's new in town."

"Jess, have you thought about the possibility that she got hurt running from the police?"

"Yeah, I thought about it. For all of one second. Look, Doc, I just know that she wouldn't kill anybody, at least not in cold blood, and the person the Feds are looking for is supposedly some child murderer. Kaylee would never do such a thing."

"You just met her yesterday. How could you possibly know her well enough to make such a character assessment?"

"I just know. Doc, something just isn't right. I think maybe the FBI is after Kaylee, but not because she killed anybody. Will you keep her amnesia a secret for now? I told Louise and Sue that she was a friend of my cousin's and is staying with me until she starts working the ranch in the spring."

"All right. But you be careful. You have a young boy to think about."

"I know. And I will. Thanks."

"No problem. Take care."

"You, too. Bye."

"Bye."

Jess hung up the phone and went in search of Kaylee. She was putting away her new clothes, after having changed into the black jeans again, but wearing a green long-sleeved thermal shirt in place of the black crop top. Jess swallowed at the beautiful sight and willed herself to act casual.

"How ya doin'?"

"I'm scared."

"Why?"

"I know that whatever happened to me that night must hold at least part of the answer to who I am. Those FBI sound dangerous when you talk about them. I think that means that I need to find out who I am very soon. I'm just not sure how to do it."

"I think you may be on the right track. We found you on the side of the road. It was dark, but I'm pretty sure I could find the spot again. Maybe we should take a look around. We can pack up my hiking gear, and if anyone gives us any trouble, we're just a couple of friends on an afternoon mountain trek. You can borrow Jason's gear. I'm sure he wouldn't mind."

"That sounds like a good idea."

"All right, you should probably change back into one of my old pairs of jeans. If you slip while we're climbing, you'll ruin your new clothes."

"Okay."

"I'll go change, too, and get the gear ready."

Jess and Kaylee were ready for their little expedition in less than an hour. Jess showed Kaylee how to strap on Jason's backpack and then they headed out to the truck again. They passed the spot the first time around, but after driving for twenty minutes, Jess knew it hadn't taken that long to get home and that they'd gone too far. Coming back, it was easier to spot since they were facing in the right direction. Jess pulled onto the side of the road and they hopped out of the truck, grabbing their backpacks from the truck bed and heading up into the forest.

Jess quickly noticed the booted footprints beside the barefooted ones that were obviously Kaylee's. They followed them up the side of the mountain for nearly a mile. Jess was becoming more and more impressed with Kaylee as they continued on. To think that the small blonde had traveled so far, naked and barefoot, in the middle of an early February night was astonishing. She should have been hypothermic when Jess found her. Hell, she should have been dead.

"Do you remember walking along here?"

"No, not really. I just remember being cold and things were all jumbled and then I saw your lights."

They kept walking in silence. Another half-mile and Jess was starting to doubt the entire possibility that the woman had really made the tracks they were following. It just shouldn't have been possible. They had passed several creeks with running water that was so cold, to even touch it for a second, caused pain. Even through her waterproof hiking boots, her feet were chilled. But the tracks they followed clearly showed that Kaylee hadn't gone around the little streams; she'd gone straight through them, as if they weren't even there.

Kaylee suddenly stopped and listened. Jess noticed her sudden stillness and turned back to her. Jess was about to ask her what was wrong, when she heard voices coming from farther up ahead. She motioned for Kaylee to join her and Jess started moving to the left along the creek they were coming up to. About ten meters along the edge of the creek, they heard a man shout for them to halt. They both stopped. Jess whispered to Kaylee without moving her lips.

"Don't say anything. Let me do the talking."

Five men were making their way diagonally towards them. The man in the lead spoke first.

"What are you two doing out here?"

"Just hiking the beautiful Adirondacks like yourselves."

"There aren't any hiking trails around here."

"Oh, I know, that's why I come out here. I live just down the road a bit and I hate being around all the tourists. What about you? What are you guys doing out here?"

The lead man pulled out his Federal ID and flashed it for both of the women.

"I'm Special Agent Cross. I'm looking for a suspect in a serial child murderer case. What are your names?"

"I'm Jessica Taylor and this is Kaylee. Kaylee Woodrow."

Jess cringed inwardly. It was the only surname she could come up with while looking around at the trees.

"Let me see your IDs."

Jess went to check her back pocket, knowing she'd purposely left her wallet in the truck, and smiled sheepishly.

"I seem to have forgotten it. I don't normally bring it with me on hikes. Too easy to lose it with all the moving around."

Special Agent Cross turned to the blonde.

"What about you?"

"I guess I forgot mine, too."

"You know, you really should carry ID with you, especially on hikes. If something were to happen to you, it would be nice if the paramedics knew who you were."

"You know, that's a good point. I never thought of that. And having my insurance card with me would probably be a good thing, too. I'll remember that next time."

"See that you do. And ladies, until we find our suspect, you should probably refrain from hiking in this area."

"Oh, sure. No problem. Well, thanks for the tip." Jess turned to Kaylee. "Come on. I'm freezing my butt off. Let's go home and have some hot chocolate." She turned back to the agent. "Thanks again. See ya later."

Jess took Kaylee's elbow and led her down the mountain. She tried not to think about the fact that if the FBI agents traced their tracks, they would see that Jess and Kaylee had been diligently following Kaylee's earlier footprints and had only turned to follow the stream when the agents had shown up. Special Agent Cross had seemed to be taken with her though, and she'd poured on the 'I'm a helpless woman who needs a man to save me from myself' act, so she didn't expect him to follow up. But one of his agents might. She hurried their pace along.

As soon as they were back in the truck, Jess turned the ignition and drove away. They rode in silence for a few minutes as both of the women gathered their wits and regained their breath. Finally, Jess turned to Kaylee.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm scared."

"Yeah. Anything in particular? I mean, besides the obvious."

"Those men are looking for me and when they find me, they plan on doing bad things to me."

"How do you know that? Do you remember something?"

"No. I heard them."

"When? When they were walking towards us?"

"No, while you were talking to Special Agent Cross. I heard the others saying what they were going to do to me once they found me."

Jess looked confused.

"But none of the others said anything."

Kaylee looked directly at Jess.

"Not with their mouths."

Jess was still confused. Then she realized what Kaylee was saying. She pulled over to the side of the road. She stared out the windshield for a full minute and tried to wrap her mind around what Kaylee had said. Nope, there were no other ways that she could think of to take that statement. She turned her body on the bench seat and faced Kaylee.

"You heard their thoughts?" Kaylee nodded. "Can you hear mine?"

Kaylee looked away and seemed to be listening.

"Yes."

"What am I thinking?"

"You're wondering what you've gotten yourself mixed up in. You're worried about Jason. You don't want him to get hurt. You're thinking maybe you should send me away, but you don't want to 'hang me out to dry.' What does that mean?"

"It means I'll feel guilty if I don't try to help you and something bad happens to you."

"Oh."

"What else were those guys thinking about you?"

"They called me an 'alien' and were thinking about 'advanced weapons and technology.' They think I can teach them how to travel space."

"Oh boy."

"What?"

"I'm living in a goddamned science fiction novel." Kaylee waited for her to explain, but Jess just shook her head. "Do you remember any more about the night we found you?"

"I remember the stars, and then trees, and then a bright light, and then I remember seeing the lights on this vehicle, and then you and Jason helping me."

"Nothing before that?" Kaylee shook her head. "All right, keep trying. Let's get back to the house."

Jess started up the truck again and they drove home in silence. When they arrived home, Jason was already there, stabling Jess's horse. As soon as they got inside the house, Jess started cooking. They hadn't really had lunch, snacking on trail mix during the hike, so Jess figured a late lunch was in order. And Jason was always hungry after a ride.

Jess fixed their meals and they ate in silence. Jason wasn't sure what had happened while he was gone that morning, but he could feel the tension in the air and didn't try to disturb the silence the way he normally did. When he was finished eating, he went to his room and continued reading his book. The story was getting really good.

Jess cleared away the dishes and Kaylee helped her. The tension stayed with them and the silence held until Kaylee spoke seemingly out of the blue.

"I can't hear your thoughts unless I try, or unless they're really intense, like right now. I wouldn't invade your privacy like that, but I really can't tune you out right now."

"Sorry." Jess's voice was gruff. She wasn't sure why she was angry. Maybe because she felt guilty for the kinds of thoughts she'd been having about the small blonde woman. It just felt like an invasion of privacy, just like Kaylee had said.

"You don't have to be sorry. It's not your fault."

"What thoughts have you heard from me?"

"I've heard stray memories about Jason. On his fourth birthday, you got him an entire series of books about Greek mythology and he read them all, cover to cover, in only two weeks. When he was eight, he climbed on top of the barn out there and slid on a loose shingle and fell. He broke his right arm and you had to teach him to write with his left hand and now he's 'ambidextrous.'" The way Kaylee said the word, Jess knew she didn't know what it meant.

"Ambidextrous means he can do things with either hand. He's not right- or left-dominant now."

"Oh."

"What else?"

"You've thought about Jason's father. He was young, like you, with blond hair like Jason's. You... You're thinking about him now. You didn't love him. You were just curious about... sex. Sexual intercourse. The joining of two people in passion, and sometimes, love. That's what you're thinking right now. I'm sorry, you sort of threw that at me. You only spent one night together in your father's truck. Then he disappeared. You're sort of glad he left because you don't want to share Jason with anyone, especially not someone you only had a... a roll in the hay with? Oh, a euphemism for sex without love. You know, you're really getting good at sending to me. Are you doing that on purpose because, I promise, I'm not trying to read your thoughts."

"No, I'm trying to make my thoughts louder for you, so you understand things better."

"Thank you."

"And so maybe you won't hear the really personal ones."

"You mean the ones about me."

"Uh, yeah."

"Why don't you like those thoughts?"

"I do like them, that's the problem."

"I don't understand."

"It's all right. You don't have to. Look, I need to get a few things done. Do you think you can be alone for a while?"

"Yes, I'll be fine."

Jess left Kaylee standing in the kitchen and went to her study. She wasn't sure how far away she had to get from Kaylee to make her thoughts private. It wasn't that she didn't trust Kaylee with her private thoughts. In fact, Jess was pretty sure that Kaylee was the only person she'd ever met that she felt she could trust with such personal musings. But her thoughts were... Well, they were private and that's all there was to it.

Jess went downstairs several hours later and found Kaylee and Jason playing Nintendo. Jason was taking her on a tour of Super Mario World. At least that game was a little less competitive. Jess sat down on the couch behind them and watched, for almost an hour, as the two journeyed through the land of floating golden coins, hatching dinosaur eggs, and magic vines that took the characters to the clouds. It was relaxing and fun and exciting to watch all at the same time. Finally though, Jess saw the time and put a halt to the game play.

"Time for bed, kiddo. You've got school in the morning."

"Aw, Mom, just another half hour, please? We're almost to the Forest of Illusion and there's tons of secret passages I want to show Kaylee."

"Tomorrow."

"Please?"

"No whining. Come on. It'll be there tomorrow. That's what the save game function is for."

"I promise I'll get up on time." Jason knew he was pushing it.

"Jase. Stop. It's been a long day. Now save the game and go up to bed."

"What about dinner?"

"You had a late lunch, but if you're really hungry, you can make a snack and eat it before you go to sleep. Either way, the Nintendo goes off until after you've done your homework from class tomorrow."

Jason hung his head and pouted a little and Jess realized he was tired. Sometimes, she forgot Jason was still young enough to fight sleep even when he really needed it. He saved the game, sighing loudly the whole time, and then turned off the machine. He hugged Kaylee goodnight and then said goodnight to Jess and went up to his room. It stung a little that Jason hadn't kissed her goodnight, but Jess let it go. He was twelve. He was tired. And he hadn't gotten his way. Life was really tough sometimes.

"I think I'm going to stay down here for a while."

"You sure?"

"Yeah. I like watching the fire."

Jess glanced over at the fireplace and took in the crackling flames. It had been a really long time since she'd just sat and watched the fire. She stood up and flipped off the lights by the door and then turned to see Kaylee reposition herself in front of the fire. She tried desperately to pull back the thought that swept through her mind when she gazed at the woman, fire reflecting off her profile and making her glow.

Jess quickly turned and jogged up the stairs to her room. Kaylee sat in front of the fire and tried to comprehend the wave of emotion she'd just felt emanate from the woman who had saved her only two nights ago. The words that went with it seemed wholly inadequate. I love you.


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