It began as a tiny pixel of light which gradually grew larger and larger. The light became various shapes and colors, though they were too blurry to distinguish any distinct forms. The next thing I was aware of were sounds. The most prominent sound I heard was that of air moving through ductwork. I don’t know how I knew that that was what I was hearing, but I did, nonetheless.
Now the shapes and colors were beginning to take form, slowly coming into focus. At last, I could see where I was and I wondered just how long I had been in the dormant state I was awakening from.
I sensed that the others were with me. We had a telepathic way of communicating even though we couldn’t see one another with the way we were lined up on the wall together.
We appeared to be on the back wall of a very large room, perhaps an old gym or a warehouse of some kind. In front of me, I could see a desk, which was really a large oak table, with a computer on it. I don’t know how I knew it was a computer since I’d never seen one before, but it was just another one of those things I simply knew. In fact, I knew much more about life, people and objects than most humans themselves did. The information was programmed into me. Although not necessarily an expert in any particular subject, I knew about virtually every subject under the sun from dancing to dogs, from seasons to sex. (both gay and straight)
In front of the desk was a couch that faced the wall in which I hung on. A small table was next to it, and next to that, facing a large TV screen, was a plush chair. Beyond the couch, straight in front of me, were two sets of glass double doors. Along the walls of the room were various tables, chairs and cots. There were other objects scattered about, mostly close to the walls, though I couldn’t make out what everything was.
One section even had a basketball hoop suspended from the high ceiling and large mats as well which I assumed were for exercising or for other types of sports. Ropes hung from the ceilings in this area and there was also a punching bag in the midst of all the apparatus. The most curious thing I saw was a small round Jacuzzi. I guessed that if this were once mainly used as a gym, though now it looked more like a combination office/storage place, that it was used as a treat after a vigorous work-out of whatever kind.
The floors were of smooth gray-blue cement save for an area of indoor/outdoor mauve carpeting where the desk and sitting area was.
I saw no doors to my right, but to my left, I saw a small door by the front of the building I thought might lead to a bathroom. Towards the back wall, barely within my field of vision, was another set of double doors, only these were solid metal. There was an exit sign above them.
I could see through both inner and outer sets of doors ahead of me. I seemed to be in either a rural or industrial area. It was hard to tell for sure. All I could really make out was a gravel-covered clearing. Not far beyond this, I saw a small green meadow with woods bordering it. Judging by how green and dense the vegetation was, I took it to be either late spring or summertime.
I didn’t bother to speak for I knew I didn’t have a voice. At least not in the traditional sense.
But I thought. Oh, how I thought and I wondered.
Her name came to me like a leaf in the wind. Excitement and curiosity stirred my soul.
Where was she? Would I see her? How old was she now? What was her life like?
The last question filled me with worry, even dread.
The sound of an approaching vehicle disrupted my worrisome thoughts. It soon came into view and parked about thirty feet in front of the doors.
My heart raced in anticipation, then quickly fell with disappointment when Rosemary did not appear. Instead, a rather elegant looking woman in her thirties exited a medium-size sedan, along with a younger, shorter woman of equal elegance who was perhaps in her twenties. The tall one was slender while the shorter one was a bit plump. They wore long flowing skirts of many colors and sleeveless crème colored tops. Their long straight black hair fell to their waists. Both wore an abundance of jewelry, most of which were beaded necklaces and earrings. They moved slowly towards the door in an almost dreamlike state. Once they got closer, I could see that they were Native Americans of some kind.
The tallest one opened an outer door and ushered the other one in ahead of her. She did the same with the inner door.
Once inside, they surveyed the large room from left to right, top to bottom. Then their eyes came to rest upon my picture as well as the others around me.
Slowly they advanced forward, eyes continuing to scan us.
“How many would you say are here?” asked the shorter one.
The tall one shrugged. “Don’t know. Perhaps forty or fifty.”
“And no one can see them?”
“Not anyone who isn’t supposed to.”
“Who do you suppose isn’t supposed to see them?”
“Whoever doesn’t need to see them, I’d think.”
They continued to stare at us. Finally, and much to my surprise, the tall one spoke to us.
“I am here on a mission as a servant of God to choose and assign two of you to new roles and new identities as human beings.”
“Why two?” asked Shorty.
“Don’t know. I’m simply following orders. Perhaps it’s because these two need to be friends so they can understand the unique beings which they’ll be fated to be. The question is who to choose. God’s trusting us to make the right decision.”
“Everything’s meant to be. God will ensure that the right ones are chosen.”
The tall one smiled. “Sometimes I think you have more confidence than I do.”
“I do,” laughed Shorty.
The tall one’s eyes focused in on me and quite intently, too. “Hello,” she said.
“Hi,” I was shocked to hear myself answer. So I did have a voice. A real voice that could be heard and not just sensed telepathically.
They greeted some of the others as well who responded just the same.
Shorty suddenly looked confused as she continued to study us. “It’s a different group of people.”
“Look at the pictures on the right and look at the ones on the left. Don’t they almost look like different people?”
“They are. There are actually three groups. They started off as celebrity photos, all female. I believe one was an actress and two were singers before she was given the power to split them into individuals. This smaller group here,” she said gesturing towards my right, “was from when she was a little older than the other two groups over there.” (I was in one of the “other two groups”)
“Were they still recognizable as famous people once given individuality?”
“No, they just became anonymous people,” the tall one answered, “although they do bear somewhat of a resemblance to those they stemmed from.”
“It’s not our job to figure out the mysterious ways of God or to question his wisdom. It’s our job to pick who we feel would be best suitable to bring to life.”
“Excuse me,” I said, my curiosity getting to me. “Just what is going on here? I’m very curious to know and I’m sure the others are as well.”
Shorty looked unsure of herself, glancing back and forth between the tall one and I, but the tall one simply smiled with assurance. “I understand your curiosity must be more than piqued.”
“It sure is. Could any of this be connected to Rosemary by any chance and do you even know the girl I’m referring to?”
The women glanced at each other.
“I am not at liberty to divulge much information, though I will say that it might be connected to the girl you speak of,” the tall one admitted.
“Might?” I asked.
The tall woman shrugged.
“How old is she now and how is she doing?”
The tall woman released a hesitant sigh. “She’s twenty-six, and as far as how she’s doing is a matter of opinion.”
“A matter of opinion? What does that mean?”
Again they looked at each other. “Well, she’s achieved a great deal more in life than most in her shoes might, yet she remains a bit troubled. Old demons and curses have rendered her a bit on the aggressive side.”
“How can she be twenty-six?” a voice from another picture asked. “I thought she was that old when I last saw her.”
“No, ma’am. I believe I was told that she was twenty-two when she was with your group, or you were with her, however you want to put it,” the tall one said with a shrug.
“What about when I knew her?” I asked.
The woman appeared thoughtful a moment, then said, “About nineteen or twenty.”
“She must’ve lied to us about her age,” said another picture from the smaller group that had last known Rosemary.
“She did if she said she was twenty-six.”
“I always thought she looked younger,” they added.
“Still does. She barely looks a day over twenty.”
“Did she ever find the right woman?” the same picture asked.
“She’s gay?” I asked before the woman could answer.
“Yes,” said the tall woman.
“I’m not surprised. Somehow I figured she’d end up that way.” That was ok with me, though, for I also somehow knew that I was gay as well, and I doubted I’d be prejudiced if I weren’t anyway.
“Gay marriages have been legal for some time now. I know she was married to a Maricopa County detention officer until she was killed in a robbery.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” I said. “And just what is a detention officer anyway?”
“Another name for a prison guard, though this lady worked in a jail. It’s where she met Rosemary.”
“In jail?” I asked with shock. “What was she doing in jail?”
“She was framed by a prejudiced neighbor with equally prejudiced connections within law enforcement.”
“Oh no, how terrible! They were prejudiced against her for being gay?”
“No, the discrimination was in fact over her being Jewish. That and the fact that she lodged a city complaint against these people, but you know, I shouldn’t be discussing this with you. I know you’re eager to learn about your friend, but we must do what we came here to do.”
“And what would that be?” I asked. “And where’s this Maricopa County?”
“Someplace far, far away from here.”
“So she did make it to Arizona?” a member of the smaller group asked. “And this is Massachusetts?”
“Yes, this is Massachusetts, and yes she spent a few years all over the southwest. Arizona, Mexico and even the Navajo nation.”
“What’s that?” someone asked.
“The largest Indian reservation in the country,” said Shorty.
“Are you from there?”
The two women shrugged as if to say it didn’t matter where they were from.
“What does Rosemary do these days?”
“She is a woman of many skills and talents as well as much beauty. She is a special one.”
“Does she have any children?”
“No. Now let’s get down to business,” said the tall one. “We are to choose two of you for an assignment we cannot discuss in detail. All we can say is that once the chosen pair takes on human form and identity, your picture form will have no ability to speak, and your human form will have no recollection of us or of this conversation, except for the fact that you’ve been made permanently human.”
“We’re going to appear and live like people?” a shocked picture within my group asked.
“If you’re chosen.”
“If I were chosen, what would become of my picture?” I asked.
“Nothing. It’d be like cutting a worm in half. You cut a worm in half you get two worms. Well, same with your pictures. You’ll emerge as a separate being.”
“What is the reason for us being chosen in the first place?” someone else asked.
“Only God can fully know and understand that, though I believe that there are lots of little reasons as well as big ones.”
“How did our pictures get here and where will they end up?”
“I can’t explain that either,” said the tall woman. “I can only assume you’re here because you’re supposed to be. God is not one I dare to question. I trust in him and I do as I’m instructed. As for where you’ll end up; I don’t see any reason you’d be moved at this point, so I guess you’ll just stay on this wall for a while.”
“Did Rosemary ask for us?”
The tall one shook her head. “Miss Johnson did not ask for you. She cannot do so. She does not remember you.”
“Miss Johnson? That wasn’t her name.”
“Although widowed, she has maintained her married name.”
“Oh, I see. But how could she not remember us? She always had a good memory.”
“That will be explained in time.”
“What will those of us who are chosen do once we become human, and will it be a permanent thing?”
“Yes, it will be permanent as I said before. As far as what you’ll do, you’ll probably be in law enforcement as well. It might be necessary.”
“Oh no, not another setup!” someone new exclaimed.
“No, no setup.”
“What about those of us not chosen?”
“You’ll just remain in photographic form or await new roles elsewhere.”
“What are you going to base your choices on? I mean, you don’t exactly know us, after all,” said another new voice.
“You shall have roles assigned to you just like we all do. God has our lives mapped out and planned for us from day one. The choices will be based mostly on our gut instincts, though we do know more about you than you might think.”
“We couldn’t do this without knowing something,” shorty said softly.
“And what do you know?” I asked.
“We were given whatever information God felt we needed to have. We know who’s gay and who’s not. Who’s more mellow and who’s more…”
The tall woman cleared her throat, signaling that she wanted shorty to be quiet. Then she extracted a tiny notebook and pen from the pocket of her long skirt. “We haven’t got much time. Things are moving fast. We must begin negotiating.”
Negotiating. It sounded more like a business deal to me than anything more personal.
“Excuse us a moment,” said the tall one as she and shorty stepped a few feet away to whisper amongst one another. All the while I hoped and prayed that I would be one of the chosen two.
They glanced periodically at various pictures from the smaller group and seemed to focus in on a couple of pictures in particular.
“But that one’s gay, too,” I heard shorty say.
“Doesn’t matter,” the tall one replied.
“But the more in common they have, the more they may get along.”
“True, but it could also serve as a distraction from the task at hand. Then again, maybe not. Let’s just pick the best qualified, regardless of preference.”
“Excuse me,” piped a rather timid voice from my group. “I would love to live as a person and to see Rosemary again.”
“You’re all going to see her,” said the tall one. “As for living as a person,” she paused to look at her notes, then back to the picture. “Let’s see, you are known as Sandy Huckins, am I right? Is that your assigned name?”
“I believe that’s the name I was given, yes.”
“There’s no way you can assume a human identity in this case. I’m sorry. There’s just no way you can possibly qualify.”
“Let’s just say that when this one blows a fuse, she blows it pretty bad. You’re not much bigger than she is. She could no doubt tear you to shreds in a heartbeat. We need somebody a bit more challenging. The lady is trained to kill.”
“Trained to kill?” I asked incredulously.
“Something like that,” she answered, studying her notes.
“How can you know our sizes as pictures?” I asked.
“We just can,” said the tall one, studying her notes.
“And you can’t give us any information about yourselves?” someone in the smaller group asked.
“No ma’am, we can’t,” the tall one said, looking back up from her notes.
“Will those of us chosen know enough about humanity to actually live it?”
The woman nodded. “Those chosen will be programmed with the knowledge that most people have, which will mostly be non-technical. Whatever’s necessary to know, you will know. Whatever you don’t know will be up to you to learn on your own or by other’s teachings, though you cannot possibly really know what it’s like to be human until you are. It’s like this – you know what a dog is, but do you know what it feels like to pat one?”
She had a point. How I wondered about human feeling! What did a back rub feel like? What did a hot bath feel like? What did an orgasm feel like? What was it like to feel cold and hot? I wondered about these things to say nothing of my curiosity about smells and tastes as well. I would only find out if I were chosen. If not, I’d be forever left to wonder.
The women stepped back once again to resume “negotiations.” At first, nothing they said was audible enough to make out, but after a few minutes, the chatter grew louder.
“So then that rules out the small group altogether because we need someone who goes further back in time.”
This boosted my hope. Especially when their eyes turned to roam in my direction.
Again with the whispering, inaudible for only a moment.
“Oh, come on,” said Shorty, gesturing towards myself and a neighboring picture. “They’re big ladies, they’re gay, and they go way back.”
The tall one seemed to consider it, then she addressed us all with: “Hang on, ladies. We’ll make a decision soon and get back to you.”
“Wait,” said Shorty, who stood up straight to whisper in the tall one’s ear while eyeing a picture close to mine.
The tall one shook her head with certainty before the two headed outside.
I could see them well from my vantage point. I tried my best, as frustrating as it was, to get some idea of what they were saying, though I couldn’t hear a sound. Especially with the air moving through the ventilators. All I could do at this point was hope for the best. How wonderful it would be to see Rosemary from where I was, but how much more wonderful it would be to see her as a fellow human being!
I tried to call out to the others but found my voice no longer functioned. I figured the others were realizing the same thing.
The women began to stroll further away from the doors as they continued their discussion. It seemed like an agonizing eternity before they finally returned and approached us.
“Have you made your decision?” asked someone in my group.
Somehow I wasn’t surprised our voices were operable again.
“Yes, we have,” said the taller one, glancing in my direction and sending my heartbeat aflutter. She also looked at someone else close by. Turning back to me, she said, “I don’t know what she was calling you six years ago, but you’ll now be known as Kay Hawkins, part detective, part guard. You will be tall with dark eyes and hair and of Italian descent.”
She turned back to the neighboring picture. “You will be Melanie Sanders, part circus performer, part guard, also tall with dark hair and eyes, though you will be white. You will both be programmed with false past memories to give you more of a sense of humanity, though you will understand that these are false memories. For starters, only two people will know your true identities, or as I should put it, your true origins.”
A flurry of questions erupted from the other pictures as well as from myself.
The women turned to leave.
“Sorry, ladies. We can’t tell you any more. Good luck in your new roles,” said the tall one, glancing at my neighbor and I.
“Enjoy life as real people,” added Shorty with a smile.
Then they were gone and we were once again left in mute silence. My heart danced with delight at the thought of facing Rosemary as a fellow human being and I wondered if I would know when my new self emerged and what would become of my old self.
So many questions filled my mind as I watched the daylight fade away.