'Valley of Lights': A Loop serial story
October 12, 2019
Start at the beginning. For Part 1 click HERE
In the April 13 edition of The Loop newspaper, we introduced The Loop Serial “Valley of Lights” and invited readers to join us in the fun of moving the story forward. I submitted the running start by providing Part One, giving a summary of characters and events ... setting the stage. The introduction and submissions can be found online. As in life, all things must come to an end. So this week we present to you two excellent and different conclusions to our serial. We thank the authors for taking their time and using their talents to bring the story to a close. Or does it? Will you get the answers you desire? Or will these writers leave you with more questions? And as I couldn’t resist, I will give you my ending in the next edition of The Loop, for good measure! It was too irresistible. Read on, my friends.
Later in the Valley of Light Tale
by E.M Young
The many excitements of Fall were just beginning to fill the air in our beautiful mountains – high school football and bike races and ripening crisp apples with shorter days. Plus, the smell of wood-stove fires taking the chill off the evening in many households, as the homework and indoor baking and other nesting projects began to replace the daytime outdoor picnics and nighttime star-constellation watchings of Summer.
As these quickening days and weeks flew by and Becky’s due date grew closer, Steve’s episodes of talking in his sleep became more frequent and agitated and sometimes downright scary for her. Of course this meant that Becky was getting even less sleep. Her wonderful young mom friends tried to be polite in expressing their concern about the ever growing dark circles under Becky’s eyes. But the tension was only growing, along with Becky’s size.
Steve’s nightly restless outbursts seemed to focus more and more on the topic of babies and children. Becky figured this was because the new baby was on his mind as much as hers. But the more she listened in to his nightmares, the more what he said began to alarm her. He kept mentioning what sounded like “hybrids” or “hybrid people” in an agitated way, like he wanted to protect her from something to do with those...whatever they were.
In some of his outbursts lately, Steve seemed to be mentioning what Becky thought might be a nearby military base, recently clobbered by two peculiar earthquakes. With an air of panic he kept repeating that what people saw on the surface “out there” had nothing to do with what went on deep down below and how the quakes were some kind of response to that underground work. He would then mumble about “making the perfect soldier” and cry about how there was such enormous pressure to compete with what was being done in other countries.
How babies figured into this nightmare soup, as she began to call it, Becky could not understand, but somehow Steve kept connecting the two subjects through other phrases like “genetic engineering” and “cloning” and how some experiments were getting way out of control as far as he was concerned. Such seemingly authoritative sleep-talk made her wonder just what was Steve’s job, really, when he went off and disappeared all day and some nights too. These did not sound to Becky like the kind of remarks a supposed warehouse forklift operator would make.
One afternoon, a few weeks later and shortly before the baby’s due date, Steve surprised – no startled Becky when he came home from work in the middle of the day. He tried to sound calm, but there was an undertone of urgency in his voice. As he slapped down a large stack of empty cardboard boxes on the kitchen table, Steve told Becky he just quit his job and it was time for them to move. Now! Steve abruptly turned and marched back outside for more boxes from his truck. He was clearly a man on a mission. Becky didn’t say anything. She just stood there, frozen in space and time, wondering where they would go, as pictures of her life and friends here in her beloved Valley of Lights swirled through her mind.
Valley of Light -Epilogue
by G. E. Perlin
The morning of March 31 was a crisp spring morning, and most of the community rose from their slumbers with fresh dreams of what the future held. They had forgotten, either willfully or innocently, the events that caused hysteria the year before. But while others enjoyed pleasant dreams and lived in the light of hope, Leyton King awoke to his ongoing nightmare. After being released from the Sheriff’s office, Leyton retreated to his home nestled in the Valley of Light mountains.
After his initial encounter, Leyton was being visited regularly by small creatures that told him things, things that were like a cancer to his mind. Leyton was dying ... at least he believed he was. Every day Leyton evacuated black liquid out of his system.
Leyton gathered himself from off the rim of the toilet, wiped his mouth and stared fearfully into the toilet bowl where a fresh pool of black liquid swirled down the drain. Standing before the mirror, he did not recognize himself. Leyton pulled his eyelids down; the black rings around his eyes were closing in. He knew that this night he would once again be visited. The terror cradled him like a mother to a babe, never leaving him. Withdrawn entirely in isolation, a profound depression was suffocating him. The same community which had embraced him had now ostracized him, letting their fear eclipse any semblance of sympathy. But not all did, some remembered, some still cared.
Encircled by the tall mountain peaks, the night came sooner for Leyton than the rest of the town. Leyton closed the blinds, and locked the doors, understanding the futility in his efforts. The air became thin, and a smell of sulfur choked out the purity of the mountain air. Leyton retreated to his bedroom to say a prayer and await the inevitable. The house trembled, and lights streamed in through the corners of the blinds. Leyton gripped his hands in supplication even tighter. The doorknob to his room rattled, and an otherworldly light rimmed the door to his room. His mind swam with fear – what would he see this time? What tortured being would look him in the eye and drag him down deeper into his despair.
The door latch could not prevent what came through. The door broke open and Leyton strained to identify his torturers beyond the mask of their silhouettes. Leyton gave in to his fate and offered himself without resistance. But then…
“Leyton? You OK?” The flick of a switch and the light evaporated the dark. Leyton was astonished. Julia, Lyla, Bill, Steve and Ralph stood before him, armed with guns and hope. This motley crew of townsfolk who shared experiences similar, though not as severe as Leyton’s, had meticulously planned his liberation. Leyton knew he was no longer alone. “Come on,” Bill said as he shucked a round into his shotgun. “We are gonna get these bastards together. If we die, we die together!”