When Arisa Constince was seventeen, she lost both parents in a car accident. She spent most of her days studying by herself, but always felt like she was being watched. Arisa grew into a paranoid, twenty-one year old with four locks and a house alarm in a luxury condominium.
Every day was typical until a man named Jax Lhen appeared in her bolted down home claiming to be from another planet called Areku. Arisa was apprehensive as she learned that he arrived on Earth by traveling through alternate planes just so he could meet her.
*Why me?* Arisa asks herself as the alien charms his way into her life and teleports in on her dates with other men. A long forgotten memory might just be the answer to Arisa’s question. Jax Lhen may have more secrets than he leads on…
Together, they must face their pasts and find a way to coexist despite the danger that awaits them and surrounds their two planets.
Standing in Arisa’s room, there was a tall, thin man with flat, dark hair and piercing blue eyes. Equipped with what she hoped was a good weapon – the ladle she had just finished washing – Arisa let out a loud shriek and leapt toward him. The man stretched out his fingers and the metal ladle instantaneously disappeared from her hands. She looked at her now empty fists, and then back at this strange man in her bedroom.
Arisa yelled hysterically as she escaped to the closest phone in the hallway and began to dial 9-1-1. Her hands were shaking, so her fingers fumbled as she tried for the right numbers. She listened to the phone, hoping for someone to answer quickly. Arisa’s cat-shaped eyes began to tear up when she heard the phone cut off into dead silence. She looked up to see the stranger holding the wire that is supposed to be connected to the electric socket in the wall.
With watery eyes, Arisa searched around for her cell phone that she remembered leaving in the kitchen.
“Stop!” The stranger demanded.
Arisa didn’t stop her hunt. Even in her panic, she could hear the trespasser following her with slow and calculated footsteps.
Through blurred vision, she could make out her cell phone on the kitchen counter and ran to get it. In her desperation, Arisa became clumsy. She stubbed her toe and then the edge of the counter hit her hard in her stomach as she folded over the top of it. She wheezed but recovered quickly as her hands scrambled in reach of the cell phone. After a few hopeless grasps, she finally had it in her hands. Arisa swung around as she was dialing causing her short, light brown, wavy hair to whip her in the face. She only wanted to make sure the intruder wasn’t too close, but in her haste, the phone flew onto the ground. It bounced once and scraped the floor the rest of the way toward the tall intruder.
“Stay away from me!” Arisa exclaimed, knowing that this was now all the hope she had left.
The man bent down to pick up her cell phone and he placed it on the table beside him. “Do not be alarmed,” he spoke. “I am a friend.”
Arisa couldn’t even manage to think straight. Her heart was still beating furiously. *How the hell did he get in?* She questioned in her head.
Arisa shut her eyes tight as she ran and swung her clenched fist forward, hoping to hit this man hard enough to knock him down despite her small stature. She opened her olive-colored eyes when all she did was stumble into emptiness. She missed; but only because there was no one there. She looked around and the room was empty.
*Was I imagining it?* Arisa wondered without any logical hope.
She turned back to examine the spot she’d stumbled from and there was the man again, standing with his hands up in front of his chest as if to calm Arisa down.
“My name is Jax Lhen,” the stranger said with a composed voice.
Arisa took in a breath in preparation of a loud scream, but choked on her own voice. Instead, she had to settle for running away, toward her front door. ‘Jax Lhen’ was now standing in front of it. She stopped dead in her tracks. After a moment, Arisa peeked into the other rooms around her but they were empty. There was only one man in her house, not two.
*How are you doing that?* She wanted to yell at him, but she couldn’t even squeak.
“Do not be afraid,” the man spoke calmly.
Arisa slowly sidestepped into a spare bedroom and closed the door softly. She turned around and the man was there, too.
Alarmed, Arisa left the room again, yelling, “Stop following me! Get out of my house!”
“I come from a planet not far from here, right before Mars,” he tried to explain quickly, which made Arisa pause in mid-run.
She swallowed. “There’s no such planet.” Arisa kept her back to him.
“None mentioned in Earth’s archives. Our planet is well hidden.”
Arisa’s eyes were wide as she turned to face this ‘Jax Lhen’. “Are you serious with all this?”
“Well, you must be insane.”
Arisa looked at her empty hands again. *Is this guy for real?* He made her kitchenware disappear and he kept appearing in other rooms without even walking passed her. *Is he really an alien from another planet? But he looks human…*
As if reading her mind, ‘Jax Lhen’ replied, “You may know us as aliens, but we are just as human as you are. Only, with a blink of an eye we can make anything disappear onto another existing plane of this world. We can also bring things back, do not worry.”
Suddenly, Arisa felt the cold, metal ladle appear into one of her closed fists.
Her current university studies of Psychology and Therapy had recently taught her to consider all possibilites, observe well and be perceptive – and so she gave this her best shot.
Arisa breathed in and out carefully, swaying her hands inward and outward with every rise and fall of her chest, and tried to wrap her mind around what was going on. One thing she knew was that if this man were here to harm her, he would have done so already. As soon as her mind was cleared of danger and she thought she understood what was going on, Arisa formed her question.
“Is that how you first got into my house even though I’m on the thirty-sixth floor? And how you’ve been cutting me off? With teleportation?”
“Precisely,” Jax paused, “Although, it is not technically considered ‘teleporting’. It is not nearly as instantaneous, though it might seem that way to you.”
Arisa swallowed hard. “So… how?”
“Well there are loopholes between several alternate planes that act as doors. We use those doors to travel from one location to another.”
“Okay, but how is it possible?”
“How is it possible for my kind to travel through planes?” Jax repeated the question. “We have yet to find out. Even after years of research, our scientists have only achieved few hypotheses. We believe that it must have something to do with the location of our planet or what it is made of.”
“Ah. I see.” *So maybe this ‘Jax Lhen’ is telling the truth. And maybe he isn’t here to harm me*, Arisa thought.
Jax stood patiently waiting for a final sign of her acceptance.
*Wait, what am I saying?* She suddenly thought angrily. *It can’t be the truth, it must be a magic trick! Aliens don’t exist, this can’t be happening!*
“This can’t be happening!” Arisa repeated aloud.
Jax Lhen followed her as she left the room stumbling quickly toward her front door.
*He’s lying*, Arisa thought. *This is one of those games, right? I must be on television. Where are the camera and crew? Or maybe I’m hallucinating!*
She stopped and looked back at him.
He stopped, too, and watched her quietly.
Arisa stretched out the ladle and poked his arm with it. A part of her sanity returned as she confirmed that he was not a hallucination, and she let out a sigh of relief. *Well, so … ‘Jax Lhen’ is real. At least I know I’m not seeing things.*
“So is this a game show?” Arisa asked. “Is someone playing a prank on me?”
“I have no idea as to what you are speaking of.”
Arisa stared into Jax’s narrow, bright eyes until she decided that he wasn’t lying. She then let her mind wander, *I think that in this situation, there’s nothing I can do.*
Deep in thought and without realizing what she was doing, Arisa walked back into her bedroom with Jax close behind her. *I guess I just have to deal with it. I’ll play along. If this is real and he actually does have powers like the one he just used, what can I possibly do about him being in my house?*
Arisa accepted her helplessness and gave in. “So why are you here, Jax?”
“I have been watching over you. You are Arisa Constince and I would like to collect information about you,” Jax said, gesturing toward her photos and high school diploma decorating her walls. “I have already learned that you are a very educated and determined human. Although, you seem to have a hard life.”
“I disagree. My life is just fine,” Arisa said, defensively.
“But you do have a hard life when compared with most others. Yet, you are still happy and hardworking, and you move forward.”
“In what way is my life hard?” Arisa was becoming frustrated.
Jax chuckled. “No need to feel insulted. I only mean that you were young when your parents passed away, and I often see you by your lonesome. You are either on your way to school or on your way home from school – you study very much.”
“So what? I need to study to get a good job. Everyone does. It seems you’re not that great at watching me.”
“Which is a good thing!” Arisa backtracked. *What am I arguing this for? He shouldn’t be watching me in the first place!*
“So it seems,” Jax pondered.
“And I’m not always alone, I went out yesterday with friends and I’m hosting a party tonight!” Arisa paused after processing an important comment that earlier came out of the stranger’s mouth. “Wait, how did you know my parents passed away? That was years ago.”
“As I stated earlier, I have been watching you for a while,” Jax walked into the living room and looked around.
Arisa followed cautiously. “So, all those years I thought someone was watching me, I was right?”
“Yes. You are quite perceptive, and especially aware. It is hard to sneak around you.”
“I can’t believe this! Everyone thought I was crazy! I started to believe I was crazy.” Then, clarity appeared in her eyes. “That was you making noise in the shadows of the alley last night!”
“Yes, that is correct. I am absolutely ashamed of my performance. Sometimes traveling through planes is not entirely exact. I had no idea those trash cans were there. Or that cat.” Jax frowned, moving into the kitchen area, Arisa at his heels.
“You scared me half to death!” Arisa thought back to the previous night outside of her apartment building.
Jax only sighed.
She then caught sight of the clock and realized what time it was. *The party!* Arisa began to panic and threw the ladle back in the sink.
“You can’t be here. My friends will be here any minute!” She squealed, “They’re helping me prepare for our friend’s surprise birthday party. You have to go!”
The doorbell rang, making Arisa jump. She walked to the front door and pressed on the speaker, “Kate? April?”
“Yeah, it’s us. Ring us in, the doorman isn’t here!”
Arisa buzzed them into the building. She calculated in her head that it would take them about three minutes to call the private elevator and reach her door.
“Leave now!” Arisa turned back to Jax.
“May I return?” he asked, politely.
“Please, no!” Arisa belted without thinking.
“Then I will not leave,” Jax retorted, standing firm.
Arisa looked from the door to Jax unnervingly.
“Arisa Constince, until you say I may return, I will not leave.”
“Whatever, just go!” She fluttered her hands, only anxious to shoo him away. She didn’t want her friends to know about some guy claiming to be an alien. *They’d only think we were both crazy.*
“I take that as a ‘yes’! Be seeing you,” he grinned, as he disappeared.
“What?” she asked, turning to find out she was alone. Arisa shook her head and exclaimed at the ceiling, “You know, that didn’t really mean you could come back!”
Arisa opened the door and poked her head out. The hallway was empty, but she knew her friends would be on her floor soon. She leaned against her doorframe and waited.
“ARISA!” she heard through the still shut elevator.
Arisa was this predictable that her friends knew she’d be waiting in earshot.
She giggled and skipped her way to the direction of the voices and laughs. The elevator doors slid open and the three girls flung themselves at each other in an excited hug.
“We brought cocktails!” April announced with a grin.
“We figured you’d forget about the drinks, so we’re supplying them,” Kate elaborated, with an identical grin.
Paolo, April’s boyfriend, emerged from elevator while brushing his long, luscious hair out of his face.
Even though they were a couple, Paolo and April looked like siblings. Both of them had dark brown hair and light brown eyes with sharp features and a pointed chin. They also argued like siblings.
Kate, on the other hand, was blonde with green eyes and rounder features.
Arisa lead the way back to her door and asked Kate, “So, where’s Luke?”
April looked at Kate sympathetically, and Arisa found herself doing the same not long after she told them that he cancelled on her.
The group walked into the apartment and began preparing for the party. Paolo hung streamers on the white ceiling while Arisa set the table against the pale lilac wall. Kate prepared the snacks and drinks while April set up the music.
The doorman notified Arisa of a group of people entering the building, claiming to be her friends. She gave him the okay to let them up.
“The cake is in the fridge, right?” April asked.
Arisa opened the door for her guests and welcomed them in before answering her friend’s question. “It’s in the freezer. It is ice cream cake.”
“Ari, do you want to be able to cut a piece tonight? Defrost it in the fridge,” April recommended.
Arisa took her best friend’s advice and changed its place. The two had known each other since high school. Arisa was the one who introduced April to Kate and Judy, who had both lived near Arisa’s childhood home.
Kate was already greeting another group of friends at the door.
“Nice job decorating!” Someone exclaimed.
The three girls smiled at each other as Paolo finished hanging the block-lettered banner that read ‘Happy Birthday!’ in the center of the living room.
While trying not to scratch the honey-colored hardwood floor, Arisa pushed three dark blue couches against two light grey walls and a floor-to-ceiling window to make more space. She left the patio door accessible for anyone who wanted fresh air.
“Alright,” Paolo clapped his hands together, “are all the guests here?”
“All but one!” Arisa replied.
“Judy should’ve been here by now, but we all know that she’s always late,” Kate added.
Judy was taller than her friends. She had light brown hair and hazel eyes. She had a problem with getting anywhere on time – her friends called it her ‘free spirit’.
April was looking in the fridge while waiting. “Why did they spell Judy with an ‘I’?”
“I specifically told them ‘Y’!” Arisa complained.
Everyone in the room laughed as they filled their cups and picked at the snacks.
“Stop munching! Wait for Judy,” Kate snapped.
Then, the final doorbell rang.
“Speak of the devil,” April laughed.
“Okay, everyone,” Arisa announced to the room, “get into place.”
Kate shut the lights as Arisa buzzed Judy into her building, while everyone else bustled around the room. The apartment was lit only by the glittering city lights outside Arisa’s windows.
Judy walked into the apartment wondering, “Why is it so dark?”
Kate turned on the lights and everyone jumped up yelling, “Surprise!”
“Oh!” Judy laughed. “My birthday was last week; I thought we weren’t having a party!”
Arisa and Kate grinned, pulling her deeper into the apartment as April turned on the music and handed Judy a plastic cup of her favorite drink.
The night flew by quickly and then it was time for the cake and gifts. Arisa took the inconspicuous brown box to her spare room with April quietly at her heels.
“Looks like you can slice right through it, am I right?” April observed.
Arisa jumped, thinking it was Judy for a moment.
“You,” she shooed, frustrated at her high heart rate, “keep an eye on Judy! Don’t let her come in here.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.” April saluted and marched away, leaving Arisa to her own devices.
Arisa placed several flashy candles onto the rectangular ice cream cake and lit them all. She slid out of the room toward the party and everyone started singing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song to the overjoyed Judy.
Paolo, who was holding a video camera all night, caught the performance on tape.
After eating her own piece of birthday cake, Arisa disappeared into her bedroom to find Judy’s gift. She rifled through her drawers, trying to remember where she’d put it.
Suddenly, she heard heavy footsteps behind her.
“Ah!” She exclaimed as she turned around and hit her elbow against her taller dresser. “Ow!”
“Arisa Constince, it is I,” Jax Lhen coolly said.
His vibrant blue eyes caught Arisa off guard, but she regained her composure almost immediately.
“Yeah, I know now!” Arisa gripped her elbow. “Stop doing that.”
She turned back around, hoping he would disappear if she ignored him, and continued her quest for the birthday gift.
“What is it that you are searching for?” Jax moved closer.
“I can’t remember where I put my friend’s gift.”
A moment later, Arisa saw Jax’s hand creep slowly over her shoulder with a box in it. It was wrapped in white with balloon drawings all over it. He held it in front of her face.
“How did you do that?” Arisa asked.
“With practice, I learned how to single out the physical presence of an object in a room. If it is small enough, it does not require actual traveling. I can simply reach into the right spot through the alternate plane and take it. It is more like a window than a door in this circumstance.”
Arisa sighed and grabbed it out of his hand. She analyzed the box.
“Did you lose a part of it on the alternate plane? It better be in here in one piece,” Arisa mocked.
“It is in one piece.” He smiled. “You underestimate me.”
“What are you doing here, Jax?”
“You seem angry with me.”
“Only because you keep sneaking up on me. And I told you not to come back.”
Jax paused. “I recall you saying I could see you again. Moreover, I was interested to see what a birthday party was like. It seems quite fun.”
“Yes, it is.” Arisa walked away from him toward the door, disliking how close they were. She turned on the light while she was there.
Arisa looked at Jax for what she felt like was the first time. He looked different than he did when they met. He was wearing dark blue jeans and a black dress shirt – like any other human.
*He must have studied the men, too, while he was watching me*, Arisa thought.
“I have been listening from in here, I am becoming more intrigued as the night progresses,” Jax admitted.
Even though she didn’t want to continue conversing, Arisa’s curiosity got the better of her and she had to ask, “You’ve never been to a birthday party before?”
“They do not exist on my planet. Arekurites do not normally calculate or celebrate the course of aging. It is also a much slower process than here on Earth, so it would not be so often as each year.”
“That’s actually very interesting. But …Arekurites? What is that?”
“That is what we call our people.”
“Oh.” Arisa felt awkard. She hesitated with her hand on the doorknob.
“Arisa Constince, I could not wait to converse with you again.” Jax’s eyes grew bright with excitement. “At last, I received the chance to but our last meeting was regrettably for only a limited time.”
Arisa felt oddly flattered, but pretended not to care. “If you didn’t get the message before, I’ll repeat it now. I don’t want you around.”
“You do not mean that. I know that I intrigue you,” he said, confidently. “Allow me to attend the party. I would like to meet your friends.”
“What will it take to make you understand?” Arisa exclaimed.
“You will see how well I blend with your people and you will feel better about me, I promise,” Jax told her.
Arisa was about to reply when they heard the door click open and Judy entered the room.