A second chance they never expected…
When Henry’s parents died unexpectedly, he dealt with his grief the way any healthy biologist would—by moving into their cabin to begin searching for Bigfoot. As if he’s not processing enough, the mysterious woman he fell head-over-heels for on Christmas Eve shows up on his doorstep—in the middle of the woods. She says she can only visit for a few days, but he’s desperate for more time. “Forever” would work well…
Vay never thought she’d see Henry again, until a rogue energy signature is discovered near his isolated cabin. Even though she’s the least experienced Sadirian soldier working with the Department of Homeworld Security, she convinces her commanding officer to send her to track down the source of the alien signal. After all, how likely is it to be the Scorpiian assassin everyone’s so afraid of?
But Henry has fallen in with the wrong crowd—a pair of Lyrians, aka Bigfeet, who have decided to “adopt” him as their own. And they aren’t the only aliens lurking in Henry’s woods. Can Vay keep Henry and his new family safe and still complete her mission?
Main Content: Approximately 28,927 words, 128 (5.5 x 8.5) pages
(THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMEWORLD SECURITY, Book Five)
Copyright © 2017 Cassandra Chandler
All rights reserved
“Brachiation. That would explain it.” Henry looked up at the bare trees surrounding him. “If they get around by swinging through the trees, they wouldn’t leave much evidence behind.”
The fog from his breath puffed around his face in a billowing cloud. Once again, he’d forgotten his scarf. And hat. And gloves. At least he wasn’t planning to stay out long.
“Except they’re famous for leaving footprints.” He returned his gaze to the snow-covered ground. “Big footprints—hence the name. But even that evidence isn’t too common, so maybe… Maybe I should stop talking to myself.”
And save his voice for Vay. She’d be at the cabin in a few hours. He hoped whatever work she’d done the night before had gone well and that she was getting some rest. He couldn’t wait to see her again.
They had talked all day yesterday. All day, and he never once became bored or tired. He realized the newness of their relationship was contributing to how well things seemed to be going. They’d also spent a lot of time talking about his favorite topics, like scifi movies and books—which seemed to absolutely fascinate her. But even the lulls in the conversations had been companionable.
He loved spending time with her. He’d never clicked with anyone like he did with Vay. It was amazing.
A stick cracked loudly ahead of him, pulling him out of his thoughts and back into his surroundings. The hairs on his arms stood on end. He should have been paying more attention.
Aside from the recent cold snap and thick snow, the winter had been relatively mild. The black bears in the region had been known to leave their dens throughout the winter when the oak trees had a good crop of acorns. Like the trees he was walking through at that moment.
“Please don’t be a bear.”
He looked up into the dark eyes of a black bear.
“When I thought climate change was a threat to my existence, this is not what I pictured.”
The bear let out a low growl.
“Easy, fella.” Henry tried to remember what to do. His thoughts were scattered. “When a bear attacks, I’m supposed to try to look big, right? And make a lot of noise?”
The bear charged him.
Henry started waving his arms above his head and jumping up and down. He yelled as loud as he could, making gibberish sounds that grew more desperate by the second.
The bear suddenly skidded to a halt only a few feet away. It turned around, and with a startled roar, it ran away.
Henry stared after it, wondering what had just happened. Then he started to laugh.
“I can’t believe that worked.”
His skin still felt electrified from the adrenaline. He let his head drop back, eyes closed and face pointed toward the sky. Relief washed over him as he took deep, steadying breaths—until he felt warm breath flow over his face in return.
“I’m going to open my eyes now,” he said. “And I am not going to see a bear about to drop on my face.”
He slowly turned around as he opened his eyes, looking up at whatever was in the tree above him. Only it wasn’t in the tree. It was standing, hovering over him.
Henry stumbled backward, tripped over his own feet, and landed hard on his ass. His brain struggled to process what he was seeing.
“Oh my God.”
He was staring at a seven-and-a-half foot tall Sasquatch. A Sasquatch!
Its face had a flat nose and broad mouth surrounded by bluish-tinged, wrinkled skin. Most of its head and all of its body was covered in a thick coat of white fur. Its eyes were bright blue, with horizontal pupils that almost bisected its irises.
“Gorilla,” he muttered to himself. “It’s like a giant, albino gorilla. Except for the eyes… Blue, not pink.”
The Sasquatch planted two of its arms on its hips…and crossed the other pair over its chest.
Four arms. Four. Arms.
Henry’s throat was so tight, it hurt to swallow. The creature leaned forward and exhaled another huge breath from its nostrils, blowing Henry’s hair away from his face.
“An albino gorilla?” Its deep voice sounded remarkably…huffy. “That is offensive.”
Henry let out a high-pitched laugh. “It can talk. Of course it can talk. Because this is a delusion. I’ve obviously gone insane.”
“Excuse me, but I’m not an ‘it’. I’m primarily male.”
The Sasquatch stood up and fluffed the fur around its cheeks. At least, it looked like fur. Until it sharpened into stiff quills that quivered like a defensive porcupine’s.
“I’m sorry,” Henry said. “This is kind of new to me. I’ve never met a Sasquatch before.”
“A Sasquatch. You know—Bigfoot? Yeti? Gigantopithecus?” He always looked to the fossil record first to explain cryptids.
It—he—the Bigfoot rolled his eyes. It extended one of its arms to the ground to balance as it lifted a foot, and pointed at it with yet another arm. “Do my feet look big to you?”
“Uh, proportionally? I guess not. But I don’t know what else to call you.”
“How about ‘Craig’?”
“Why would I call you that?”
“Because it’s my chosen Earth name.”
Henry’s heartbeat sped up. He’d always dismissed the possibility of cryptids being of extra-terrestrial origin. But seeing ‘Craig’ in the flesh, it made a hell of a lot more sense than this lifeform evolving from something native to Earth.
“You’re an alien,” Henry said.