Fourth of July, 2020
Somewhere on the beaches of the Kenai Lake in Alaska, Uri Petrov and Julia Smart, his girlfriend of two years, sat on the white crystal like sand. Both wore faded blue jeans and sat with legs crossed over each other. Fingers twined, they occasionally exchanged glances as they admired the fireworks in the sky. Students anticipated the Fourth of July firework show, and most drove several hours from Anchorage to get there.
A gray summer evening popped with colors and blared like a loud horn from the crackling and sometimes vibrating acoustics of the fireworks. Yellows, reds, blues, purples, oranges, silvers and more saturated the evening sky like an exploding rainbow.
Turning to Uri, Julia pressed her lips on his rough cheek before speaking. “The show is spectacular; better than I thought.”
“What you think? I take you to boring place?” Uri cracked a joke in his heavy Russian accent and broken English. But nothing about him touched Julia in a rigid, broken way. To her, he was perfect. Rustic. Robust. Usually with stubble on his chin.
Combing her long strands of curly, blonde hair, something he rarely saw in Russia, her icy blue eyes watched his, waiting for him to draw close to her. Like the storm on the ocean, Julia seemed to Uri, crashing in like a wave just to pull back to the sea, a flowing and ebbing of emotions. He hadn’t fallen for any Russian girls as much as with Julia — perhaps it was the hair — but he loved her.
Born in St. Petersburg, his parents determined early on their son would study English in America, and relayed their wishes on his fifteenth birthday. Leaving his friends, his school, his neighborhood, that would be best for him? By his sixteenth birthday he conceded. Dreams of Uri Petrov making something more of himself than the son of a coal miner and seamstress pushed him aboard a ship bound for Anchorage, Alaska when he turned eighteen. Now at twenty-one, in his senior year at university, he couldn’t even remember what all the fuss was about then.
Sliding his right arm behind her, he yanked Julia into his warm, encasing chest and they fell upon the sandy shore. With sand rubbing between their toes, he smothered her with wet kisses and her laughter only encouraged him.
“Uri, Uri...please.” She chuckled, small white teeth showing. “I am trying to watch the firework display.”
“Ah...yes. The fireworks. American freedom and all that.”
She rolled her eyes at him and his accent, as if she didn’t know the real reason he brought her here. And it wasn’t for the firework show.
“I want to watch, because it’s only once a year.”
“Yes...yes.” He felt chided and often did with Julia, but he liked that about her. No nonsense. Pulling a bottle of Chardonnay from his wicker basket, he popped the top and poured a glass for Julia which he kept beside the bottle in the basket.
“Ne Za Shto,” Uri finished before sipping his own glass. He used that phrase a lot with her, with his friends. She determined it meant something along the lines of no matter, or don’t worry about it, or it was nothing.
With their eyes fixed on the lights exploding above them, the sheer brilliance radiated on their faces and bodies, making their skin glow. That effect fascinated Julia and she rubbed her fingers over her tanned skin to see the strange colors return when she took her hands away.
Laughing, she responded. “Now isn’t that something?”
Uri joined in the laughter as he caressed her neck. “Da, da.”
To their left and right sat couples and groups of friends. Uri’s good pal Paul Boyette barbecued with a few of his buddies just a few yards downwind. Breezes scattered dead fireworks toward the crowd as peers blew on noise makers. Stacked beer cans waited to be discarded as soon as the show ended, and students whistled through their teeth at the start of each firework explosion. A few chose to dance about and some men ripped their T-shirts off, like gorillas gone mad.
Reggae music permeated the air and rushed over Uri and Julia, basking under the night sky. The firework show ended when the last trail of sparkling color slowly faded. Couples fell into each other’s loving arms, swaying or simply rocking each other. Sweet sounds of smacking lips saturated the air. Even Uri now could appreciate the full magnitude of bringing Julia to Kenai Lake. His friend Paul made the suggestion.
Nestled between his thick neck and shoulder, and with legs propped outward, Julia relaxed her back in the soft sand. Her white tube-top revealed her belly button piercing. She found where she wanted to spend the night. Nothing was more serene than that moment.
Somewhere in the middle of necking, the youthful bodies shook at the loud bang resounding in the sky. More fireworks? Jerking his head skyward, Uri disturbed Julia’s comfort as her head fell backward, but the two set their eyes on the vibrant array of what appeared to be a series of shooting stars. Like cylinders comprised of various spectrums of light, the spectacle crossed the horizon and came towards them. The display marked the sky with as many colors as the firework show.
“What is it?” Julia nudged him with her shoulder.
“But aren’t stars...meteors...yellow?”
“I...I’m not sure.” A wrinkle broke between Uri’s brows and his left eye twitched as it did when he didn’t quite grasp something.
“Maybe we should take pictures?” Julia jumped up and dusted the grains of sand from her pale jeans. Pulling her miniature camera out from her square silver purse, she snapped photo after photo as the stream of stars...meteors...lights...whatever they were...flooded the skies and shot across Kenai Lake, heading towards the forest.
Placing his hands over her back, he stood behind her. “You get picture you wanted?” Uri asked.
“I think so.” Julia spun toward him on her heel to let her boyfriend see the exuberance in her face. This was exciting, more entertaining than three years of university had been for her.
“Look!” Uri pointed with his right forefinger, leaning toward the uncanny sight in the distance. A glow like neon lights beamed golden and then hovered over the lake for a moment before shooting across Kenai and into the forests, disappearing.
With mesmerized attention on the blaring lights, the two took time to finally pull their focus away from the skies and noticed people standing on the beach with them, watching the lights in stunned awe. To their left and right and behind them, the sandy shores filled with curious spectators, mostly students from the University of Alaska and a few permanent residents of Kenai.
A few couples spoke in the background. “Is this part of the firework show?” a female voice asked.
“No, no,” a male with a deep voice answered. “This is...those are shooting stars.”
“They are not,” another female interjected. “That is a meteor shower.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?” the male retorted.
“No.” The female stomped her foot. “They are completely different.”
“I don’t think so,” the male’s voice commented.
Between the man and woman bickering, Uri threw his arm around Julia’s neck and motioned her forward. Wanting to step away from the soon-to-be-argument and hoping to catch a better glimpse of the lights shooting across the skies, Uri strolled with Julia along the shoreline with their bare feet getting wet by the lapping shore.
“Much better,” Uri said.
“Yes.” Julia pinched her lips together in a strange contorted pucker, caught between holding in a laugh and preparing to kiss him. His ability to disengage from the world around him amused her. Forget the crowd, heck, even forget the unique sky lights. Uri only wanted one thing, and that was to spend time with her.
“You warm enough?” Uri asked as he rubbed his hands over her back, leading up to the nape of her neck.
Nodding, she just about rested her head on his shoulder again before another light, a purple-white strobe, flashed across the sky. Hovering for a few seconds several yards above them, the purple-white light then blasted toward the thicket of trees and disappeared behind the web of branches and spruce.
“What do you imagine that was?” Julia lingered, her left foot teetering between moving forward and heading back. A tall man with tousled brunet hair stood to their left, holding the hand of his girlfriend. Overhearing, he felt compelled to answer.
“Aliens. They’ve come.” His scratchy voice made the words more ominous.
Turning his head toward the man, Uri sputtered, “A...aliens? What you smoking?” The Russian accent took a moment to register before the man responded.
“You’ve never seen the little green men?”
“Green men?” Uri guffawed, gripping his belly, unable to control his laughter. Julia smiled at the man as she tried to hold Uri up straight with the brace of her arms.
“This is not a joke.” The man grew defensive, his dark brow arched.
“A joke...a good joke.” Uri nodded with an inviting smile, in the way that said you are a friend. Shaking his head, the man turned to his girlfriend who rubbed her temples.
“Let’s just go home,” she suggested.
“Home, sweetie!? This place is perfect to see them coming!” Both agitation and excitement crossed his face, as if he couldn’t make up his mind which emotion made more sense for him. But leave? He couldn’t leave now. With a sigh from the girlfriend, everyone knew who won that discussion.
Yanking Uri forward with her arm underneath his, Julia guided him away from the couple and farther down the shoreline. The silence didn’t last long before someone jumped up behind Uri and grabbed his shoulder.
“Wait up!” Paul declared. Uri turned, seeing the hopeful eyes of his best friend. The fashion-challenged business major who he met his first year at university sighed.
With his foot sinking in the wet sand, Uri glared at his friend. “Paul?” Uri sounded disgruntled. “What you want?” That was Uri’s way of saying go away. Paul knew this, but these lights were too mysterious to enjoy without his best friend — the guy who did everything bordering illegal with him.
“Isn’t this something!?” Paul raked his thin piano fingers through his dirty blond hair. He frequently played piano when he wasn’t studying for his business classes. Blue eyes fixed on Uri and widened.
Squirming, Uri couldn’t make up his mind what he wanted more, fulfilling his curiosity about the lights or his curiosities about Julia. The latter seemed more relevant to his life and he curled his lip under in answer, like an angry mutt.
“Aura Borealis more bright. Light shows all year round.” Uri waved his hands and began to walk away from Paul.
“No, no...not like this.” Paul gripped his shoulder. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“Is this only happening on the Kenai Lake?” Julia inquired to no one in particular.
Uri kicked a pebble on the wet sand. Now, Paul drew his girlfriend into the craziness. The lake already soaked in curious whispers and awe-struck citizens. She didn’t need to be added to the bunch. Up and down the beach, flashes from cameras marked this event permanently. The images were burned forever into the minds of the spectators.
“I’m going to call my sis in Anchorage. Maybe she knows.” Paul flipped his cell open and after a few rings began to talk. “Are you seeing this light show?...No, no, no...not the fireworks...the...the meteor shower?” he asked with a strong question, because he wasn’t sure what kind of lights these were. “Yeah, some kind of shooting stars for the past twenty minutes....all kinds of colors. Purple, silver, gold, red, yellow, blue....Nothing? Turn on your television, anything?” He waited a minute before responding, his eyes searching the skies above him. “Really? I’ve got to show you these pictures. Later.” Click, the phone shut off and he snapped another image before turning to Uri.
“What did she say?” Julia questioned.
“She didn’t know what I was talking about. There is nothing on the news and she hasn’t seen anything but fireworks in Anchorage.”
“But wouldn’t it be rare that a meteor shower would be seen all over the state?” Julia stated.
“I don’t know.” Paul shrugged. “But this sure is interesting.”
Slipping his phone into his back pocket, Paul looked skyward again, as did all eyes on the Kenai Lake. Silence fell over the shore, whispers quieted and then a rush of awe. Even Uri turned away from Julia for a moment to see what brought on such a reaction.
Twenty lights of various colors darted across the evening sky at once, and without a sound. Then all the lights disappeared behind the trees as quickly as they began. The lake sat silent and empty for ten minutes with students and residents just standing, staring, hoping a light would return and spark up the sky again. But nothing. Then ten more minutes passed and the spectators grew restless, packed up their things and headed to their cars.
“Do you think the lights will come back?” Julia asked Uri with puppy dog eyes. And how could he refuse her?
“Certainly.” He squeezed her shoulders. The three turned away from the water and toward the parking lot up the hill.
The following week, gossip highlighted all the events on Kenai Lake that Fourth of July. Those who didn’t make it could have kicked themselves for not attending the greatest party of the year so far. A ring of bells ended class and the halls filled with students heading for their next one. Paul waved Uri down in the Economics building and met him midway.
“Wait up!” he shouted over the rushing wave of students. Pushed and brushed up against, they finally made their way out of Economics and headed to the Business building, a routine they had formed since the beginning of junior year. Since they both majored in business, they decided to be study partners.
“Did you see this?” Paul thrust his phone into Uri’s face. Images of the mysterious lights on Kenai Lake filled the screen. “Streaming from YouTube. It’s all over the internet.”
“Wow,” was all Uri could muster with his thoughts on Julia in the Education building, counting the hours until he’d see her again. She studied education so that she could work as a kindergarten teacher upon graduating. Unlike Uri and Paul, her major didn’t focus on making money, and Uri admired Julia for that. His parents would admire Julia for that, too, and he often dreamed about taking her back to Russia to meet the family.
“Everyone’s been talking about it all week.”
“What your sis think? She major in Cosmology?” Uri asked.
“Yeah, and biology. She texted me last night.” Paul coughed once from the beginning of a cold. “She implied the photos were doctored. But I told her I was there. The images are real.”
A furrowed brow revealed Uri’s interest and confusion. Why were photos doctored? “What she say then?”
Stopping on the cobblestone sidewalk, Paul commanded Uri’s full attention. “She said there is no way this is a meteor shower or set of shooting stars.”
“Military operation?” Uri suggested.
“I wouldn’t know...but my sis didn’t have an answer either. She’s never seen anything like it and...she sounded excited and yet nervous about that. I don’t get a good feeling about it.”
“Dyeĭstvitelʹno.” Using Russian to say something like really or wow, Uri often fell back on his native tongue when surprised. “What that mean?” His words stretched in thought.
Clearing his throat, and picking up some speed as they walked toward the next class, Paul tightened the blue tie under his suit jacket. “I’m not sure...but I’d like to know if this happened anywhere else besides Kenai Lake. Wouldn’t you?”
“Da.” Then, Julia fled from his thoughts. Instead, his mother and father weighed heavily on him. He wondered where they had been during the mysterious light show. Were they doing fine or had they experienced anything like he had that night?
Opening the doors to the Business building, the air conditioner tickled their skin, skin that had gotten used to the unusual summer heat, unusual due to global warming. Alaska had only a few months without snow. Summer. Even in spring and in autumn, Alaskans were familiar with snowfall. But now under the summer sun, most Alaskans were not used to this kind of heat and the university felt air condition would be a necessary measure, despite restrictions because of global warming legislation.
Uri went to the second door on the left, while Paul strolled to the third door on the right. Even in class, Uri could not get away from the commotion and gossip of the Fourth of July. The serious lady with long brown hair to her waist, who sat behind Uri, tapped him on the shoulder before the bell.
“Did you see this? Cool, huh? Like shooting stars.” She waved her cell in front of him, showing off the images her friend sent.
“Yeah, was there.” Uri wanted to rolls his eyes, sick already of all the hoopla. It was probably a prank from firework enthusiasts anyway...but he was curious about St. Petersburg, his true home.
“You were there! Cool.”
“Do you have any images from St. Petersburg?” Uri asked.
Scrolling her pictures, she looked up with grey eyes and shook her head. “Just Kenai Lake.”
Nodding, Uri returned his attention to the front of the class just as the chimes rang. As the professor began speaking on finances, he straightened his spectacles and leaned toward the overhead for a film on the financial crisis of 2011, then shut off the lights.
Tap-tap, tap-tap. Uri felt a light pat on his shoulder from behind. Maybe more interesting than the film, he tilted his head back toward her.
“What, Tasha?” he whispered, annoyed.
“I found something here.” She held up her electronic device, beaming images in and out on the miniature screen. With a cocked brow and quizzical squint of the eyes, he leaned into the images. “St. Petersburg,” Tasha clarified.
Lifting the device from her tiny hands, Uri stared at the pictures, while the rest of the class fell asleep watching the educational film. Lights strobed over rustic homes, like a prism. He wasn’t sure which feeling engulfed him more, intrigue over what celestial manifestation washed over the Earth or fear that the lights could have harmed or scared his family. All his relatives lived in St. Petersburg.
Then his mind spun with what it all meant. The end of the world? An aberration of the cosmos? Was the lunatic on Kenai Lake right? Could it be some kind of extraterrestrial life form? What was the news saying? With the professor now hovering over Uri and clearing his throat, Uri closed the cell and slipped it behind his back to Tasha. The cell disappeared inside her back jean pocket within two micro-seconds.
“Don’t want to see that in class again,” the professor chided.
“Yes, sir.” Uri nodded politely and shrunk into his seat.
* * *
At Uri’s apartment, a few blocks from the university, his girlfriend and Paul hung out with him on the living room sofa. Watching the news, they each wanted to know more about the lights from the Fourth of July. But, with the remote clicking through channels, the news did not have much more to add.
“A day of wild stars.” click “An unparalleled event of falling stars mixing with the Aura Borealis.” click “Seen in a few locations around the world such as Kenai Lake, Alaska; St. Petersburg, Russia; Katmandu, Nepal; Casablanca, Morocco; Lima, Peru.” The spectacle seemed to occur in one major city of most continents, with exception to Antarctica and Australia. Yet the event lasted longer at Kenai Lake than at any other region of the world. What exactly did that mean?
Flipping open his cell, Uri called home. Surely someone knew something more. He often used English while speaking with his parents. They insisted on him practicing, but he still interspersed his dialogue with flakes of Russian.
“Da, it’s me, Uri....How is everyone?...Da, da. Good, good...You saw the lights in the sky?...” Then a long pause.
“What?” Julia pressed him, leaning into the phone, wanting to hear. His mother or father was going into detail about what happened.
“Did they see them, too?” Julia continued.
“Pa-ka.” Saying bye in Russian, Uri clicked off the phone.
Both Julia and Paul turned in unison to Uri, who sat in the middle of the couch, with expressions of deep curiosity. Paul’s mouth almost salivated.
Speaking with a harder Russian accent after getting off the phone with family, Uri answered them. “Mama say lights over St. Petersburg...how do you say....spun and disappeared.”
“Do the Russia scientists have an opinion on what it was?” Paul asked, his finger pressing his forehead.
“No. Not releasing statement yet, Uri answered.”
“Then, no one knows what it was?” Julia asked.
“Meteor shower?!” Uri rolled his eyes and threw his hand into the air. He hated gossip and hysteria, both of which increased at the university since the event on the lake. He hated unanswered questions even more. Something he could touch and investigate appealed to him, not some mysterious unknowns. His family was fine, his relatives well. That was all that mattered. The lights did no harm; whatever they were — in lieu of that fact — did not matter so much.
“Maybe we’re just making more out of this than there really is?” Julia squeezed her fingers over Uri’s back. She didn’t want him upsetting himself. He could be hot-tempered.
Paul shrugged. “Whether we are or not...I would still like to know what it was we saw. I’ve got my sis intrigued by it as well. She’s gathered a group of her colleagues to solve the enigma. After her professor said she could obtain extra credit for the investigation, she’s become obsessed.”
“Let us know if she ever figures that one out,” Julia teased and laid her hand over Uri’s leg.
“Well, I should get going. I’ll see you all tomorrow.” Paul saw his cue to leave.
* * *
Like the change in mood at Uri’s apartment, the attitude changed on campus as well. The following week, gossip about the lights on Kenai Lake faded, replaced by the latest news...the quarterback of the university football team kissed the linebacker behind the bleachers. Nothing else became more captivating, especially since the quarterback’s girlfriend had been the one who caught them.
On the lawn during lunch hour, Uri ate with Paul and Julia and often overheard jocks whispering about the quarterback and linebacker, making jokes at their expense. But at last the hysteria over the lights on Kenai Lake disappeared and university life seemed to get back to normal again...until the phone call.
When his cell rang in the middle of the night, Uri jerked awake, scattered from a dream, and tried to place himself. He breathed a few times and realized he lay in bed. Tangled in his sheets, his leg caught until whipping his limb up and down a few times. Then he grabbed his phone off the nightstand and flipped the lid open.
“....Julia? … Slow down.” Uri rubbed his eyes with his free hand. Wearing nothing but jockey shorts exposed his dark, hairy, toned legs. A defined line split his chest down the middle and stomach muscles carved an attractive retreat, one Julia often enjoyed. “He is where?...Why he go back?...Just like Paul. Always in trouble. I come soon.”
After picking up Julia in his rental hover car, a vehicle that floated several feet off the road and something that began gradually replacing cars in 2015, Julia threw her knapsack in the back for the three hour journey.
“What you bring?” Uri glanced to the backseat at her silver bag.
“Just some water, food, a fuel can, a shovel and some clean clothes in case I get covered in dirt.”
Shaking his head, Uri commented. “We should leave him stuck in the mud.”
Giggling, she answered, “Yeah...but then what kind of friends would we be?”
“Will shovel be enough?” Uri asked.
“Gotta be. That’s all I have. He sounded pretty agitated though. I hope his truck is not stuck too deep.”
“He should have bought a hover truck like I told him.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t have an extra five thousand to spend, you know.”
“Da, but he could have rented.” Uri raised his brows and his grin melted Julia’s heart. Always could. The first day she saw him across the lawn on campus she knew she had to talk to him.
“You know Paul. He likes to own things. Anyway, he’s out of gas, too, so we’ll have to stop by the fueling station to fill up the can,” Julia explained and Uri shook his head in disbelief at his reckless friend.
Driving away from Anchorage and towards the lake, the drive felt longer than the first trip they took a week ago, due to the ambiance, the anticipation of what they would find. Something in Paul’s voice made Julia all the more curious and scared. What exactly did Paul see that he couldn’t explain over the phone? Why was his voice shaky?
Pulling up to the Kenai Lake parking lot, Uri lowered his hover car into a secure space and paid the parking fee at the automated booth just a few feet away. He could see Paul’s truck at a distance, stuck underneath a copse of cottonwood trees. The dirt had turned to viscous mud by the heavy rainfall that night and spoiled Paul’s plans for an evening departure. Furthering the problem, Paul ran low on fuel, something he neglected to check frequently.
Strolling up to the truck with Julia at his side, Uri scanned the lake for any sign of his best friend, but saw no one and nothing but the many trees scarred by ice from previous snowstorms. Bark peeled off as high as twenty feet on some trees. But the Balsamic odor of the Black Cottonwoods infused his senses and a crown of erect branches with sticky resinous buds caught his eyes.
“Do you see him?” Julia shouted. Like an oscillating pendulum, she searched back and forth with a flashlight in hand.
“No.” Uri wandered fifteen feet from Julia on the opposite side.
“He couldn’t be too far from his truck, could he?” Julia quirked a brow. No one knew Paul better than Uri. They had been buddies since freshman year, ever since Uri backed into Paul’s truck and left a dent in the rear fender. The incident could have ended badly, but Paul, an easy going pianist, didn’t berate Uri as many Americans would have. Uri had had his share of misfortune in Russia and appreciated the verbal leniency and avoidance of involving insurance. Uri vowed to pay Paul whatever he needed to fix the fender. Years later, the fender was still bent, but they developed a friendship over beers that had lasted.
“Paul!” Julia shouted, now getting nervous.
“Paul!” Uri yelled with rustic overtones. When Julia’s icy blue eyes shot to Uri, he knew they had better use the cell. Dialing, the phone rang, but no one answered.
“Do you hear that?” Julia pointed left toward a thicket of spruce. “It’s coming from over there.”
“What?” Uri questioned with wrinkles in between his brows.
“A ringing.” Her eyes lit up.
The two darted toward the spruce.
Bouncing toward the ringing, the two stopped dead in their tracks. A blue cell sat on a clump of grass, marked with a piano sticker over the case, denoting it belonged to Paul. Then the ringing stopped.
“Oh, my God!” Julia’s mouth dropped open. “What do you think happened to him?” Comforting her, Uri wrapped his arm over her shoulders.
“I don’t know. But I think he fine. We find him. Don’t worry.” Uri tried to sound certain, brave, but even Julia could sense the subtle nuance of fear in his voice.
“What if we don’t?”
“We find him.” Uri pulled her forward into a darkness neither wanted to enter. What would they find? A bloody, dead friend? Something they could never erase from their minds.
Clinging to her boyfriend, Julia squeezed his forearm and took a step away from Paul’s cell phone. Then the phone buzzed and rang, jerking Julia around, rustling the leaves underneath her booted feet. Stunned by the noise, Julia couldn’t move and so Uri reached for the blue cell, noticing the number flashing across the screen.
“His sis.” Flipping open the lid, Uri answered. “Zdra-stvu-eetee.” His Russian took a hold of him. Nervousness kicked the language into gear. All he wanted to say was hello, but Russian fell from his lips until the sister insisted he use English. “...Da...da...No, Paul not here....I don’t know...We go now to find him. Why you call him?...” Scratching his dark hair, Uri caught Julia’s eyes. Her fixed stare didn’t want to lose him, because then she might lose herself there.
Goosebumps rolled down Julia’s arms at the conversation. Paul was missing and even his sister sensed something was wrong.
“Dyeĭstvitelʹno...What you find out?”
Listening, Julia grew anxious. How long would this conversation last? What was going on with Paul? What was the sister saying to Uri?
Clicking the phone off, Uri turned to Julia with a grim expression, something Julia had never seen cross his face before tonight.
“What?” she whispered, almost not wanting to know the answer. She squirmed as he spoke.
“Paul call her last night. She told him the lights been labeled unidentifiable by her team. So, he say he going to Kenai Lake to check things out and call her, but never did.” Uri’s thick brows hung low over his eyes.
“Unidentifiable?” Her voice peaked. The word hung like foul language. Still no answers.
“Let’s move. We search for him ahead,” Uri insisted. With a clasp of his broad hand around her tiny wrist; he shook her awake and pulled. He couldn’t afford for Julia to be out of it; he needed her here. Who knew what they would have to face?
Crunching leaves marked movement and, as they passed underneath the boughs of summer, moonlight basked over them and lit up the lake. Amongst all that appeared so serene and so picturesque, even with the sounds of nature like violins, Julia cracked inside under the veil of ominous mystery before her...like a vase dropped.
Traveling a few more yards, the nocturnal animals fell silent in such unison it caught her attention. Even the insects stilled their buzzing wings. Straining to listen, Julia heard a vibrating sound, like a plucked string on an acoustic guitar. It became louder and resonated up her spine and into her head. She watched Uri’s stoic expression change to one of fear.
“What was that?!” Julia jumped and gripped Uri tighter.
Quiet, Uri shrugged and kept his strong eyes ahead at anything that might come their way. Stumbling over broken branches, Uri pulled back a bough covered with leaves obstructing their view, and then five colorful lights several yards midair came into focus in front of them and divided. Two gold. Two yellow. Two red. Two blue. Two purple. They looked rounded in shape, more so than the cylinders that shot across the lake on the Fourth of July. Like bulges of a rainbow, the five lights hung like a string dangled in the sky, one right after the other. Effervescent, they glowed, illuminating everything around them. Even the faces of Julia and Uri lit up with colors, though they could not see themselves and, since focused on the lights, did not take notice of the other.