Chapter 1

We leaned in for a kiss. As our lips grew closer, my sight of her began to gradually fade. My name escaped from her lips and sounded immaculate in her soothing voice.

“Dalton, I love you.”

Just as our lips were about to connect and share the most powerful forces in the galaxy, I awoke from my fantasy dream.

I groaned and adjusted myself on the uncomfortable place where I slept. I immediately realized something was amiss—I was not in my bed, and the floors of my home were tile and carpet, not this strange metallic floor. Had I awoke into another dream?

Frantically, I looked around the room I was in for an answer. There was light coming from several sources—one in each corner of the room, approximately fourteen feet by fourteen feet by eight feet—and one in the center of the ceiling. My mental questions were met with a deafening silence. Wait, not silence. I could hear breathing. I don’t know how I didn’t notice, but there was someone lying less than three feet away from me. The person appeared female. I approached her, and she awoke with a gasp, and seemed to have a look in her eye which mirrored exactly what I was thinking—Where are we and why is this happening? It took me a second to recognize whom she was. I couldn’t believe what I was staring at.

It was her. The girl from my dreams. Annabell. I attended school with her, and I believed myself to be deeply in love with her. She was an athletic teenager at seventeen years of age, like myself. However, I emerged myself in the military curriculum of Marine Corps JROTC while she participated in interscholastic sports. I thought we would be the perfect match. When she told me that she wanted to remain “just friends,” I was in complete, utter shock and disappointment.

“I won’t let her go,” I always told myself. Our fates were destined to end up in this place, which I will call the Citadel.

She was obviously just as terrified as I was about the Citadel, if not more. I couldn’t believe my bittersweet luck. I was a prisoner with my dream girl in an unknown area which neither of us were familiar with. “Dalton,” she whimpered, “what are we doing here? Where are we?” She began to shed a tear, which evolved into a full session of sadness and crying. I embraced her, and did my best to comfort her. I believed my words and actions to be of some comfort, as she eventually stopped crying into my uniform after about ten minutes. We remained in our state of embrace.

My jovial thoughts were soon crushed, when I heard a small sound. It was something like a click. Annabell heard it as well, as her head perked up. We glanced around the Citadel, but found nothing changed in our chamber. However, a sense of tiredness and drowsiness began to quickly overtake me, like a fire spreading through the Redwood forests of California. Annabell was affected too. Our eyes became heavy, until they were sealed shut like a tomb.

Chapter 2

When I awoke, I found that we had fallen asleep in each other’s arms. Annabell was still knocked out from whatever it was that incapacitated us. I began to caress her sweet, beautiful face. My love for her engulfed me as if I was being overrun with a strain of chickenpox. Her eyes slowly opened, as if they were the sun rising over the horizon. Yet, she quickly arose, and frantically glanced around the room. She collapsed into me again, with a look of sadness on her face. I picked her head up, and gazing into her beautiful, honey brown eyes like they were neutron stars, I resonated, “No matter what happens here, I’ll always be there for you.

"We have each other, and each other is all we need to get through this. I will not allow any force to bring you harm,” I said.

She smiled at me, and returned, “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you, Dalton.”

I gave her a big bear hug and kissed her head. She giggled.

“Hey, do you smell that?” she curiously asked.

“Yeah, smells good,” I anxiously replied. We turned our heads in the same direction.

There, in the center of the room, lay two trays. Both contained a plate consisting of bread, carrots, a slice of ham, and a slice of cheese. There was a cup of water on each tray as well. We hurriedly approached our food. We ravenoushly feasted on the food provided to us. As we ate in silence, there was an unspoken conversation between us, “Where did this come from?” and “Who gave this to us?” However, the most important question was probably, “How did this get in here?” The citadel was practically impenetrable, as there were no doors or windows in the chamber where we were captives in.

Chapter 3

Abiding by the time on my watch, as our cell phones were nowhere to be found, several days had passed since our mysterious arrival here in the Citadel. The process of that mysterious, ominous clicking sound emanating from an unknown source signaling our immediate unconsciousness, succeeded by Ana and I awaking to find food in our prison. We never performed any bowel movements. As inexplicable as it is, we never had to use the restroom (not that there was one anyway). I think that had it just been Ana by herself she might have gone insane, but I did my best to keep her company.

Our days consisted of playing cards (I always kept a deck in my left cargo pocket of my utility uniform, in the right cargo pocket I kept a pocket knife, which was missing), discussing about each other’s past, cracking corny jokes, and gossiping about school. We began to talk less and less about how badly we wanted to escape the Citadel, as our attitudes changed to more of an acceptance that we were stuck in here.

While we were discussing about our elementary schools, the clicking noise began to emanate. I sighed, “I guess I’ll see you in a while, Ana.”

She chuckled and replied, “See you on the other side.”

My eyes darted open. I could sense there was something wrong. Ana was huddled in a corner, her knees to her chest. She was crying. “Ana!” I yelled, darting to her. I crouched down and wrapped my arms around her. “I saw it, Dalton.”

“Saw what?" I inquisitively replied.

“The thing that makes that clicking sound. I think I woke up too early, a-a-and I-I saw two tall things in the room. They-y-y looked like—like…” Ana broke down. I embraced her tightly. I wasn’t about to let these things cause harm to her. I raised her head and kissed her.

She stopped crying and stared into my eyes. She half-heartedly smiled, and lay down on me. I caressed her smooth skin with my left hand and played with her hair with my right. Ana continued, “They were tall, slender, and had silver skin. They had mouths, but they never talked. They clicked, but it didn’t come from their mouths.”

I kissed the back of her head. “Ana, I won’t let these… things hurt you.” The clicking occurred again, and we were out cold. For the first time since arriving at the Citadel, I dreamed. I dreamed I was falling, and as I was about to hit the ground, it opened up, revealing a pit of molten lava.

I awoke with a jolt. There was no lava. I was, ironically, safe inside my own prison. Rather, the room felt ice-cold, which was strange as it had always stayed at about room temperature before. Ana wasn’t in my arms as she was when we were asleep. I glanced around, and found that she was in a corner again, her eyes staring at… something. I slowly turned to what she was staring at. There was no wall at the part of the room we were looking at. It had opened up, sliding into the ceiling, revealing a large, dark passageway. In it stood one of those things. It began clicking, and two more of them immediately arrived.

Suddenly, I remembered my training as a Marine Cadet. Three years of martial arts training, CLC, it was all flooding back to me. I approached the original being. I boomed with my command voice, “You will not harm us!” It stared back at me with empty, unsympathetic eyes. It clicked one time, and I flew backwards, hitting the wall right next to where Ana was. It gave a motion with its hand, which had an opposable thumb and two fingers, and the other two beings approached where Ana was.

“ANA!” I yelled. I jumped to my feet and attempted to block their way, but they shoved me aside, like I was nothing but an ant and they were a tank running me over. They both grabbed Ana, and began to carry her out of the room. She tried to scream, only no sound would escape her mouth. A look of absolute terror overran her face. I leaped towards them. They stopped, and turned around so Ana could face me.

“Ana,” I tearfully said, “I won’t ever stop searching for you. No matter what happens. I will scour the ends of the universe until you and I are reunited. I love you.”

She began to cry. “I love you too, Dalton. Thank you for everyth-”

I cut her off with a kiss. Those three words had so much meaning to me. The beings, which I will call the Silvers, then carried her away, into the dark zone. Their leader clicked one last time, and my eyes became heavy.

Chapter 4

I awoke in a daze. I was in a hospital room. A nurse frantically rushed in. My mother soon followed, and we tearfully embraced. They briefed me on what had happened. I had gone missing from school on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Today was Monday, May 25, 2015. I was found yesterday in the wheat field next to my school. I was in an inexplicable trance. After I had a couple hours to recover by myself, I was greeted by a police detective. He had more questions than I could answer. He then told me that a girl in my class was missing as well, and had gone missing the same day as me.

He then asked if I knew her whereabouts. I told him everything, and looking out my window at the night sky, I said, “Look all you want, Detective. You’ll never find her. Or them.” He sighed and exited my room. I overheard him speaking with someone.

I could make out the words, “Committed… Special hospital… Superior officers… FBI…” As I stargazed out the window, I heard a clicking sound. I knew what I had to do, and climbed back into my bed.

I said a silent prayer, “Ana, I will find you. I promise.” Sleep overtook me, as I knew what was about to happen.

My closing message for you is this: Hundreds of people go missing every year, some without a trace. Just think about that.