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Ikaria Spiritual Retreat #atozchallenge

April 11, 2016


Ikaria Spiritual Retreat

“Welcome to Ikaria, Ladies and Gentlemen. Please watch your step getting off of the landing shuttle. I hope you will enjoy your three days and two nights here at our spiritual retreat.” the announcer said as the doors to the landing shuttle slid open.

The passengers filed out of the shuttle and planted their feet upon the lush lavender lawn. They glanced around at their surroundings, but could only see the yellow shrubbery that rose up like monoliths before them.

The announcer was the last to leave the shuttle. He made his way to the front of the group and waved his hand toward the shrubs.

“Please forgive our unusual setting,” he said as he glanced at the men and women with his three emerald eyes. “To get your minds set for the beautiful inner sanctuary, we ask that you walk into the maze. You will have two hours to find your way to the center. During that time, we wish for you to center your mind and let it guide you.”

The men and women looked back and forth at one another. A few laughed and clapped their hands at the excitement of a maze. Several flashed fear across their faces. Arlen Clarke held no such emotions, neither excitement nor fear. He just wanted some peace of mind. The brochure had assured him of this. Arlen and his nine companions walked into the maze and began their journey toward the center. They didn’t notice that the entrance disappeared as soon as they walked away from it.

The announcer went back to his shuttle. He turned on the monitor and waited. Seconds later, a similar looking being with the three emerald eyes appeared on the screen.

“They’ve entered, sir,” the announcer stated in a monotone voice.

“Well done! Now let’s see what these Earthlings are really made of,” the other being replied.

The screen went blank and the announcer switched off the monitor. He set his course and left the planet’s surface.

Inside the maze, Arlen followed behind the others. They kept running into false exits and had to backtrack many times. Arlen decided to find his own way and darted off in another direction. He didn’t notice the path he’d just left disappeared. He just moved forward, twisting and winding his way through the massive shrubbery. Every once in a while, he heard someone scream, but he couldn’t find a path back toward them. Eventually, he just gave up trying.

Arlen turned a corner and noticed a table with a basket of strange-looking fruit on it. How odd, he thought to himself. He went over to the table and picked up a blue, star-shaped piece and sniffed it. It didn’t smell bad, but he wasn’t taking any chances. He placed the fruit back in the basket and moved on. He turned another corner. In the center of the path stood a large flask. He approached it and looked inside. Blackness. He tipped the flask over and a golden liquid poured onto the lavender lawn. Interesting, he thought. He positioned the flask upright and moved on. A few feet away, he heard a loud shout, but again, he couldn’t find a way toward the sound. He just kept his pace and turned another corner.

In a room far away, the strange being sat at a table filled with monitors. He watched each of the ten Earthlings. They’d all been separated. Many had tasted the fruit and collapsed, paralyzed. A couple had drunk from the flask and died instantly. But one Earthling did neither. The strange being was perplexed. If food and drink didn’t tempt this one, perhaps women would. He set the program.

Arlen turned a corner and stopped in his tracks. Two exotic female creatures stood in the center of the path. Their voices sang out an alluring song and they danced seductively toward him. Arlen stood transfixed for a moment. He studied the two creatures. He’d had his share of beautiful women from all over the galaxy. These two were definitely appealing, but that wasn’t why Arlen chose to come to this spiritual retreat. Before the two women could reach him, Arlen darted off onto another path. After a few short paces, he closed his eyes. He centered his being like his Master had taught him. Calmly, he walked forward. After a few minutes, he opened his eyes. He’d found the center of the maze.

The strange being left the temple and greeted Arlen. “You are the first creature to ever find the center of my maze,” he said as he stood before Arlen.

Arlen cleared his throat and glanced around. For a spiritual retreat, this place wasn’t much too look at. No spa. No gardens. Only a strange cave-like dwelling.

“I guess since you don’t get many visitors, you decided not to spruce up this retreat, huh?” Arlen asked the strange being.

The being laughed. “This is not a retreat, Earthling. This is my laboratory. Now you must tell me why you were not tempted by my offerings.”

Laboratory? Maze? Offerings? Suddenly, Arlen understood. He was just a giant lab rat!

©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(854 words)

The Prompt via Mandy Wallace“Ikaria isn’t a religious retreat. It’s a science experiment. And you’re the mouse.”

Each day for the A to Z Challenge I will be writing a 500-1000 word Science Fiction story. I hope you will enjoy them.

  1. So great! I want to know what the blue fruit is!!!

  2. Grin. I’ve read enough sci-fi to see that one coming. Great writing. Flowed beautifully,

  3. Nice twist! It seems unfair that he doesn’t find his inner peace.

  4. Nice one. Though I wouldn’t have risked the food and drink, I might have been tempted by the exotic women 🙂

  5. Part two starts with the words, “Before I tell you why I wasn’t tempted, why don’t you start by telling me what is the objective of this experiment, and what result did you anticipate?”

    I’m sorry; you can’t stop it there…

    Keith Channing A-Zing from

  6. lol !!!! well done 🙂

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