In late afternoon Karen found a quiet spot behind the main quadrangle and sat on a stone bench to capture some quick sketches of crimson roses spilling over a salmon brick wall. The scent of the flowers hung heavy in the still air. A soft hum of insect wings was all that broke the hush blanketing the enclosed garden. Colored pencils in hand, her gaze focused on the shapes and hues of the scene before her, she felt at peace.
But when a shadow fell across the grass, she turned her head. Another person had entered the garden. Much to her dismay, Karen recognized her.
It was the dark-eyed woman from the lobby of the Indigo Building.
Karen leapt to her feet, dropping her sketchpad on the bench and casting a handful of pencils across the ground.
“Please don’t be alarmed.” The woman’s voice was low and strangely lacking in intonation.
“Who are you and what’re you doing here?” Karen gazed into those odd eyes and realized the reason they appeared so dark—there was too little white encircling too much iris.
“My name is not relevant, but you may call me Alice if you wish.”
“Alice? Alice what?”
“Just Alice.” The woman moved a few steps closer.
Karen instinctively backed away. “You were in the lobby of the Indigo Building the other day, asking for Dr. Vance.”
“Yes, but I was looking for someone else. I thought Ian Vance’s name might get me into the back offices, but that did not work out as I had planned.”
“Who were you looking for? Me?”
“No, not then,” said the woman who called herself Alice. “But I am glad to have found you now. I have a message for you. And another for someone else, if you will deliver it for me.”
“I don’t understand. What kind of message? I don’t know you. Why would I deliver any messages for you?”
“You don’t have to do so, but it might be in your best interest for you to agree.” Alice turned her head slightly so her discomforting gaze was focused over Karen’s shoulder. “I am actually taking quite a risk in coming to you like this. I hope you will grant me the courtesy of listening to what I have to say.”
“Very well.” Karen sank down onto the bench. “Give me this message, or messages or whatever. I’m listening.”
“Ah, but are you really?” Alice turned her gaze on Karen, who bit her lip and tried not to look away. “I wonder. But I feel compelled to warn you, despite your intention to dismiss what I say.”
“What, you can read my mind now or something?”
Alice stared at Karen for a moment. “Or something. At any rate, Karen Foster—yes, I know who you are—here is my message for you. Leave the Morpheus Project now, before more harm is done.”
“Harm? What in the world are you talking about?”
“‘What in the world’?” A faint smile crooked the corners of Alice’s mouth. For some reason this smile was more disconcerting than any of the woman’s previous expressions. “The Morpheus Project is not what you think, Karen Foster, and you were not recruited on a whim. There is great harm in what a few individuals are doing. I know I cannot stop them. But I can at least warn you. These people—what they plan to do—could be very dangerous for you, and those around you. This is all I can tell you.”
“What do you mean, recruited? For your information, I met one of the project researchers by chance, the night that meteor struck the campus.”
“Meteor? Ah yes, I see. Clever,” Alice muttered, as if talking to herself.
“Anyway, the Morpheus Project is just a university research study,” Karen said. “You must be mad, showing up and talking about harm and danger and I don’t know what else.”
“You are probably right. I am acting irrationally.” There was a hint of sadness in the woman’s voice. “But I can assure you I would be in great danger if I were to be discovered warning you. Or contacting you at all, for that matter. I can tell,” Alice added, with another of her piercing stares, “you will undoubtedly ignore me. Very well—at least I will have the comfort of knowing I attempted to change the course of events.”
The deadly seriousness of Alice’s expression raised the hair on Karen’s arms. “Was it you, then, in the street that day?”
“No, though I am aware of that incident.”
“It looked like you. Do you have a twin?”
“A twin? I suppose you could say so.”
“You either do or you don’t.”
“Things are not always so unequivocal.” Alice appeared lost in thought for a moment. When she spoke again her voice was tinged with sorrow. “You are in great danger. Perhaps less physical than mental, but I am concerned …” Alice met Karen’s stubborn gaze. “You have a talent, Karen Foster, granted to only a few. There are those who wish to exploit it, and you.”
“I don’t understand. Are you still talking about the Morpheus Project?”
“That is part of it, yes.” The odd, dark eyes looked Karen up and down.
Karen refused to glance away. “I’ve freely chosen to continue working there.”
“Have you? I thought perhaps you had been persuaded. And by someone who should know better,” Alice added, in a softer voice.
“It’s my choice.”
“But do you know what you are choosing?” Alice sighed and turned away. She walked to the open gate, pausing only long enough to cast one more glance at Karen. “Leave the Morpheus Project, Karen Foster.” Her voice rang out across the small garden.
“Wait!” Karen jumped from the bench and took a few steps toward the dark-haired woman. “You said you had another message, one for me to deliver. What is it?”
Alice turned and her expression, full of pity and remorse, stopped Karen in her tracks. “Yes, that is correct. One more warning, though I daresay it will fall on deaf ears just as this one has. But I must try. Very well, here is the message: tell Alex Wythe now is the time to choose. Tell him to think deeply and consider all that means anything to him and then to choose wisely.”
With that, the woman left the garden as silently as she had entered. Karen, frozen in place for a moment, finally shook her head and ran after the dark-haired stranger. But when Karen reached the break in the brick wall and stepped onto the gravel path outside the garden, she couldn’t see Alice anywhere.
Artist Karen Foster draws while dreaming. Scientists label her a valuable commodity. Aliens call her their perfect messenger.
Seeking money for art supplies, Karen is thrilled when charming researcher Alex Wythe recruits her for a dream study called the Morpheus Project. But the Morpheus Project is not what it seems, and neither are the detailed technical illustrations Karen draws in her sleep.
Warned off by government agent Mark Hallam, Karen refuses to leave the project, even after her fellow subjects suffer breakdowns. Like the sun, her love for Alex blinds her.
Karen believes their love is forever, until a tragic accident blasts both their lives.
Aided by Mark—as well as a UFO investigator, his psychic daughter, and the dark-eyed strangers who haunt her dreams—Karen must fight to uncover the truth.
A truth that includes humans trading lives for profits—and a powerful cabal that will kill to keep such secrets from the world.
A truth that unveils the ultimate, terrifying, reality –
We have never been alone.
Older than our recorded history, and far superior in knowledge and technology, the Oneiroi are too alien to ever step foot on Earth.
Yet, aided by powerful human collaborators, they invaded Karen's dreams, stole her art, and shattered her life.
Now Karen must prevent them from destroying her planet.
The Oneiroi, extraterrestrials who’ve studied Earth for centuries, consider humans their lab rats. But a contingent of this ancient race—seeking to halt all experimentation—has launched a rebellion. Their mission, while just, is poised to ignite a battle that could blast Earth to a cinder.
With the planet tossed like a ball between fearsome forces, hope lies with a small band of humans and sympathetic aliens. Pursued by ruthless collaborators happy to sacrifice millions to silence the truth, Karen and her allies discover that only evidence bought with blood can expose those trading Earth’s autonomy for wealth and power.
It's time the world knew --
We are not alone.
Coffee, cats, and chocolate are basic essentials in Vicki’s life. A library director for a performing and visual arts university, Vicki loves foreign films, but will defend the merit of television shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FRINGE, and TWELVE MONKEYS against all naysayers. She’d be happy to travel the world, if someone would just provide the ticket.
Vicki is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.