It had become impossible for the sisters to think of the stars and not think of their father. When they were very little girls, before Marsh had taken them to live with him and they still lived on the ranch with their grandparents, Diane and Robin would watch the sky every night. They wondered which star their father was on and when he was coming home. They would make up stories about how he was, at that very second, trying to find his way back to them. He never disappointed them. He always came home.
"Come on, Rob. We're almost at the creek. One last gallop!"
"Canter?" Diane asked, hopeful that Robin would give in.
"Trot? Please?" she begged.
Robin sighed. "Oh, all right! But a slow trot," she added, her green eyes blazing defiantly.
"A slow trot it is!" Diane yelled, victorious at last, and the two horses trotted side by side until they reached the creek.
"Let's go," Robin said eagerly, when she and Diane dismounted. She opened her saddlebag and pulled out her binoculars. She loved to bird watch and was always on the lookout for a new species she'd never seen.
Diane sighed. "Just a minute. Let me get my book," she said, and quickly grabbed her book from the saddlebag. She found bird watching boring, but went along to keep her sister company. She sat down, leaned against a tree, and settled in to read.
Robin walked a few feet away and raised her binoculars to the sky. "Do you hear that low humming noise?" she asked while investigating the origin of the sound.
"What kind of bird is it?" Diane asked curiously, startled by the strange noise.
"It's not any bird I've ever heard," Robin said, still searching the trees with her binoculars. "Quick, take a look at that," she said excitedly as she pointed and handed the binoculars to Diane, who had come to stand next to her sister.
"Oh, wow--what is it, Rob?" Diane asked, the hair on her arms standing on end.
"I--I--don't know," Robin stammered. "I've never seen anything like it."
Both girls pressed their palms to their ears as the sound grew louder and they stared at what looked like a tunnel of light that seemed to have no beginning or end. The light, similar to a spotlight, but brighter, intensified, and they had to shield their eyes from it.
"Run!" Robin screeched.
The girls sprinted out of the woods and toward their horses, but Pepper and Cloud had spooked and taken off as if running for their lives. At least the horses are safe, Diane thought when she saw the horses galloping away, and then wondered, safe from what? She didn't know, but her instincts told her that she and Robin were in imminent danger and she was helpless to stop it.
There was no escaping the light, which followed them wherever they moved, and within seconds, Diane and Robin were completely enveloped in it.
"What's happening?" Robin cried. "Who's doing this?" Her thoughts flashed to the scheduled picnic and she wondered, in horror, if she and Diane would be alive to go. Oh--where is Daddy? she thought.
"I'm numb all over!" Diane yelled to her sister. Her instinct was to grab Robin's hand but when she tried, she realized she was paralyzed where she stood. Robin didn't answer. A look in her direction showed that she, too, was rooted to the ground, the look of fear so profound on her face that Diane was sure it mimicked her own. Unable to move but her mind racing, Diane remembered how, just an hour earlier, she had given her father a hard time when he wanted to help them. She'd give anything for his help now. Oh--where is Daddy? she thought.
Then, suddenly, the girls felt an intense wave of heat and the tingle of a transporter. As they passed out, Diane and Robin's last thoughts were of being ripped from the family they love and the overwhelming fear they might never see them again.