We hope that you have enjoyed our time with Leah Sanders!!!  Here is an excerpt from her book, All We See or Seem!!  Enjoy!


“Two more minutes.”

“Doctor? He’s coming out…”

“I need two more minutes!”

“He’s coming out too fast!”

“No! Give him something! I need two more minutes!”

“GEM!” Gryff flailed his arms blindly in the direction of the vision, then faded back into the fog.




“Captain Jennings? Captain Jennings, can you hear me?”

A voice penetrated the cloud surrounding him, and Aaron Jennings slowly felt himself return as if he’d been floating above in a dense haze and was somehow summoned back to his body.

His eyelids felt pasted shut, and he strained to open them. The room was dim, but every little gleam of light seemed to sear into his retina. Gradually the mist receded, and Aaron was able to focus on the form hovering over him.

“There you are, Captain Jennings. We were beginning to worry that you had left us for good. How are you feeling?”

Aaron opened his mouth to reply, but it was so dry, his tongue felt like cotton. Instead he licked his lips, and his eyes darted around the room nervously. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had the feeling something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Would you like some water, captain?” Aaron nodded. The nurse picked up the pitcher from the side table and poured a cup of icy water. With a moist sponge, she first wet his parched lips, then adjusted the straw and held it to his mouth so he could drink.

The cool refreshment slipped down his throat, reviving him and loosening his tongue. He sipped greedily, consuming that and then two more cups full before pushing it away.

“Where am I?” he finally asked. His voice was gravelly and raw, and it sounded foreign to him.

“You’re in the hospital — stateside,” was the nurse’s reply.

“Stateside? How did I get here? What happened?”

“Do you not remember anything, captain? There was an acci—”

“An accident,” Aaron interrupted her as it came flooding back to him. “The transport — my men, are they…?” He lurched forward suddenly in his bed.

The nurse reached out quickly to stop him. “They’re fine. Only minor scrapes and bruises — a couple of broken toes — just relax. Lie back now. You need your rest. Nothing to worry about now.” She patted his shoulder and smoothed his sheet. Aaron lay back, feeling suddenly exhausted. “If you need anything, just push the call button here.” She turned and gazed momentarily into the mirror. With an almost imperceptible nod, she switched off Captain Jennings’s light and glided silently out the door, closing it behind her.




“Come on, Gem, open the door!” It was Teo and Tavon. They’d been to the door three times in the last fifteen minutes. “Gem, you know you can’t afford another infraction. Come on, let us in — we brought oranges! — Gem?”

Inside, Gem covered her head with a pillow and rolled onto her stomach with a groan. She wasn’t ready to face them yet — wasn’t ready even to address the prospect of life. Nothing mattered any more.

“Gem, listen — if it’s not us, you know they’ll be here in ten minutes — Gem? You know what? No. We’re coming in.” Teo had raised his voice to be heard inside the room, but then his voice lowered somewhat as he addressed Tavon, “I’ll get Aria. She has room clearance on this floor.”

Even with the pillow over her head, she could hear every word. They’re right. It’s them or a visit to the clinic. Grudgingly, she rolled out of the bed and pulled the blanket around her shoulders then shuffled drearily to the door. She opened it with the push of a button, and the light from the hallway came flooding in. Tavon jumped when he heard the door. He had been standing with his back to her, but when he turned, Gem’s breath caught in her throat. For a split second she thought it was Gryff. He was back! For a split second, her entire being rejoiced at the sight of him. She reached out to touch him, to make sure he was real, but stopped short when he spoke.

“Gemini. You look horrible.”

Gem’s hand jerked back as if she’d been burned. It wasn’t Gryff. She’d never realized before how much they looked alike — same wavy, dark hair, same vibrant emerald eyes.

“Hey, come on,” Tavon stepped forward and took her by the shoulders to give her a playful shake. “We have to get you ready — schedule’s to keep, sweetie.” He was playing to lighten the mood, but his every expression and movement just reminded her of what she had lost.

“Gem! Hey, you’re up! Great!” Teo had returned with Aria. His excitement may have been a little over the top.

“How you doing, honey?” Aria stepped between Tavon and Gem. She slipped her arm around Gem’s shoulders and guided her back into her room. “You guys go to breakfast. I got this,” instructed Aria, then she closed the door.

Back inside the room, Gem had already slumped onto her bed. “No,” Aria insisted. “You can’t do this, Gemini. Listen, if you start with this mess, you’ll draw attention. You know how they react when we deviate from expectations. I know it’s hard. But you have to pull yourself together now. Live for the schedule, hon. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. It’s the only way.”

Gem knew she was right, but it was hard to care right now.

When she didn’t move right away, Aria took matters into her own hands. Going to the closet to retrieve Gem’s uniform, she began barking orders. “Get up. Take off your pajamas. Put this on.”

Gem responded immediately to Aria’s tone, like a trained animal. Aria handed Gem her uniform. Gem robotically slipped it on and fastened the buttons. Meanwhile Aria had begun to brush her hair and weave it into a tight braid.

“You’re going to eat breakfast, and you’re going to morning calisthenics… I’m going to get you through this — We couldn’t have done anything about Gryff. He was called. But you are salvageable — Let’s go.”

The whole process had taken less than three minutes. Before she knew it, they had made their way to the commissary, but Gem honestly couldn’t recall how she’d gotten there.

Breakfast was spent in silence, as always. It left far too much room for reflection, which for Gem meant torturing herself with memories of Gryff. She willed herself to eat, but it was perfunctory, robotic. Her mind was reeling, trying to fill the blaring void she felt somewhere in the pit of her stomach, but on the outside she showed no signs of inner turmoil. In spite of her emptiness and lack of motivation, Gem knew it wouldn’t do to offer observable evidence to any of the EROMI staff. They wouldn’t understand at all.

The rest of the day, Gem went through the motions as if on autopilot. Her daily schedule kept her busy enough: there were mealtimes, exercise sessions, community work assignments, language acquisition, brief recreational periods — Aria stayed near her all day and distracted her when she needed it. When Aria left Gem at her room that evening after dinner, she crumpled into her bunk, exhausted. That’s when the tears came again, though she had very few left.





“Gryff? Where are you?”

“I’m here. Right here… I’ve missed you.” His arms engulfed her, and she sank into him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. “It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” His hand smoothed her hair in a comforting gesture. Gem buried her face in his broad chest and sobbed convulsively.

“Please don’t leave me again, Gryff. I can’t handle it.”

“You’re going to make it, Gem. Just keep going. I have to go now, Gem. Don’t forget me.” She clung tighter to him, but he began to fade from her grasp and dissipate into mist.

“Gryff! Don’t go! Don’t leave me!”

“NO!” Gem’s audible scream sliced through her haze and brought her abruptly to consciousness. The pillow was drenched with her tears, and she lay there paralyzed by the fresh abandonment she felt. In her mind, she replayed the sensation of Gryff’s arms around her. The comfort she had derived from his touch. His closeness. It was new to her, but it had felt so familiar and natural.

While he was still here, they rarely touched. Honestly, it never occurred to them to do so. The expectations were so strict about that kind of thing. The dream had been a vision of what might have been, and suddenly she ached for what never was — and what never would be — Gryff’s touch.