Rosa stood over the grave where the earth has begun to settle.

The gray sky was weeping though she no longer could.

Gripping the handle of the umbrella, her blue eyes moved to the stone where her fourteen-year-old cousin’s name was engraved.

Derik was only three months older than her.

He’d been her friend. Confidante. Her partner wherever trouble resided.

And then, he was gone.

Just like that.

What the heck happened?

It was the question she kept mulling over in her mind ever since he disappeared.

After weeks of searching, they found remnants of the clothing he wore on the day he vanished.

No body.

No clue of what happened or where he’d went.

Nothing.

It was as if he simply evaporated in the air – erased from existence.

After a time, his adoptive parents declared him “deceased,”

Rosa’s eyes narrowed.

They’d buried an empty coffin.

How messed up was that?

What was it that he used to kid her about?

“You’re gonna be lost when I’m gone.”

“No, I just won’t be in the hot seat every time you and I get together,” was her response.

He was always saying things like that. It was as if he expected to leave at any moment.

The day before he disappeared, he gave her something.

Reaching in her coat’s pocket, she pulled out a locket. Inside you’d expect to see a photo, but instead there was a tiny emerald-like gem embedded in the metal.

She stared at it. “What’s this?”

“It’s like a homing- beacon,” his eyes darkened, “it lets you know whenever I’m nearby.”

“Okay, if you say so.” She laughed.

Then, their conversation took a twisted turn that she’s still stunned by.

“You know that I’m not really from around here?” He asked looking all serious.

She smirked. “Of course, silly. You’re adopted.”

“That is not what I mean.”

“Okay. Out with it then.”

He hesitated for a long time before speaking those words, “they’re coming soon to take me back home.”

Derik never got the chance to reveal who “they” were.

She had to leave with her Mom for some appointment. She called that night and left a message on his cell.

But he never returned the call.

He was already gone – leaving everything behind.

Including his own clothes.

In the days that followed, she repeated what Derik told her to the law enforcement officers and investigators who always asked if she knew what he’d meant.

Her answer remained the same.

Not a clue.

Yet, she knew that wasn’t really the truth.

He did leave a clue.

Rosa held the locket up as she studied the jewel.

Should she have told them about this?

Slowly shaking her head – no, that would have led to more questions she couldn’t answer.

Closing her hand around the bronze ornament, she let out a sigh.

“Where the heck did you go?”

The pendant’s sudden warmth surprised her.

When she opened the flap, she gasped.

The gemstone glowed!

Its light pulsated in a steady rhythmic beat.

Like a heartbeat.

A movement caught her eye, and she glanced up.

Her mouth dropped.

Beyond the rows of headstones were the dark outlines of trees.

Hovering just above the barren canopy was an opalescent oblong object.

In the next instance…

Whoosh!

It shot straight up and was gone.

A thunder rumbled.

She blinked furiously, her eyes scanned the darkening sky.

Was that – a ship?

Rosa looked down at the locket.

The jewel no longer shone.

She closed her eyes. Her breathing quivered.

And smiled.