< The Mind Robbers
The Mind Robbers


Donald H. Sullivan

Al Rice stepped out of the hot shower and toweled himself down vigorously until his skin tingled. He felt great now. Only an hour ago he had returned from an assignment on a UFO sighting near Salem, Oregon. He’d already turned in his report, and was looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon taking in a movie in Albuquerque. The phone rang as he was getting ready to leave.

Tony Corral, Operations Chief of the Council for Aerial Phenomena Studies, was on the line. "I need you here in the CAPS conference room pronto, Al. Something big has come up, and we’re having an emergency meeting. Tell you about it when you get here."

"On my way. Be there in a few minutes." Al’s quarters were on the second floor of the CAPS building, and the conference room was directly below on the first floor.

As he descended the stairs, he wondered what might be so important. He didn’t think it would be the troublesome Rylls; they had long since left for another part of the galaxy. And he didn’t think it would have anything to do with his latest assignment. That was clearly a hoax, as he had reported it.

When he entered the room, Sue Hammond was already there. The petite dark-eyed brunette was wearing a form fitting red pullover blouse and a pair of poured-into jeans. He caught a faint whiff of her perfume. The sight and scent of her sent his blood pressure up and turned his knees to mush. Al was sure that Sue liked him, but he was equally sure that she was uncomfortable around him because of his ability to read and control minds -- and he didn’t blame her.

Actually, Al had no desire to spy on or control the thoughts of anyone. In the course of his UFO investigations, he had looked fleetingly into the minds of a few people, but only to determine if they were truthful about their claims of UFO sightings or abductions by aliens.

Tony Corral entered. The tall, sinewy Navajo, Sue’s uncle, was in a well-tailored tan buckskin suit with fringes on the sleeves. All were at the meeting now except Roberto Gomez, the other investigator for CAPS, who was out on an assignment in Kentucky.

When he first joined CAPS, the blond-haired blue-eyed Al felt out of place among this dark-skinned group. But as time passed, he felt comfortable among them. He had even taken to wearing western wear.

After the three were seated at the conference table, Tony addressed the group. "It’s been slow as hell lately, " he said, "but things may be picking up. UFO sightings seem to come in rashes, and it’s beginning to look like we’re going to get a rash of them now. We’ve had three reported within the last twenty-four hours -- one in France, one in Brazil, and one in Canada.

"Now that in itself is not too strange. But what’s strange as hell is that in the immediate vicinity of each of those sightings, one person lapsed into a coma."

"Totally weird," said Sue. "Sounds like a real challenge for us."

"So far, we’re not involved," said Tony. "I learned of the sightings from UFO outfits in each of those places -- we maintain close liaison with each other. I just called you guys here to alert you to what’s going on." At that point the buzzer on his cell phone sounded.

Tony answered, listened intently, and then thanked the caller. The normally unflappable Tony was obviously shaken. "That was a deputy calling from Lexington, Kentucky." He paused as his voice broke. "Roberto is in the hospital there -- he’s in a deep coma. He was in Lexington investigating the reported appearance of a UFO. It returned for a second appearance while Roberto was in the area. According to witnesses, he collapsed immediately after the UFO appeared."

"Guess we’re involved now," said Al.


After arriving in Lexington, Al interviewed several of the witnesses who were on the scene of the UFO sightings. The interviews revealed nothing that wasn’t already in the local news: a single triangular shaped UFO had appeared two days earlier, hovered overhead for a few seconds, and disappeared. Yesterday it had reappeared in nearly the same spot, and again hovered for a few seconds. According to the witnesses, Roberto was looking up at the UFO when he suddenly collapsed.

After interviewing the witnesses, Al went to the hospital. He found Roberto’s hospital room and entered. Roberto was lying on his back, the IV tube and several wires connected to his body. He called out softly, "Roberto, it’s Al." As Al expected, there was no response.

Ever so gently, Al probed into Roberto’s mind. He did not like spying into the minds of others, but this was a special case. There was no response from the mind probe. He had expected to at least get some incoherent thoughts.

Al had no doubt that the UFOs were responsible for causing the comas. He was determined to do everything in his power to learn what was going on. He sat at Roberto’s bedside, probing ever deeper into his friend’s mind. But he encountered nothing but darkness. It was as if Roberto had no mind at all.


Tony absent-mindedly drummed his fingers on the table. "One in Canada, one in France, one in Brazil, and now one in Kentucky -- our own Roberto. Altogether four people in a coma, and all associated with the appearance of a UFO. Like Roberto, a woman in France collapsed during the second appearance of a UFO. And not the slightest damn clue of what’s going on."

"It’s so crazy," said Sue. "What could possibly be the motive of whoever, or whatever is behind this? What do they gain by causing people to go into a coma?"

"Nothing I can think of," said Al. "The only thing we can be fairly sure of is that it’s none of the alien races we’ve encountered so far. It’s not the style of the Rylls or Dorions, and it’s certainly not the Zenin."

"That’s for sure," said Tony, "but knowing that doesn’t help a helluva lot. I suggest we sleep on it and start out fresh tomorrow."


It was too late to drive into Albuquerque to his favorite Mexican restaurant, so Al threw a few burritos into the microwave. They were not as savory as the restaurant’s fare, but he enjoyed the spicy meal and washed it down with a cold beer.

He was preparing for bed when a familiar voice sounded in his head.

"Al Rice of Earth, this is Marl-Ki of Zenin. I must talk with you."

Al replied telepathically. "Marl-Ki! This is a surprise. Then the Zenin authorities have reinstated you as a ship captain?"

"No, I am aboard a Zenin ship near your planet, but not as captain. My superiors have allowed me to come here and contact you because of a pressing situation."

"I have a matter I’d like to discuss with you, also," said Al. "Do you wish to bring me aboard your ship?"

"There is no need. Since we have experienced a mind meld, we can converse easily at a distance."

"You couldn’t have come at a better time. Does your visit have anything to do with a ship or ships now visiting Earth?"

"Yes. There is only one ship at present, but more may be on the way. The visitors are well known to the Zenin. They are the Gorojinh, an evil race of people. They prey on the weaker peoples of the galaxy. We Zenin are powerful enough to oppose them, so they avoid us.

"Although we could easily defeat them, our strict non-interference policy prevents us from actively seeking them out and destroying them. However, my superiors have waived the rules slightly, allowing me to give you limited help. They do this because they believe that the Zenin may be at least partially responsible for the Gorojinh finding your planet; they may have been shadowing us the first time we visited Earth."

"Then you are authorized to help us fight the Gorojinh?"

"The Zenin will not fight anyone unless we are directly attacked. But I am authorized to give you some background information on the Gorojinh and advise you on ways to resist them.

"The Gorojinh are a very old race, maybe even as old as the Zenin. Their psychic powers are formidable, though they are no match for us. They are also well below our level in technology.

Like the Zenin, they have a very long life span. But like all living things, they eventually must die. However, the Gorojinh have found a way to immortality -- or what they perceive to be immortality. They have discovered a way to prolong their own lives by stealing the minds of others. They have found a way to extract the essence of a victim’s mind and infuse it into their own.

Each infusion increases a Gorojinh’s life span significantly. But an infusion wears off in time and must be renewed.

The victims they seek must qualify by possessing intelligence enough to be compatible with the mind of a Gorojinh."

Al was aghast. "They actually rob the minds of others to prolong their own lives?"

"That is so, and the Zenin find this practice outrageous. The Gorojinh are now in the process of testing humans to determine if the human mind is compatible with the Gorojinh mind. I am confident they will find that it is."

"But if they take the mind of another being," Al ventured, "wouldn’t that being’s memories remain intact and go on living in the Gorojinh?"

"No. The Zenin are familiar with the technique the Gorojinh use. The mind of the victim is wiped clean of all memories. The Zenin would never use this technique, and find it appalling that the Gorojinh stoop to use it."

Al thought of Roberto. "Once they have taken a mind from a victim, can the victim’s mind be restored?"

"Sadly, it cannot. The victim goes into a coma and dies a short time later."

Al had become good friends with Roberto, and knew him to be a caring, generous man. The Tex Mex, as he liked to be called, always had a cheerful attitude that seemed to be contagious. Al was filled with sorrow and a sense of loss, but he also felt anger toward the Gorojinh who had taken Roberto’s life.

Marl-Ki continued. "As I have said, I cannot actively help you. But I will give you some information and advice on the Gorojinh that I think will help you.

"The Gorojinh are cruel and show no mercy to their victims. But they do have a code of honor that they will not break. If they accept a challenge from a champion among their victims, they will pit their own champion against the victim’s champion to wage a psychic battle. But before they accept the challenge, they must deem the challenger worthy. By that, I mean that the challenger must have a mind that would be prized by their leader -- a mind such as yours.

"You see, they cannot steal your mind because you are too powerful. They could overpower you and kill you by force of numbers, but they could not take your mind. But if you voluntarily gave your mind, it would be considered a prize. If you challenge and win, the people of Earth go free. If you lose, then you must freely give up your mind to the Gorojinh leader."

"If I should win," said Al, "it seems to me that the Gorojinh would stand to lose an awful lot. They would give up a whole world."

"It would not be a critical loss to them. They have several worlds under their control now. Earth will be just another world in their mind pool."

"You say that the Gorojinh are no match for the Zenin in psychic power. I would be interested to know how my own powers compare to theirs."

"I can only speculate. If you will agree to another mind-meld, I can make a better comparison."

Al agreed, and Marl-Ki’s mind again melded with his. This time the mind-meld lasted but a few seconds.

"I am not surprised to see that you have developed three new powers since our last meeting, telepathic hypnosis, telekinesis and teleportation...I detect surprise in your mind that you have the ability to teleport."

"Yes, I learned about the telepathic hypnosis by self-probing and the telekinesis by accident, but I wasn’t aware of an ability to teleport."

"Actually you developed the two powers of telekinesis and teleportation at the same time; the two powers always go together. All the abilities you are developing make use of certain aspects of space-time not yet understood by your people. Telepathy can function instantaneously regardless of distance; telekinesis converts energy external to your brain and body into kinetic energy and infuses it into objects at a distance.

"Teleportation moves body and mind from point to point without passing through intervening space. Your development of telekinetic powers shows that you have reached the second level, channeling energy from a different continuum rather than simply transmitting and receiving information. But energy and matter are one; moving energy into and out of that continuum is equivalent to moving mass."

"So teleportation is moving myself into that other continuum -- and emerging at a different location in this one."

"That is so."

Al, a high school grad with little scientific training, was somewhat surprised that he was able to grasp these concepts, but he realized that communicating through Zenin telepathy made that possible. Those same concepts expressed in spoken words would likely have befuddled him.

"I probably was unaware of my ability to teleport because I have never had a need to use it," he explained.

"I would advise that you use teleportation with extreme caution. Teleport only to targets within your line of sight until you become more adept at using this ability."

The Zenin continued. "Your powers are Zenin-like, but you are still well below full Zenin capability. With your three new powers, plus your power to read minds and your power to shield your mind, you are at least the equal of the Gorojinh."

"Then I should stand a good chance if I challenge them?"

"Yes, but keep in mind that they are individuals with varying strengths of psychic power; some are stronger than others. If they decide to accept your challenge -- and it is not certain that they will -- they will send their strongest up against you. The rules are simple. The two combatants will meet in a confined area, alone and unarmed. One weapon, a spiked ball, is placed in the arena, and is shared by both combatants."

"One weapon to be shared by both participants?"

"Yes. The struggle for the weapon is part of the battle. Further, you must agree to wear a device in your ear that will allow them to take your mind at the time of your death. As I have said, you are too powerful for them to take your mind. The device, which will be triggered by your death, will release your mind and allow them to extract it before it expires, and they then infuse it into the mind of their leader."

Al was wary. "Suppose they decide to use the device to take my mind the instant the thing is placed in my ear?"

"I know how the device works," the Zenin replied. "You must agree to let them attune the device to your mind before it is placed in your ear. It is triggered only by your death. Your opponent must kill you before they can use it to take your mind. And if it is any comfort to you, we know the Gorojinh -- as cruel as they are -- always honor the rules of the challenge."

"I will accept your assurance on that," said Al. "But where and how can I meet them to issue the challenge?"

"They have a tendency to keep returning to the same sites until they complete their testing. Go to the last place they visited and wait there. They will return."


After breaking contact with Marl-Ki, Al picked up the phone and called Tony.

"Tony? -- Al here. We need to set up an emergency meeting immediately. Something big’s come up; I’ve just been contacted by Marl-Ki."

"Go on down to the conference room, Al. Sue and I will be there pronto."


Al briefed Tony and Sue about all he had learned from Marl-Ki. He concluded his briefing with the tragic news about Roberto’s condition.

It was difficult for Al to control his voice. "Lastly, I’m afraid I’ve got to tell you some very bad news. I learned from Marl-Ki that Roberto won’t survive. He, and all the others who went into a coma, are now just empty shells. Their minds were sucked out of them, leaving only a spark of life force -- which will eventually dissipate."

Sue gasped, and then wailed in grief. "No... no! Not Roberto..."

Tony’s eyes narrowed and his face tightened. "Damn! These -- these -- Gorojinh -- these mind sucking vampires have got to be stopped. If they’re not, there’ll be hell to pay. I’ll call Vickers right away. He’ll know who to contact to alert the military. They’ve got to deal with this..."

Al interrupted. "The sad truth is, Tony, is that Vickers is thought of as an eccentric because of his involvement with us -- among other things. They won't listen to him any more than they’d listen to us, and even if the military did get involved, they’d be completely helpless against the Gorojinh."

"But dammit, we’ve got to do something, Al. We can’t just sit here and not do a damn thing!"

Sue was regaining her composure. "Al’s right, Tony. We’ve got to accept that -- it’s sad but true."

Tony sighed. "Yeah, I’m afraid so." He looked at Al. "This challenge that Marl-Ki mentioned -- it may be our only hope. Al, you’ve given a damn good account of yourself so far. We’ll have to put our trust in you."

"I’ll do my best," said Al. "If I don’t make it, go ahead and call Vickers and whoever else you can think of. At least you’ll have done all you can do. And if that doesn’t work, pray."


Al returned to Lexington and proceeded to the site of the previous two visits, an open field to the southeast of the city near US421. He parked his car near a convenience store and waited. And waited. And waited.

Hours passed with no sign of the Gorojinh. Al groaned and stretched, wondering if he'd picked the wrong spot for his vigil. He had waited since before the break of dawn, with nothing to eat or drink all day but cookies, potato chips, and coffee that he had bought at the convenience store. But as darkness was approaching, he felt something tugging at his mind. He jumped from his car and looked up.

There was no doubt; the UFO was there. A triangular object hovered directly overhead. A small crowd of onlookers had gathered at the store.

Al sent a telepathic thought toward the UFO. "I challenge your champion to a duel."

Al sensed surprise and puzzlement coming from the craft. He knew that they must have received and understood his telepathic message. With Zenin telepathy, differences in language did not matter. Ideas and concepts were conveyed in such a way that any intelligent, rational being could catch the full meaning -- even phonetic sounds could be conveyed through Zenin telepathy.

After a few moments, he received a reply. "You learned of our custom through the Zenin?"


"The fact that we have attempted to take your mind and failed, and the fact that you communicate with us through telepathy indicates that you have some psychic power. What other powers do you possess?"

"I take it that you are observing me through your instruments," said Al. "I will demonstrate some of my powers." Al teleported himself to a point about ten feet to his right and then back to his original position. He then levitated a bottle he spotted lying on the side of the road. He caused the bottle to hover in the air a few seconds, then lowered it. He heard gasps coming from the small crowd of observers.

"We must report your challenge to our leader. Return to this location tomorrow after nightfall and we will inform you of her decision."


No one witnessed Al being picked up in the open field by the small Gorojinh shuttlecraft. It was after dark, and the small crowd of people at the convenience store had gone home. There were no reporters or TV cameras; the media were treating this UFO sighting as they treated all UFO sightings.

The shuttle carried Al up to the mother ship.

When Al boarded the Gorojinh ship, he marveled at its size. It could have held a football field with room to spare.

Compared to the Rylls and Zenin, the Gorojinh were grotesque in appearance. The pale pink body and head reminded Al of an oversized grapefruit sitting atop an oversized bowling pin. They were bipeds, with long spindly legs, and tentacle-like arms.

Their beady black eyes were close-set, and their noses drooped like miniature elephant trunks, almost hiding their tiny, oval mouths. From the way they moved, Al guessed they were invertebrates. The beings emitted an unpleasant odor that reminded Al of rotting seaweed.

Al learned that his opponent was named Breaha, who had twice defeated challengers. He and Breaha were led to a large circular chamber, which the Gorojinh called the games compartment. Al estimated it to be about ten meters -- about thirty feet -- in diameter. He was hoping for more room to maneuver.

The rules were explained to Al. The rules were simple, as Marl-Ki had said. Both were searched for weapons, or anything that could be used as a weapon. Upon Al’s agreement, A small device similar to a hearing aid was attuned to his mind and then placed in his ear. Breaha entered the compartment first, followed by Al. Al spotted the spiked metallic ball -- about the size of a softball with a number of two-inch spikes -- in the center of the room.

Breaha wasted no time, obviously intent on ending the battle as quickly as possible. He teleported to a point near the ball. Suddenly, Al could not see the Gorojinh -- he had disappeared. Still looking for Breaha, Al was surprised as he watched ball rise and fly toward him.

Al recovered barely in time to teleport out of the ball’s path. He felt the breeze as the ball whizzed by. It slammed into the wall, and fell to the floor.

It dawned on Al that Breaha had used telepathic hypnosis to make himself seem invisible. Al quickly searched his mind and found a way to counter the hypnotic effects, and Breaha reappeared.

Al then applied his own telepathic hypnosis. He looked into Breaha’s mind and learned that Breaha had no mind barrier. He took advantage of that and probed Breaha’s mind. He learned of Breaha’s fear of a deadly poisonous bird in Breaha’s home world. But when he attempted to cause the bird to appear before Breaha, the Gorojinh scoffed.

"Good try, Man of Earth. But that tactic has been used against me before -- though your attempt was one of the strongest."

Al sensed Breaha probing into his mind, attempting to find Al’s fears and weaknesses. Al threw up his mind barrier, which surprised the Gorojinh.

But Breaha quickly recovered. "Your mind barrier will not help you. I do not need to know what is in your mind to defeat you. Look into my right eye."

Al glanced at Breaha’s right eye and immediately regretted it. But as he tried to look away, he was held by Breaha’s gaze. The eye began to expand, and Al was held spellbound. In an instant the eye had expanded to a gigantic size, big enough to envelop and swallow him.

But once again, Al realized that he had been taken by surprise, and quickly found a way to counter the effects of the hypnotic eye. The eye disappeared, but Al looked up to see the ball coming at him. He teleported out of its path, and as the ball fell to the floor, he immediately raised it and hurled it back at Breaha. The two continued the exchange a number if times, neither scoring a hit.

Al was tiring. This was a new experience for him: he had not known that psychic activity could be mentally draining. Before long, he found himself exhausted to the point that he was barely able to teleport.

Breaha, the more experienced and battle hardened of the two, did not appear to be tiring.

When the ball came at Al again, he tried stopping the missile telekinetically. He could not stop the ball, but he slowed it down enough that he was able to jump away from its path.

Less psychic effort was required to send hypnotic commands, so he mustered his hypnosis powers and sent a command to Breaha’s mind. "It is useless for you to continue, Breaha, for I am invincible. Your feeble efforts are useless against my superior powers. You are too timid and fearful to oppose me. You cannot win." Al’s strong hypnotic powers had an effect. Breaha seemed fearful and disoriented.

Al was still weak from exhaustion and needed a few more seconds to build up his psychic powers to hurl the ball at the disoriented Breaha. But Breaha recovered almost immediately from the hypnotic effects, well before Al had a chance to build up his powers.

"That trick has also been used on me before. There is no tactic you can use against me that hasn’t been tried," boasted Breaha "Once a tactic has been used on me once, it becomes easier to defend against it the next time."

Al could see the truth in that -- he himself could more easily defend against the invisibility or expanding eye tactic. And Breaha had experienced several battles -- winning all of them -- and had surely seen many tactics.

Al felt powerless now. He’d had a chance to rest, but it wouldn’t help him. Breaha was the more experienced in this game and had greater stamina. All Al could do now was try to defend himself as best he could and hope that Breaha would make a fatal mistake.

The ball, Al saw, was still lying on the floor. Breaha, preoccupied with his boasting, had not followed through. Al, now rested, levitated the ball and hurled it. Breaha teleported, but Al reached out with his mind, and with a super effort, summoning all his remaining kinetic powers, he stopped the ball in mid flight and redirected it to Breaha’s new location.

But Breaha managed to teleport, barely escaping the deadly missile. "You had me worried there for an instant, Man of Earth. Now I will put an end to your feeble efforts."

Al, now totally exhausted from his last effort, could only watch as the ball rose. The Gorojinh had proven to be superior in levitation and telekinetic powers. But Al noted that he was the equal of Breaha in telepathic hypnosis. He also had an advantage in that Breaha had no barrier against Al’s mind probes.

Breaha had previously experienced every tactic that Al had tried except for the last one -- redirecting the ball in mid-flight -- and had thus developed strong defenses against those tactics. Even if Al had the strength to use that tactic again, Breaha would now be ready for it.

He must look into Breaha’s mind and try to find something that had not been used against Breaha -- something that the Gorojinh had not yet experienced -- something that might surprise him.

Al had tried inducing fear, timidity, and confusion into Breaha, but Breaha had been ready each time. Hurriedly searching for a new tactic, Al probed Breaha’s mind for emotions that had not yet been used against him, and found only emotions like mercy, pity and compassion. Those were the only emotions Al had to work with; he had no choice but to try using what he had.

Al summoned all his psychic strength. As Breaha levitated the ball, Al sent his hypnotic commands. "Helpless. I am utterly helpless. I am as a newborn child. You are filled with compassion, mercy and pity for me. That you were ready to do me harm fills you with profound sorrow and regret."

Breaha lowered the ball and tears formed in his eyes. Al sent his commands with increased strength. "You see me, a helpless child, weeping and begging for mercy. You are devastated and filled with disgust and shame that you were ready to do me harm. You are incapable of harming one so helpless. Your pity for me is overwhelming." Sobbing, Breaha fell face down on the floor.

Al raised the ball, and with all his remaining psychic energy hurled it. It slammed into the head of the weeping Breaha with a sickening thud. The Gorojinh champion's head split open and an inky blue mess spilled out onto the floor.

Moments later the door opened, and the leader entered. She looked at the inert form of Breaha. "My most favored male, defeated," she said. "For the first time he has failed in his bid to win a prized mind for me." She looked at Al. Though Gorojinh expressions were difficult to read, Al could see the deep disappointment showing in her eyes. The odor of rotting seaweed was overpowering.

"You are free to go, Man of Earth."

A Gorojinh opened the door, and escorted Al from the room. He was taken back to Earth and released. There was no one at the convenience store to witness as he stepped out of the Gorojinh shuttlecraft, for it was now after midnight and the store was closed.

He had won his battle and he had avenged Roberto, although that would be small comfort to the CAPS team. They'd have to be satisfied with the knowledge that no one else on Earth would ever know the cruelty of the Gorojinh.

He walked to his rental car, still parked near the convenience store. He started the car and headed for the airport.


Donald H. Sullivan says of himself: "Native Floridian. Retired from US Army and now living with my wife in North Carolina. Love writing, but didn't get serious until after retirement. Write "4theluv" but have been known to accept money. No novels as yet, but I'm turning it over in my mind. Also love gardening, swimming, hiking, and dogs." 'The Mind Robbers' is the third Al Rice story to appear in Aphelion. The previous entry, The Psychic Warrior appeared in the November 2004 edition.

E-mail: dsullivan30@juno.com

Webpage: Sullivan's Short Stories

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