Aphelion Issue 287, Volume 27
September 2023
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Casa Grande Domes

by Verona Jones

It was raining. Silvery nodules plopping to the ground and onto the dull black coffin sitting upon metal rollers that would soon lower the final resting place of Gary Lichtin in the ground. Gray stormy clouds catapult angrily across the skies, as if they too were protesting Gary’s passing. Winds howled through the fir trees whipping them in to a frenzy. It was a miserable day, and it matched Kayla Martins feelings perfectly. Kayla and Gary were to be married in just two short weeks. In fact, they had been making plans for their wedding only hours before discovering Gary in the bathtub with his wrists slashed lying in a pool of his precious blood.

There had been no warning. Not by word or action that Gary was even thinking of ending his life. They’d been laughing and joking just a few hours earlier. Gary had been the way he normally was. Relaxed, teasing, and very loving. It had been a perfect day.

Kayla was psychic and worked as a Tarot reader at the Third Eye, a small metaphysics store located in Ocean Beach; a small beach community that is part of San Diego, CA. Kayla had been very young when she first learned about her abilities. She heard voices, saw spirits and knew things she couldn’t have possibly known. It had scared her so much, that she had spent most of her childhood under her blanket covers.

It had taken Kayla a very long time to get over her fear and realize the spirits weren’t going to hurt her. It was even kind of cool. She eventually got over most of her fear, although she still couldn’t sleep in total darkness. Kayla finally purchased a Himalayan salt lamp and put a pale blue bulb in it. It was just enough light to dispel the cloak of darkness in the bedroom.

Gary had laughed at Kayla’s little idiosyncrasies and, at what he called her “voodoo woodoo” but loved her anyways. Up until this whole thing happened, Kayla had loved doing readings. She loved helping people and guiding them on their spiritual paths. Then Gary killed himself and overnight everything changed. She wondered if his parents blamed her for his death. They were all so close before Gary’s death, but, now they seemed distant and cold.

All these questions, but no answers. Standing at the gravesite listening to the priest talking, asking for the angels to watch over Gary while they took his soul to heaven, Kayla couldn’t help feeling guilty. Why hadn’t she sensed that Gary was depressed and thinking of killing himself. Kayla was psychic, so why didn’t she see Gary’s future? Why could she see everyone else’s future, but not Gary’s? What was the point of being able to help other people, and not being able to help the ones she loved most. Had Kayla sensed Gary was going to commit suicide and maybe blocked it?

She felt her throat tighten up as Gary’s coffin was gently lowered in the ground. Kayla dropped the single red rose on the coffin’s lid as she mentally said her good byes to Gary. She hoped his spirit was around, so she could talk to him. She needed to ask him if he believed Kayla was to blame. Had Gary tried to reach out to her and Kayla hadn’t understood? Was she really guilty of his death?

Kayla felt the tears trailing down her cheeks as she turned away from the gaping hole, and headed to her Red Kia Soul parked in the Ocean Beach Cemetery’s parking lot. She couldn’t stay in Ocean Beach, even though Kayla loved the little ocean side town. Ocean Beach was primarily a summer spot, but even off season, it was a nice little quaint beach town. She would be reminded of Gary where ever she went, and that would just make the guilt harder to deal with. Gary’s parents’ sudden coldness hurt almost as much his death.

Kayla’s sister, Tracy lived in Tucson, AZ with her new husband Michael. Tracy was was angry for Kayla at how Gary’s parents were reacting. She invited Kayla to stay with them while grieving, and when she was ready, help Kayla find a job and a place of her own Tracy had blown up on the phone when she had told her everything.

She had said, “Kayla, you need to get away from there. Those people weren’t your friends if they can turn on you that easily.”

“You’re right sister mine, which is why, I think a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered to start over. Tell Michael, I said thank you. I know you are just recently married, but I really appreciate you letting me stay with you.”

“Hey big sister, he’s been wanting to meet you for a long time as I told him all about you.”

“Really? Everything? Just great. Now he will think I’m a freak too.”

Tracy laughed. “Not a freak sister mine, but definitely interesting. Now get your butt here”

Kayla laughed too. “Bossy little thing, aren’t you? Seriously, though Sis. Thank you so much. I do need to get away from here. I will be leaving right after the funeral. It’s about 6 to 7 hours to get to Tucson. So, should arrive early the next morning, if that’s alright with you?”

“Doesn’t matter what time you arrive Sis. Just get here safe. I will see you in the morning. And, Kayla? Don’t listen to them. You have an amazing gift. Don’t let them take that away from too. Alright?”

Kayla’s throat tightened as she felt the threat of tears. “Thank you, Tracy, I really needed to hear that. I love you and I will see you in the morning.” She felt so much better after talking to her sister.

The week before Gary’s funeral, Kayla packed the personal items she was taking with her straight from the funeral. The rest of her things she was going to put in storage and ship later to her apartment when she got one. Agnes wanted Gary’s things, and she didn’t argue with her over them. Kayla only wanted the pictures and a couple of his jersey’s that still carried Gary’s scent. Agnes could take anything she else wanted after that.

She notified the landlord, Mr. Joeffrey about her plans. The sweet man expressed his condolences and told Kayla, he would personally ship the rest of her things when she was ready.

“Don’t worry about a thing, little lady. You only worry about taking care of yourself, and then let me know when you want your stuff, and I will ship it to you. Okay?”

She’d been overwhelmed by everything, and this small act of kindness nearly did her in. “Thank you so much, Mr. Joeffrey. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.” She’d said, while holding back the tears threatening to run down her cheeks. Kayla couldn’t remember the last time someone was so kind to her. Well, except Tracy of course, but no one else had bothered.

Everything had been loaded into the Soul, and Kayla was ready to leave Ocean Beach behind along with all the pain and hurt. She hoped anyways. She got inside the car and started it up, driving carefully out of her parking spot headed to I-8 which would take Kayla to Tucson and her new life. She was enjoying the drive as the scenery changed from lush greenery to desert. The sand spotted with small rolling hills and dotted with sage brush, and cacti contorting into twisted shapes that even an Orthopedic Surgeon would appreciate. Dust devils twirling and dancing across the landscape. The desert was strange and beautiful. Kayla felt the tension slowly releasing its grip on her heart, as a new sense of adventure filled her. She was going to be alright.


Her head throbbed in pain, as Kayla struggled to resurface from the blackness that swallowed her whole. She laid in the darkness trying to understand what had happened to her. Her hands were behind her back zip tied. Her legs tied together as well, she assumed because she couldn’t move them. Her body was in the fetal position and aching terribly. How long had she had been in this position. Where was she?

Concentrating, Kayla could feel the vibrations of the road beneath her body. So, she was in a vehicle and it was moving. Looking around, she could see some splashes of light seeping through the darkness lightening the surroundings to where Kayla could see that she was in what appeared to be the cab of a semi. She was lying on a padded bench, and tried moving her restrained hands to loosen up the ties, but they weren’t budging. Her hands weren’t getting loose, and she was making the headache worse by trying.

Tiredly, Kayla laid her head down on the cushioned seat, trying not to let the fear she was feeling overwhelm her. She needed to stay calm and work through this situation if she wanted to survive whatever this was that was happening.

The last thing she remembered was stopping at the Love’s Travel Center in Eloy, Arizona. Kayla had been driving for a little over 7 hours and was tired and hungry. When I-8 intersected I-10 she discovered the travel center and thought it was heaven sent, as she also needed gas. She saw they had an Arby’s and the thought of food made her stomach rumble. It was a fairly large truck stop. Filled with Arizona souvenirs and junk food, drinks, and a nice sized restroom. After taking advantage of the restroom, Kayla ordered a Beef n Cheddar Classic Roast Beef sandwich and coke. It had tasted wonderful. She had been a lot hungrier then she’d thought. After throwing away her trash, Kayla bought a large Cherry Pepsi, and a bag of chips for the remaining two hours or so it would take her to get Tucson.

Taking her items to the register where she was rung up, she carried her purchases out to the car afterwards. Put them in the passenger side of the car, she closed the door, unlocked the cap, swiped her credit card and proceeded to fuel up her baby. Kayla noticed the big Black semi idling a few yards away. She spared a swift glance at it, because it was nice looking but she wasn’t into trucks and it looked like one of thousand other Semi trucks. While her baby was getting refueled, Kayla gathered up the trash in her car, tossing it in the nearest trash receptacle. A flash of pain, then complete oblivion. Now here she was tied up and not knowing how she got here in the first place. She was trying not to panic, or let fear swamp her as Kayla tried desperately to figure out what was happening. Surely, somebody would have seen her being taken?

Somebody would investigate her car just sitting at the pump with the fuel lip opened.

Then what? Kayla hadn’t spoken to anyone, no one except her sister knew she was going to Tucson. How would they be able to track her? Here she was bound on a truck. No one knew where she was … not even Tracy. She was all alone. She couldn’t stop the panic that spread like wild fire inside.

The Casa Grande Domes sat impassively under the April full moon’s cold unfeeling silver rays. In 1982, Thermoshell had built the domes to eventually house InnerConn Technology Inc. The company was once a circuit board manufacturing company, that went bankrupt in 1983. Now it sits in the harsh Arizona desert scorched by furnace hot temperatures in a summer that relentlessly beats upon the white washed domes. Eerily quiet with no wild life around except for the small slender female coyote. She stood silhouetted under the brilliant moon’s light. The brightness highlighting her tan and black markings.

The sound of a semi echoes in the silence and the coyote tilts her head towards the sound alertly. Her slender well-fed body trembling, but her glowing Amber eyes remain fixed on the truck noisily making its way to the domes. Intelligent eyes that tracked the truck’s momentum from Thornton road all the way to entrance of the domes. The Coyote’s gold eyes narrow. An unidentified emotion flashing deep within the depths of her eyes. She shakes her body, silently disappearing into the dark shadows of the nearest dome.

A Black Bolt Custom Semi drives up to the nearest dome, the big Chevy 350 engine rattling to a stop. Karl Richter steps down in to the cool desert night. Looking up at the star scattered sky as he stretches his massive 6’5 frame. Karl loved being a truck driver and he loved his route. As an independent driver, he chose when he would or would not pick up a load, which gave him plenty of time to play.

Chapter Two

Karl loved to play. He was fifteen when they caught him in the men’s locker room the night he finally got tired of hiding what he was. The woman hadn’t mattered. Some hooker thinking she had an easy score that night. What had mattered was that she was his first. Popped his cherry so to speak. He’d chosen the locker room, because it was empty at night, giving him plenty of time to play. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sound proof and being inexperienced he hadn’t taken that in to account. It was her glorious screams that brought the authorities that night.

Dumb ass shrinks labeled him a monster. Of course, he was a monster. The only difference was that he knew he was a monster, but the idiots thought they could rehabilitate him. Stuck him in a mental institution for five years and released him after declaring he had been healed. They were wrong. He had happened on to the Domes during one of his numerous trips. His route was San Diego to San Antonio and back again. The domes were located off I-8, almost 7 miles from the city that gave the domes their name. It was close to the city, but remote enough that no one could hear his girls scream. It made for a perfect playground.

The muffled sound broke Karl out of his revelry. He’d almost forgotten why he was here. He’d noticed the girl at Love’s gassing up her car. There had been an air of sadness and innocence surrounding her that had caught his attention. It wasn’t looks that interested him, and Karl had no preference whether his girls were blond, brunette, or whatever. It was something intangible about the girls that made them perfect to play with.

The girl had made it almost too easy for him. It was night and the pumps were vacant except for them. She’d turned her back to him as she walked to the receptacle and tossed away her trash. Karl crept up behind her and with a swift jab to the neck knocked her out. He quickly looked around to ensure they were still alone, then swiftly got her inside the cab where tied her hands and feet before laying her on the bed.

Karl brushed the dark locks from her pale face, and under the dim light from the pumps, the air of innocence was even more pronounced. He rubbed his thumb across the full lips.

Perfect. She was perfect.

Hearing the faint rustle again, he couldn’t help smiling, thinking of the fun he would have with her. Glancing at his watch noted it was only a little after midnight. Daylight arrived around 6am. That gave him almost six hours of play time. Karl grinned again, as he walked around to the door and stepped in.

Kayla heard the door and looked up to see the largest man she’d ever seen enter the room. Not only was the man huge, but he had dead eyes. There was nothing in those pale green eyes that stared back at her. Whatever, fledgling spark of hope she felt just withered away into ashes. This man didn’t care if Kayla lived or died. It was one and the same as far as he was concerned. So, she just stayed silent, knowing pleas wouldn’t make a difference, waiting to learn what was in store for her.

The man nodded at her. “Good, glad to see you have some gumption.” He walked towards her picking her up as if Kayla weighed nothing, carried her outside into the cool night. Holding her close to his body, he cut the ties around her feet and then the ties around her hands.

“Good Girl” rubbing his face against her cheek. His hand slid under her T-shirt and under the bra grabbing a breast. Startled, Kayla began to struggle, but she couldn’t move. She started panting and could feel the tears running down her face from the pain as the man got rougher. His hand wrapped in her hair held her from moving as he ripped the bra off completely. Kayla tried to kick him. Karl yanked her hair so hard she saw stars, his other hand splayed around her neck squeezing. Kayla couldn’t move and was struggling to breathe.

“You cannot stop me from doing what I want. The quicker you learn that, the easier it will be on you. Do you understand? Let me hear the words. Do you understand?”


“Yes. What?”

Her throat seriously hurting, Kayla rasped. “Yes, I understand.”

“Good Girl” and just like that she could breathe.

He went back to playing with her breasts and Kayla could hear his breathing getting raspier as he continued rubbing his face along the side of her face and in her hair. She couldn’t move, and the fear was starting to overwhelm her. She froze completely, when his hand moved down to her crotch and caress the “V” that formed in her jeans. She whimpered at the unwanted touch.

The man laughed. “Now sweetheart, is that any way to act when we’re just becoming acquainted?” His hand moving back up to her breasts where he began kneading first one then another. He shifted her body closer to his and Kayla could feel his hardness through the cloth against the cheeks of her rear. She couldn’t control the whimper of fear that escaped.

The man chuckled. “Now sweetheart, we will have plenty of time getting to know each other much better later. I’m just wanting a sample of what I will be having is all.”

Trying not to tremble, Kayla found some courage “May I know the name of the man I’m going to kill?” She was proud of herself. Her voice was controlled without fear.

The man laughed. “Gumption. Good. That will make playing with you a lot more fun.” Saying that, he positioned himself right between her cheeks at the same time cupping her through the jeans she was wearing. Kayla stiffened, and the man just laughed again. She hated him. Right then and there Kayla wanted him dead. She had never wanted a persons’ death as much as she wanted his. She didn’t know how just yet, but she was smart and he would make a mistake. His breathing was getting heavier and raspier as he was kneading her breasts and cupping her womanhood. He was teasing the “V” with his fingers while his face was buried against Kayla’s neck. She felt him brush his lips against the rapidly beating pulse in neck, softly laughing.

“Not a bad sample sweetheart. I’m going to enjoy playing with you for a very long time. You ready?”

Kayla had frozen in fear at the man’s earlier words, startled now, she looked up at him.

“Ready?” she whispered.

Karl pulled her even closer. “You have two choices here sweetheart. You do exactly as I tell you, you might have a chance to make it out of here alive. Do you want to live?”

“Yes” Kayla whispered through clenched teeth. Let him see her hate.

“Yes” She whispered again. Choking on the words. “I want to live” Trying not to stiffen with the coming hateful words.

“Good girl” Karl wrapped his arm around her waist and turned her around where she could see distant lights twinkling in the night. Pulling her against him tightening his arms under her breasts, while talking conversationally, he continued fondling her bruised body.

“You see the lights there in the distance?” That’s Casa Grande. The city is only 7 miles away, although it looks further. It is however, open road so, there aren’t many places for you to hide.

“What?” Kayla looks up at him.

“I’m explaining the rules of the game sweetheart. Dawn will be here in about five hours. I need to leave by then as people tend to drive by here in the morning. Can’t have anyone seeing me now, can I? You get to Casa Grande before I stop you, you live. The second option is you can hide in the domes until dawn and if I don’t find you, you live.”

“Now sweetheart, being, the fair man I am, I will even give you a fifteen-minute head start.” Yanking her head around he savaged Kayla ’s mouth with a ravaging kiss, then pushed her towards the city. “My name is Karl, sweetheart.” Laughing loudly, as he watched her run unsteadily out in to the desert night.

The moon’s pale light still revealed enough of the landscape that Kayla could clearly see the coyote with glowing Amber eyes standing to her left. Okay, she was hallucinating now. A coyote with glowing eyes. Yep, she’d seen everything now.

Catching sight of Kayla, the coyote turned running towards the wash stopping after noticing she wasn’t following it. It stared at her until it made eye contact then turned and ran towards the wash, again stopping when Kayla didn’t follow. Okay, now she really had gone crazy. Attributing intelligence with an animal.

“Oh Sweetheart. Here I come ready or not.” Laughter rang out in the darkness.

Panic filled Kayla. She heard a low growl from the coyote as it ran up to her and nudged her in the direction of the wash. She followed the coyote across a wooden bridge and down a path surrounded by Saguaro cactus which eventually led into a dry wash, where the coyote stopped to look at Kayla. In the wash, near the base of a Willow tree there was a small mound that looked suspiciously like a grave. The coyote dug at the mound then picking up an item brought it to Kayla. It was a rusted silver bracelet with the name Maya Begay engraved on it.

“No way. No way in hell. Are you trying to tell me that you are Maya Begay?” She whispered.

Soft yelp.

“Karl killed you too?” Yelp.

“Are you the only victim?” Kayla’s voice trembled.

Still distant and to the left of them. “Oh sweetheart. Where are you?”

Maya growled low and fierce. Kayla did too sending a glare in the direction of Karl’s voice. She was beginning to detest that word “sweetheart”.

Looking back at the coyote. “There are other victims?”

A growl followed by yelp.

“I will take that as a yes” Her anger grew as she thought of the other girls Karl played with and wished somehow, she could get even with him for that.

Suddenly, Kayla knew what to do and for the first time during this hellish night, she smiled. She had the perfect revenge.

Turning to Maya. She asked her. “How about we play with Karl for a change?”

A growl followed by a yelp.

Laughing softly. “I will take that as a yes.”

Karl had a flashlight. Figured he would. Kayla thought. He was still some distance away and with the moon setting, the light wasn’t as bright. Maya was crouched beside her at the wash they were hiding in. It was time.

Standing up, she ran to the back of the largest dome and slowly made her way to the entrance closest to Karl. “Hey Asshole, you’re headed the wrong way.” Kayla shouted, then quickly ran back towards the wash. She saw the light splay across the dome she had just left. Then hurried footsteps and a soft glow spilling out in to the night letting Kayla know, Karl was inside.

“Now Maya” and the coyote ran towards the dome. Kayla heard Maya growling and yelping, then Karl yelling “What the fuck?” and Maya running towards her with the flashlight in her mouth. Kayla took it out of her mouth and switched it off. Now they were both in the dark. She saw Karl’s dark shape coming out of the dome looking around.

“That’s your cue ladies.” She whispered.

Two slivers of silver wisp appeared at the edge of the desert directly in front of Karl. The wisps were low to the ground then quickly growing to form the shape of two young women. Kayla walked towards the women turning the flashlight back on illuminating Karl’s incredulous expression. Turning his head, he watched her approach, then spun around to head back into the dome, except there were two more silver wisps forming in to women blocking his escape.

“Now Karl, is that anyway to behave when we are just playing?” Tauntingly. “I only invited a few women that you already know. They want to play too.”

All the color had drained from Karl’s face as he quickly turned away from the ghostly women, but there was another figure in his way. He screamed then as she walked towards him with her hands out reaching for him. Spinning around trying to escape the apparition, Karl walked into the two behind him. Their hands reaching for him caressing his face and shoulders.

Karl screamed again. There was an opening to his left and he darted for it and came head to head with a coyote with glowing eyes. Maya slowly advanced and with each step towards him she took, Karl took a step back moaning. “This is impossible.”

“No. Not impossible, if one knows how to talk to spirits.” Kayla said.

He turned to look at her.

Kayla continued. “I’m sorry sweetheart. Did I forget to mention that I can talk to spirits? My bad, but now you can play with them for the rest of your miserable life.”

The women converged on him enveloping him in a glowing silver light. Karl screamed over and over. Kayla couldn’t see him through the silver light, but dawn’s first rays were coming up over the eastern horizon. The silver light dimmed then faded revealing Karl’s body on the ground. The coyote too slowly faded, becoming transparent then she too disappeared, leaving Kayla alone at the Casa Grande Domes.


2018 Verona Jones

Bio: Verona Jones have published articles with Coffee House Writers, and Digital Fox Media, which are online magazines. She's currently working on her Master’s in Creative Writing with emphasis on fiction. she lives in Tucson, AZ where she's honing her writing skills.

Website: Claire Fitzpatrick

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