Zelfar Missing -- Ruth Colter

ZELFAR: THE MISSING, Book Two of The Zelfar Series

Utopia isn’t without its problems. Explosions in the paradise of Zelfar send Zophie and her family racing through the portal to America’s state of Oregon. Zophie then has some fast explaining to do when she’s forced to divulge her covert life in Portland to her son, Zack.

Zack is angry—and for good reason. Not only is he thrust into a world he’s never known about and told secrets few would believe, but now his girlfriend’s life hangs by a dangerous thread.

Zophie and her husband, Travis, are taxed with finding a cure for Zelfar that will ensure the continuation of the population. Even more is added to Zophie’s plate when people who went missing from Zelfar start showing up in Oregon . . . with no memory of who they are.

It’s only a matter of time before things escalate further and no one is safe . . . in Oregon or in Zelfar.

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What readers are saying about Zelfar, The Missing:

“. . . Zelfar allows us to look at the miracles of and dangers of our complex American society through the eyes of someone from another world.” L. BERRY


“Zophie.” My husband grabs my arm, shouting over the spectators. “Can you believe it? We’ll have enough energy to send a hundred space shuttles to the moon and worlds beyond.”

That’s one of the many things I love about Travis—his excitement over new possibilities. His expertise may be agrophysics, but his curiosity is infinite.

“If anyone’s going to other worlds,” says our teenage son, Zack, “it’s gonna be me. It was my idea to isolate the power of zilimite, so I should get to be first to test it in the cosmos.”

I laugh, reaching to pat his shoulder. With teenage agility he easily dodges my hand. I pull back my arm as my smile fades, with thoughts of one world where my son can’t go. He doesn’t know you don’t need a space explorer to go to another world. I wish I could tell Zack about the portal to Oregon, a place I’ve secretly visited for nearly four years. I hate keeping secrets, especially from my son.

“Your attention, please!” Bayl, an elder in Zelfar, stands tall on his hoverdisc, and his voice booms through the zelcom on his wrist. Six thousand pairs of eyes, Zelfar’s entire population, stare at him floating above our heads. Every one of Zelfar’s inhabitants is assembled in this wide grassy meadow, eager to observe the outcome of months of elaborate experiments.

“What you are about to witness,” Bayl says, “is proof of our ability to harness enormous power. You will see a spectacle of lime colored arcs streak across the sky when the combined force of zilimite and the large green diamond is channeled to six special energy-holding domes.”

Bayl waves a bright yellow flag in a large sweep over his head, signaling to begin the event.

Three-year-old “K” tugs at her brother’s pant leg, and Zack lifts her to perch on his shoulders. We gaze at the sky. A hush fills the air. Static-charged particles tickle my nose and my feet tingle as if the ground were humming.

“Oooh!” K squeals and points at the first brilliant arc. She claps her hands, and Zack pivots in a circle, giving her the full spectrum of the light show.


My ears ring, and the ground heaves, bringing gasps from the crowd. I grab Travis’s arm and reach a hand toward K fearing Zack may drop her. Instead, he falls to one knee, gripping his little sister to his chest. She wails in protest.

Before I can take her, another explosion tumbles all of us to our hands and knees. Bayl yelps, and I gasp as his hoverdisc plummets to the ground, toppling him into the crowd.

Several blasts echo in succession, filling the air with sulfuric smells, and the light show stops. Travis stretches his arms outward, bringing our family into a tight huddle.

“What’s happening, Dad?” Zack squats closer to his father, and K leaps into my arms.

“I don’t know, son. Just stay low until the ground stops moving.”

The rumbling earth finally settles, and I rise slowly. My wobbly legs strain to keep me upright. The murmuring crowd stares at the sky, at the ground, at each other. Our world never quakes. The weather is always sunny and seventy degrees. Minor accidents are rare; major ones never occur at all.

I press my little girl’s face into my shoulder and stare at the destruction. Health Dome, nearest the meadow, lies as a huge mound of rubble, leaving nothing but jagged chunks of its crystillium shell. A lump forms in my throat.As a health expert, I serve in the Health Dome. Nearby, one of the energy-holding domes has turned into a heap of yellowish-green sand.

“Vad, can you hear me?” My husband taps at his wrist and shouts into his zelcom. He taps it again. “Vad, answer me. Are you all right?”

“Yes, Travis, I am unharmed.” Our android’s voice is loud and clear. “Our homedome is intact, but communications have been disrupted. I altered the frequency in your zelcom to connect directly to me.”

“Fire!” a man yells.

Fire? We haven’t used fire for years.

“The forest is on fire!” A woman shouts.

Travis and I turn in the direction of the pointing fingers. In the distance, an orange glow pulses amid billows of dark purple smoke.

“The portal!” I scream, then clamp my hand over my mouth. With trembling fingers, I grip my husband’s shirt. “What if we can’t get to Krissie and Gram?” My grandmother raised me after I lost my parents when I was eleven. I can’t bear the thought she might have to raise my daughter, too.

Travis shouts at his wrist. “Vad, bring our ionic wave detectors and meet us at Paradise Falls.” My husband taps his zelcom again. “Enclosed sphere, four passengers.”

He and I both shoot glances right and left. No hoverspheres or hoverdiscs, our primary modes of transportation, are in the air. The power surge must have taken out Transport Dome. Travis takes K and shouts, “We have to run for it.”

I nudge my son, but he pulls back.

“Run where?” Zack asks, swiping at his scraggly orange bangs. “I have to see if Brita’s okay.”

“You can see your girlfriend later.” I give his hand a firm tug, and we sprint toward the blazing forest.

My head pounds, not just from exertion, but from panic-driven questions. Did the earthquake destroy the portal? Will the fire keep us from getting to it? Will I ever see Gram and Krissie again?

Adrenaline sharpens my focus. I have to get through the portal, and I’m not leaving Zack behind this time. For more than three years, at the behest of the elders, I’ve kept the world beyond the portal a secret from Zack. I’ve hated every lie I’ve had to tell him about where I was going each time I went away.

At the edge of the woods, I pause, overwhelmed by the flames reaching high enough to lick the branches, jumping from one pine to another. Zelfar’s safety plans don’t cover forest fires.

Travis nudges my elbow. “We have to get to the portal.”

“We can’t just run into that!” I point at the raging flames and cough, covering my nose to withstand the stench of burning sap and scorched pine needles. My cheeks feel hot against my fingers.

Travis skirts along the edge of the tree line, trots a few yards, then stops. “There. There’s a break. The falls are at the top of that rise. We should be able to make it there before the fire does.”

“Wun, Daddy, wun.” K bounces up and down in his arms.

Travis glances from K to me. “What am I doing?" he asks. "You stay here, and I’ll go get Krissie and Gram.”

My sweaty hair flips back and forth as I shake my head. “That’s crazy. What if you get through the portal, and you can’t get back, ever? We’re going through together.”

“What’s a portal? And who’s Krissie?” Zack coughs and waves a hand in the direction of our community. “Don’t you realize I need to go see what went wrong with the zilimite . . . and find Brita?”

“I’ll explain everything when we get to Paradise Falls.” Before I can say more, Vad appears next me.

I breathe easier, relieved. Vad is our best chance of getting to the portal before the fire reaches Paradise Falls.

Vad stands six feet tall, eye-to-eye with Travis. More than an android, he can feel, sense, and learn. Vad looks like a man, including his facial features and his zeltire, similar to what we all wear, of loose fitting pants and shirt.

“Oh, great,” Zack sneers. “It’s the robot who thinks he’s human. If it can come, why can’t I go get Brita?”

The explosion doesn’t seem to have diminished Zack’s long-standing conflict with Vad. I assume Zack is jealous of the time Travis devotes to his android, which he built five years ago. I’ve asked Zack why he dislikes Vad, but so far, Zack hasn’t given me any clear reasons.

Vad ignores Zack and says to Travis. “At the rate the fire is progressing, it will reach Paradise Falls in eighteen-point-two minutes. We must hurry.”

“Hey, Zophie, Travis, wait up,” a panting voice calls from behind.

“Clay,” I say. When he stops next to me, I add, “I’m glad you’re okay." Clay is my best friend and colleague. He's here for the same reason we are—people we care about are on the other side of the portal. Clay is in love with an American doctor, whom he contends knows nothing of our world, except that our technology is far more advanced than her 1974 America. Secrets thrive on both sides of the portal.

Vad motions toward the approaching flames. “Seventeen-point-two minutes.”

My husband rubs his chin, his familiar gesture for decision making, and stares at the android. “Since you can’t carry all five of us at once, Clay and I will head up the hill. You run Zophie and the children to the falls. Then come back for us.”

“I’m not a child,” Zack says. “I’m fifteen. I can stay with you and Clay.”

Travis, for the first time, barks an order, “Go with Vad and your mother. Now!”

Thankfully, Zack offers no rebuttal. Instead, he shoots a quick glare at Vad, whose human-looking hands instantly transform into two large seats. Zack’s lips purse as he hops into one of them. I sit in the other, K clutching tightly to my neck.

Vad’s super-human legs race to the top of the hill. Sweat dots my uncovered arms. Thankfully, the air is cooler when we reach Paradise Falls.

Vad stops at the base of the waterfall and lowers us to the ground. With barely an audible click, his hands become human-like again.

I grab his arm when he starts to turn. “Vad, please get to them before the fire does.” I can’t bear the thought of being separated from Travis and Clay.

Vad hands me the two portal keys—a pair of earrings and a belt. In a blur, he vanishes down the hill.

Zack thrusts his hands into his pockets. “So, are you gonna tell me what we’re doing here?

I walk closer to Paradise Falls and sigh when the mist touches my face. I had hoped this moment would never come.

With practiced fingers, I put the earrings in place and pull gently on the small pyramids dangling from each lobe. The retractable chain hidden in the tiny triangles allows them to clasp together beneath my chin. The pyramids touch, dissolving the cloak over the portal. A shimmering light beckons through the waterfall.

Zack steps back. “Whoa.”

ZELFAR: THE SEARCH, Book Three of the Zelfar Series, will be out in 2019! Be among the first to hear the release date. Subscribe now.