Hissing was the last thing I wanted to hear. Did they have me in a medical bay like I thought? Or was I in some sort of zoo or specimen area? If these were unknown aliens and they were harvesting from the planet, maybe they thought I was a native and they’d taken me along with other creatures.
Like that giant, slithering death machine that could swallow me whole.
I did not like legless creatures.
Not at all.
Yes, it was biased of me. Yes, I was supposed to be a scientist—above all those silly fears a child has, able to reason and use logic. All creatures developed based on a range of biological diverse paths and that was just one of them. Not one I wanted to be part of.
Certainly not one I wanted to research from the inside out!
Most space facing species had developed beyond the xenophobic capture and kill all who are different mentality that planet bound species often maintained. So I hoped they were most likely from another planet. The scans that had been taken of Ardra had been clear of technology and civilization. Research could be trusted to do a thorough job most of the time…
And that word was creeping up far too often. Most, most, most. I hoped. If I could just wake up and move. Ask questions. Talk to these beings who’d taken me!
I could talk my way out of most things.
The urge to scream overwhelmed me, and a puff of air escaped my lips. Did I do that? Yes! I focused all my attention on my throat. Pushing hard, I shoved the air I was breathing out and a groan escaped me.
Sound. I was able to make sound.
My fingers twitched.
Movement. I moved. Oh happy day!
Unless they were bringing me around to feed me to that hissing thing. Some creatures only ate live prey. My heart thudded in my chest, but I tried to slow my breathing and not move or make another sound.
There was a reason security accompanied researchers, my mother’s voice reminded me tartly.
Not that it ever stopped my parents. I guessed, if I ever saw them again, I could use that excuse against the lecture they might feel necessary to give their genetic gift to the universe if only to abide by societal expectations. Then they’d then go back to their research, duty achieved.
My ability to feel had grown beyond my face, and the air circulating around the room tickled the hair on my arms and legs. A firm but yielding surface lay under me. The odors intensified.
“Open your eyes, human male.” The voice spoke close to my face, so close the puffs of air escaping with the words assaulted my nose and lips. Intense metal and salt filled my nostrils, and they twitched. A tickle was short warning before a violent sneeze erupted from deep inside my sinuses. I jacknifed up on the table and blinked my watery eyes in the aftermath.
“Auff, grrl.” The same alien who’d shot Bouncer had jolted upright, his face twisting in what I hoped was disgust and not rage. He’d been the one talking to me, and he just got a face full of human snot and spit.
“Sorry,” I tried to say. It came out garbled, more of a wheeze. The air was so dry my nose and throat felt like they were closing up and would bleed if I didn’t get some water soon. “Water,” I tried to say.
The aliens—there were two of them—stared at me. Then looked at each other. “Do I need vaccinations?” asked the one I sneezed on.
“Hey!” I wasn’t some nasty virus spreading contagion. My objection tore up my throat and I started coughing. Oh, that wasn’t going to convince them.
“You’re fine. I already inoculated him to suppress anything he might carry that would be harmful.”
The bigger guy—the one who’d had the gun—began gesturing at his face.
I wanted to object again, but I was too busy coughing and gasping for air. If only they would give me some water. The one talking seemed to be medical, and I had caught enough of a glimpse of my surroundings to calm my fears of being fed to one of Ardra’s native wildlife; I was definitely in a medical lab.
Maybe that thing on the wall. It looked like a sink. The smaller alien had opened a cupboard recessed into the wall of what could only be their ship and produced a cloth, handing it over. While they weren’t paying attention to me, I rolled onto my side. My body was sluggish, and I realized my mistake as soon as I tried to land on my feet at the side of the table.
The gravity in here was too high. My feet hit with a thud, my knees buckled, and I crumpled, destined for another hard fall.
“Gotcha.” A pair of thick arms wrapped around my torso and swung me up. Four Arms tucked my legs up with one arm under my knees. I pointed at the sink urgently. “I think he needs fluids.”
“Ahh, of course. This is a very wet planet.”
“I thought you said he didn’t come from here,” Four Arms said. He hadn’t put me down yet, and the longer he held me the less I minded. It was more comfortable than the table at least.
“Of course not. Humans don’t live this far out, but they are interested in this type of planet due to the similarities to their own preferred habitat.”
“Oh. That makes sense.” He peered down at me. “He does have rather soft skin.”
His was hard where I could feel it, smooth, almost shell-like. It didn’t have segments I could see, but maybe it was armor? They didn’t seem impressed with mine, even if it was state of the art.Want more flash?