This story is by J. M. Gill and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My heart thudded in my chest as I stopped for a second to catch my breath. The air, cold against my heated lungs, refueled me with the oxygen to keep running. Despite my blister, torn feet, and sore legs, I had to keep running. The sound of the choppers above became louder as the brightness of the spotlight appeared two hundred feet away. I scrambled under a thornbush in an effort to hide. I heard my name being repeated by the megaphone. “Bethany Miller, please surrender and we will guarantee your safety.” Liars! I had witnessed them murder Caroline and countless other women in our situation.
Ripping the hem of my dress, I shuffled from beneath the thornbush in the opposite direction of the spotlight. I ran through the thicket and down the hillside. I continued running until I reached the foot of the hill and entered the tall prairie grasses, which reached my upper thighs. I took a deep breath, wiped the blood from my scraped legs, massaged my achy back, and scanned the area with my eyes. In the distance, I saw that shiny horrid thing that Caroline and I had escaped from months earlier. There it stood, just as hideous as ever. What was I doing here? It was as if I had been magnetically drawn to this place. If its passengers saw me, they would capture me and take me back to their space laboratory. A chill traveled down my spine.
Eight months ago. I was getting out of work. That night, I had to work the night shift at the hospital. It was dark outside except for the big crescent moon high up in the sky. I was walking back to my car when it pounced on my back. With violent force, it pushed me to the ground and wrapped its icy fingers around my wrists. The memory of its cold, scaly skin against mine still turns my stomach. It hissed at me forcing me to look into its shiny metallic green eyes. That was the last thing I remembered from that night.
The next thing I knew, I woke up in a clear pod-like encasing hooked up to countless of tubes. A few of the tubes were transparent. One of the thicker ones had green fluid flowing through it. Another tube had a more viscous blue fluid flowing through it. Some of the other tubes were made of a gold-colored material, which concealed their fluid content. With continuous influx, these fluids burned through my veins.
Lifting my hand to yank the clear tubes from my nostrils, I realized my arms and legs were restrained by a soft silver-colored material and that the skin of my arms was covered with silver crescent moon-shaped scars. Later I discovered that they permanently covered my entire body. Turning my head to the left, I saw myriads of rows of transparent pods which appeared to be encasing human life. I remained as a captive there for another four months. I lost count of the times I had awoken from sedation with strange new incision scars on my body.
Nightmares of that place still torment me. I’m almost relieved that I haven’t slept in days. The only good thing about not sleeping is not dreaming. In my last dream, I was a little girl again and they had taken me from my mother. In reality, I’ve never truly known my mother or her love. Terminal illness stole her from my father and me when I was three years old. I have no tangible memories of her. I know her from my father’s home videos and photographs. She had the most unforgettable smile.
I can’t stop having the same nightmare. I hear her laughter. We are playing tag in a garden filled with red chrysanthemums. They were her favorite flowers. The sun is shining brightly, and we couldn’t be any happier. At the end of the dream, they always tear me from her. We both scream and cry as I am being carried away to their spaceship.
My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden sharp jab of pain down my lower back and across my abdomen. For a couple of seconds, my vision blurred and my head felt like it was spinning. The recurring pain became more intense. I needed to get help before I fainted. I looked ahead. The spaceship was only three hundred feet away.
I couldn’t bear to return to the spaceship. I couldn’t live the plight of guinea pig, having my body continually poked and pried at. I’d rather die. I was about to turn in the opposite direction when I heard footsteps and shouting in the brush behind me. I now had only two choices. Gigantic hot tears crashed against my cheeks and pelted the dirt beneath my feet. I fell to my knees as to bury my face, but was inhibited by my extended abdomen. It was the reason I kept going. It was the reason I kept running. It was the reason I kept fighting to live. I grabbed the hem of my torn dress and clenched my fist. I should hate it, but for some inexplicable reason, I couldn’t help feeling love for it.
I couldn’t go forward towards spaceship. But, I couldn’t go back in the opposite direction either. The humans would capture me, tear it out of me in the most inhumane way, burn it, and leave me to die. They had slaughtered so many of us so-called “contaminated women and our unborn monsters.” I never imagined humanity, my own kind, could be so cruel and selfish. Another sharp surge of pain swept through my body.
My thoughts drifted. Was it time for its arrival? Would we both die before then? Would I ever see its face? Would it have my mother’s big blue eyes or my father’s brown hair? Or would it resemble them with their metallic green eyes and scale-covered skin? I shuddered at the thought of birthing such a creature. Caroline’s child resembled her so much. But, that didn’t stop the humans from murdering them. I couldn’t go back to the humans. They would kill us both. I had made my decision. I moved onto all fours and started crawling forward through the tall grassland. I looked up. In the distance, a single red chrysanthemum swayed in the breeze near the entrance of the spaceship.