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I Face Death With Something To Live For (Remember Me)-First Of Two Parts
It wasn’t worth the risk. I’ve put them all in danger; all of humankind. They’ve won…
Nothing about her is ordinary. Not to me. Some may say she’s too pale, some may say she’s too skinny, too tall, too quiet, and too weird but to me, she is perfection.
Brushing her choppy bangs out of her eyes, I watched how they plead with me. Don’t go, they say, tell them to take someone else. Stay with me… with us. Shaking my head, I smiled as I stroked her porcelain white cheeks. She’s practically glowing; never before have I felt so in tune with a girl. I saw the tears beginning to well up in her big brown eyes. I pulled her closer to me, wrapping my arms around her, holding her close. As she hugged me closer I could fell her bulging stomach pressing into me. It felt so good, new life in the making. I untangled myself from her arms and bent down so my head was level with her stomach.
”Behave yourself for mummy, okay?“ I kissed the bump softly and then did the same with her hand, the one she always held her swollen belly with protectively.
I straightened up slowly. I hugged her again. ”How long now?“ I smiled at the thought of fatherhood, hugging her once more.
Hiding the tears that flowed down her cheeks, she buried her face into my chest. ”Doc said within the month,“ she looked up into my eyes, ”so you’d better come back, I’m not doing it alone-“
I kissed her. I didn’t want to her to think like that. I didn’t want her to finish that sentence. I’d come back. I had to. I couldn’t promise her so much and then fail her. I promised her we’d be together forever. I promised her I wouldn’t leave her alone with our baby for more than a second. I promised her I’d bring them all back safely. I promised her they wouldn’t get me. I promised her this baby would be our fresh start. Perhaps I promised too much? Our fresh start would arrive within ten days if Doc was right, and Doc was never wrong… I couldn’t let her do it alone. No matter who else was with her, whether it was her sister, Mandy or Doc, she’d consider herself alone if I wasn’t there. I had to come back.
I kissed her again, more passionately than before, running my fingers through her hair. I needed this. I couldn’t live without it. I needed her, our family here. I needed everything that made me feel alive. I can’t believe I hadn’t known that before I risked it all. Before I lost it all.
He’s waking up! I could hear their whispered exclamations of glee before I had even opened my eyes. Immediately, I could begin to hear other sounds too; a constant, persistent blipping, muffled shuffling, a pen scratching away on paper and the swing of a door. Gradually, feeling flooded back through my limbs. Everywhere ached, particularly my head. There was another whisper from somewhere and the pain eased slightly, I sighed in relief. What the h*** happened? I couldn’t remember anything. It was all fuzzy and faded, like when your TV set gets poor reception. I certainly wasn’t at home; the voices didn’t sound familiar at all, they spoke in a rasping hiss, as you would imagine a snake’s voice. If I wasn’t at home though, it could only mean one thing… they got me.
Memories flooded back to me. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have been so reckless? I’d let them all down, why hadn’t they let me die? I hoped they’d escaped though, I hoped they didn’t look for me. I hoped they’d break it to her gently. I hoped she’d be strong, for the both of them. My child… the child that would grow up hearing stories about me and how foolish I was. If it even grew up at all… Yes, how could I have been so reckless?
I opened my eyes at last. Squinting at the glaring light above, I waited for my vision to adjust. Everything was so clean. From the white ceiling tiles and walls to the odd looking silver instruments around the room. A hospital? That would explain the IV that dripped into my right arm. The blipping I noticed came from the heart monitor I was rigged up too. Turning my head as I looked around, I noticed I wasn’t alone.
They looked so human in so many ways but it was the slight differences that made them so un-human. They had a humanoid body, each easily reaching 8ft tall, but instead of peach-like soft skin they were covered in scales that shone every colour of the rainbow under the harsh glare of the light. Their long, elegant limbs covered by sickly green surgeons scrubs, each staring at me with their unusually large eyes, round and black like pebbles, waiting for me to move, to speak. Their only distinguishable facial expression; their surgical masks covered the rest but memories filled the gaps that reality left. I could remember nostrils like a reptiles and scaly lips filled with jagged teeth, and fear. My fear.
They all stood over me, unblinking and expressionless. I shifted uneasily but I moved nowhere. I struggled again and again, still I could not move. I flexed my fingers and toes; no problems there. I frowned and looked down at the rest of my body. I gritted my teeth in frustration. These invaders weren’t as dumb as I had first thought.
The tatty jeans and shirt had gone, replaced instead by a pristine surgical gown. My scuffed sneakers had gone too, leaving my feet bare. Thick metal cuffs tied me to the cold metal table, one around each wrist and ankle.
I groaned. This was my end, I could see no way out of this. I’d lost, we’d all had. I closed my eyes again, visualising their faces when I didn’t come back… Doc would be comforting her, inconsolable, her sister hovering in the background cradling my baby, a smug look on her face. She’d always known I’d mess up, why was she always right?
My eyes shot open. How long had it been? Could it be I was a father? That I had missed my chance… Could I have left her alone? Even if I hadn’t, Death was my only escape from the clutches of these monsters.
”How long have I been here? How long since you caught me?“ I croaked, my mouth suddenly dry. Come on, I thought, answer me! From somewhere in the room a voice echoed loudly.
”Two weeks,“ the voice hissed, ”you were unconscious for two weeks. Today is the fifteenth day since we ’caught‘ you, as you put it.“ I sobbed. If Doc was right our baby had been born. Alone. I’d left her alone. Even if I lived through this, she’d never forgive me… I’d never see our child. I’d never see her again. Maybe it would be for the best if I died now. Death certainly sounded better than living alone in the wilderness, but that was if I survived. As I lay there, thinking of what was yet to come the voice continued to drone on. ”Personally I would say we saved you. We’ve saved you from a lifetime of hiding. Now we want to do the same for the rest of humankind. What quality of life is living in a cave, stealing to survive? We can set you free!“
I snorted, disgusted by the comment. ”It’s your fault we live like this. If you want to set us free you can go home, back to your own planet instead of messing up ours. We were fine until you came along!“ I growled at them, ignoring the look of shock of their faces. A prisoner with attitude but I wasn’t going down without a fight.
Then they all laughed. It was a strange sound, an alien’s laughter. It sounded like a donkey braying but it was accompanied by an odd fairy tinkling.
”What? Surprised by our amusement, human?“ I didn’t reply, I continued to stare straight ahead at a single ceiling tile. I had to think how I could escape… ”Wars raged throughout your world, discrimination, abuse and separation. How could you live like that? Our arrival signalled the beginning of an age of peace. Without us your species would destroy itself!“
This time it was my turn to laugh. ”So you sped things up, decided to destroys us yourselves instead, right? Your age of peace doesn’t affect us. As a race we are either dead or hiding. You’ve destroyed us, you say you came here to bring peace but we already had it. Killing all of humankind for the sake of a violent minority, that’s what you’ve done. So why don’t you kill me now, get it over with?“ I braced myself, waiting.
”Like you said, there a several pockets of humans still living in this world.“ Our world, I added mentally but the alien continued. ”You are among this number of people that refuse to succumb to our occupation, therefore you will know of others too. We already know you were among a small group of human males that were spotted stealing from a food store a fortnight ago. You will tell us where we can find the rest of your group. All of them.“ It’s eyes narrowed as a smile broke out across my face.
I was the only one. The others escaped. I knew they wouldn’t be so stupid as to follow me. They’ll move the group; we have countless hiding places away from alien settlements. They’ll keep my family safe. For the first time since I opened my eyes, I knew there was hope. A faint glimmer but hope none the less.
”What if I refuse?“ I wouldn’t tell them anything. I was going to do everything I could to keep them safe.
”Humans, so foolish even in the face of death!“
”We call it loyalty. Family is the only thing your kind has left us with, and we’re loyal to our families.“
”Well, whatever you may call it, it counts for nothing in here. We always get what we want, whether you give it willingly or we take it by force.“ It signalled to another alien, who left the room swiftly.
I froze, suddenly petrified. I definitely wouldn’t give anything away by choice but that single ominous gesture, the waiting for my final death, scared me more than anything; even more than being trapped in a room full of aliens.
The others began to fiddle around with certain instruments that lay around the room. My heart began to beat faster and faster as I became more and more frightened. I tried to fight my way out of my restraints but it was useless. It’d all be over when that alien comes back. I tried to stay calm but me heartbeat continued to speed up, as did the beeping of the heart monitor.
Then the door opened. In walked the alien but someone shorter, dressed in a spotless lab coat and pushing a metal trolley covered with a sheet followed it. A human, but how? Why would they spare this human?
She paused next to me, looked me up and down then addressed the aliens directly. ”So, have you taken his pulse? No, I didn’t think so. I have to do everything around here don’t I!“ Then she practically yanked my head to one side and pressed her middle and index finger into the skin just under my jaw, measuring my pulse. I lay defenceless on the table, watching, waiting, and listening.
Finally, the woman let go of my head. ”His pulse is normal considering the circumstances. We’re all clear to proceed.“ she nodded at the alien stood in the far corner of the room, who immediately began to sterilise the metal instruments closest to him.
I cursed under my breath but I had to know something before anything happened to me. ”Why?“ I asked the woman. ”Why are you still alive? How come they haven’t killed you yet? Why betray your own race?“ I winced as she prodded me in the chest; I still bore the bruises of my capture.
She pushed her glasses further up her nose. ”I was the only one that welcomed them, I spotted the signs of their imminent invasion years before the leading scientists that studied alien activity. For years I was shunned, considered lower than them, told I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. When I made contact with the aliens the others told me I was mad, I narrowly avoided being sectioned so I helped them, the aliens that is. Why help your own race if you aren’t part of it? Earth was crying out for help, the aliens offered it. In exchange for my assistance in ridding our planet of humans I was promised technology that is light-years ahead of our most recent inventions. I would finally have one over on those close-minded idiots that shunned me everyday. I would be a hero!“
I sighed. ”Hero? You’ve betrayed us all; you’ve killed your own family. You’re a monster! Warped. Twisted beyond recognition.“
She ignored my accusations. ”We were a dying race anyway. Death everywhere. Poverty, war, racism, even killings on our own streets! Why prolong the agony?“ she bent down so I was looking into her eyes. ”Give it up son, tell us where they are. It’ll hurt less, I can tell you that. Like I said, why prolong the agony?“
Fury raged through me. I spat in her face and she jerked back. ”Dying race?“ I snarled, ”We were growing in size daily,“ I paused, sighing, ”We still are, and unlike you I am not turning my back on my race.“ At least not on purpose, I thought.
She shook her head, tutting. ”Such a waste. Such a shame. It’s no wonder you’ve lasted so long kid, you’re a feisty one.“ She turned round and addressed the alien in the corner. ”Ready?“ It nodded. ”Excellent.“ She smiled and ripped the cover off the trolley she had pushed in. ”Are you ready?“ she said to me.
I almost smiled back at her. ”Bring it on. I survived the invasion, I can survive this…“ My voice trailed off as the alien from the corner began to stride toward me. Suddenly words didn’t make me feel as tough and cocky as I had hoped, I felt small and reckless again.
I was going to die.
The beeping from the monitor sped up so it was in step with my own heart, hiding my fear was so hard. I could feel my hands shaking too.
The alien was standing over me now, syringe in hand. ”Prepare the insertion area.” it ordered to another who sprung into action. I turned my head away, I couldn’t watch. What were they doing to me? How was this giving them the information they needed?
”Ready for insertion.“ I closed my eyes tighter at the sound of the alien’s hiss. I balled up my fists in anticipation. Why was it taking so long? I felt a sharp prick in my left arm, just inside my elbow, followed by a painful ache. I groaned; no injection I’d had before hurt like this before. What was it they’d given me? ”Insertion complete. Prepare for memory screening.“
”What the hell?“ I moaned. ”What’s going on?“ The ache was moving further up my arm toward my shoulder now.
”We told you were get what we want whether you want to give it to us or not.“ Whispered the woman.
”You failed to give it willingly…“ one alien hissed.
”So we’re taking it by force!“ another finished.
I frowned. ”How the h*** you doing that?“
The woman laughed. ”I was right, you are feisty. To bad it won’t help you. We’re taking what we need via your memories.“ I gasped, though more from pain than surprise. The woman misread my expression, continuing to speak proudly of her beloved invaders. ”I know, wonderful isn’t it? We have technology way beyond your imagination! Inside you now is one such piece of technology. It will root through your memories, one by one and bring them to the forefront of your brain. Then we watch it on the screen.“ She tapped the top of the machine next to her twice. ” Heard of an electroencephalogram? It measures brain waves. This one is so much better, kid; it shows thoughts as they occur in the brain. It’s my own invention too. Being a part of this community is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me.“ She continued to speak but I couldn’t hear her anymore. I could see her mouth moving but it was like everything was on mute. My head was pounding. I groaned again, louder this time. What was this thing?
The woman picked up two electrodes and I watched as she taped them to my forehead; one above my left eye, the other above my right. I closed my eyes as the pounding continued, getting louder and louder, until I thought my head might explode. When would it stop? When would they kill me?
I could feel myself shaking again, more so than I had been already. Everywhere burned now. I writhed in pain. It felt like a wildfire was raging through my body, a pain like no other. What was that thing they put in me? What was it doing? I could feel myself weakening. My breathing sped up, becoming increasingly harder. I was gasping now, I tried to scream but I couldn’t think straight.
Why did they fasten me down? I needed to move, get away from here, anything to make the pain stop. Someone held onto my arms as I shuddered violently, as my body began to spasm.
Just when I could take no more, my body gave up, shut down and I blacked out.