As the title of this post suggests, I am psyched to share with you today CHAPTER 2 of my book, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It. If you missed CHAPTER 1, click here to give it a read.
Onwards, dear friends, unto the breach!
When Eris came to, her first thought was blue. It took her a few groggy seconds to figure out why. The spongy, curved walls of the small, spherical room in which she found herself were a vibrant shade of aquamarine and glowing softly. There were no obvious doors or windows. Where on Earth am I? In a giant blue gum ball?
After several minutes of panicked hyperventilation, Eris forced herself to calm down and try to make some sense of her situation.
Someone—or multiple someones—attacked me, she thought. They were wearing scaly gloves, for some weird reason. A prank gone way too far? I wouldn’t put it past some of my classmates. But Eris found the paralysis liquid more difficult to rationalize. Professional kidnappers? Barlow Collegiate has its fair share of trust-fund babies—they must have mistaken me for one, although my duct-taped book bag really should have given me away as a scholarship student. This must be just a colossal mistake.
Feeling slightly calmer, Eris examined her surroundings more closely. The only item of interest was a circular groove in the wall about six feet in diameter. She guessed it was the door, since the rest of the room was seamless and unmarked. Although it doesn’t look like any door I’ve ever seen. Eris decided to bang on it to see what would happen.
Just as her fist was about to thunk down again, the groove glowed a bright white. The door spiraled open like a camera’s shutter. Eris was caught off balance and tumbled forward, straight into a pair of scaly blue arms.
Gasping, Eris pushed herself away and staggered back. The creature before her was like something straight out of a sci-fi movie. Jagged blue scales covered its entire body, and it stood easily eight feet tall. It had six hands, each with webbed fingers and inch-long claws. A milky white gem on its forehead was glowing softly, and its slitted, purple eyes peered intelligently at her. The eyes were like nothing Eris had ever seen. Otherworldly eyes. In that instant, she came to a jarring realization.
“Alien,” she whispered.
Then she fainted.
* * *
When Eris regained consciousness, she found herself staring into slitted purple eyes. The creature was crouched over her, flicking its tri-forked tongue in and out from between scaly blue lips.
This isn’t a dream, she realized, starting to hyperventilate again. This is real. This … thing is real.
The creature made a phhh sound, splattering Eris’s face with moist, foul-smelling spittle. She screamed hysterically and scrambled away from the monster, pressing herself against the far wall.
The alien stood up, towering over her. Eris screamed again, holding her hands in front of her. “Leave me alone! Please! Go away!”
Flicking out its tongue again, the creature looked down at her and then abruptly turned and left.
As the door spiraled shut, Eris’s knees collapsed. She sank to the curved floor in shock. “I can’t believe it,” she whispered. “Aliens exist?”
Eris had always been skeptical of the existence of extraterrestrials. In her mind, they fell into the same category as dragons and vampires—fun to imagine but not real. For a few minutes, she tried to cling to the belief that this was just an elaborate hoax by some crazy group of people who enjoyed dressing up as scaly blue reptiles. But those eyes!
The memory of her captor’s otherworldly eyes made Eris feel certain that somehow, for reasons she could not possibly begin to fathom, she had been abducted by aliens. This terrifying prospect was so far outside her range of experience that Eris could do little more than sit silently, frozen with shock.
* * *
As the hours dragged by, alone in the gum ball cell, Eris’s initial terror was slowly replaced by bewilderment. She began to wonder why, of all the people on Earth, she was the one who had been abducted. She wasn’t the president of some country. She wasn’t the daughter of anyone important. She wasn’t particularly popular. To her knowledge, she had never done anything to offend anyone in any way. And she didn’t do drugs, or she would have attributed the whole thing to a really bad trip.
Maybe I’m actually their long-lost princess and they’ve come to bring me back to their planet, where I’ll be cherished and adored by my true people. Eris briefly entertained the notion and then discarded it as ridiculous. Could this really just be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The more Eris thought about her predicament, the more it began to infuriate her. Jumping to her feet, she shouted, “This is insane! Aliens shouldn’t even exist, let alone fly around kidnapping random people for the fun of it! Let me out of here, you scaly psychos!”
When she ran out of rage, Eris collapsed to her knees on the spongy floor. Cradling her head in her hands, she whispered, “Please, just let me go,” even though she knew no one could hear her plea.
* * *
A short time later, the door spiraled open. A reptilian arm shot into the room, grabbed Eris by the hood of her sweater, and yanked her out.
As she struggled to gain her footing, Eris saw she was in a large, blue room with curved walls. A second blue alien was standing outside the cell. With no warning or explanation, Eris found herself pinioned between the two huge creatures. She wanted to ask what they intended to do with her, but the words died in her throat.
Eris held back her tears as the aliens frog-marched her around the edge of the room. Twenty or so small doors like the one through which she had just been pulled were set into the outer wall. In the center of the room was a large platform with a circular console covered with glowing buttons and small screens. Am I in an alien prison?
Her two escorts stopped at a large portal on the far side of the room. Beside the door, a shallow basin filled with a blue, jellylike substance was attached to the wall. One of the aliens, still keeping a painful grip on Eris’s arm, plunged its hand into the jelly. The portal opened, and they dragged her through.
The creatures marched Eris through a series of blue curved hallways. They stopped on a circular groove set into the floor. The floor glowed, and then the elevator column shot upward. As they rose, Eris caught brief glimpses of space through portholes in the wall. Oh my God. I really am in space!
When the elevator stopped, Eris was facing a huge, circular portal. It was fifteen feet high and encircled by bones—large bones and small bones of strange shapes and forms. She shuddered when she noticed a few bones near the top that looked uncomfortably familiar. God, I hope those aren’t human.
The door itself was carved with creatures that resembled Eris’s abductors. The alien figures were arranged around a central figure with dozens of wavering tentacles, three eyes, and a gaping mouth ringed by razor-sharp teeth. I’m going to die, Eris thought. This is the end. I am going to be devoured by six-armed aliens with a curious fondness for blue, and my bones will be strung up to serve as a door-frame decoration for their chieftain’s lair.
Before Eris could panic, one of her guards placed a clawed hand into the bowl of jelly protruding from the wall, and the door slid open. The guards dragged her into a large room. The outer wall was lined with more aliens, all seated in front of sleek computer stations. Above each station were circular screens, some showing complex-looking charts, others views of space. If I’m on a spaceship, Eris thought, this must be the bridge.
There was a raised platform in the center of the room on which was perched a monstrous chair that looked like it was made of some distant cousin of coral. Sitting in the chair was a reptilian creature somewhat larger than the aliens Eris had seen so far. The tips of its scales were a yellow-green color. The captain?
The creature swiveled in its chair and locked its glittering purple eyes onto Eris’s green ones. After a moment, it half-warbled, half-roared what sounded like a command. Her two guards shoved her forward, and she tumbled to her knees. She was so scared that she could barely think. Her eyes welled with tears.
The alien hissed loudly at her.
“What do you want from me?” Eris asked helplessly.
The shorter of her two guards cuffed her soundly across the head. Whimpering with pain as the big reptiles dragged her back to her feet, Eris decided it would be safer to keep her mouth shut.
As Eris cowered silently, the alien captain leaned forward as if to study its captive more intently. Then it hissed again, and a tri-forked purple tongue snaked out from its mouth and shot close to Eris’s face. When she flinched and tried to jump back, her guards held her immobile.
The captain’s tongue slid sinuously over Eris’s face, coating her skin with a thin layer of foul-smelling slime. She found the experience not only disgusting but also degrading as the three tips of the tongue traced paths across her cheek, over her lips, and up her nose. Teardrops started to trickle down her face, and the alien lapped them up. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to scream.
Apparently satisfied, the creature’s tongue slurped back into its mouth. Maybe it will let me go now that it’s finished its tongue bath, Eris prayed. Then the captain pulled out a long, bone-colored knife and began to stroke it.
Or maybe, she thought, I’m going to die after all.