Book Two of The NOBODY Series:
Riley is transported into a world where she finds herself held hostage aboard a space craft on the brink of crashing. Here, she will be tested beyond anything she could have imagined. Riley bears a tattoo that may help to unlock the mystery of an ancient text the inhabitants have been unable to decipher.
With the help of Joel, a handsome young commander, Riley must fight against all odds to free herself and stay alive. But that process will cost her her memory and force her to trust a people she doesn’t know. The mission is further complicated by her growing feelings for Joel and the strange coincidence of him bearing the same scar on his shoulder that Lorenzo had.
Sheer determination and grit guide Riley as everything she thinks she knows unravels before her on her second mission.
I had entered into a great mystery. I was a prisoner on some sort of space ship. I sat very still with my hands tied behind my back to assess my situation. From the tiny window in the small room where I was being held captive, I could see space expanded before me. The space craft’s lights illuminated the dark universe as it moved through the blackness. The craft shook and vibrated as if pushing against a force not willing to allow entry easily.
I leaned over to the small window to have a closer look when I caught my reflection in the glass. What I saw made me gasp out loud. My appearance had been altered with this transportation. My hair had grown longer and now fell over my shoulders. My face had matured somewhat, as though the process had aged me by a year or so. I was relieved to see my same familiar eyes staring back at me.
My nose itched but I dared not try to adjust my face to find relief. The breathing device that had been slipped on my head when I transported onto the space ship did not fit snugly, so I worried it may slip off–unnoticed. I was alone in the small room and estimated I had been there for several hours with no one to check on me. With the lack of attention, I was sure I would meet my death if the breathing device shifted on my head.
I could feel perspiration gather at my hairline. I thought the fairy would have transported with me, but I had seen no sign of the small creature since my arrival on the space ship. I refused to allow myself to get angry. The situation didn’t look good, but I knew it was imperative I keep my cool.
My eyelids drooped and my head nodded as I fought back sleep. The adrenaline I had been functioning on was gone. How long could a person function properly without sleep, I wondered. If someone didn’t come soon, I knew my chances of survival were slim.
Just then the door slid open. A woman stood before me in what appeared to be a sort of white rubber bodysuit, snug against her form. The same breathing device was strapped to her head, but hers appeared to at least fit her head. A long, gnarly scar ran the length of one cheek.
She stared at me in silence for a long moment before she approached me and made an adjustment to the breathing device. It actually looked like a gas mask I had seen in pictures in history books.
“How did you get on the ship?” she asked quietly.
I didn’t know if I was in enemy territory, but decided I would just tell the truth. “I was transported here,” I replied.
“Transported? What is that?”
“You know, moving from one dimension to another,” I murmured.
Her dark eyes flashed at me, disbelieving. “That is not possible.”
I looked away from her heavy gaze. I didn’t know how to explain to her the process of transporting without evidence of the fairy. I wished now I had stayed silent. In an act of submission, I lowered my gaze to the ground to show I meant no threat.
“Stand up,” she ordered sharply.
I obeyed silently and shook my legs to get the blood moving in them. At the prodding of her hand on my back, I moved forward. The door slid open when I got close to it. It must be controlled by motion, I thought fleetingly.
I walked down a narrow hallway, swaying side to side with the movement of the ship. With my hands tied behind my back, I found it difficult to keep my balance. I was almost knocked into a man and woman in the hall, wearing the same masks. They turned to look at me curiously when we walked by.
A hand on my elbow guided me into a room toward the end of the hall. It appeared to be some sort of shower as long hoses were rolled up along white tile-covered walls and floor Everything was a sterile white.
“Take off your clothes,” the woman ordered as she untied my hands.
“Why?” I asked uncertainly.
“I need to decontaminate you.”
I rubbed my hands, hesitating. I felt an object pushed against the back of my head. I could only assume it was a gun. Slowly, I pulled off my prized possession–my father’s bomber jacket. I tossed it on the ground. My tank top and jeans soon followed. I hesitated with removing my underwear, but the pressure of the gun warned me to remove those, as well. So, I stood before the woman with nothing on–except the gas mask.
The woman grasped a long hose from the wall and turned a faucet. A blue liquid mist came from the hose. She grabbed a long brush and began spraying the liquid on my body, scrubbing me down. I could smell some sort of chemical in the mist and tried to calm the anxiety that filled my mind.
The woman paused at my ankle. “What is that?”
I looked down at the tattoo to which she was pointing. It was a Hebraic word I had found on the internet last year, spelling the word “peace.”
“It’s a tattoo,” I said shortly.
“What does it mean?”
“It’s an ancient word that spells out peace.”
I thought I heard the woman gasp, but I couldn’t be sure. She made sure to stay behind me, so I couldn’t see her expressions or read any ill intent she may have toward me.
I was thankful the decontamination process lasted only a few minutes as the liquid was extremely cold. The woman threw the same type of rubber suit to me. With slightly shaking hands, I pulled the suit over my chilled skin. The rubber suit looked very small, but amazingly, the material stretched out to amply cover my thin frame.
“Put your hands behind you,” the woman said quietly.
I complied silently. The cord was wrapped again around my wrists. I wanted to tell her that I had no intention of trying to escape. Where would I go? I couldn’t possibly fly the space craft even if I was successful in making it to the controls.
I was prodded back in to the hall, so I started moving, still barefoot. The craft was fairly large with dim lighting. The stark white color of the walls reminded me of the space ships I had seen in several movies back home. This one, however, seemed to be more crude. There seemed to be a danger to the exposed wires on the walls. I was sure they had some function, but it was odd to see them dangling out and small sparks emanating from many of them.
The woman seemed unaware of, or perhaps accustomed to, the potential threat of the sparks. Her intent was to direct me down several hallways, leading to other short halls. Soon, we arrived at a door where I was told to stop. This door had a limited access entry. The woman punched in several numbers and held her eye to the machine for a scan. The door successfully opened.
We walked into another hallway and I waited while she pushed a button to close the door behind us. At the end of the hall was another door. She performed the same steps to enter that door, as well.
Most of the room was occupied by a very long conference table, surrounded by chairs. At the head of the table sat a man with a long, scraggly beard, silently eating what appeared to be soup. He wore the same white rubber suit, but obviously no gas mask. He didn’t raise his eyes upon our entry; he merely continued eating with a slow, almost methodical, slurping of the food from a spoon. I watched as the liquid spilled onto his scraggly beard, catching in the tangles of his whiskers.
The woman didn’t interrupt. Quietly, she waited for acknowledgement of her presence. She had lowered the gun. Apparently, I posed no physical threat to one as important as the man before us. I could hear her remove her mask, but she kept mine on my head.
The man finished his soup and wiped the corners of his mouth with a red napkin. Even with the long beard, I could tell he was handsome for a middle-aged man. His dark hair was sprinkled with gray. Despite the hard expression on his face, his laugh lines made me wonder if he really did smile often.
He snapped his fingers and a strange creature appeared from a door behind him. It was tall and lanky with three fingers on each hand. Its white eyes seemed to glow against the very pale gray skin of its face. A dark robe clothed its frame from view, but I sensed it was probably a male.
The creature looked at me and cocked its head to one side. I had become accustomed to the sight of various creatures from the dimension I had just left, so the sight of this one was not disturbing to me. I met its bright gaze and felt a sudden chill run up my spine. I had an eerie feeling the creature wanted to communicate with me. The creature, however, lowered its gaze and proceeded to clear the bowl and other items from the man. It disappeared through the door from which it had arrived.
The man turned his attention upon me for the first time. His eyes probed mine as if seeking hidden answers beneath the surface. I had no answers to give him though. My mind was full of questions that somehow didn’t seem appropriate to ask right now.
After several minutes of silence, the man looked at the woman behind me. She cleared her throat slightly, betraying her nervousness.
The man strummed his fingers on the table and asked, “Adele, what is the nature of your interruption?”
“She has the ancients’ language inscribed upon her ankle,” Adele told him. Her voice echoed in the very quiet room.
A small gleam of interest entered his eyes. “You know the language?”
I shook my head no. “I just got the word off the internet.”
“Where is this internet?”
I had no idea how to explain the concept of the internet to him. As we were in a space ship, surely they had some form of it themselves.
“The internet transmits data through computers,” I said hesitantly. “You know, through space.”
His brows creased as he tried to make sense of my explanation. “I do not understand.”
“Do you have computers?” I asked, hoping to help him understand through one of those.
“I have never heard this thing–computers. Is this part of your language?”
I licked my dry lips. A glass of water would be very welcome about now. Somehow, I didn’t think they would consider my dry mouth was important.
The man stood up from the table. I noticed he had several silver bars attached to the waist of his suit. I assumed that meant he was the commander of the ship, or some type of officer. He crossed to me and grabbed my chin in his hand, turning my face back and forth as if trying to see something under the mask.
“She doesn’t have their markings,” the woman said quietly behind me.
“How did you get on my ship?” the man asked in a low voice.
I swallowed my nervousness. “I was transported here–from another dimension.”
The man seemed as confused as the woman. He pulled the mask from my head and stared directly into my eyes. His jaw had tightened and I could see a vein pulsing at his temple.
“Help me understand how you got on my ship,” he ordered.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ll try,” I said quietly.
I proceeded to quietly relay the story of leaving my dimension and transporting to the fairy’s domain. I tried to explain what that dimension was like, but the more I talked, the deeper his brow creased. I hurriedly ended the explanation with my transportation upon his ship.
“Did you see her come onto the ship?” the man asked Adele.
“No. We turned around and she was just there on the floor, struggling to breathe. She didn’t have a breather so Joel put one on her. I decontaminated her, sir, before I brought her in here.”
“What is your name?”
A sudden shaking of the space ship sent me forcefully reeling into the man. He struggled to hold the weight of me and keep himself from falling. When the ship became steady again, I pulled quickly away from the man, a bit embarrassed.
“I’ll check on the status of the ship,” the woman offered. She pulled the mask back over her head and quickly made her exit.
I was left alone with the man, but I didn’t think I had to worry about him harming me. His thoughts were focused on something else. He turned away from me and headed to the other end of the room.
“Is something wrong with your ship?” I asked.
He paused mid-stride and turned toward me. “My ship was hit by something several days ago and has become compromised. A crack has formed in the shell and is growing wider. We cannot control it. It is imperative we get to Morak soon.”
“What is Morak?”
His eyes narrowed. “Are you a spy?”
“No,” I replied. “I don’t even know who you are.”
“I do not fool so easy, Riley Nobody. You can stay in this room. You will be safe here–for a while.”
I didn’t like the sound of that, but who was I to argue? He was already letting himself out the door to leave me alone in the room. I moved to the table and sat down on one of the chairs. The cords were so tight upon my wrists that I could feel them biting into my skin, and as far as I could see, the room was void of anything that might help me cut them.
Another jolt of the ship tossed me into the edge of the table. No sooner had I straightened up than the ship started rocking violently. I fell out of the chair onto the floor, narrowly escaping hitting my head on the table. I maneuvered my body under the table when pieces of the ship started flying about. I didn’t have my mask on, so if the seal of the room became broken, I would be unable to breathe.
The room continued to literally come apart at the seams. The rocking of the ship was starting to make me feel nauseous. I was pretty much hating the sense of helplessness when I felt someone behind me cutting the cords from around my wrists. I turned to meet the eyes of the creature from earlier.
“Thank you,” I muttered.
I scrambled from under the safety of the table to retrieve my breathing mask. I couldn’t see it anywhere in the room. I turned back to the creature who was holding it out to me. Gratefully, I took the mask and slipped it over my head.
“Where’s your mask?” I asked.
“I don’t need a breathing mask,” the creature responded in a whisper of a voice. “I am able to inhale all atmospheres.”
The creature turned and headed to the other end of the room, pausing to motion for me to follow. I dodged the flying objects and made my way to the creature. It went through the door and weaved gracefully down the maze of halls.
I tried to keep up with the creature. My vision was limited from the mask, so I was challenged in trying to avoid various objects flying through the halls and keeping up with the creature.
I looked up ahead and saw the creature holding a door open for me. One of the exposed wires dropped in front of me just then, sparks flying. It swung into my hair and I instantly smelled my hair being singed. I ducked and swiped at my hair. Thankfully, it hadn’t caught completely on fire.
I made it to the creature and pushed my body through the door’s opening. The creature followed and forcefully swung the door shut behind us. This hallway seemed more isolated from the effects of the ship. No debris was flying through the hall as in the others and a quiet alarm sounded from various red bulbs along the wall.
The creature led me through another door which seemed thicker and more solid than the others. This door opened instead of sliding. I stood back as the door was slammed shut and the door handle was turned to prevent entry.
“We must hurry or we will be left behind,” the creature said softly.
I followed close behind as it led me through a dark hall. There were no lights to illuminate our path. The creature seemed familiar with the ship and grabbed my hand to lead me through yet another maze of hallways. The sound of a motor whirring was getting louder.
We stopped suddenly. I could hear the creature moving its hands over the door or wall before us. Suddenly, it gave way and opened to a bright light in a hall. Through the glass on the door in front of us, we could see people frantically moving around in a room. They weren’t wearing the breathing masks, so I assumed the air quality was fine inside the room.
The creature hurried me to the door and banged upon it. Everyone was so intent on their tasks that no one saw us. The motor whirring was so loud I suspected I probably lost some of my hearing.
In vain, the creature banged on the door. I knew from experience that when all looked hopeless, an answer was surely only a second away. I closed my eyes to try to summon the fairy. I wasn’t sure if it had even transported with me, but it had assured me it would be my guide on my missions.
I could feel the familiar heat on the fairy tattoo on my arm. Almost out of nowhere, the small light of the fairy came from down the hall. It had not left me alone, after all. I grinned under the mask when the small figure flew to me, reassuring me with its presence. The creature didn’t seem surprised to see the fairy at all.
The fairy flew past me to the door and lay flat upon it, enveloping it with its light. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the fairy vanished into the air. The door opened at once. The creature pulled me through the door and it swiftly closed behind us.
Adele caught sight of us and crossed over, an angry expression on her face. “What do you mean by forcing your way in here? You have compromised the air quality in the container.”
Before we could speak, a guy’s voice behind us asked, “How did you gain entry anyway?”
I pulled off my breathing mask and turned to look into the face of a young man who was wearing the same silver bars as the older man. I took that to mean he was an officer on the ship, although he looked quite young for such a responsibility. As with the other men on the ship, his beard was longer, although not as mature as the others because of his young age.
The tall creature stepped forward and bowed. “Forgive the entry, Sir Joel. I was able to open the door.”
“Slaves are not allowed in the container,” Joel said harshly. “Your responsibility is to the ship. You have left your abode.”
“That abode is being destroyed,” I blurted out, and immediately felt the warning hand of the creature upon my arm.
“Again, I ask forgiveness, Sir Joel,” the creature begged. “The girl bears the ancients’ language and I thought that may be valuable to your mission. I also thought I may be of service to the crew as you may not have thought to bring any slaves to assure your comfort on the mission.”
Joel thoughtfully looked from the creature to me. Our lives lay within his command and he knew it. How could one have so much control over the life of another, I wondered somberly.
“You speak wisdom, slave,” Joel said suddenly. “Get the girl out of here and come back to make yourself useful.”
The tall creature bowed again and took my arm to lead me out of the chaos of the room. For the first time, I took in the container, which was actually some sort of control room. Thick, cloudy windows were on the front of the room where the black expanse of outer space loomed before us all. Men and women of various ages sat at long tables, pushing buttons on some sort of control panel.
Almost in unison, everyone strapped belts around their waists. I turned to see Joel quickly sit and strap himself in. I knew we were not safe without also being strapped securely to the ship. The creature knew it too. I clung to my breathing mask as it pulled me through the door. We dashed down the hall to a door.
A large creaking sound filled the air. I didn’t need to be told that the container was separating from the other part of the ship, which Joel referred to as the abode. I was flung across the hall and pummeled into the wall.
The creature seemed far more balanced than I. It grabbed me and yanked me through the door. Hurriedly, it pushed against a wall and two seats came down. I plopped in one and the creature took the other. We quickly strapped the seat belts around us. Just in time, too, as this section of the ship broke free from the other part with a loud crash and everything went dark.
The container we were all in started spiraling downward, out of control. I could hear muffled screams and cries come from the other room. With shaking hands I pulled my mask over my head. I wanted to be prepared for the worst.
The container seemed to have lost all power when it broke free from the main part of the ship. I closed my eyes and calmed my breathing. Silently, I called for the fairy. I could hear the tiny creature’s thoughts in my mind, though I couldn’t see its form.
“Go to the control room and type in the sequence Z222LE on the monitor.”
“I don’t know where to type it,” I responded silently.
“Go to the far right of the table facing the window. When you pass the bright star, type the sequence onto the monitor. It will stabilize the ship,” the fairy ordered.
I unbuckled and rose from my seat. The creature tried to grab me in the darkness. It probably thought I had come unbuckled from the shaking of the ship. I didn’t have time to explain.
I moved away from the creature and used my hands to feel along the wall toward the direction of the door. I found the button the creature had pushed to allow entry into the room. Unfortunately, the button wouldn’t respond to my touch. Somehow, it had become inoperable.
I moved to the door and felt for the opening. I tried to pry the door open, but I didn’t have the strength. I felt the creature come up behind me. It seemed to understand what I was attempting to do. I heard its hands on the door and the motion of it slowly opening.
A faint light shone in the hall; enough of a light for me to see the door opening. It was just wide enough for me to slip through. I gratefully patted the creature’s shoulder and moved through the opening. The creature was too large for the slender crack, so it watched me maneuver down the hall to the control room.
No one had ventured into the hall, so I was undetected as I moved in the dim light. I reached the door to the control room and pressed on the button. To my surprise, the door slid open.
I had to brace myself against the door jam once inside. The container was teetering to one side. Lights flashed and the sound of alarms echoed inside the room. Some of the people had succumbed to the stress of the situation and were in a state of panic and shock, buckled to their seats and shrieking and crying. Others worked furiously, punching buttons on the control table before them. Most had unbuckled and were trying to maintain their balance as the ship careened out of control. I pulled off my breathing mask as no one else was wearing the contraption.
No one noticed my presence as I moved to the far right of the ship as the fairy had instructed. With all the disorder and confusion, I was able to sit down at the table. I almost slid out of the chair, so I quickly buckled myself to the seat. I focused on the large window before me. Even through the cloudy glass, I could see the blackness darted with stars.
I waited for several intense moments before the ship was suddenly illuminated by the brightness of a star. That seemed to cause even more panic, of which I took advantage. Quickly, I typed in the sequence the fairy had given on the table monitor. Nothing happened.
I looked at the screen before me. The light was quickly passing and the screen was not like computers we had at home. I grabbed the arm of a man sitting in the seat beside me who was scrambling to type in his own sequences.
“How do I enter a sequence?” I yelled in his face.
He looked in my direction with a frown for the interruption. He did a double take when he saw me.
“Who are you?” he asked, shocked.
“Hurry, man,” I screamed. “How do I enter a sequence?”
The man gulped and looked over at my monitor. Quickly, he pushed several keys on my screen. It was just a matter of seconds before the ship evened out and the lights came back on. The alarm slowly stopped ringing. The immediate relief could be felt throughout the ship.
I quickly unbuckled myself and slid out of the seat. The man looked at me in astonishment. I held my finger to my lips to silence him and slipped into the throng of people who were scurrying to get back to their posts.
I was greeted by the tall creature at the door. Silently, he beckoned me back into the hall. We rushed back to the room in which I was to be contained.
“How did you know the sequence?” The creature asked quietly.
I licked my dry lips and shrugged. The creature nodded its head and turned to leave. It would be needed at the control room.
“Wait,” I said. “I don’t even know your name.”
The creature bowed. “I am Roth,” he said simply.
“Are there others like you on this ship?”
“They did not abandon the abode as I did,” he responded in his whisper of a voice. “They met their fate today. My mission has been to await your arrival and ensure you reached safety.”
I was surprised at his response. “How did you know I was coming?”
“The lights come to us just as they come to you. I was told to expect you today.”
Roth bowed again and departed through the door. I sighed and sat down on the chair still outstretched from the wall. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the wall, grateful to have the ship moving smoothly through space.
I was shaken awake by two men in the rubber suits. I had no idea how long I had slept, but the stern expressions on their faces brought me to full consciousness.
“You are wanted in the control room,” one of them stated in a gruff voice.
I rose to attention and suffered the men grabbing my elbows to escort me between them as though I was some criminal. I didn’t say a word to them or ask questions, but I was pretty sure I was being summoned because of the sequence I had entered to correct the path of the space craft.
We entered the control room and all heads turned in my direction. The man who had helped me punch in the sequence pointed to me and I felt my heart sink. So much for trusting him to keep silent.
“Yes, that’s her! She’s the one who typed in the correct sequence.”
Joel stepped from the throng of people and advanced toward me. Instead of an attitude of gratefulness, his expression was as somber as the men who had come to fetch me.
“Is that correct? You were given access to correct the course of our ship?”
I hesitated to acknowledge the apparent accusation, but I had no choice. I had already been identified by the man who assisted me. I met Joel’s eyes and gave a slight nod. I saw a vein in his temple start throbbing. For the first time, I noticed the family resemblance between him and the older man who had first questioned me. I assumed Joel was his son.
“How did you obtain the sequence?” Joel asked, his eyes locking with mine.
I was not about to break eye contact with him as it would be seen as a sign of weakness. “It was given to me,” I said quietly.
“Who gave it to you?”
“The fairy that transported me here,” I answered.
Joel’s lips tightened with displeasure at my answer. “There was no fairy or other creature with you when you appeared on the ship. Now, I ask you again, where did you obtain the sequence to correct our ship’s course?”
“I told you the truth, but you will not believe me,” I said. “By the way you’re acting, I can tell you have a problem with me correcting the ship’s course, which was obviously going to crash, most likely killing everyone on board. So, I’m not sure why you have such a problem.”
Joel came very close to me and lowered his voice menacingly. “You are a spy sent to our ship and I want to know who boarded you.”
“If I was a spy, why would I save the ship?”
“To save yourself, of course,” Joel barked.
“I’m not a spy,” I quietly asserted.
Joel stared at me with his hard eyes. There was something familiar in the depths of his eyes that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He broke eye contact with me and whirled around, frustrated. He didn’t want to believe me, I could see that clearly. Joel snapped his fingers at the two men who had brought me to the control room.
“My father’s orders are to make her talk,” he said between clenched teeth.
I felt fear wash over me as the two men grabbed me between them once again and literally dragged me out of the control room. The eyes of everyone in the control room watched me in silence. No one was going to come to my rescue, and I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of screaming for my release.
I was drug through several doors and then down a flight of stairs. I hadn’t realized the container was that large. I guess I imagined it a small pod broken from the larger ship.
They whisked me into a small room at the bottom of the stairs. It was dark and I heard one of the men run his hand along the wall, obviously trying to turn on a light.
I took advantage of the release on my elbow and drove my other elbow into the side of the other man, causing a gasp of pain. He relinquished his grip on me and I dove to the floor, hearing the men grappling with each other. I used my legs to kick as hard as I could toward their groin area. I may not have made contact, but it was enough to cause some grunts of pain.
I scurried out of their way to the side as they lowered their arms to the floor, grabbing at me in an attempt to find me. I pulled my legs to my chin and lay very still. I could hear them scrambling to try to locate me. They probably should have turned on the lights instead.
I waited for them to move in front of me. I seized my chance and jumped up, kicking both of them in the back. They went sprawling to the floor.
I darted out the door and took off running up the stairs. I wasn’t sure which hallway to run down, but I had precious seconds as I heard the clamoring of the men’s feet rush after me.
I tucked myself in the dim corner of a side hall and saw the men rush past me. I waited a few seconds, then headed back the way they had come. They would turn around any second. I looked up and saw my only hope of escape–one of the holes in the wall with the exposed wires hanging dangerously close to the floor.
I held my breath and grabbed a couple of the wires in my hand and started climbing. I ignored the small jolts of electricity than ran through my arms as I climbed to the hole in the wall. I pushed myself toward the hole and was just able to ball myself up to fit into the small opening when the two men rushed past below.
Very slowly, I pushed back into the hole. If any one of them looked up, he would be able to see me. I needed a place to hide until the ship made a landing. The only ally I had on the ship was Roth, but I had no idea where he was.
A few minutes passed before the men came rushing past my hiding spot toward the direction of the control room. My escape would for sure bring forth others to search for me.
I dropped down from the hole onto the floor. I didn’t have a plan, but something told me my best chance would be in the room downstairs. I ran down the stairs and to the room. Everything was so dark, so I couldn’t make out any switches or buttons on the wall to turn on lights.
I felt along the wall as the man had before, but there was nothing. I got down on my knees and carefully crawled toward the other side of the room. About five feet into the room, I felt an object before me. It was a metal table leg.
I ran my hands along the floor, finding the other legs. Past the table was a small chair. I assumed this must be the interrogation table. Blindly, I crawled on top of the table and stood. I raised my arms over my head, but I couldn’t touch the ceiling. I kept my arms raised and jumped slightly. My fingernails scraped the ceiling.
I recalled the ceiling in the room I had been held in had consisted of panels. My hope was that the panels would move. I squatted on the table and reached down to grab the chair, pulling it up with me to position it on top of the table.
Very carefully, I stood on the chair. I was able to feel the cracks in the ceiling panels. I pried with my fingertips till one of the panels gave way. I pushed the panel through the opening and then hoisted myself up to see if it would hold my weight. Surprisingly, the panels were made of some kind of thick plastic and easily held me.
I lowered a leg back down and kicked the chair to the floor. Swiftly, I pulled myself up into the ceiling. Replacing the panel was no easy feat in the darkness, but somehow I managed to snap it back in place.
I wasn’t prepared for the heat in the ceiling. Sweat almost immediately started trickling down my spine in the thick rubber suit. If it wouldn’t have left me vulnerably naked, I would have considered removing the suit altogether.
I carefully made my way over the plastic panels in the dark. I could sure use the fairy’s help right now. Why the small creature wasn’t staying with me was troubling to me. It seemed to be going to great lengths to conceal its identity from the inhabitants on the ship.
Ahead in the darkness, I could see the soft glow of light coming up through the ceiling panels. Thankful for the sight, I crawled toward the light thinking that I would be able to get a sense of my location.
I peeked through a crack and saw a large stock of the familiar rubber suits hanging in rows in a small room. Various bottles of what appeared to be chemicals were secured behind a mesh cage. I assumed it was the blue decontamination liquid the woman had sprayed on me.
I was about to crawl on when I spied a piece of a familiar garment hanging out of metal box. It was my father’s bomber jacket. Without thinking, I crawled closer toward the metal box and pried open one of the ceiling panels. Since no one was in the room, I figured I could get my father’s jacket and climb back into the ceiling panels undetected.
I left the panel open and lowered myself through the opening. I had to drop about four feet to the floor, which echoed a loud noise on the metal tiles. I paused, but I knew by the lack of activity that I hadn’t been heard.
I ran to the metal box and pulled open the lid to get my father’s jacket out. The metal box reminder me of an incinerator because it was filled with ashes and leftover pieces of burnt items. Somehow, my father’s jacket had gotten caught on the edge and had avoided being burnt.
Tears filled my eyes as I hugged the jacket close to my chest. Except for a few singe marks, it was still fully intact. Of course, it was too hot in the ceiling panels to wear the jacket, but I was happy to have it back in my possession.
Next to the incinerator was a row of rubber boots. They looked to be a one size fits all, so I quickly pulled on a pair. The boots hugged my feet where I couldn’t even wiggle my toes. No matter–at least they would provide protection for my bare feet.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp, wrenching pain in my stomach that brought me to my knees. It felt like my guts were being twisted like a wet wash cloth. Chills and sweat broke out over my body and I fought against screaming in agony. I curled up on the floor, closing my eyes to pray silently as I hugged the jacket near me.
In the silence, the door slid open and I heard the hard thud of boots on the floor. I managed to slide myself under one of the rows of rubber suits to hide before the boots pushed through the rubber suits and ended up stopping right beside me. I bit my knuckles to keep from groaning as the stomach pains grew stronger.
Just when I felt myself passing out, the man who had stopped beside me gave a shrill whistle. Instantly, the sound of other boots clomping on the metal floor could be heard. They joined the first man around my hiding spot.
“She’s up in the ceiling,” I heard a man’s voice whisper.
He must have seen the open ceiling panel. I had given up my hiding place. How would I be able to elude them now?
I could hear some shuffling, but it didn’t matter anymore. Even though I was sure they were entering the ceiling, I was more concerned about what was happening to my stomach. I hadn’t eaten anything in such a long time that it couldn’t possibly be food poisoning. I reasoned that it must be a side effect from the blue decontamination liquid or something that had entered the ship’s air. If that was the case, other people would be feeling the same effects that I was feeling.
When I head one of the men gasp, I figured something must have contaminated the air. I tried to scoot further away from the men but still remain under the row of rubber suits. I heard a crash and a man fell to the floor down from me. His eyes were screwed up in pain so I knew he couldn’t have seen me.
“What’s happening?” I heard his companion ask.
The man on the floor suddenly vomited. The smell instantly filled the small room and made me want to gag. I quietly moved even further up the row and had to stop to catch my breath as another wave of sharp pains hit me.
I looked through the cracks in the suits to see a man poke his head down through the opening in the ceiling panel. He took in the sight below him and grimaced at the vomit.
“What happened to him?” he asked.
“He must have eaten something bad,” came the reply.
“Well, get him out of here and send me some guards to help me find the girl in the ceiling. Tell them to bring lights.”
Hands reached down and helped the sick man to his feet. I heard their feet shuffling along the floor as they left the room. The guy in the ceiling moved back in to keep searching for me. Right now, the safest hiding place seemed to be the very spot I where I lay.
Violent shaking overtook my body so that I couldn’t control muscle spasms. Blackness was starting to overtake me so I knew I was going to pass out any second. I tried to tuck the bottom of the rubber suits around me so that I wouldn’t shift if the ship made any sudden movements.
In the recesses of my mind, I felt a coldness against my skin that reminded me of the evil shroud of air that had tried to envelope me in the other dimension. I couldn’t ponder on that because I felt my eyes rolling back into my head; I let oblivion overtake me and put me out of my misery.