Fight Or Flight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 18, 2016

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Submitted: August 18, 2016

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Beep beep beep! The Morturian monitor scanned Feyla's room, or prison cell, for the fifth time that day. And for the fifth time that day, Feyla cursed all the moons and stars. 

With her door now suspiciously ajar, she sat at the edge of her bed of five nights peeking desperately out into the dimly lit corridor, yearning for any sign of escape. She had no inclination of what ship she was on, no clue why her own Vedarian shuttle was hijacked, and perhaps most infuriatingly, she still had no feasable solution that would get her home any time soon. 

The hallucinogenic chemicals that had been injected into her wrist were the only slight indication of where she was, or at least who had taken her. Most drugs had dizzying sense-altering side effects but the taste of bleaching chemicals and the lethargic feeling in her bones were unmistakably the result of Morturian drugs designed to debilitate their enemies. In Feyla's hapless case, and for reasons alien to her, that enemy seemed to be her. 

As a soldier of the Thousand Day War, and having endured much worse, she could withstand the effects of the drugs. For now, at least. Her combat experience remained prime in stopping her from charging out of her room in a reckless getaway attempt; the door had been shut since she'd arrived four nights previously - or at least that's how she'd counted it - and was now open, exposing the apparent emptiness of the vessel she was nestled in. She knew her military caution favoured her. An all-too-obvious clear escape, combined with what she was sure were pleading screams the night before were not what Feyla concluded to be a free ticket to safety: they were a reason to worry. 

''Fucking perfect,'' she cursed, wiping the sweat from her brow. After six months spent deployed as a soldier fighting and risking her life for her people, getting hijacked and kidnapped on her way home at the last possible hurdle wasn't exactly the most ideal welcome home present. 

Still, alone and terrified as was she was, and as enough motivation as she needed, she was alive. Besides, what else could she do? Every fibre of her being and every ounce of experience she had screamed to her that danger waited imminently beyond that door, yet she had no other choice. It was either fight or flight, and hopelessly, or perhaps more hopefully for her, the flight was the fight. It was either that, risking her life though she would be, or else she could crawl back onto the cold mattress on the floor and wait for the fuckers to pump her full of drugs once more, ending in inevitable death anyway. 

Feyla looked at the needle in her arm, transparent and cool as it pumped it's poison unapologetically through her veins. The effects were palpable; her eyes glazed and her body began to slump in an attempt at forfeit. Time was crucial. 

'For Vedar and virtue!' She felt her words slurring and there was a numbness in her mouth, but ever the soldier Feyla persevered, ripping the wire from her wrist to a stream of leaking blood and stinging pain. She stifled a yelp, biting her tongue, an endeavour proved futile by the deafening alarm sounds that were signalled, apparently by her conscious act of defiance. Feyla paid it no heed, for this was simply one more obstacle of impossibility she'd come to expect from a war that would never end. She'd made it this far though, where greater soldiers hadn't, and as she opened the door to a beam of flashing red and a ringing echo in her ears, Feyla thought of Vedar and all the people who'd be waiting for her. She was going home. 

She didn't care that she was naked as she treaded out into the narrow corridor; Feyla only became aware of her vanity as the breeze hit her walking. Her drive exceeded self-consciousness, and she had one incontestable objective: find an escape pod. 

Staggering considerably as she walked, Feyla reached for something to aid her balance, nearly collapsing as she managed to cling to a rail at the side of the wall. She felt a fuzziness consume her as the drugs took hold, dwindling her concentration. She focused her attention in front of her, her eyes furrowed, intent on blocking out the glare of lights that blinded her. A sign hung from the low ceiling ahead and she trudged eagerly towards it, her perception weakening as she walked and tried to keep upright. Behind her, a male voice beckoned. 

'Feyla! Feyla! You must come back!' The voice was familiar, and Feyla felt an unsettling fear grip tightly inside her stomach. She turned slowly, concentrating on her breathing, and saw the blurry figure of a man dressed in white hurrying towards her. This wasn't right. As he reached her, she swung her fist at him with all the might she could muster, though ended up losing grip of the rail and falling onto the hard ground. 

'What do you want from me?' she demanded. 'I've done you no harm, I even saved Morturian lives just a week ago.' She heard the panicking thirst in her own voice. The man said nothing and Feyla eyed him closely, her perception still compromised; she could only make out long white robes and dark hair that was visibly clear, as well an overbearing, foulesome scent of chemicals that stung her nostrils, so putrid and strong she could taste it on her tongue. 

He advanced towards her slowly as he crouched down to her level on the floor. 'Please, Feyla-' 

'-No,' she said, forcing her body up and retreating along the floor in a fearful crawl. 'Stay away from me. I know every disguise you have.' She did, too. She was certain she could see through his menacing pretence. She knew he was evil and twisted and out to get her. She knew she had to kill him. 'I'm a v-veteran,' she stammered. 'A war hero. Where is Shuttle 12-09? I know you took it! They'll have your head for this! They'll blow this ship into the stars if they have to!' 

She had crawled further and further away to the opposite side of the corridor and hunched herself, panting and sweating against a glass door. He inclined towards her once more and Feyla, refusing to take her eyes off of him, hit frantically with her fingers at the door's control panel in a frenzied rush of panic and distress. In all her days and nights training and fighting as a Vedarian soldier, she had never felt so exposed and helpless. Her attempts at unlocking the door proved fruitless, and she sat there unable to move, crammed and trapped in the corner she was sure she would die in. She looked away from the man, buried her face in her hands and prayed to all of Vedar's moons that this thing, whatever he or it was, would finally end her suffering. But it didn't come. Her breath was not taken by a needle to the neck, nor was she wounded with a punch or kick to the ribs. 

Feyla sniffed and wiped her tears before looking up. She was prepared to look her devil in the eyes but instead found the man kneeling just a foot away, his arm outstretched in supposed friendly reassurance. 

She paused, her mind still hazy, and was bewildered by his sudden kindness. What would happen if she took his hand? She looked around her, uncertain of what lay beyond the winding corridor. How would she find the escape pod in time? Was there even an escape pod on this bastard ship? She could run and chance it, but the white-robed man likely knew the ship like the back of his hand. She'd be dead before she could count the stars outside. Feyla thought of her mother, and the comforting wisdom of her kind face appeared clear in her mind. 'Seldom is gained from reckless impulse,' she'd have said. But her mother hadn't endured such an ordeal. 

'OK,' she said, extending her arm to the man's. As she did so the man's lips moved, though the sound he made was distorted; instead of the familiar voice she'd heard before, it became twisted and deep, consuming all of her senses and surroundings. How could she have been so naive? There was nothing kind about him as she damn well knew; it was an illusion, and he was wicked and merciless to have taken full advantage of her vulnerability. Her hand closed around his and as it did there was a flash amongst the lights, like a sudden bolt of thunder, and his appearance switched back and forth in an instant, revealing a fleeting glimpse of a white-eyed creature underneath. 

Feyla didn't falter. Digging into his wrist with her nails, she forced him off of his knees and onto his back. He protested, reaching his hands towards her neck but Feyla, conscious of the single beacon of hope of survival she had, smacked and swiped at his face like a jackal hungry for flesh, ignoring the crack of his jaw until he was no longer moving. 

She collapsed in an exhausted heap next to him, drained with bloody knuckles and a beating drum thudding at her rib cage. She composed herself after a few moments, not yet numb to the continuing nag of blinding lights and ringing alarms. Her body felt heavy, like she was drowning in slow motion. 

Feyla tried to focus on the mantra that had been instilled within her during her military time. 'Breath in.' She inhaled. 'This is life or death. Breath out.' She exhaled. 'And death is not an option.' She looked blankly at the motionless corpse of the man she'd just killed and tried to ignore the streaming thoughts that were flooding her mind; soldiers she had trained with had said the very same mantra, and faces of her friends who had died doing the same appeared as hazy apparitions in front of her. They had believed they would survive, though the universe had set them up for inevitable death. 

Refusing to believe she was another of those certainties, Feyla wiped the blood and sweat from her hands on her bare legs. She heaved herself up, adamant in finding a way out. Turning her back on the body, she walked onwards down the corridor and turned the bend. It took a moment for her to acknowledge that the alarm sounds and lights had ceased, for the ringing in her ears persisted. The corridor was desolate and dark, with more glass windows on her side and one fading light in the distance that buzzed and flashed feebly. She walked in perpetual fear through the unnerving silence. Looking behind her constantly, she expected to see the white-robed man standing there with his jaw hanging off and pointing a gun at her head. Persistence carried her, and after what seemed like an endless walk through corridors of grey-panelled walls and glass windows, Feyla found what she was looking for. 

She assumed she was at the ship's core; the room was circular with high windows displaying views of the twinkling nebula beyond, as well as exits that trailed off in different directions. On her side was another glass-panelled entrance to the ship's cockpit, a vast open room that appeared abandoned and neglected in darkness. Why was no one steering the ship? The middle of the room played host to an formidable, cylindrical tube consuming the entire middle floor; Feyla perceived it to be the ship's Centralised Intelligence System, the eyes and ears of the entire spacecraft, not least a mass complication of intricate wiring systems and other technical jargon Feyla had never much approved of. 

'Hello?' Feyla heard her voice crack. There was no initial reply, and so she began walking to the other side of the room towards one of the exits. She halted when the machine lit up, ridding the room of its lonely darkness in an ethereal glow of blue and white light. 

'Hello, I am Cissy,' came a loud female voice, and the C.I.S pulsed gently as she spoke. Her tone was warm and welcoming, her accent neutral. 

'Please,' said Feyla, 'Can we talk quietly?' Cissy's echoing voice was reverberating throughout the room. 'I need your help. I need to get off this ship. Can you help me get to an escape pod?' 

'Escape pod? What would you need an escape pod for?' Cissy's tone had changed drastically. She was less so the friendly happy-to-help intelligence robot, sounding more like someone telling their dog to stop mooching for meat scraps. 

Feyla took a breath, anxious of her exposure in the dome. 'Please, I'm not supposed to be here... A lot has happened but I must get off this ship. Is there anything you can do?' 

Cissy's lights flashed a crimson red. 'Oh, there's plenty I can do, Feyla.' Feyla's stomach turned. How did a C.I.S know her name? She gave her a dismissive laugh, her lights flashing rapidly, careless for Feyla's desperate pleads for help. Cissy was in charge here. A siren sounded, and Feyla heard an immediate clatter and rattle behind her. She swung around and saw, to her final horror she was sure, the source of the noise crawling from the shadows; through the darkness emerged white lidless eyes, eyes reminiscent of the creature she had glimpsed before, for they were equally cold and empty, yet full of desire and bloodthirst, and as the darkness submitted and the black tentacles of the creature's revealed themselves, so too was their malice, complete with a grin of razor-sharp teeth in their hungry, salivating mouths. Mouths that reeked of bleaching chemicals. They walked with tentacles instead of legs across the ground and crept along the shadowed walls and ceilings like spiders, seeming keen to keep their distance until they were in prime position to pounce on their prey. 

Feyla ran, leaping in panic-induced bounds towards the exit. She threw herself down spiralling stairs, skipping four at a time and trying to ignore the angry thuds of whatever it was now chasing her. She landed at the bottom, her feet stinging in aches as it smacked against the ground from the last great height. Darting on to a platform she found the first stroke of luck she'd had all week; a clearly-marked escape pod, ready and waiting for her, and the most euphoric sight she was sure she'd ever seen. 

The thudding grew angrier and more desperate, and as Feyla lowered herself into her saving grace, dizzy and stumbling, a bang sounded as the creatures found her, throwing themselves over rails until they reached her, with one wrapping it's tentacle around her neck like a boa constrictor intent on squeezing her of any life she had left. It was fight or flight, and Feyla knew it. With the creature's grip tightening firm around her, and as she felt herself losing consciousness, Feyla rammed Vedar's coordinates - 4044/22 - into the dashboard, hurling full speed with the window down into the endless darkness of space. 


© Copyright 2017 Fraser Currie . All rights reserved.

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