Tuesday, December 4, 2012
It Isn't Tuesday Without a TEASE
Another little snip from my epic alien rebellion saga, ZERO. Enjoy!
He releases his ravaged bottom lip, clears his throat, and lifts his gaze. “My men seem to think you’ve been miscategorized. That you should be a Four, or even a Five.” When I still don’t respond, he lets loose an aggrieved sounding sigh. “Do you know what that means?”
“Give it up, Dunc,” Mick says on a low, humorless chuckle. “She’s not going to talk to you. That’d be a civil thing to do, something savages don’t know anything about.”
The lieutenant grits his teeth, shoots a dark look over his shoulder. “When I want your opinion, I will ask for it.”
“Yes, sir.” Mick’s voice turns precise, clipped. It’s as though he’s flipped a switch and changed into a completely different person.
Unconsciously, I crane my neck to see around the lieutenant. I wonder if his appearance changed along with his voice, but the lieutenant turns back to me, blocking out all else.
“This base is not like the one you came from,” he begins again. It’s almost fascinating, the way he slides so effortlessly from one dialect to another, like he’s equally comfortable on either side of the line. “We are not a prison camp. We’re a work camp, which means—“
“I know what a ‘work camp’ is,” I snap out bitterly. We both know what they are here for, so why don’t they just kill me already? What was the point in feeding me these last few days, in keeping me alive? Why all the talking now?
“Do you really?” He cocks his head, considering me. He allows only the barest pause before continuing. “Then, by all means, enlighten me. What is a work camp?”
The last two words push out of him hard and heavy. He wants me to know that he didn’t miss the emphasis I’d placed on them.
I pinch my lips together. I shouldn’t have said anything to begin with. I should’ve just let him ramble on.
“No answer?” He glances down at his watch. “I’d like to say I can wait, but that’s not true.”
Like that’s going to get my mouth moving. I cross my arms over my chest, clamping my jaw tightly shut.
Apparently unfazed, he pockets his com-pew-ter before reaching behind him. A small click sounds as he unhooks something from his belt. Then, his hands come back around to his front and my whole system goes into lockdown.
The hair on the back of my neck rises, prickling with a sudden chill. My skin crawls with millions of invisible creatures skittering over me, and my ribs begin to ache from my heart slamming so hard inside my chest. Mouth dry, lips trembling, I try to back away from him, but wedged in next to the toy-let as I am, I’m trapped.
“Doesn’t look like much, does it?” he asks as he presses a button on the black box he holds. A static whirr arises, and a light flickers on. First, red. Then, green. He looks up. “We originally made these to deal with the wildlife here. Your animals are a whole lot more violent than the ones back on Earth. Elephants, especially.”
He clears his throat, shakes his head. My eyes are glued to the weapon in his hand. I can already feel the heated jolt coursing throughout me, rendering me incapable of even basic functions. My body quakes out its fear in hard jerks and spasms that he barely acknowledges.
“Sorry. What was it you call them?” He thinks for a moment. In my fright I’d barely noticed how he’d inserted his human word—ell-uh-fents—smack in the middle of speaking to me. He snaps his fingers as the answer comes to him. “Hendlings.”
I couldn’t pull my focus away from the weapon, even if I wanted to. And, I don’t. If I keep it in my sight at all times, he can’t sneak up on me with its electric kiss.
“They were never meant to be used on the natives,” he muses. He raises his arm, points the box at me. A red dot appears on my chest, bounces slightly before finding a spot to settle. Right over the flat bone between my lungs, the one that protects my heart. “But, as you yourself have learned recently, they can easily immobilize an animal far smaller than your hendlings.”
That animal being me. Shivers rocket through me, my skin growing cold in anticipation of the death blow he is about to deliver me. There is no way I will survive another shot from that thing, especially at such close range.
Either he doesn’t notice my reaction or he doesn’t care. He continues speaking, his tone even, conversational. “We’ve only ever had to use them on the most violent of you. The Fives…very rarely, the Fours. The one time a Three was tased, it died. A shame, that.”
The red dot sticks to my chest. It moves with me as the shakes become more and more violent. My whole body is cold. It’s as if the blood has retreated far within me in the hopes that if it hides it cannot be taken from me.
He licks his lips, wetting them. “Do you understand what that means?” He waits a beat. “Answer me.”
I open my mouth, but no sound comes out.
He presses a button on the side of the box. A second green light blinks to life next to the first. Lifting the weapon so the red dot moves up to the base of my throat, he says again, “Answer me.”
Again, my mouth opens, my lips move, but no words form.
Another button. Another light. The dot skims up my neck, over my chin, and along my nose. I can’t see where exactly it lands, but I imagine it’s centered between my eyes.