Jennifer Wilber is an author and freelance writer from Ohio. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
I open my eyes to a blinding light shining down from somewhere overhead. There is an unbearable pain in my throat and stomach. My entire body aches and I feel incredibly dizzy. I can't even remember who I am. Where am I? I can't remember anything. What is going on? What is this place and how did I get here? I try to move my body, but I'm paralyzed. And cold. Extremely cold. This room is freezing. I can hear muffled voices somewhere in the distance speaking in some strange foreign language.
I can barely move my head. As I start to regain my senses, I realize that my arms and legs have been restrained, and that my clothing has been removed. I have been tied down to a cold metal table, completely naked. This room looks like some sort of infirmary or operating room. I try to scream for help, but no sounds come out. The intense pain in my throat is becoming more unbearable every second. It feels as though my vocal cords have been severed. What is happening to me?
I hear the creaking of a door opening behind me, followed by heavy footsteps. Three very pale-skinned beings wearing strange clothing circle around me. One of them is holding a syringe. "I think it's regaining consciousness," one of the beings says to the others. I can somehow understand this strange alien language now as some fuzzy memories start to return. "I'll get a sample before we sedate it again." Why am I able to understand this language? What sample? Where am I? What is going on? They're planning on sedating me again? I must find a way to escape.
I feel the sharp needle enter my skin. It is uncomfortable but dwarfed by the pain in my throat and stomach. I feel weaker as my blood fills the syringe. I fight to remain conscious, despite the increasingly intense pain and loss of blood. I don't know what is going on, but I do know that I need to escape. I can see that the syringe is now filled completely with my blood. The beings turn to leave the room. I hear the creaky door close behind me as they leave. I am alone again.
Staring into the bright light overhead, I slowly being to regain some of my memories. We were on a routine surveillance mission. I was part of a two-man team. Just the pilot and me. The pilot lost control of the craft. Or were we shot down? I now remember a loud booming sound before we lost control of the craft. It sounded like a weapon being fired. The last thing I remember was spiraling out of control toward the alien desert below. We tried to call for help, but it all happened too fast. It was just a routine mission. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Why here? Why now?
Did someone - or something - want us dead? Did whoever shot us down bring us here? What happened to the pilot? Did they bring him here too? Is he in another room in this facility, restrained to another cold metal operating table like this, subjected to the same strange alien experiments, only to be left for dead, just like me? Or am I here alone?
My memory is still fuzzy. Maybe it's the pain. Maybe it's a result of the trauma I have endured in a crash. Maybe these beings drugged me when they brought me here. I'll probably never know. The pain is getting worse. I know I'm dying here on this operating table. It can't end this way.
I'm trying as hard as I can to regain my memory. There must be an answer here somewhere. Something that can help me to understand what is happening to me. Something to help me to escape. What were we doing before the pilot lost control? What was the purpose of the mission? I know I was part of a surveillance team. That much I remember. I was a new recruit and I had only been on a handful of missions here so far. Was there something different about our last mission? Or did we just get unlucky this time?
I hear the door open again, followed by footsteps. The same three beings reappear by my side. "Should we sedate this one before the procedure?" one of them asks. "Or just let it suffer like the other?" The other? Could he mean the pilot? What have they done to him? What will they do to me? This can't be happening. I try to move again, but I am still paralyzed.
"Yes," another one of the beings replied. "Give it the sedative. Give it a double dose. We can't risk it waking up - ever again."
More of my memories came flooding back. I remember this language. We had to learn the languages of this planet as part of basic training. I believe this one was called English. I'm a bit rusty on the native languages of the planet Earth. There are just so many of them. It's amazing that one species could possibly have the need to develop so many different dialects. I need to focus. This is no time to think about the local inhabitants' cultures. Not when three of them are trying to kill me.
"Won't it be of more use to us alive?" the first being replied. "Think of all we can learn about these people!" Learn from us? Why have these primitive beings turned me into some kind of experiment? Did they shoot us out of the sky just to perform invasive experiments and tests on us?
"It's not worth the security risk," the second being retorted. He must be the one in charge. "If it escapes, it will surely call for backup. Besides, we already have what we need from them. Don't leave this thing alive." What was he talking about? What did they already have? Is he talking about our technology? Our spacecraft? Did anything remain after the crash? How much of our technology were these aliens able to recover?
The third being adjusted a mirror above my body. My skin, once gray, vibrant, and full of life is almost as pale as that of my captors. We only came to this planet to study the alien life forms and their primitive societies. We never meant to interfere with or harm the beings here. How much have we damaged their society now that they know other advanced life exists in the universe? Their actions here show me that they aren't ready for that kind of knowledge. Not yet. This species' way of thinking is still much too primitive. How many other planets' societies will these beings decimate if they manage to figure out how our space traveling technology works? I fear for this galaxy's future.
I feel the needle pierce through the skin of my arm one last time as the sedative enters my bloodstream. I can't help but fear what will happen if these beings recovered any of our technology from the wreckage. I watch my face in the mirror above the metal operating table as my coal black eyes close one final time.
© 2021 Jennifer Wilber