“There is no easy way from the
earth to the stars.”
My day started out beautifully. I accidentally slept through my alarm making me thirty minutes late for work. The train to get me to work got delayed by a little kid who kept putting his arm through the doors every time they began to shut which made them open again. Once I got to work and apologized to my boss for being late, I was inundated with work to make up for my tardiness. I ended up working four hours overtime with only breakfast and a few apples during the day keeping me going. By the time I shut off all the lights and locked down my office building, it was nine thirty at night and the lovely city of Denver was being cleaned by a torrential downpour. Naturally, I didn’t have an umbrella. I stood under the cover of my building as I called for a taxi. After booking that, I called my roommate- Vivienne Tesla- to tell her I’d be late coming home. She picked up on the second ring and said, “Oh my gosh, please tell me you’re leaving so we can go somewhere to get dinner because I’m starving!”
“Have you not eaten?” I asked, plugging my other ear with my finger because I could barely hear her over the roaring of thunder overhead.
“No, I was waiting for you. Let’s go to Olive Garden. Are you taking a taxi home?”
“You should’ve eaten! I wouldn’t have been mad!” I sighed, knowing that chastising her wouldn’t do any good now. Changing the topic, I said, “Yeah, I think I see the cab now. Want me to pick you up on the way there?”
“Yes please. I’ll hurry and take the dogs out before you get here. We don’t want them thinking our carpet is a place to relieve themselves again now do we?”
“No we do not. See you soon,” I told her. We hung up and I got into my cab. I explained to the driver what to do. He took off, going surprisingly fast for the weather. I put my seatbelt on and gripped the passenger door for dear life. Thankfully my apartment wasn’t too far away so I only had to deal with the lunatic driver by myself for a few minutes before Vivienne joined me.
“Hey you,” she greeted. “How was work?”
“Don’t get me started. I’m so sorry I’m so late. To pay for my lateness, my boss swamped me with other people’s work. I didn’t finish until nine-fifteen or something. But enough of my problematic day. How was working at the hospital?”
“Oh it was amazing! I can’t wait to become a doctor! I was working in the Intensive Care Unit this time. A few days ago a guy in there was impaled by a fence- don’t ask- and so there’s all these different buttons that you can push. Well there’s a blue button that is to be pushed if someone is flat-lining and it’s right next to the ‘staff assist’ button. So he tried reaching around without looking to press the staff assist button and thought he found the right one but it was in fact the blue button one so we all rushed into the room thinking we had a dying patient. He stared at us and said, ‘does it take eight people to get water now?’ We had to explain to him what button he pushed. He was very sheepish about it and apologized for giving us a fright. We actually found it quite amusing. Then I briefly went into the ER to help transport a patient to a different unit and this poor teenager came in with a coat hanger impaled in his… well, you know what, I’m going to let your imagination figure that one out,” Vivienne said.
I smiled at her. Vivienne had been my best friend since… well, before I could remember. Our mothers had been best friends and in turn, she and I had become best friends. I was younger than her by a few months. She’d been born in October. I’d been born in February. Vivienne and I had grown up together, not even separating when we went to college. We ended up going to university overseas in Scotland although she only attended the university we originally applied to for three years because that’s how long their medical program lasted. She spent the next three years at another university. However we both ended up landing jobs in Denver in the end, and it made sense to us to rent an apartment together.
Vivienne (if you hadn’t guessed by now) was in the progress of becoming a doctor. She was currently undergoing her residency. I, on the other hand, worked in the sales and marketing department of a company. I was far down on the food chain though and barely got out of the office. But I needed to start at the bottom if I was to rise to the top. I had to work for what I wanted.
My friend continued her stories about her day throughout dinner. I simply sat and listened, in awe over my friend’s ability to heal people, not just physically but mentally. Vivienne had this aura about her that could just brighten anyone’s day. She was always happy and always going out of her way to make other people happy, even if she was having herself the worst day possible. I admired her for it. It also made me wonder, sometimes, how she and I were such good friends as we were. Whereas she was kind and trusting and happy-go-lucky, I was very opposite of that. I’m not saying I’m not nice because I am (usually) but I have a hard time trusting people, and I’m very cynical of peoples’ motivation. I believe there’s an ulterior motive behind everything they do. I might not always know what that ulterior motive is, but I know it’s there. But Vivienne and I balanced each other out, and I was grateful to have her in my life.
“Lilly? Earth to Lilly!” Vivienne snapped her fingers in front of me.
“What?” I blinked.
She laughed. “Spacing out again I see. Come on, we should get home. It’s getting late, and you need to shower and get to bed. I’ll put Toothless, Berlioz, Toulouse, and Marie in your bed.”
Toothless was one of my four kittens. Probably needless to say, he was black with emerald eyes. I’d rescued him off the streets one weekend when I was coming home from the park. He’d been abandoned by someone, and he was barely two months old. The vet and I were unable to tell how long he’d been out there, but all that mattered to me was getting him well again. It took another three months to nurse him back to health.
Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz, while they weren’t related, were still all the same age. I’d adopted them at PetSmart. They’d all been kept in the same cage and their sign said they needed to be adopted together. They’d been there a while. Every time I went into the store, they were still in the cage. One day, about a month after I found Toothless, I adopted those three. Ironically, Marie was white, Toulouse was an orange tabby, and Berlioz was a smoky gray (okay- I might have given them those names because I love the Aristocats movie so not really ironic at all I guess). They were older than Toothless but only by a couple of months. However, they all got along, something I was extremely happy about.
Vivienne and I were both animal lovers. I actually preferred the company of animals more than people. Animals were more trustworthy. They loved you unconditionally. Some people may argue that cats don’t love people, but I beg to differ. Cats just love… certain people over others. For example, my cats love me and tolerate Vivienne. Okay, truthfully my cats aren’t a fan of anyone but me. They stay away from visitors who come to our house. The only reason they tolerate Vivienne is because she lives with us.
Vivienne’s dogs- Eliza and Molly- are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. If someone knocks on our door, they’re the first to greet the guest. Molly is a six-month old pit bull puppy so her bark is deep, but Eliza is a toy Chihuahua and she has these high-pitched yips that are enough to break your eardrums from time to time if she does it for long enough periods. Once in a while, one of my cats will get fed up with the barking, walk over to them, and bop them on the head to shut the dogs up. The dogs always listen although it’s usually Eliza getting in trouble with them. It’s quite amusing to me actually. I love the dogs though and consistently find myself sitting on the couch with the dogs sleeping on my legs, Berlioz and Toulouse on my lap, and Toothless and Marie sleeping on my shoulders. I end up sitting in this position for hours because what monster would wake up six sleeping angels?
At the thought of sleeping and cuddling up to my cats, I excitedly paid the bill and went outside. The rain had surprisingly stopped, although considering it is Colorado, it’s not really strange at all. The weather is weird here.
“How about we walk home? It’s not raining anymore and I need to walk off the garlic bread,” Vivienne remarked, rubbing her stomach.
I grinned. “Sounds good to me. I need to walk off dessert.”
The two of us headed down the street, careful to stay on lit paths for safety. It’s not that we were in a bad part of town, but considering we were two pretty girls walking down the street, we preferred to be safe.
We’d only made it about three blocks before someone shouted, “Excuse me!”
Vivienne and I turned around. Two boys were jogging up to us. The one leading the way seemed friendly enough. He was tall and well-built with black hair and shining blue eyes. But it was his friend behind him who made me wary. There was something in his eyes that sent shivers down my spine. Instinctively I shuffled closer to Vivienne.
“Hi there,” Vivienne greeted. “Can we help you?”
“Yes, please. We’re looking for this bar called Sully’s but we’re new to the Denver area and we were wondering if you could show us where it is?” The friendly guy asked.
“Go up two more blocks from here and make a left. It won’t be far down,” I explained, pointing in the direction I was telling them to go.
“Actually, we’re heading that way. You can just follow us!” Vivienne chirped.
“Excuse me?” I said. “No offense to you guys, but we don’t know you, it’s eleven thirty at night, and there’s no one else out here.”
The nice one laughed. “None taken. But if it helps, my name’s Dylan. This is Chad.”
“It doesn’t but nice to know your names.”
“Oh, you’re being paranoid Lilly,” Viv said, waving her hand at me. Turning to the boys, she added, “I’m Vivienne by the way. This is my best friend, Lilly.”
“Nice to meet you two. Listen, I promise we’re not here to harm you. We could just really use your help,” Dylan replied. Trying to hide my contempt for the situation, I reluctantly agreed. The four of us began walking down the street. Dylan walked next to me, Chad walked next to Vivienne. He didn’t talk much which was rather nerve-wracking. He was way too quiet.
“So are you two headed home?” Dylan queried.
“Yeah, we just live a few blocks away. We just finished dinner. What about you two? Are you visiting Denver or did you just move here?” Vivienne answered.
“Just visiting. We’re here on business. It’s not a very long trip. Once we get what we came for, we’re heading back. We’re supposed to get it tonight.”
“Is that why you’re going to-” Her sentence was cut short as she collapsed to the ground.
“Vivienne!” I exclaimed, dropping to my knees. My friend had passed out completely. I frantically patted her cheeks, trying to get her to come to, when I saw the syringe peeking out of Chad’s pocket. His phone in his front pocket was sticking out ever so slightly but it was enough for me to see the reflection of Dylan behind me with a syringe of his own going straight for my neck. I kicked my leg back, nailing him in the shin. He let out a yelp as I rolled away on the grimy sidewalk to get away from Chad trying to grab me.
When I stood up, he was lifting my friend in his arms, staring in disdain at Dylan.
“Could you please hurry up and grab her? We have a schedule to keep here,” Chad said in annoyance.
“You try getting kicked in the shin by her. It doesn’t feel nice,” Dylan snapped, rubbing his leg.
Chad stared at him as if were an idiot. “Dude. You can catch yourself on fire without being burnt and you’re afraid of a girl kicking you?”
“Are you both high?” I demanded.
“No, I promise, we’re quite sane,” Dylan responded.
“Oh really? Because I can trust your promises? I distinctly remember you saying we’re not here to hurt you yet you knocked out my friend!” I swung at Dylan’s face. He caught my fist and spun me around, pulling me tight to his chest.
“Our intentions are not to hurt you. We just… injected your friend with something to knock her out for a bit until we get you to our ship.”
“Ship? What ship? We’re in the middle of the United States. There is no physical place to sail a ship here!”
“Oh no, I don’t mean a ship as in a boat. I mean a ship as in a space ship. Now Lilly, I am really, really sorry for this,” Dylan apologized, sounding surprisingly sincere. But I didn’t care whether he was meaning it or not. All I cared about was the sharp prick I felt in my neck before my entire world went black.