"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. Then the train got delayed by a little kid who kept putting his arm through the doors every time they began to shut. 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 to keep me going. By the time I left, it was nine-thirty at night, and a torrential downpour drenched the lovely city of Denver.
Naturally, I didn't have an umbrella, so I stood under the overhang of my building as I called a taxi. Afterward, I called my roommate- Vivienne Tesla- to tell her I'd be late coming home. She picked up on the second ring, exclaiming, "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 thunder.
"No, I was waiting for you. 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. "I'm taking a cab, and it's arriving now. Want me to pick you up?"
"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. See you soon!"
We hung up, and I got into my cab. The driver took off, going surprisingly fast for the horrid 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.
"Hey," she greeted, sliding in beside me. "How was work?"
"Don't get me started. I'm sorry I'm so late. My boss swamped me with other people's work for being late. I didn't finish until a little after nine. But enough of my problematic day. How was work for you?"
"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 was admitted for being impaled by a fence- don't ask- and there's a bunch of different buttons next to the bed that you can push to request stuff. Well, there's a blue button that's 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 but pressed the blue button instead, 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 explained what button he pushed, and he was very embarrassed and apologized. We found it hilarious once we realized he was fine. 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 laughed, the image of the teenager flashing through my mind.
Vivienne had been a great storyteller for as long as we'd been friends, and we'd been best friends since… well, before I could remember. 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 in Scotland. We both ended up landing jobs in Denver, and it made total sense to us to rent an apartment together.
Vivienne was in the process of becoming a doctor. She was currently undergoing her residency. I, on the other hand, worked in the 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.
Vivienne continued her stories throughout dinner. I simply sat and listened, in awe of my friend's ability to heal people, not just physically but mentally. Vivienne had this aura about her that could brighten anyone's day. She was always happy and always going out of her way to make other people happy, even if she had herself the worst day possible. I admired her for it. It also made me wonder, sometimes, how we were such good friends. Whereas she was kind and trusting and happy-go-lucky, I was the complete opposite. I'm not saying I'm not nice because I am (usually), but I have a hard time trusting people, not to mention cynical of peoples' motivation. 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.
"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 the kittens in your bed."Toothless, Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse.
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.
Vivienne had two dogs: Eliza the toy Chihuahua, and Molly the six-month-old pit bull. They got along with my cats because they'd been put in their place by the cats' sharp claws. I loved all the animals dearly. Many weekends, I'd found myself on the couch with the dogs sleeping on my legs, and the kittens sleeping on my lap or shoulders. I'd end up sitting in the same position for hours because what monster would wake up six sleeping angels?
At the thought of sleeping and cuddling up to my cats, I hurriedly 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 said, rubbing her stomach.
I patted my own. "Sounds good. I need to walk off dessert."
The two of us headed down the street, careful to stay on lit paths. It's not that we were in a bad part of town, but considering we were two 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. Both looked like they were straight out of an Abercrombie ad, which wasn't a bad thing. The one leading the way seemed friendly enough. He was tall and well-built with black hair and shining blue eyes. His friend behind him, however, made me wary. Something in his eyes sent shivers down my spine. Instinctively, I shuffled closer to Vivienne, tensing up in case I needed to defend her.
"Hi there," Vivienne greeted. "Can we help you?"
"Yes, please," the friendly guy said. "We're looking for this bar called Sully's, but we're new to Denver, and we were wondering if you could show us where it is?"
"Go up two blocks from here and make a left. It won't be far down," I explained, pointing in the bar's general direction.
"Actually, we're heading that way. You can just follow us!" Vivienne chirped.
"What?" 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 dismissively. Turning to the boys, she added, "I'm Vivienne. 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, holding up his hands in a gesture of peace. 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 nerve-wracking. He was way too quiet.
"So, are you two headed home?" Dylan queried.
"Yeah, we just live a few blocks away. What about you two? Are you visiting Denver, or did you just move here?" Vivienne answered.
"Unfortunately, we're just here on business. I'd love to live in a place as beautiful as this. 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."Once we get what we came for? The hell does that mean? I thought suspiciously.
"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. She'd passed out cold. 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 backward, nailing him in the shin. He yelped as I rolled away on the grimy sidewalk to get away from Chad, who was trying to grab me.
When I stood up, Chad held Vivienne in his arms, staring in disdain at Dylan as he said impatiently, "Could you please hurry up and grab her? We have a schedule to keep here."
"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 he 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, garnering their attention.
"No, I promise, we're quite sane," Dylan responded.
"Oh, really? Because I can trust your promises? I distinctly remember you saying you're not here to hurt us, yet you knocked out Vivienne!" I swung a fist at Dylan's face, but he caught my fist without flinching, spinning me around and pulling me tight to his chest.
"Our intentions aren't to hurt you. We injected your friend with something to knock her out for a bit until we get you to our ship."
"Your ship? We're in the middle of the United States. There is no place to sail a ship here!"
"Oh, I don't mean a ship as in a boat. I mean a ship as in a spaceship. Now, Lilly, I am really, really sorry for this." Dylan sounded genuinely sincere, but I didn't care whether he meant it or not. All I cared about was the sharp prick in my neck before my world went black.