Shadows in the Wall

Chapter 11- It Won't Make Any Difference

*It goes without saying that Alien(s), the story and all related characters as well as the xenomorphic beast belongs to the writers, cast and crew of the show. I claim no ownership or association to the film or franchise of the Alien movies.*


"Why? Why are the innocent punished? Why the sacrifice? Why the pain? There aren't any promises. Nothing certain. Only that some get called, some get saved. She won't ever know the hardship and grief for those of us left behind. We commit these bodies to the void with a glad heart. For within each seed, there is a promise of a flower. And with each death, no matter how small, there's always a new life. A new beginning. Amen!"

Dillon

Alien3; 1992


She was caught.

She was cornered in a way even the monsters had never been able to trap her.

The people who came with their bright lights and weapons, marching so boldly straight down the corridors. Newt had heard them coming and she knew that the monsters had to be aware of them, too. And that their noise, the mere presence of these people, was a threat. She needed to get away from them. She wanted to go hide. To return to the relative safety of the ventilation but she didn't do that. She made no move to escape even though she was sure she could. No one was watching her too closely, now that it appeared as if she'd given up.

Newt had not given up.

The thing that held her so firmly with these people was far simpler than what any of them would have thought, if they'd bothered to wonder at her stillness. She had been caught by love. By the memory of what it meant to be held and soothed in the arms of her mother. She remembered what it had once been like, to feel fingers combing through her hair. A gentle kiss on her forehead as she was tucked safely into bed each night.

She had forgotten, but now she remembered what it was to be loved by her mother – by someone who truly cared – and Newt had felt that exact thing in the strength and warmth of the woman who'd caught her.

Duty would not have been enough to get that woman to follow Newt so quickly. Without even a hint of hesitation; catching the child hadn't been a job.

She'd cared in a way none of the others did. And that simple gesture, that show of giving a damn, had reached Newt. It was quite possibly the only thing that could have, at this point.

Newt would not speak with any other the others. The soldiers, even the women-soldiers, unsettled her and so she said nothing to any of them. She didn't know what had happened to the dark-eyed woman who found her but she was close by and so Newt stayed on the table where she was placed and waited. Allowed the soldier-medic to examine her. The tall officer to question her. Newt endured all of it with a stoic disinterest. She stared straight ahead, but she was listening. Her hearing picking out each sound. The murmur of voices in the other room.

And then, like a miracle, there she was. The woman with the dark hair and deep eyes, speaking in a voice that bristled with annoyance and frustration at the officer trying – and failing – to question the child. They'd gone away, then. The officer and the soldier-medic quickly giving up on the girl.

Finally alone with the woman, Newt was at a loss for what to do. She defaulted to what she was already doing and continued to stare blankly forward. Refusing to meet the eyes of the woman or even move to show she was aware anyone was there.

Newt knew that the woman was reaching out, trying to break through her protective shell of silence, but she was going about it the wrong way. A small bribe of hot chocolate actually worked to push Newt deeper into herself. Of course, the woman couldn't have known that Newt had spent the past few weeks devouring the contents of every silvery dessert-packet she could find. The sweetness of the hot chocolate soured in her stomach. She'd had too many sweets in the darkness to associate the flavor with anything other than terror and hidden horrors.

The warmth of the drink felt nice, however. She hadn't tasted anything warm since . . . since, she couldn't remember exactly when.

What drew Newt forward was actually the woman's touch.

The rough but deliberate brush of a towel over her cheeks and chin. It was a motherly gesture and such a deliberate act that something inside of Newt stirred. She found herself paying closer attention to the sensation of the towel scrubbing against her face. The slight burn as layers of grime and filth was roughly removed. The sound of the woman's voice, with just the right combination of hard strength and a natural tenderness. Also the deliberate attention the woman paid to Newt as she washed the little girl's face. Newt said nothing but she was paying attention.

"Hard to believe there's a little girl under all this," the woman said, a hint of humor bleeding through. "A pretty one, too."

The woman smiled, inviting Newt to join. Her lips quirked a little when it was clear Newt wouldn't and in the gesture, Newt saw that the woman understood. She was telling Newt that it was okay. She could speak when she was ready.

"You don't talk much, do you?" A remark, not a question.

Newt felt her own humor bubble and immediately shut it down. Astonished but also terrified that she was even capable of feeling anything anymore. She didn't, however, turn away from the pleasant sense of belonging elicited by being attended to. The affection she felt for this stranger, if for no other reason than because of her quiet understanding.

"You know, I dunno how you managed to stay alive," the woman was saying "but you're one brave kid, Rebecca."

Rebecca. Rebecca Jordan.

The sound of it hurt her heart and Newt winced, but only on the inside. No one would have seen anything of what she was feeling.

The woman looked down, moving to fold the towel over to a clean corner so that she could continue to clean Newt's face. Newt kept staring forward but a pressure was building in her throat. Like the burn of tears only . . . not. Air. Or, or words.

"N-newt."

It was barely a whisper, only the faintest breath of sound escape. It was all Newt's stiffening, disused vocal cords could manage on a first try but the woman heard it. Or else she heard something. Her head came up, dark eyes at once alert and definitely interested. It was far more attention than Newt had ever received from an adult and at first, it startled her.

But she tried again, forcing sounds into words. She wanted this. She wanted this connection.

"Newt. My name's Newt." She hesitated, warring with herself but then added, "Nobody calls me Rebecca, except my brother."

The woman offered a small, proud smile at the girl's obvious effort. She had realized, without needing to be told, just how hard it had been for Newt to give even that much of herself.

"Newt," the woman repeated, to show that she'd understood. "I like that. I'm Ripley. It's nice to meet you, Newt."

Ripley. Ripley . . .

"What about your brother. What's his name?" Ripley asked.

Guilt gnawed, twisting in Newt's empty belly. "Timmy."

He had never been Timothy, to her. It was always Timmy, just as he'd never accepted her as "Newt". And the last time she'd seen him . . . he was only a child. Like her. Scared and lost and so alone. She could have tried to save him, and died for the effort, but she still could have tried.

"And is Timmy around here, too? Maybe . . . hiding. Like you were?" Ripley asked, unaware of the self-loathing Newt felt as she remembered exactly how badly she'd failed her brother.

Newt said nothing. She turned her gaze away from Ripley, unwilling to see the disappointment she was sure would be there. Ripley would know. She would know what Newt had done. Shame scalded, even hotter than her disgust in herself.

Seeing Newt's quick withdrawal, Ripley tried again. "Any sisters?"

That one was easier to answer. Newt had no sisters and so it was simple to just shake her head.

No.

"Mom and dad?" Ripley pressed.

Fear and anger swelled. Confused, Newt slowly nodded her head.

Yes. Of course she'd had a mom and dad.

"Where are they Newt?"

Fear. Anger. Confusion. Ripley was pushing too hard and Newt . . . Newt wasn't ready to deal with these memories, yet. It still hurt too badly and she needed to bury that pain if she was going to survive. Did she want to survive? No. But she would, anyway, because what else could she do?

Ripley, aware that Newt was slipping even further away took the girl's face in a gentle but firm hand and forced her chin up. "Newt, look at me."

It would have been so easy for that gesture, the single command, to force the girl so deeply inside of herself as to be lost to them forever but it was a mother's hand. A mother's touch and for that reason alone, Newt stayed. Her mind numbing against the horror of her memories but still there.

As softly as she could make her voice, Ripley pushed for more. "Where are they?"

"They're dead!" Newt shot out, angered but also frightened and stricken by a grief she had had no time to allow herself to feel. She resented Ripley for making her deal with it now and tried for insolence. Would that make the woman leave her be? So she added as ignorantly as she could, "Alright? Can I go now?"

She had hoped to anger Ripley but her words had had the complete opposite effect.

Ripley's gaze softened with sympathy. "I'm sorry, Newt."

Those words, that quiet admission stung. Newt didn't want sympathy. She certainly didn't want empathy. She had no interest in Ripley's understanding. All at once, she was just tired. She wanted to go hide in the ventilation, where it was safer, and curl into a ball. She wanted to sleep.

As if aware of Newt's annoyed disinterest, Ripley tried just one more time. A small offering, of sorts. She was in essence holding out her hand, hoping that Newt would take it. "Don't you think you'd be safer here with us?"

Sighing, Newt shook her head.

"These people are here to protect you," Ripley said. "They're soldiers."

Newt looked up at Ripley then, her deep blue eyes too old and sunk too deeply for such a youthful face. Newt said the first, and really the only thing she could think to say.

"It won't make any difference . . ."

THE END

A FINAL WORD FROM DAYSTORM: Hey all! Just a quick few words to thank everyone for reading straight to the end of this. I hope it's lived up to expectations, even if some chapters never really turned out the way I wanted them too (there were wayyyyy fewer eggs and facehuggers in Chapter 7 than I'd originally intended) I was trying to make this scary. Or at least to leave my readers with a sense of unease.

On an aside, I cut the part in this chapter about the doll head (Casey) that Newt carts around in the movies . . . mostly only because I never mentioned it before and it would look weird to just drop in it now, seemingly out of nowhere.

Best,

Daystorm

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