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Chapter 1: First encounters:
She is sitting in a hard wooden chair looking out the small window in her cramped bedroom. She looks out across the expanse of her small ranch, watching the sun set slowly. The red and orange clouds mixing with the dull blue sky; reaching out and touching it, grasping it, and filling it with an eerie warmth that threatens oh so slightly to fade into nothing before her very eyes. She stands up reluctantly with a soft sigh, smoothing out her wrinkled jeans and straightening her dark gray blouse. She walks downstairs, her hand trailing down the railing as she goes. She grasps the door handle and tugs at it until it yawns open.
She walks across the green lawn, then over the mud; still wet from the heavy rain that morning. She looks up into the sky and wonders if the sky is planning to spill open again and pour down over her. She hopes not, thinking about the leaks she's been planning to fix in the old barn, the cold muddy ground she hates her animal sleeping in. She stands still in front of her black mare, holding her hands out to rest around her elongated face, pulling her in and closing her eyes against her soft hair.
"Shh Midnight" she says petting the horse who is agitated from the approaching storm that she can feel brewing in her old joints. "Come on sweetheart, its just a little drizzle" she whispers softly into her mane before leading her into the barn before her hair gets soaked any further. When she has finally manages to open the heavy barn door and usher the animal inside she shivers against the cold and places Midnight in her stall. She takes the blanket from atop the half wall and places it over the mares back. She kisses her snout and looks up when a drop of water hits her head. "Tomorrow," she starts "tomorrow I'll fix it, I swear." She closes the large doors behind her.
She locks the door with heavy eyes and as she starts to pocket the keys, rolling her shoulders and neck in a tired gesture, she hears a large and sudden crashing sound. Her body jolts from surprise and she drops the keys. She looks in the direction of the sound and watches as the small fire is dampened by the now raging storm. She shudders at the sound of the thunder and wonders absentmindedly whether or not it was a car crash as she remembers the small dirt road in that direction. She lives in a very small farming community, her own ranch rather isolated. If a crash had happened here no one is likely to be alerted except for her, especially not an ambulance. Before she thinks to rush to her kitchen phone she grabs her keys from the mud and climbs into her white F-150, shifts into drive, and nearly speeds in the direction of the damp smoke.
A loud crash, boom, clank, sparks. An annoying and distracting ringing in his ears.
A female voice says calmly.
"Core meltdown imminent"
The voice is somehow calmer than before.
The computerized voice repeats.
He can't hear it all to well, a darkness crowding into the edges of his vision. The fight or flight response pumping adrenaline from his adrenal gland is among the only things keeping him moving. He braces himself against the railing as another jolt shakes the ship.
Boom, spark, clang, run, run, run...
Can't, cant' hear, boom, rattling, black, black, blackness, dark, so dark, muscles pumping, moving, vision narrow, hot, hot, hot, boom, cling, crash, metal, glass, shards, sharp, green, green, move, run, run, run...
"Core meltdown imminent"
"Shields down to zero percent"
"Life support failing."
He would never admit to the fear he feels now, the dread, the utter terror. He breathes heavily with each movement. The pain numb and sever all at the same time.
He can barely breath, his head is dizzy, his tunnel vision narrows even further.
He barely climbs into a cylindrical metal container.
He drifts against the edges of consciousness, his fingers tracing against a large red lever before grasping onto it and pulling hard with all of his remaining strength.
Darkness envelopes everything.
The heater in the car is turned up full blast as the tires struggle in the mud to push her forward. She parks the car at the edge of a shallow crater. The first thing she notices are all the broken branches lined up above her, then when her eyes focus through the rain she sees the tattered cloth slightly hanging in the trees. Rope hangs down from the parachute and she follows their length to the center of the shallow hole filled with mixed up foliage. She rushes in awe to the metal capsule at the end of the thick strings. Her hands move around on the metal, part of her wondering if it was some sort of return shuttle from the ISS, though she doubts the likeliness from the unfamiliar design. But she still fumbles around for a way to open the obviously hollow capsule. The heavy rain blurs her field of vision and she shivers ruffly from the frozen rain.
A sense of urgency she really doesn't understand overwhelms her and her fingers, numb from the cold, hit a sweet spot in the metal and a button is hesitantly pushed. The coffin like lid opens reluctantly, a steady buzzing sound evident throughout the process. When it opens the warmth held inside quickly dissipates and the rain hits the body of a once dry unconscious man. She leans in over him and calmly checks to see if he is breathing; which he is. She places her hand over his neck and feels his very rapid heart rate. At first she doesn't know what to make of him, she just takes in his appearance.
He's very tall and slightly lanky like his body mass has never really grasped the concept of his sever height. His skin is pale with a tint of green that increases with the cold. Dark emerald bruises cover his body and gashes surround him, still fresh, still oozing jade liquid. She notes the pointed ears and black up-tilted eyebrows.
She takes this all in quickly and decides that whether or not she was calling for an ambulance, which by the way he looks she doesn't think she should, she would need to take him to her ranch, where the only phone for miles exists. She quickly calculates how she will move him after first checking his neck for injuries, though she has little confidence with her ability to detect anything important. She opens the back door to her truck and with great difficulty maneuvers his body to lie down in the backseat. She closes the door and steps into the drivers side. The cabin is still a little warm from earlier and she turns on the windshield wipers before turning back to the man and placing her hand on his neck again to feel his rapid heart-rate. He's almost frozen underneath her fingers and she quickly blasts the heat after cursing. She puts the car in reverse and backs up enough to turn around, which she does, and she speeds to the house.
She stops right in front of the door. She runs inside without him and takes the stairs to the basement two at a time. She grabs the flashlight from the post at the bottom. She flips it on and points around until she finds her grandmothers old wheelchair. She untangles it from the clutter and climbs back up the stairs. When she reaches the landing she unfolds it and pushes the old heavy contraption out the door. She holds the chair outside the car door and pulls the sleeping man into it. He has warmed up a bit from the car ride and she wheels him inside before he loses any of the heat.
She has a small spare bedroom on the first floor and she takes him into it. She pulls down the blanket and places him into the bed. His clothing is soaked and his body temperature continues to lower in response. She strips him of his jump suit and leaves him in his boxers, taking off his undershirt. She runs to the closet and takes out a towel. She dries him off and grabs a pair of her grandfathers old pajamas from the basement and places it on him. She takes the heating blanket, the one she saves for the dead of winter, and tucks him into it before plugging it into the wall. She tosses his clothing into the washing machine and grabs the first aid kit from the kitchen.
Because of her isolated residence, and the fact that she owns a ranch, the first aid kit in her kitchen, though not as filled as the one in the barn for the animals when they are wounded, is still really good. She decides against calling for an ambulance after all she has seen, she doesn't want to be responsible for an area 51 victim. So she uses her limited but still prevalent medical knowledge and takes the kit, a bowl of hot water, and a clean rag to the spare room.
She waits a few minutes to make sure pulling the blanket from him won't give him hypothermia. She places the bowl on the table and moves a light wooden chair next to the head of the bed. She sits back watching him breath and after the minutes have ticked away she starts working on his face. The gashes aren't deep here but green liquid still surrounds his face. She washes off his head to the best of her ability before disinfecting the cuts and abrasions with peroxide, she rubs on some neosporin and places bandages over them. After checking to make sure his skin is warm enough she pulls downs the blanket and does the same to the rest of him, pulling out shards of glass and metal along the way. When she finishes she tucks him back in and washes up from the second rate medical treatment. She takes a hot shower but finds herself restless. She falls asleep in the chair next to him.
Chains loudly fall to her feet from a high up shelf in the basement. She picks them up and along with some other tools places then in the back of her pickup.
It's a little difficult finding the place where she found him, but she manages and by noon she has his pod placed to the side in the barn. After checking on him and finding his still sleeping form she returns to the barn. She grabs a shovel and for the first time this season is thankful for the heavy rain saturating the inside of the barn. She moves the hay from its usual place and starts digging in the spot.
She has a way of doing very difficult things when she wants to; maybe its because of her self reliance, because of how long she has been alone, taking care of herself, relying on her own strength, the plant the potatoes or starve to death mentality. So after a few days she has the pod buried deep beneath the stack of hay.
And he still hasn't woken up.
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