chapter two. ellen's nightmare
"Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says "right". Just like a regular parrot."
-Alien, 1979, Ripley
Across the serene blue curve of the Earth, in high orbit was Gateway Station, a sprawling complex of modular orbital habitats. In a viewing portal, it opened into a vertical wall of the medical section. In one of the multiple hospital rooms, harsh sunlight filled the room from the viewing portal. A female med-tech turned from the window, as she crossed to a bed, where Ellen Ripley lay. She looked wan, amid an array of arcane white medical equipment. The tech executed practiced cheeriness, but Ripley didn't buy it.
"How are we today?"
The med-tech asked, as Ripley began to sit up, her voice barely audible.
Came her almost inaudible answer.
"Oh, better than yesterday at least."
"Where am I?"
Ripley asked, as the med-tech came around to the side of the bed, and re-positioned Ripley's pillow for her.
"You're safe. You’re at Gateway Station. Been here a couple of days. You were pretty groggy at first, but now you’re okay."
She replied, as the med-tech glanced up as the door opened, and she smiled, clearly thankful to be saved by the distraction.
"Looks like you have a visitor."
A man crossed the room, and he carried a familiar large, orange tomcat. Beside him, was a young girl, dressed in grey sweatpants and a large, navy sweater. Even though this was not her usual attire, Ripley knew who the girl was, and who the cat was.
"Jonesy! Come here!"
Ripley said, as she completely ignored the man, and she grabbed the cat, and hugged it to her.
Jones seemed none the worse for fear, and began to purr.
"Hey, come here. How are you, you stupid cat? How are you? Where've you been?"
She said, before she glanced at Kendall, and she smiled.
"Hey Kenny, how've you been?"
Kendall-Rae only smiled, as she shrugged her shoulders.
"Still a bit groggy, but I've recovered faster than you have."
She replied, as she scratched Jones' head.
The visitor was seated beside the bed, and beside Kendall-Rae, and Ripley finally noticed him. He was thirty-ish and handsome, in a suit that looked executive or legal, the tie loosened with studied casualness. A smile referred to as 'winning.'
"I guess you three have met, huh? I'm Burke. Carter Burke. I work for the company, but don't let that fool you. I'm really an okay guy. I'm glad to see you two feeling better. Ms. Kendall-Rae here, has surprisingly recovered a lot faster than you have. Anyways...they tell me that all the weakness and disorientation should pass soon. That's just natural side affects of such an unusually long hypersleep or something like that."
The man said, as he introduced himself.
"What do you mean? How long were we out there for?"
Ripley asked, before she glanced at Kendall first.
Did she know? Had she already been told?
"Has no one discussed this with either of you, yet?"
Burke asked both of the women before him.
"No. But, I mean. I don't recognize this place. Kenny, do you?"
Ripley stated, as she looked at her daughter, who just shook her head.
Burke just looked visually uncomfortable.
"I know. Okay, it's just that this might be a shock to you. It's long..."
"How long? Please."
Ripley asked, her voice soft, and full of questions.
Was Burke's answer, and both Kendall-Rae and Ripley felt their breath hitch in their throat.
They were both stunned, and they seemed to deflate. Their facial expressions passed through amazement and shock as they struggled to face reality. 57 years? Both of them came to realization of all that they had lost since they took the job on the Nostromo. Friends. Family. Their world. Well. At least they still had each other. There was one positive thing. They also had Jones.
Ripley asked, as she finally found her voice.
"That's the thing. You two were out there for fifty-seven years. What happened was you two had drifted right through the core systems and it's really just blind luck that a deep-salvage team found you guys when they did. One in a thousand really. I think you're just damned lucky to be alive, kiddo. You could be floating out there forever."
While Burke spoke, Jones started to hiss, and struggle in Ripley's arms.
The cat leaped onto the floor, before he bounded away. Ripley coughed, suddenly, as if she was being choked. Her expression, and Kendall's had become one of dawning horror. Burke, completely unaware of what was coming, handed her a glass of water from the nightstand. She slapped it away, as it shattered with a smash on the floor. Jones dived underneath a cabinet, as he yowled and hissed Not knowing what else to do, or what was going on, Burke hit a console button.
"Nurse! Please! Someone get in here now! NOW!!"
Ripley grabbed her chest, as she struggled as if she was being strangled. The med-tech and a doctor ran in for assistance.
"Hold her... Hold her..."
The doctor said, as he and Burke held onto Ripley's shoulders.
Ripley pushed the doctor away, and Kenny went to hold onto Ripley's shoulder. Just as she did that, Ripley went into convulsions, and her back arched in agony
Ripley pleaded, and Kendall-Rae knew exactly what was happening, and it was something that she was dreaded since dinner on the Nostromo 57 years ago.
They tried to restrain her as she thrashed about, knocking over equipment in the process. Her EKG raced like mad. Kendall glanced out of the corner of her eyes, and she saw Jones, underneath the cabinet, as he started to hiss, with his eyes wide.
Both Kendall and Ripley glanced down at Ripley's chest, and Ripley pulled back her gown to reveal her stomach. They both stared at the nightmarish shape that had started to push up from under her skin, as it started to tear out of her stomach. Both Kendall and Ripley froze, as Ripley started to shout.
Hearing her mother shout, Kendall shot out of bed, and on instinct, she feared the worst, but then she remembered where they were. She watched in the dark, as Ripley snapped up from her bed in their darkened hospital room. They shared a room, since they barely left the presence of the other. Ripley grasped for breath, as she clutched pathetically at her chest. When she did that, Kendall knew what her nightmare was about.
Just like what had happened to Kane, except Ripley's was a dream. There was no demented horror that tried to rip itself out of her. Kendall watched as Ripley's eyes snapped about wildly, before they slowly focused on the reality of her safety. The safety of her and her eldest daughter. As Ellen continued to shudder, it was then did she realize, that she was completely bathed in sweat, as if she had run until she no longer had the energy to do so anymore. Ripley kneaded her breastbone with the heel of her hand and sobbed. A video monitor beside the bed snapped on, and the Med-Tech's face appeared.
"Bad dreams again? Want something to help you sleep?"
Kendall heard her ask.
"No. I've slept enough."
Even though Ripley's voice was faint, Kendall could still hear her, and she could hear the slight quavering in it as well.
The tech shrugged and switched off. Ripley hugged Jones to her and rocked with him like a child, still shattered by the nightmare. Kendall carefully swung her feet off of the bed, and she slowly made her way over to her mother, her smoky-grey eyes expressed her obvious concern for her mother, and when she was close enough, she was pulled into a tight embrace along with Jones.