Where am I? What am I doing here? Why is it so hot? I sat up and found myself surrounded by tall, amber grass. Two suns blazed down on me from a cloudless blue-green sky and the air felt so thick and humid it was hard to breathe. Wiping sweat from my brow, I stood up to get a better look of my surroundings. To my left the plain went on forever. On my right I saw a forest with the tallest and strangest trees I had ever seen. The leaves ranged from a dark brown to orange, spreading out like flower petals, and the bark was a vibrant, tropical green. Bizarre, I thought, but I was grateful I had found a sanctuary from the suns. I ripped off my white over coat and wrapped it around my head, then bent down and unzipped my nylon pants at the knee to turn them into shorts. As I walked to the trees I thought about how I came to this weird place. Well, I thought, last I remember I was in a lab and... With a gasp, it all came flooding back to me.
I had been hired to work on the Weyland-Yutani Space Station. The station had been orbiting earth for over a hundred years after it was successfully launched in the early twenty second century. I had been hired as an assistant Shuttle Repair Technician, though my ultimate goal was to become an Astro-Engineer. I received a scholarship to attend the Weyland Terraforming and Exploration Program and had received the highest marks in astrophysics, chemistry and mechanics. My professors highly recommended me to the Weland-Yutani directors and at the end of the year, at only eighteen years old, I was the youngest employer on the station. However, my supervisor did not agree with my raving reviews. He had made me run simple errands around the station because he had told me I was too young to do any “real” work with him and the other assistants. I kept telling myself that the job was only temporary, that being on the station at my age was a privilege and I would have to work very hard in order to get the position I desired. But after almost four months of living on the station, I barely had a chance to do hands-on work on the shuttles, let alone anything else related to my field of expertise.
I had suspected this treatment from my supervisor was out of some form of jealousy, which was later confirmed when I took apart a sub engine, cleaned it and put it back together in half the time his other workers did. His way of showing gratitude was telling his boss that I acted out of terms and did not seek his approval before cleaning the engine. Despite my attempts to fight his claim, my supervisor’s years of experience outweighed mine and I was forced to apologise for my actions. The worst part was my supervisor using the incident as blackmail, saying he was responsible for giving feedback on the quality of my work higher up and I should not “jeopardise” my future career. Furious as I was, I had to keep faith that somehow karma would catch up to him and I would be the one reaping the benefits.
This morning I was running a translator over to the lab for final testing, when I stumbled across something strange. A door was open to a small, dark lab and I could just make out the shape of a strange machine at the back of the room. After my eyes adjusted and I could make out the details of the device...it was a transporter. Three large metal pillars surrounded a small platform, their tops bending inward like a large claw. I had touched one of the pillars with awe. The machines were part of a top secret project to provide instantaneous travel from one place to another, but it was later terminated because of many mechanical failures. This machine was probably a long ago junked project. I stepped onto the round platform and examined it from the inside. Suddenly I heard a low humming noise and the platform lit up below me. Before I could react there was a blinding flash of light, then everything went black. That was when I woke up in the field.
I finally reached the trees and collapsed under the shade, tank top and shorts soaked in sweat. Clearly I was not on Earth any more, maybe I was sent to one of the colony planets. At least I hope I am on a colony planet. Panic started to build in my stomach but I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. I had to stay calm, anxiety was not going to solve my problem. Glancing at my watch to get an idea of the time, another thought occurred to me; one that might get me out of here, but then it fell by the wayside when I thought better of it. My watch had a built in communicator and homing signal. The communicator was good for three light years, but I did not know how far this planet was or the coordinates to direct the signal to Earth. If I turned on my homing signal it only have enough power for three days. I did not want to risk it, at least not yet.
I sighed and wondered what else I had with me. I dug into the deep pockets of my nylon pants and laid the items I had on the ground. A mini repair kit, with three screw drivers, a metal cutter and a small wrench, a blue pen, half a granola bar, extra cloth from my pants, the translator, a hair elastic and the over coat I wore on my head. Well, not much of a survival kit, I thought. Speaking of survival, my first priority was to find water; already I was getting a headache from dehydration. I tied back my long, blonde hair so my neck could cool off, put the rest of my belongings in my pockets and stood up. I gazed at the scenery around me and saw nothing but thick tree trunks and bushes. Which way should I go? I thought. As if on cue, a gust of wind came up and pushed me forward. Okay, straight ahead then. As I trudged through the forest floor I prayed that karma would show me mercy.
I wandered through the forest for almost two days. In those forty-eight hours, I had eaten the rest of my granola bar and I spent a sleepless night trying to outrun a giant bird that wanted to make me its midnight snack and I still had not found any water. The air was much harder to breathe and it was a struggle to keep my eyes open. But I still pressed on, stumbling over roots and rocks and ignoring my cramped legs. A little voice in the back of my brain told me to keep going; stopping meant dying! A wave of dizziness went through my head and I collapsed, face first, on the ground. I tried to stand but my stomach twisted into painful knots. I rolled into a ball, rocking back and forth as I moaned in anguish.
“It hurts,” I gasped, “Oh God, it hurts!”
I heard a rustling noise in front of me and I raised my head. Through my blurred vision I saw three huge figures approach me. I wanted to move, but my stomach sent another jolt of pain and I cried out. When I thought I could not bear the torture any longer, my head thumped to the ground and everything went dark.
My eyes fluttered open and I could not feel the rough forest floor on my face; it seemed I was lying on my back with something covering my nose and mouth. I saw a dim orange light above me and, after blinking a few times, I turned my head to the left. There were three tables with trays of surgical tools lining a black wall. Looking to the right I saw several long, box-like machines that were beeping and flashing little lights. They appeared to be some type of monitoring equipment. It must have been a medical room and the thing on my face was an oxygen mask. I tried to move, but my muscles felt like lead. Where the hell am I now? It was the last thing I thought before blacking out.
I woke up some time later with a raging thirst. I heard a noise beside me and I knew someone was in the room with me. I tried to speak but my throat was too dry and my tongue felt leathery. I felt the mask being removed from my face and a large hand slip under my head to lift it up. A cup was put to my mouth and I felt liquid on my lips. Water! My eyes snapped open and I pressed the cup closer to my mouth, gulping noisily. I drank too fast and I ended up choking, coughing and sputtering all over my chest. Once the coughing subsided I looked up at my saviour. I screamed and fell off the table.