A Sticky Situation
The Ruins (Previously the United Kingdom)
I watch with wide eyes as the sadistic Erathians march forward through the ancient, crumbling city. I am surrounded by four walls, three stories high; they cannot find me here. I am quiet as a mouse, and probably quieter still. I cannot say the same for the ragtag group of other humans I’ve been trekking through the Ruins with.
I count six unearthly beings in total, most young males. The one with greying hair is at the front, finger poised over the trigger of his malicious gun. I’ve seen the damage their weapons inflict. I pinch my eyes shut against the memories, edging away from the glassless window, creeping back into the shadows of the decrepit building.
I hold up my fingers to the wary, waiting eyes; two men, near their forties, a woman in her thirties, and a younger man, closer to my young age. I met them a month ago, and being some of the few wild humans remaining, there was no question of our allegiance. It would always be us versus them
They’d come, some two hundred years ago. In peace, they promised. Their planet was dying. They were humanlike in every aspect—and vastly superior in every aspect as well. It wasn’t long before wars were waged, millions of human lives lost. They came to conquer, and conquer they did. To still be a free human was a miracle, one I never intended to squander. The alternative was slavery, and the very thought of submitting to such a vile race left an acrid taste in my mouth.
I will never kneel to them. Death is preferable to a life in chains.
The woman’s eyes mist over, fear wrinkling her forehead. I frown; of course I am afraid, too, but I will never show it.
“Let’s pray they are simply passing through,” one of the older men whispers. I nod agreement. The day is bright, but there are thick clouds on the horizon. I yearn for the cover of darkness, even if these beings have incredible eyesight. For some reason, night has always made me feel secure.
We pass the hours in silence, no sounds but the wind whistling past the window and the occasional chirp of a flittering bird. I am bored, but I try to sit still, leaned back against the wall with my bag on my lap; everything I own fits in it.
Night finally falls. I’ve twisted my long, dark hair into a thick braid. The boy close to my age is staring at me. I stare back until he blushes and looks away.
Rain begins to pelt the roof, a chill breeze rising. It makes it difficult to distinguish any other important noises. I fall into a fitful sleep, my mind on edge with those monsters on the prowl.
I awake with a jolt at the sound of a keening scream. I am on my feet, my backpack thrown across my shoulders, before I can fully register what is happening. The staring boy is staring still, his face illuminated by the many flashlights. I rush at him, colliding with his chest and shoving him across the debris strewn floor to the stairs on the other side of the spacious room. He stumbles, cries out as gunfire cracks through the night, but I push him still. I cannot let him die, even if I hardly know him. He’s human, and that’s enough for me.
He wrenches open the heavy metal door, shouts and confusion and screams all mingling into an abhorrent circumstance from which we try to flee. I feel a sharp tug, the straps of my backpack biting into my shoulders. All I can see is how wide the boy’s eyes go before I slam onto the dusty, gritty ground.
I stare up at the barrel of a gun, shock and the impact from hitting the floor knocking the breath from my lungs. I am blinded by the light emanating from the alien’s headlamp. Even though I face certain death, I cannot die like this. Mustering my hatred for their kind, I clench my muscles taut, rolling to my stomach as fast as I can while I kick out and knock the freak to the ground with a rewarding thud.
Grinning, I waste no time springing up to flee through the melee, but I am struck in the jaw with the butt of a rifle. I tilt, my vision darkening. The floor once more rushes to greet my falling body.
My head is throbbing. I am cold, wet, and it smells as though I’m back in the cover of the forest that surrounds the Ruins. I pry my eyes open, greeted by darkness. As my eyes adjust, I see I am correct in my guess. A small fire blazes under the cover of a tarp, giving off an orange glow to the shimmering ferns and trunks of sturdy trees.
I bring my hands up to rub my cheek where it hurts the most, only to find they are bound tight with rope. I test my legs, gritting my teeth as my chances of escape are dwindled to near nothing at the moment. I roll and adjust myself to a half-sitting position, kicking with my tied legs against the mud.
The freaks sit around the campfire, enjoying what smells to be a delicious meal. I count five. Their leader is not present. Has he somehow died?
They are all perfect—flawless. Tall, broad shouldered beasts, bred for destruction. The main distinction between our kind and their’s has always been their eery eyes. If the light catches them just right, they shine back, like a wolf’s in the darkness. None are looking this way.
I peer around, making out two other lumps near me; the woman, and one of the older men. I assume the others are dead. I slouch back down, rolling to the woman. She has a gash near her temple, congealing blood plastered to her pallid skin. I swallow hard at the sight of her, tied up like I am, awaiting our fate.
I nudge her with my forehead, wishing to wake her, to form an escape plan, when I hear one of their booming voices over the patter of rain on the canopy above.
“Aww, the little one is awake,” he says. I roll onto my back, doing a half sit up to see over the brush as the alien approaches, his eyes slitted in a predatory way, a cruel smirk on his face. I kick away as he draws nearer, but it’s no use. I let out a small gasp as he reaches for my bound wrists and tugs me up without so much as a grunt of exertion.
His smirk widens, his light hair cropped close to his head, his eyes a pale blue up close. I shiver in his dominating shadow.
“I bet you’re starving,” he says. My brows furrow at this. I don’t want to answer him, to give in at this point in my capture. I don’t want them thinking me a weak target. Instead, I simply ignore him. His smirk falters.
“Come, eat,” he says, dragging me and my bound feet forward through the mud and bracken before plopping me in front of the fire. Four other pairs of eyes stare at me. I bring my knees up to my chest. I feel the alien’s presence behind me as he takes his seat once more on his log, his knees caging my head in.
He reaches around me for his plate, picking up an unidentified piece of meat, holding it before my mouth. I shy away, feeling the heat emanating from between his thighs.
“Eat,” he growls, voice taking on a dark edge. I eye the piece of meat, my stomach undeniably growling. In a flash, his other hand fists my braid, pulling my head back as I let out a pained yelp. He takes his chance, shoving the food in my mouth. I choke at the intrusion and subsequent explosion of flavor, but it’s the best food I’ve had in years, so I chew and swallow automatically.
He pats the side of my face.
“Good human,” he mocks. “How does it taste to eat your own kind?”
His words take a moment to sink in, but when they do, I lurch forward, retching up everything in my stomach. Even when I think I’m done, bile rises to finish it off. The group laughs, but an even deeper voice looms above the rest.
“Knock it off, Brutus.”
I’m panting, shivering. The alien whose legs I’m sitting between—Brutus—grips my hair again, giving me a shake. My eyes fall across the fire, into a pair of dark brown orbs. His squared jaw is ticking, traces of stubble across his cheeks and chin.
The alien’s glare deepens, heavy brows pulling low over his eyes. He is menacing, powerful. Brutus grips my cheeks, squeezing them so hard my jaw flames from its previous run-in with the butt of the rifle. I let out a whimper.
“Aww, cute noises humans make, huh? What other ones can I make you do, human?” he jests, turning me around to face him. He stands, pulling me so I’m on my knees. His heavy palm rests on the back of my head, the touch almost gentle. I raise my eyes to his in confusion. He smirks, and this time I recognize the evil. He juts his hips forward, the hand on my head smashing my face against the zipper on his pants. He presses me harder as the group chuckles. I understand there is some demeaning significance, and my blood boils. I’m about to fight back when he releases me.
I waver on my knees, never seeing the hand flying toward my face. The back of his massive hand catches my cheek. I fall to my side with a cry of pain as it explodes over my skin.
“What a little whore, like the rest of them,” he seethes, reaching down to pluck me off the ground. I whimper, straining to be free of his grasp, but he is inhumanely strong.
“Enough, Brutus,” the other one says. Brutus snorts.
“That’s all they are good for. Cleaning and fucking. May as well break her in now—”
“I said enough,” he hisses. I crane my neck in an attempt to see this alien, but it’s of no use.
“You can’t command—”
“By law, you must register to own a human. By law, you must have them screened for diseases and have them inoculated.”
Everyone is still, tense. I’m shifted around before I’m tossed to the ground. My eyes find the dark haired alien. He is staring down his counterpart, his face contorted in fury.
“And yes, Brutus, I can command you.”
I don’t see the angry boot flying toward me, and I can’t even cry out when it connects with my stomach. Brutus gets his last bit of torment in before stomping away. I gasp on the cold forest floor as they watch me.