Chilled air invaded Louisa’s nostrils, as a repetitive pang sounded in her ears. A soft hand stroked through her loose hair, but disappeared with footsteps that gradually became silent. Chomping her tongue she attempted to moisten the roof of her mouth. Blurred specs of lights floated before her, and came together to form square polished tiles above. Several silver boxes gave coloured displays of strange symbols and numbers.
A heavy whine sounded as it rattled to a stop. Strange unrecognisable variations of clicks and tones floated in the still air. A strange metallic brace groped around her head sitting firmly over her nostrils. It hissed with discomfort, and soon was flung away and landed with a soft tap onto the unseen blurred space before her.
A smell of berries soon invaded her nostrils, her stomach grumbling, the squeaking started again and travelled away from her with a blurred figure disappearing through some hole in the wall. ′Where has it gone?′ Sitting up on a cushioned surface, her legs flopped over the edge as her sight showed a sterile white room lined with a number of trolleys and unknown devices scattered around. Some sat around her bed space where wires pulled through sections of her gown.
The constant panging soon changed to high pitched alarms as the wires disconnected and stickers littered over the floor. Louisa’s feet touched down onto a cold surface, where moisture prints marked the floor for a second before evaporating. Several blurred grey figures suddenly appeared, a harmony of loud clicks and strange sounds took over the silence.
Loud incomprehensible sounds spoken by these grey figures still; blurry, several claw-like hands came into her vision and bore tight painful grips upon her arms. Screaming with shock, Louisa threw off the claw like hands and began to stomp on their feet, kicking out at the blurred figures to escape from this nightmare.
More screaming invaded the scene, and one grey figure’s voice sent a soothing shush towards her along with many tongue pressed clicks. Other figures stepped away, whilst a gentle hand caught her attacking hand. Arms soon wrapped round and a warm blanket placed around her as more clicks and strange noises sounded.
A warm cup of a steaming red drink laced in her hands. Whilst another blurred figure tried to place some of the stickers back on her body. Instead, he received a shower of the warm drink, as Louisa freed her hands and lashed out to those surrounding her.
After a conversation of clicks amongst her company, another drink was placed onto a table floating before her, as the figures stood back. Taking hold of the drink she took a sip and stared towards those who surrounded her. Chomping at a strange metallic fruity taste left in her mouth. Another figure patted at the pillows that lined the top of the bed, whilst another figure, one who had embraced her encouraged her to relax back, bringing the warm quilted covers over her. With a mumble of protest, Louisa could not help, but yawn and stare into the hazy figures as another brought a small device to her arm. A stinging sensation occurred in her left arm for a moment until tiredness overcame her.
Cycles of sleep began at times she would dive into the abyss of strange dreams of grey creatures and strange worlds, and then the dreams would go as she went into lighter stages of sleep, and harsh clicks and strange noises would travel to her ear drums. At times her eyelids would flutter, and she would come round briefly to see blurred figures standing around.
A familiar sound of wheels squeaking to a stop sounded, as something parked a little distance away. A metallic rattle sounded again. ′Oh no, that must be my bus, I’m gonna miss it!′ Shooting up in bed, the squeaking had travelled through a doorway a little way ahead.
‘Where are my clothes?’ Louisa thought looking down to a gown that she was wearing. To the side of her, there was a cupboard that that was empty, much to the annoyance of Louisa. Trying to walk away - tangled with numerous wires trapping her to where she was. But, one wire lost contact with a loud pop and fell to the floor. At once a machine alarmed, ′will you be quiet,′ Louisa began to hit the machine until she pulled a wire out connected to it, which caused instant death.
Walking away she pulled off the remaining wires and left them on the floor where they landed. To a ruffled bed, she walked and found a large black gown, left at the bottom. ′That must be mine, a little big though!′ Louisa thought as she tied the belt around her. Still, silence remained, but the familiar sound of the squeaking sounded, and she looked round to see the door way, ′Can’t miss my bus home,′ Louisa thought. Once again she was on the move to a door way that led to a seated area, where a few foggy grey figures sat to one end.
At once clicks and strange noises sounded, and grey figures approached. ′Oh dear they don’t look too happy, I better avoid them,′ Louisa sped up to a fast walk and exited the room. To the right, she walked, and down an empty corridor until she reached one crowded with strange blurred grey figures. To the left of her, she heard the rattle and squeaks again, ‘My bus!’ Louisa shouted and ran toward the noise, unable to make much further distance as a number of blurred people that held her up.
‘Will you get out my way – you are going to make me miss my bus home,’ Louisa shouted, trying to punch her way through. Clicks and strange noises were all she got in response, ‘Get out my way the lot of you – pests!’ Again louder clicks and strange noises sounded. One figure wrapped around an arm and began clicking away with his tongue.
‘Do... you... speak... Eng...lish?’ Louisa asked and smiled to some grey figures that froze in silence. Clicks and strange noise then occurred, ‘I guess not! Ok...bus,’ Louisa said using her hands to imitate a steering wheel. She received puzzled looks, a few lined with amusement. ‘I guess they don’t know what a bus is, well it was down here.’ Louisa said forcing her way down through the crowd which proved a challenge a number tried to lay hands on her but was abruptly removed with slaps.
Pointing down, she continued to walk, and straight ahead of her was a small silver trolley that had whining wheels. ‘That’s no bus,’ Louisa said walking up to it and opening the sides, and then a few figures began muttering with clicks and strange noises again. One figure walked towards Louisa with a steaming cup, ‘Oh, tea’ sniffing the strong scent of berries, she lost interest and followed the cup back to a chair next to her bed space, a little sponge cake was placed beside the cup.
Settled with the tea and cake a figure sat to the side of her with some brightly lit instrument. Pointing to it and then to her ear, the figure took the instrument to her ear and studied her ear canal for a little while, until he began communicating with others. Another instrument went to her ear and with a tight pinch, removed something with force.
‘What did you do?’ Louisa asked tackling the other piece of equipment from the figure. A silver coloured rod-like device lay before her, and at the end, some tiny piece of metal rested at the end. Placing a finger to it, the metal withered away, to dust and smaller pieces. Another figure came to the other side with another piece of equipment and placed it in her ear whilst other figures distracted her and caught hold of her hands. With a bang, a stinging sensation began ‘what are you awful people doing to me, you leave me alone, you hear me?’
‘Louisa, we had to replace the translator, or else you would never understand us.’
‘Oh so you do speak English,’ Louisa said ‘very selective.’
‘Now Louisa, you need to give back that gown to me, it belongs to someone else.’
‘No it’s mine, I found it!’
‘Louisa, I’ll get Puden or Miya to buy you a gown if you want one,’
‘Whose Puden or Miya, are they friends of yours?’
‘No they are members of your research team,’
‘Research team? No, I’m a student. I need to get back home so I can continue my studies.’
’Don’t you worry about that sweet heart; you have your drink and cake. I’ll let Puden and the team know you’ve come round.
‘Oh yes, for tea I have,’
A collateral laughter occurred from a number of people, and one figure ruffled her hair as he walked off. She remained compliant watching the beings do their work. One stood at the bottom of her bed space, with three screens floating before him, showing graphs and rows of strange writing.
‘What are you doing,’ Louisa asked crawling up to the being, she waved a hand through the projections.
‘Keeping an eye on you,’
‘Why?’ Louisa asked trying to lean round to see what was on display.
‘What do you remember Louisa?’
‘Waking up to you strange people, who won’t let me go home.’
‘Can you remember where you are?’
‘I’m was in America, can’t say I’m there anymore, perhaps you could help me find a bus home?’
‘What are buses?’
‘They won’t be able to get you home,’
‘They will, you just don’t want me to go home,’
‘Louisa, you have just been taken off life support, you can’t be going home yet, or walk out of this medical unit,’ another being said.
‘Of course I can, who do you think you are?’ Louisa asked and got up, carrying her cup of tea with her as several followed behind. ‘You needn’t bother following me, I’m sure you have more important things to do.’
‘Louisa don’t you take one further footstep, you are still under medical observation now get back to bed,’ Puden said crossing his arms as a number of his team plus others stood behind with assessing glances.
‘No! Now get out my way!’
‘Louisa, back we go,’ Puden said taking an arm with a medic taking the other as they both led Louisa back to her bed. Others tucked her in as they stood around, blocking her. ‘Now Louisa, are you going to settle down?’
‘And why should I settle down, your just a bully the lot of you.’
‘It’s Puden, he was leading the research on your race and planet, you remember Miya and Rufus?’ Another asked.
‘No, and the research did not go to well if I ended up on life support.’
‘Well, that was not down to us, that...’
Someone shook her head as she tugged Puden’s sleeve, ‘Now Louisa, are you hungry?’
‘No, are you lot going to stay here?’
‘Perhaps that depends on you, Louisa,’
‘Why me?’ Louisa said chucking the blankets off from herself.
‘Because you should be resting,’
‘Me? I’m not the one looking rather grey, if anyone, you people need the check up. Now leave me alone.’
‘Where are you off too now?’ Rufus asked, many chasing after Louisa who was pacing around the room.
‘You’re not going through here,’
‘But I need to, how else am I going home?’
‘You’re too ill to go home, plus the Emparians are after you. It’s not safe for you to go home yet,’
Louisa faced many concerned faces - Miya outstretched her hand. Staring at it Louisa yawned and turned on her spot to make way for the door leaving the others chasing after her. Gaining speed Louisa ran out into the corridor packed with people.
‘Will someone stop Louisa,’ Puden shouted.
‘No! He has no right to keep me there...I want the police, ’ Louisa shouted held up by people blocking her.
‘Louisa, you’re too unwell, please come back with me?’ A person dressed in a one piece black outfit said smiling accompanied by a few others.
‘Will you lot leave me alone. I have no need to go back. I am better now,’ Louisa said as she was forced to retrace her steps.
‘Well we are glad you feel better, but you are still not well enough to leave the medical facilities. Come on Louisa lets head back,’ another dressed in a one piece black uniform said placing an arm around her as a path was created for her, to be led back through. Whispers travelled all around her.
‘You’re like the others, all conspiring against me,’ Louisa said as she tried to resist the efforts of Miya and few others, to settle Louisa back in bed.
‘Louisa, one of the medics needs to give you some medicine, give them one of your arms,’
‘No, please don’t join the others, you’re my only friend here, I don’t trust the others. I don’t like that lot over there.’ Louisa said cuddling up to a familiar Askan also wearing a one piece uniform.
‘Don’t worry Louisa, Trienz will be here waiting for you to wake up, but you really must get some sleep and save your energy.’ A fellow medic came holding a rod like device that he applied to her arm and created pressure pain for a moment until she slipped away into a sleep repeating Trienz’ name until not a sound was uttered.
‘Since she likes you, why don’t you start a guard duty here? I think we can justify such a need,’ Puden said
‘Very well, my team will be based here, but babysitting her will return to you and your research team.’
‘Babysitting who?’ Louisa mumbled in her sleep as she rolled over and stretched an arm under her covers.
‘Leave her to sleep, but should she wake up, keep her within these facilities.’ Puden said as he left with the other members of the research team.
Uniforms ruffled as bodies stood around the medical facilities. Footsteps echoed, as medics, patients and other personnel entered the facilities or left. Much to the interest of Louisa who lay awake spying on those coming and going, under the disguise of being asleep. In the vast distance a light echo of footsteps floated her way as a dozen grey humanoid figures - Askans as Louisa recalled, came to her vision. Exchanging conversation with the Askans stood on guard, by the door exiting the medical facilities she found herself in. Most went on glancing briefly at her but continued on to greet the medical staff.
‘We’ll be off then,’ a familiar guard said patting a neighbour of his as he exited.
‘See you later Trienz, make sure the others leave some food,’ a medic said.
‘Food, I could do with some of that,’ Louisa thought watching all the guards whose attentions were on the medics by some desk in the corner. Sneaking out she wrapped a blanket around and entered darkened corridors, windows that she past showed bright satellites in circulation with two bright moons giving off dusky red shadows to the lands that surrounded the building.
Looking round, Louisa noticed the guard who left head down the main corridor. Following him, Louisa, found herself approaching carpeted stairs that led up to some communal room. A few people sat on sofa-like seats their backs to her, all sitting around small round tables. From this communal room, the guard approached several doors scattered around the wall framing the seating area, it was the central door he walked to and scanned his palm, where a small porch opened up.
Watching the guard enter Louisa ran to the door before it closed. At once rich aromas flooded Louisa’s nostrils, and loud cheerful voices filled a large lounge filled with sofas and several people sat down each with drinks in their hands. Three screens floated in midair, one had some sort of space racing game, where two unknown Askans sat playing with control panels that floated before them. Another screen had some Askan news reporter drooling out some form of news. The third screen had a familiar person in light conversation with two other people.
It was the screen with the familiar person who laid sight on Louisa first. ‘You guys have a friendly visitor,’
‘What do you mean friendly visitor Steros?’ Trienz asked as he sat himself down budging two others apart to make room for him.
‘Hello Louisa,’ Steros said from the screen and at once a sea of faces flew round to the doorway.
‘Hello, hmmm, Steros how come your there and not here?’ Louisa asked walking up to the holographic screen waving her hand through the projection.
‘Louisa, how did you get up here?’ An unknown Askan asked.
‘I heard Trienz was getting some nice food, so I thought I would come up as well can I have a drink?’
‘Sure,’ an Askan said laughing and soon brought her a cold glass of red liquid, whilst another brought out a thick blanket that he wrapped round her and then forced her to sit down next to Trienz.
‘Hello Trienz,’ Louisa said smiling, as she took a sip from her glass. ‘So what have we got for dinner,’
Everyone laughed, ‘you obviously listened to our conversation, oh I guess we’ll have enough for you as well.’ Trienz said stroking a hand through her hair.
The front door clicked open, and footsteps entered, ‘Joyle, what did we tell you about bringing your work home?’ Another Askan asked laughing, whilst Steros and Rufus followed behind.
‘Tell that to Trienz, hello Louisa, I guess you fancied a little wander,’ Joyle said still dressed in a grey robe worn by medics, accompanied with two others.
‘When is dinner? I’m getting hungry,’ Louisa said most unsettled and returned to wandering around.
‘Centyl is right behind us with the food come, now take a seat,’ Rufus said taking a seat beside her.
The sound of bags shuffling together sounded, as other Askans joined the gathering.
‘Are you sure there is going to be enough for everyone?’ Louisa asked as she was swept up within Steros’ grasp and led back to the comfort of the sofas.
‘Of course there will be Louisa, now settle down, or I’ll take you back to the medical centre.’
A frown was her response along with a yawn, as Trienz emptied several bags onto a crystal clear glass table. A pile of plates were left on the side, with Trienz taking the first plate and began piling the plate with an array of colourful purees that had a selection of flat brown breads left to the side. ‘Here start with that Louisa.’
Not a word of thanks was given, instead she swept up sour and sweet purees with a green bread, and sat in silence - occupied with the new delicacy. Cleaning the last stain from her plate, she chewed on the last piece of bread, as she returned her attention to those with her. All ate in silence and bore preying eyes wanting to delve into Louisa’s mind.
‘Nice,’ Louisa said placing her plate down onto the table as she retrieved her mug, full once again of a red drink. And spied round on her surroundings, reaching her neighbour Trienz, who wore a grin as he was having some non verbal conversation with a few others. ‘What’s that grin for?’
‘Nothing kiddo, do you want any more food?’ Trienz replied.
A shake of a head was her response, as she began to wander round the accommodation. Finding corridors that led off to other rooms and hallways, but circled back round to the central lounge where everyone still sat eating the take-a-way they had ordered.
‘Louisa, come sit down have something else to eat.’ Joyle, the one from the medical room said patting the space besides him.
Following orders, she sat in silence watching her company mutter between themselves. Joive gave her another selection of some form of cooked grains with meat sat to the side drizzled in some sweat smelling sauce. Relaxed into her seat, Louisa focused upon a central screen that had some Askan news reader, showing pictures and footage of recent battles involving the Emparians. One footage showed Joive, attacking Louisa and the Dovians. On sight of the footage, Louisa shot up her hands frozen in front of her as she panted, her nerves exploded. Fixed to the screen, she heard the murmur of her name. Joyle stood beside her as dishes swam round Louisa in midair forming some wall between her and the screen.
‘Louisa...Louisa...’ Joyle repeated with everyone else in the room.
Brought back to time and place, Louisa groaned as she came back and sat back into her chair, the dishes that floated fell at that given moment, many caught in hands as people retook their dishes and continued their meals with shock upon their faces.
‘Joive escaped,’ Louisa said focused on the end of the footage, and saw herself collapsing, ‘and I should be dead?’ Louisa said looking down to a purple discoloration on her left arm where the poison had been injected. She ripped out any medical devices that lay within her arms.
‘No Louisa, you need to keep these things in so we can give you the medicines to counter the poison.’
‘No, your medicines and the likes of you can stay away from me,’ Louisa said eying Joyle up and down who was now wrapping towels to stem the bleeding.
‘Louisa, please you still need to recover, you had a down time of four hours before we were able to get you back to the land of the living.’
‘I know, I was watching the events unfold and I nearly did not return.’
‘Huh?’ A collateral murmur sounded.
‘Where are my friends the bright white people?’
‘We are not sure, they disappeared,’
‘Louisa, you should be resting you have used your abilities again,’ Rufus said with Steros close at hand.
‘Resting, do you fools know what danger is lurking around?’ Louisa replied keeping watch over Joyle holding a rod like device.
‘Yes, but you and your friends have a greater understanding,’ Trienz said planting an arm round her. ‘And we greatly appreciate their help and yours’
‘Well they should be here somewhere...’ Louisa said appearing somewhat agitated. ‘We can look for them now, they’ll come,’ Louisa said turning on her spot fleeing her company.