Falling Part 2
With a bone-rattling thud, Bishop finds herself sprawled across a cavern floor. Golden sand rains down on her in a steady trickle from a hole two stories above her. Her suit had done its job and managed to cushion the worst of her fall, but there was still damage. Every inch of her hurt, and she wanted nothing more than to lay where she was and let oblivion take her. But she knew that if she wanting to keep living she had to get up and run. The trickle of sand became a stream as the cavern walls rumble and quake around her. It seems the giant slug wouldn’t allow her little disappearing act to dissuade him from his hunt for long.
With a grunt, Captain Bishop tries to sit up. Her grunt turns into a scream as an intense stabbing pain shoots up her left leg. With a moan Bishop collapses onto the cavern floor as her leg crumbles underneath her. Looking down she sees that her knee is twisted at an odd angle and a jagged bone protrudes from the thick fabric of her suit.
Dread fills her as she stares at her wounded leg. Being stranded in a desert with a busted kneecap was bad enough, but this happens to be a desert on an unknown planet. Now the suit that protects her from the unknown is compromised the risk of infection is high, not to mention all the alien bacteria or radiation she was probably exposed to now. Far too many life altering variables for her liking.
The ground beneath her shakes, bringing her thoughts back to more urgent matters at hand. There is still a very hungry and very pissed sand slug on her tail.
Biting her lip to keep from screaming again and potentially alerting the slug to her presence, Bishop drags herself behind one of the cavern’s large sandstone columns. Hunting through her holsters and pockets, she searches for one of the many weapons she had stored away before starting this mission. Nothing. Not a blasted thing. Even her knife and dead communicator were gone. Lost somewhere in the sands above her when she took her tumble.
The tremors beneath her grow stronger, and she knew she was dead. Wounded, defenseless, it was only a matter of time before the slug beast broke through and made her lunch. It’s times like this she thinks that maybe her parents had been right and she should have become a dentist.
Shit, my luck.
She searches the sands around her for any means to defend herself, a rock, a stick, a giant salt shaker. Hell anything was better than nothing at this point. Pointless though it was, Bishop refused to go down without a fight.
The cavern quakes with another of the slug’s tremors, bringing down more than just sand on top of the stranded explorer. One of the smaller stalactites is jarred loose and crashes mere inches from her side. Wiping the dust as best as she can from her visor, Captain Bishop stares at the long column of rock that had been a fraction away from squishing her. It was as long as her softball bat back home, around six inches in diameter where it broke from the cavern’s ceiling and tapering down to a rather sharp point at the end. She grabs the stalactite by the smaller end with both hands and gives it an experimental swing.
Okay... okay, this will work. Beggars can’t be choosers.
The cavern wall behind her explodes in a rain of dust and stone as the sand slug rams its way through with a hissing roar. The entire cavern seems to shake in fear at the beast’s entry, sending more rocks and stalactites crashing down around her. Cowering behind her stone shelter, Captain Bishop curls in on herself and covers her head with her arms in hopes of shielding her body from the worst of it.
The air is so thick with dust Bishop’s vision is filled with a beige tinted fog. She hears the sands shift behind her as the beast slithers further into the cavern. Each hiss from the creature’s drool hitting the cavern floor and turning the sand into liquid glass made her heart lurch. She could feel the heat from the creature’s breath as it inched its way closer to her hiding spot. With a few quick adjustments Bishop changes the setting on her visor to accommodate the low light. Everything in her vision was tinted green now, but at least she could make out her surroundings. With a death grip on her make-shift bat, she takes a quick scan around her in hopes of spotting an escape route.
What she saw nearly had her swallowing her tongue to keep from screaming.
Clinging upside-down to the wall across from her is a very large and very strong looking reptile. Awestruck, she watches as its long, powerful tail sweeps back-and-forth behind it. Sharp quills grow from its head all the way down its broad back, and she found herself wondering if they are barbed like a porcupine. Muscular limbs ending in large hands and feet armed with dagger-like claws sliced through the sandstone like wet clay. The rough texture of its skin blends perfectly with the cavern wall, and Bishop knew she never would have spotted the creature without her visor.
The lizardman snaps its frilled head up towards her, its four predatory eyes glowing an eerie green in her visor. They were the same eyes she would have sworn she caught watching her wandering this twice-cursed desert for the past three days. The same eyes that shined in the glow of her fusion lamp the night her men were slaughtered. There had been far more of them then. At least six sets of those strange eyes had watched her succumb to unconsciousness, surrounded by the bodies of her men.
Just as she started to feel the scream she’s been frighting back begin to bubble up her throat the strangest thing happens. The lizard-monster raises a clawed finger up to its thin lips and gives the frightened captain a wink.
Bishop almost lets out a laugh. Almost. Then she hears the sand-slug slither across the ground behind her and remembers why she was trying so hard to be quiet.
God, it’s finally happened. I’ve been out the sun so long that the heat has fried my brain. I’m hiding from giant garden pest and alien lizardmen are winking at me. I have officially lost my mind. Doc will never let me hear the end of this one. That is if I survive this long enough to tell her about it. Fat chance of that happening when a monster slug and baby Godzilla are going to fight over who gets to pick my bones clean.
Bishop is jarred from her thoughts by a hissing sound to her left. Looking over her shoulder she is greeted by one of the many giant, milky eyes of the sand-slug. On instinct, she takes hold of her stone bat and slams it into the creature’s eye. The slug rears back with a deafening shriek, sending acidic spit raining down onto the wounded captain.
With a silent prayer that her suit would protect her from the worst of the creature’s deadly spittle, Bishop takes another swing, aiming for one of the many bullet wounds in the beast’s side. Green blood squirts from the slug’s wounds as the captain pummels the slowing beast with her stalactite. She doesn’t give a moments pause as she lashes out, hobbling on her good leg as she drives the startled creature back.
But luck is a fickle bitch, and just when Bishop thought she had the upper hand in this fight she slips on a puddle of green ooze and falls hard on the flat of her back. The sand-slug sees its opening and takes it, rushing forward at a speed no slug should ever be able to make. Something fast blurs in her peripheral, then her vision is filled with the gaping maul of the sand-slug. Countless rows of sharp, serrated teeth promised a slow, torturous death. In a ditch effort Captain Bishop takes hold of her weapon and thrush upwards into what she hoped was the soft pallet of the slug's mouth. The stalactite hit home, ripping threw the creature’s mouth and sending a fountain of green ooze on top of the captain.
The slug’s body crumbles to the ground, its milky-white eyes turning gray and lifeless. Trying her best not to vomit inside of her helmet from the stench, Bishop wipes as much of the green goo as she can from her visor. Threw the streaks she sees the alien lizard watching her with its mouth agape, its four eyes blown wide in surprise as they dart between her and the dead slug monster.
Exhausted, Bishop falls back, her helmet making a hollow thud against the sandy floor, “So, you going to try to kill me too now, or are you just going to stare at me all afternoon?”
The lizardman cocks his head at her and hisses out something that sounded a lot like a question. Or perhaps a threat. Maybe a curse? Oh what the captain wouldn’t give to have a working communicator at the moment.
“Sorry, I don’t speak parseltongue. You any good at charades? Maybe Pictionary?” she asks as she struggles to sit upright.
Her strange companion cautiously inches towards her and stretches out a clawed hand in what Bishop hoped was an offer of assistance.
She places her slime-covered hand into the alien’s much larger one and is shocked to find that it trembled slightly at her touch. Looking the reptile over she notices that not only its hands but the whole of its body trembled. The creature’s four eyes stayed fixed on their joined hands, wide and unblinking. Despite having no pupils the lizardman’s eyes were very expressive and appeared very frightened by the tiny human in front of it.
How could such a strong, massive creature be terrified of her? Bishop was by no means short, at least by human standards, but the lizardman towered over her. The alien was all hard scales and muscle and she was nothing more than soft, wounded flesh in a damaged space suit. But one wrong move from her and this creature would bolt like a startled deer. Or worse, it would lash out and attack the cause of its fright.
Swallowing down her own fears, Bishop tries what she can to calm the giant reptile, “It’s okay Big Guy, I wont bite. I mean, even if I did your scales would probably break my teeth so...I mean look at me. I’m small and bashed up and covered in slime and...Look, I’m no threat to you. I come in peace and all that, so...help a girl out?”
Okay, so I’m not great at the whole calm and sweet thing. Sue me.
Her rambling seems to have the desired effect, and the lizardman helps Bishop to stand on wobbly feet.
“Thanks. Say, you wouldn’t happen to know the way back to my ship would you? Or maybe where to find a medic? Adrenaline is staring to were off and my knee is starting to really hurt so...”
The creature’s brows furrow as he looks her over, not understanding a word she is saying.
“Hurt, you know. Pain. Ouch. Boo-boo. Hurt.”
Thin lips part to reveal rows of dagger-like teeth, “Herrtsss?”
“Yes! Hurts!” she gestures at her busted and bloody knee, “See? Hurts. Hurts bad.”
The lizardman glances down at her wounded knee. Then the creature’s skin blanches to a sickly green and it falls unconscious to the cavern floor, taking Bishop down with it. She lands with a solid thud on top of the alien’s broad chest, causing her teeth to rattle and for her knee to bend painfully to the side.
Stunned, she lays sprawled across the large reptile as she waits for the stars to clear from her vision, “Well shit.”
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