Chloe & Tor
The leaves whipped against Chloe’s face as she sped through the trees. Her bare feet pounded the soft earth. Her lungs were burning but her terror and panic kept the pain tolerable. She wasn’t a fast runner but at least she’d gotten through the open field safely; the open field where they could easily snatch her away and do whatever they wanted with her.
She could hear the cows mooing in distress, their hooves thudding heavily against the ground as they, too, tried to run away in fright. She really hoped they were going to be all right. She’d seen plenty of movies and read enough books to know what happened to livestock in this particular situation.
Not to mention humans.
With a strangled sob, she kept running. Her feet were becoming sore against the cold ground. It was late at night and the temperature was brisk. Her skin was freezing but she hardly felt it as the heat of her surging blood pounded through her veins. She screamed when something wrenched at her hair, only to discover that it was just the end of a dead branch. Regretting her outburst, she stopped to untangle herself.
She needed to be more careful. She couldn’t make noise or they would find her! The sobs caught in her throat as she tried to control herself. What did they want with them? What could they possibly want with a lowly farming family like them? They were nothing!
Chloe turned with a gasp at a loud crack! which echoed across the fields and empty sky. Crack! Crack! Crack!
‘No!’ She clapped a hand to her mouth. Dad, Simon no!
They were back there. They were back there: her brother and father, defending her and their home against these … things. Whatever they were.
‘Run!’ her father had told her as he’d loaded his gun, his face set. ‘Run for the trees. Keep to the darkness. Don’t let them see you.’
She hadn’t even had time to grab a sweater or shoes as she crashed through the back door, that terrible light shining brightly from above.
A fifth gunshot reminded her that she had to move, but her fingers were so cold and shaking so violently that she finally gave up trying to untangle herself. Instead, she yanked her head hard enough that the hair tore from her scalp.
Her knees buckled and she almost fell to the ground but she regained her balance and sped onwards. She sucked in a burning breath at a flash of bright light. She didn’t dare look. She couldn’t look. Another bright flash. Bats squawked and flew from the branches, beating their wings loudly in the quiet of the night. She could hear rustling as something fled through the grass.
If only she could do the same.
She was slowing down now as she staggered and tripped and weaved her way drunkenly ahead, weak with helplessness, breathless with distress. It was over! They were following. Why were they following? What had they done with her brother and father?!
A third blinding flash dropped her to her hands and knees. The trees weren’t doing anything. There was no protection. There was no safety. The nearest neighbour was miles away. She was alone. They had her. This time the light stayed upon her, so dazzling that it brightened the dewy grass to silver. Her brown hair turned white.
Her shoulders were trembling. Her chest was aching. It took every bit of stamina she had to keep herself upright. Saliva hung from her lip. Tears pattered the ground. Her ears were ringing in the eery quiet.
‘Leave me alone,’ she croaked.
Her ears pricked up and she raised her head at the sound of something moving up ahead. She stared, her heart pounding so hard she thought she was going to faint. It was a figure, dark against the bright light. It was just standing there, watching her, as though studying her like she it. It looked like a man. For a moment, her heart lifted at the thought that it might be her father. But her relief was short lived. It couldn’t possibly be him. He should be coming up from behind, not ahead. Besides, she could tell it wasn’t him. It was way too big. Way too broad. Far too frightening.
It started walking towards her, taking long strides, its feet thudding heavily against the earth.
‘Please, stop,’ she said.
Then it was standing over her. She was looking up at it as it looked down upon her. Though her eyes were aching against the light, she needed to look. She needed to see before she died. Hopefully, she would die. It would be preferable to being taken; to be at the mercy of these creatures. At least, then, she would be with God.
She could hardly see its face. She could see a pair of dark eyes, a strong nose, long hair. But that was all. It leaned over, and Chloe cried out as it pulled her up by the armpits. It was incredibly strong! It clearly wanted her to stand but she didn’t have the strength, sagging in its arms. With an annoyed grunt, it swept her off from the ground and hoisted her into its embrace.
All Chloe could do was lie helpless, her head hanging, limp and useless as she shut her eyes against the truth of her dangerous situation. As though she could dream it away. The light was white behind her eyelids. Then it vanished. She opened her eyes, the brightness still imprinted on her retinas as she watched the ground roll by.
She could see boots, seemingly ordinary boots, as they crunched through the grass. She could hear his breathing. It was definitely some kind of man. Maybe it wasn’t an alien at all. Maybe this was some kind of government plot! And this man some kind of soldier.
‘Let me go,’ she dared to croak.
He didn’t respond.
‘You can’t take me. Let me go!’ If this really was just a man, then she could fight! She was her father’s daughter, after all. Strong. Resilient.
She thrashed in his arms, screaming. Taken by surprise, he lost his grip and dropped her. The ground was hard but Chloe hardly felt it as she scrambled to her feet. She didn’t get far before he had her again, seizing onto her arm with a powerful hand. He tried to lock her in his strong embrace, but she managed to twist around. For a moment, they were face to face. Well … face to chest. From what she could see in the gloom, he looked ordinary. Completely ordinary. Other than the fact that he towered over her, bigger than any man she’d ever seen.
Chloe had never been in a fight before. She’d been fortunate enough to have never needed to defend herself—until now. Her reaction took both him and herself by surprise. It was as if someone daring and brave had taken over her body. Her knee was deep in his groin, he bowed over with a yelp, and then she was speeding through the trees.
She was strong again, her weakness, cold and terror forgotten. All she knew now was adrenaline. He was a man. And he was fallible. She could get away! Back to her home. Back to her father—if he was okay. He had to be okay.
The trees whipped past her as she weaved skilfully between them. No more tripping. No more sobbing. Strangely enough, she felt almost elated. Then the trees abruptly ended—as did her escape. She staggered to a halt with a cry. ‘No!’
They were there—more of them. Just like him. And behind them was what she could only describe as a spaceship. No bright lights this time—but she could see it clearly against the moonlight. Huge. Saucer-like. Built of metal and glass.
Her heart seemed to shudder in her chest. She turned to run again, only to lose her footing. She sucked in a breath as the ground hurtled towards her face. But she wasn’t falling. She was being picked up, in the arms of the towering man in the trees—he’d caught up with her. He was holding her like a suitcase under his arm as she squirmed and thrashed and screamed.
With his other hand, he grabbed at his crotch as he hobbled towards his companions and the waiting ship. Their laughter was ringing in her ears. Their laughter!
‘Put me down!’ she wailed.
Amid their laughter, they were speaking in a language Chloe couldn’t comprehend. It made her prickle with fear. They weren’t American at all. Who were they?
‘No!’ she screamed.
Her kidnapper was snapping back at them, his voice deep with annoyance as he walked up a metal ramp and into the heart of the ship.
She tried to fight. She tried to punch and squirm and kick but nothing could dislodge his powerful grip. He’d clearly learned from the first time. Finally, all she could do was try and catch her breath, hanging exhausted in his arm, as the rest of these mysterious massive men piled in behind him, the doors to the ship snapping shut behind them.
‘Shut it!’ Tor snapped.
‘Are you sure the little girl’s not too much for you?’ Rigna retorted, sniggering.
Tor groaned at the pain lashing in his balls. She’d kneed him pretty hard and he hadn’t had time to recover, rushing after her as fast as he could before the others caught her. He hadn’t expected such ferocity from one so weak and small.
‘You want some help?’ Moose leered, grabbing at her hair.
The girl screamed.
Tor yanked her away. ‘Get your own!’
Moose laughed. The others were shaking their heads and grinning as they filed away through the maze of corridors to their prospective destinations. Tor looked behind him, checking if anyone was following as he made his way down to the coop. Nobody dared.
The girl was still squirming, though feebly now. Tor shook his head, annoyed with himself. Just because she was a small, primitive being didn’t mean she couldn’t wreak havoc. He should have been more careful. She was very limp now. Too limp. Unmoving. He gave her an anxious shake. Crying out, she lashed out with her arm.
His arm was starting to ache and so he hoisted her over his shoulder instead, his arm hooked around her knees. She was quivering and he could feel her sobbing against his back. The ship gave a slight shudder as it lifted off from the ground. It wouldn’t be long before they reached the mothership and he could get her checked out. It was paramount that she not be sick or injured. She felt cold. The last thing he wanted was for her to die. It would be a long time before he would be able to get another one like her—if ever. He was lucky his captain had given him the opportunity as it was. It was always a risk to visit other planets, no matter how briefly or how harmless the native inhabitants were.
She was starting to feel too limp again and he gave her another shake.
The doors whooshed back as he stepped into the spy room of the coop. They called it the coop but it was really a small detention area for captives and criminals. As it was, it was being used to house the inhabitants of Rictor 5 they’d picked up over the last hour. Most young and most female.
Clint, who was on shift to guard the coop, stood at Tor’s sudden appearance, his eyes darting over the limp body hanging over his shoulder. He was as tall as Tor but not as broad, more lean than muscular. As a fellow senior operative, he, too, was allowed a companion—the only male in the coop.
‘How is she?’ he asked.
‘Alive.’ Tor said. He nodded at the other prisoners. ‘They going to be a problem?’
‘Not for us.’ Clint pressed the button and the barred door to the coop opened.
The other inhabitants pulled quickly away, hiding in the corners and standing with their backs against the walls as he eased her onto one of the cots. Tor glared at them all, warning them to keep away. There were five of them. Enough to cause a problem if they all attacked at once.
They didn’t move. They were smart despite their primitive ways.
He studied his female for a moment, briefly checking for any obvious injuries. Except for a scratch on her arm and the terrified look in her eyes, she seemed all right. Without a word, and with one last menacing look at the others, he left the coop, the door shutting and locking behind him.
This wasn’t a human ship, Chloe knew that now. Not by the look of that thing that had carried her. Yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes. She’d finally seen it in the light. And this ship … this spacecraft, was exactly what it looked like. Aliens. Not men. Aliens!
It was hard to be brave now that she was certain of the truth. What did he want with her? Where were they going? What terrible torments awaited her? She thought of all the magazine stories and newspaper articles and all the movies and books she’d ever watched and read: experimentation, disfigurements, torture …
The list went on and on. But what if they were good? Some aliens were good. But why would someone good take her away from those she loved? She remembered their laughter. It hadn’t sounded good at all.
Chloe jerked her head at a noise. It sounded like a shoe scraping against concrete. She sat up. There, in the shadows, huddled a woman. A human woman. Chloe looked around and noticed the others. They were watching her from the corners of the small room, their eyes gleaming in the light. They looked like her. They seemed like her. But so did that alien man who had abducted her.
She glanced up at the light above, its dim glow enough to make out the features of the room. There were three beds backed up against the wall. Thin mattresses. Blankets and pillows. There was a basin jutting out from the wall to her left, looking depressingly like a toilet. The mirror, however, was what really drew her attention. It stretched across the length and height of one wall. She got the distinct impression that it wasn’t a mirror at all.
‘They can see you,’ came a whisper.
Chloe whipped her head around towards the voice and stood, backing away as a woman crept out from the shadows.
‘Those aliens,’ the woman continued. ‘They can see you. They can probably hear us too.’ Tears streaked her cheeks. There was dirt on her chin. She was much older than Chloe, probably in her mid-thirties, tall and trim. Her red hair was all messed up. Her eyes had a determined look about them.
‘They’re not a-aliens!’ came a cry.
Chloe spun around. She could see them all now. Five of them: four women, one man. Like her, all were bare-footed and looked ready for bed, except for the man who looked like he’d been out at a party.
‘Who are you?’ Chloe asked, backing away from them towards the mirror.
‘Haven’t you figured it out yet?’ came a sharp voice. ‘We’re just like you. Abducted from our beds by these … these …’ The woman shook her head as she sat on one of the beds, her slim shoulders hunched over, her long black hair hanging around her face. She had a strong accent.
‘Are you … are you from America?’ Chloe asked.
The woman looked at her and tossed her hair. ‘I grew up in Korea but I’m British.’
‘I’m from England,’ spoke the woman with the red hair.
‘They’ve taken us from all over,’ spoke the man. ‘At least where it’s dark. Mexico,’ he said at Chloe’s questioning look. ‘My name is Juan. What’s yours?’
Chloe shook her head. ‘Ch-Chloe.’ She spun around to look towards the mirror. ‘You say they’re watching us.’
‘Yes,’ spoke the redhead.
‘What do they want?’
When no one answered, Chloe turned back. Juan was looking at his feet. The redhead was shaking her head. The Korean girl had her head in her hands.
‘Not long,’ spoke the redhead. ‘We’ve been here less than an hour. I was the first …’
‘They’re not a-aliens!’
‘Give it a rest, Aisha. Denying the truth isn’t going to help you.’
The girl called Aisha was sitting in the corner, her knees to her chest, curled up in a tight ball. She had a scarf drawn over her face. She glanced up at Chloe, then away again. Tears were leaking out of her eyes.
‘I-I can’t believe this,’ Chloe said, clutching at her throat. ‘My dad, my brother, they were shooting at them.’
‘Then they’re probably dead,’ rose a new voice.
‘Shut it, would you?’ Juan snarled, sitting on the bed next to the Korean girl. He laid his head on her shoulder.
The fifth occupant who had spoken was a woman leaning against the wall by the toilet, her arms crossed, her mouth thin. Her dark hair was cut close to the scalp, revealing tattoos running up the right side of her neck and down along her shoulder. She was tall. Her tight shirt accentuated big breasts and a muscular frame.
She locked eyes with Chloe. ‘There’s no point in being naive.’ Her voice was sharp and deep. ‘They want us for one thing.’
‘I said, shut it Karina. You’re just making stupid, fucked-up guesses,’ Juan snapped.
‘You have no proof,’ the redhead added. ‘Don’t listen to her, Chloe.’
“Karina” scowled at them both. ‘I can see the truth, even if you don’t want to. I’ve known enough men in my life to know what’s what.’
Aisha gave a wracking sob.
Karina’s dark eyes bore into Chloe’s. ‘Haven’t you seen them? The way they look? You seem like a smart girl. Smarter than them anyway.’ She nodded dismissively at Juan and the redhead.
Chloe stared at her as she thought back to the man—the alien—who had kidnapped her. His size. His aggression. His overt masculinity. The way he’d looked at her as she’d lain here on the bed, as though he’d wanted to eat her up. Those yellow eyes had been way too intense.
Karina gave a hard smile. ‘Right. They’re all men for a reason, you know. And we’re all women.’
‘I’m not!’ Juan interjected.
Karina scoffed. ‘Maybe. But you, more than the rest of us, prove my point.’
Chloe looked towards the mirror. She started to shake. ‘I’m-I’m still a virgin.’
Karina gave a bitter laugh. ‘You won’t be for long.’