CHAPTER FOUR – Escape

It was not that long until a great squeal disturbed me. “This is disgusting, what are we even doing here!?”.

“Relax my love, we will find a way out of this situation.” another creature that seemed to be of similar race replied

“That is what you keep saying, but how are we going to get out this mess?”

That is when Caroline woke up, “wow, he is loud”. I peered at her in silence, admiring her beauty for a moment even though she looked her worst. She looked at me, “sleep well?”. Still looking at her for a moment with a blank expression, I came around and answered her, “sure” I lied. At that moment I remember feeling so exhausted, I felt I could sleep for an eternity and I felt no emotion. Everything around me felt fake and she was a figment of my imagination.

“Good” she replied, looking as though she didn’t know what else to say. She looked around as if trying to search for something. I studied her for a moment, there was this notion of innocence when I looked at her. “I had a strange dream”, she looked at me as though she was keen to know more. “There was this strange creature standing over me with large pointy ears and pink eyes. He kept repeating that I am Rehew and…”, “what did you say?” Caroline broke me off mid-sentence. “He told me that my species is Rehew, I informed him he was mistaken, that I am Human”. She inquired about the creature and I continued to describe it to her. She stared at me and became a little excited.

“Did he tell you he is Tuhingan?”

“What’s a Tuhingan?” I asked wondering where this was leading to.

“They are what you described. What else did he say?”

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the strange paper. A thought became prominent in my mind that perhaps that wasn’t a dream, maybe what I was going through wasn’t a dream. I handed the paper to Caroline, “he just instructed me to give this to you”.

Caroline looked at the paper with greedy eyes and opened it up. She stared at it for a long time, looking as though she was concentrating hard. After a lengthy silence, she came away from the paper and began looking around. “I have shown the others, everyone accepts your plan.” I looked for a moment thinking she was crazy and then I remembered that the whole situation was crazy. She then turns to look at me and smiles a big relieving smile. “Don’t worry, we have checked this room, we are secure!” she declared. The creature then reappears next to me, startling me. “Ahh!” I scream out for a moment. The creature glares at me “Took your time didn’t you!”

“What are you?” I said as I looked the creature up and down.

“She told you, I’m Tuhingan. Bum Flaps!” from the tone of the creature I guessed he was calling me ‘Bum Flaps’. I couldn’t help but find the situation amusing but found myself unable to crack a smile. He turns to Caroline “I am Periclum Quaerere of The Liberty”.

Caroline returns the introduction “I am Caroline, Companion to James Foreman of the Nkri Cargo Ship 1368”.

“I assume this is James?” Periclum said as he pointed towards me.

Caroline nodded in agreement.

Periclum turned to look at me, “James isn’t a very Rehew name”.

“That is because I am not Rehew, I am Human!” I replied not believing I was having this conversation.

Caroline continues after me “He is the last Human of Earth, Earth has been destroyed and we rescued James. However, he is the only survivor.”

I remember just letting that sink in for a second. A thousand questions should have filled my mind, but all I remember thinking was, Earth destroyed? that cannot be true. I remember starting to convince myself that this was a dream once again. The conversation continued as I felt like everything in the room was so distant.

“Preparing him for one of those awful Nkri zoo’s no doubt!?” Periclum continued.

“They are a humane way to keep extinct species alive,” Caroline tried to point out.

“They are prisons for people whose only crime is to be the last of their species.”

At that moment I slapped myself, whispering to myself “wake up James! Wake up!” I slapped myself again. Caroline and Periclum looked at me with astonished eyes.

Periculum broke the silence “Is that a tribal dance?”

“No”, Caroline then turned to look at me. “James, what are you doing?”

“I’m asleep, I know I’m asleep. You’re not real and you…” I pointed at Periclum “are definitely not real with your weird pink eyes and crazy ears.”

“Excuse me, I do not have weird pink eyes! Your eyes are weir…”

Caroline interrupted “James, I’m sorry you found out about Earth this way. Earth is gone, but you are not!”

“Humans are weird,” Periclum continued “Now, I don’t mean to be rude but can we begin the plan, I would like to get out of here.”

Caroline nodded in approval and then looked at me with compassionate eyes. I leant against the wall and slid down the side. Caroline, Periclum and a lot of the other creatures were coming together and began pulling things out of the bag that was on Periclum’s back. They began putting things together in the centre of the room. No one was talking to each other, only to Periclum. It was a bizarre sight. Soon they had constructed a weird mechanical contraption with different dome shapes pointing in different directions. One of the creatures placed a component in the centre of the device and then lights came on around it.

“Are you connected to the device?” Periclum asks

“We are connected” One of the creatures answered

Periclum looks at a device on his arm and looks at it in a concentrated fashion. He then looks up and his helmet comes back on.

“This Myrmeke cannot be possible,” Periclum continues

“We agree,” Caroline says in response

“Begin scan and send data,” Periclum says as he pulls out a weapon and becomes invisible

“Beginning transfer of scan, frequency acquired, target acquired, scan initiating,”

The machine began powering up and everyone in the room was silent. The creatures around the room then joined the others next to the door. They seem to be waiting for a moment, staring at the door. Then there it was, the door opened, and the Stilla were standing there with their weapons pointed to the centre of the room. There was one creature to each Stilla, those creatures seem to grab the Stilla’s weapons in a synchronous movement and point them all at the ceiling. The weapons went off at random moments causing large craters to form in the ceiling.

Those creatures kept holding the weapons of the four Stilla at the door. Other creatures came in to climb over those creatures and began to twist the Stilla heads. Their heads popped off and rolled onto the floor. Those creatures jumped down, stepped back and the creatures that were holding the arms with the weapons in, were now in possession of those weapons. A plasma weapon hit one of the creatures, it was holding its side in pain as it bled out. Another creature grabbed that fallen creature and pulled them to the side, administering first aid. Another creature grabbed the gun and joined the firefight. I still felt that this was all not real.

The creatures then pulled back behind the door and pointed their weapons at a slight angle to the door pointing into the chamber beyond. They waited, a small ball then was rolling into the doorway of the room and then I saw as the creatures attempting to run away. It exploded and then Stilla began pouring into the room. Guns were being fired as the battle went on. Some creatures worked on the machine and Caroline ran at the Stilla and tried to overpower them. Some creatures took down one of the Stilla and killed it. However, they were overrun by the other Stilla. The Stilla threw a lot of the creatures to the sides of the room and slammed them into the floor. Soon the creatures were trampled on and shot at by different weapons. They threw Caroline against the wall and as she slid down a plasma weapon hit her in the stomach. It was such a mess to see and made me throw up. I was in absolute terror. I didn’t know what to do, so I sat there, like a rabbit in headlights not wanting to move. The room kept filling with Stilla. Soon, all the creatures that were fighting were dead.

I turned to look at the machine and could see smoke coming out of several places where they had damaged the machine. The Stilla turned to look at the rest of us. “I hope you all don’t follow the path of your companions and do something stupid,” one of them said. Most of the Stilla then moved back out of the room, carrying the dead or limping. New Stilla entered and started walking towards the machine. I looked over to glimpse some components of the machine moving in the air. Like as if being moved by an invisible hand. I then saw a large component come out of the machine and then disappeared.

The Stilla picked up the weird contraption and took it out of the room. They exited, and the door shut behind them. Periclum appeared again in front of me, he looked injured like something had hit his arm and he could not move it. He presented me with the component he had taken out of the machine, the same component that disappeared, he then sat next to me holding his arm.

“It is still linked to the core and sending its data,” he told me in a tone that sounded defeated. “It is important that the upload complete’s, it is important that you keep this hidden.” I turned to look at him. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything with it,” he continued “just protect it!”. He coughed and I notice that his hand was then covered in a dark purple substance. Afterwards, he turned to me and told me I should ignore that he is there, to act like I never saw him. “I set a timer for when everything will end, do not worry you will wake up in a better place! My place!” I looked at him confused. He continued “I will give you access to the device through that chip in your head and you should be able to remember all of this.” At that point, I was even more confused and had no idea what questions to ask.

What was he talking about? He stopped talking and then I found words appearing as if they were in thin air. They read ‘Connection request from the saviour device’. Seeing those words shocked me. I was thinking I must be going insane, it was like I was in Augmented Reality without wearing anything. I saw a flash in the corner of my mind. It was a small screen on the device in my hand that read, ‘Sending a connection request’. “Accept the connection request!” Periclum demands. I look at him confused. “Oh god, I’m dying and I will teach someone how to use the BCI.” I look at him shocked “you’re dying!?” “Yes, but it’s only a temporary thing. I have died many times before”. That comment made my stomach churn, then I looked away, staring into space and not knowing what to think. “I’ll have to remember my training with the BCI from when I was a child. Okay, let me try to remember… Think ‘I accept this request’ and that will help you train your mind to control the BCI.”

At that moment, I imagined myself speaking out loud ‘Accept Connection Request’. It wasn’t working for me and I ended up staring at the device for a moment. I stared at it and once again thought the words ‘Accept Connection Request’. Again nothing happened, I turned to look back at Periclum and once again he had disappeared. I then spoke out loud, “Accept Connection Request”. Nothing happened except hearing Periclum’s voice in a hushed tone through what sounded like speakers. “Do not draw attention to yourself, instead try imagining pulling a file off of a shelf that is labelled ‘Connection Request’ and open it”.

I then attempted to do as he requested. At first, my imagination wasn’t very clear. Just imagined reaching out to any old file. But then, once again, nothing happened. Taking a deep breath I imagined that file with the big letters ‘Accept Connection Request’ written across the side and the front. I felt that this was a part of the request that came from this strange device I was holding. I opened the file and then the words ‘Connection Accepted’ flashed across the screen and shone in front of my eyes, then ‘Connected’. After which the screen went dark on the device and it showed nothing.

For a moment I just sat there and stared at the device. “Hide it, find a good place!” I heard Periclum say once again in a hushed tone. I looked around the room for a moment, then heard a strange sound. Turning my head, I found a small cut was forming in the wall in a very slow and struggled way. “Hide it in here!” Going to the slit in the wall, I opened it up with my hands. It took both hands to pull it open and then I realised that I had left the device on the floor. I stared at it for a moment wondering how I would get it in and then it was floating. It was placed into the slit and rested there. I was finding myself beginning to struggle to keep the slit open and began to shake. “Don’t worry, let go and do not let them find the slit!”, “Okay,” I said as I closed the slit. I pulled my hands out and sat myself down, covering the slit with my back. After that, I didn’t hear from Periclum again.

After an hour or two of just sitting there and looking at the other creatures doing various things and looking upset, those awful insects came back into the room. Three Stilla came through the door. “Where is the device!?” they announced, the other creatures looked at each other. While one of the Stilla were asking us questions, the other had a device attached to its arm that looked like a screen. It was typing into it and waving it around the room like he had a mobile phone and was looking for a signal. “Where is this device!?” One of the creatures in the room began pointing towards me. Just then the Stilla with the screen on its arm was rushing towards the other side of the room, distracting the other Stilla.

They drew one of their plasma weapons and fired it towards the ground. I saw a hole appear inside of Periclum who had just reappeared. He was lying on the floor, it seemed as if he was dead, they looked at him for a moment and then pulled him out of the room. One Stilla stayed behind and watched over us with the door standing open. During that time they petrified me, I couldn’t move a centimetre. My heart was beating so fast, sweat was pouring down my face and I felt so sick. I looked at the insect for a moment and then looked away, darting my eyes back and forth, not sure what to look at. I was just thinking to myself, ‘please don’t notice me’.

Another three Stilla came in after around five minutes and these three began searching the other creatures. They asked the creatures “what do you know!?”. As they went around each one of us in this room, no one spoke up, declining that they knew anything. Then it came to the creature that began pointing at me before. “He knows something, he has something!” the creature said to the Stilla. The Stilla looked over at me and my heart sunk, I felt a huge amount of anxiety at that point. My breathing became quick and I felt tears beginning to roll down my cheeks. One of the Stilla looked at me, the other two continued to check the other creatures as this Stilla approached me.

It brought its face close to mine, this awful ant-like face with its mandibles snapping in front of my face. I stared at it feeling intimidated wondering what it will do next. “Get up!”, it demanded. I look back at it staying there, frozen with fear. It grabs my arm and pulls me to my feet, “I told you to get up!”. While it pinned me to the wall, it touched me all over my body. I looked at this scary insect creature not knowing what to do, frozen stiff in complete terror. It ripped off my t-shirt and began ripping off my trousers. Then the Stilla looked at me again and asked “what are you hiding?”.

Without me realising it another Stilla behind this one was using the screen on their arm and waving it around in my location. The Stilla holding me, looked at me and moved me about a metre down the wall. The other Stilla with a screen was fixated on the location where I was sitting. I was thrown and landed in a way that broke my arm. I screamed in pain, gripping my arm. The other Stilla was searching all the creatures in the room as one of the creatures came to look at my arm. “Lay still!” it said in a soft kind way. This creature was silvery in complexion, had four arms and two legs. I laid there as this kind creature was helping me.

Another creature was standing over me, one that looked a little like a blob that moved in weird ways. There were bubbles coming from this creature and yet I heard it say “they found the device!” I looked up just in time to see one of the Stilla walking out of the room with the device. I let my head go and just laid there in pain, feeling numb, vacant and not able to think any thought. Everything felt like it was a distant and I did not want to move.

Then I heard the end. It was a large explosion muffled in volume. I heard that consistent sound come to a stop. There was another explosion, sounding more distant and then another and another. Some were faint and others were close. Then I remember nothing.

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