CHAPTER TWO – The Cargo Ship

I woke with a start, heart-pounding, sweat pouring off me and feeling a great panic. It felt like something had hit me in the back as my body jerked awake. An alarm clock was ringing and my head was pounding. Opening my eyes, I could feel I was back in that luxurious bed. Weird sounds were coming from the main room and started up the spiral staircase. My eyes were out of focus but I strained to look at the door, waited for something to happen. My mouth was dry and my head was spinning. The door burst open, and I had to rub my eyes for a moment. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing, I thought I was still dreaming. There was a large insect creature standing in the doorway. It must have stood well over two metres and was rubbing its limbs together. I heard what sounded to be clicking sounds coming from the rhythmic movements of its limbs on one another.

I gawked at it for a moment, but then it seized my leg and pulled to the ground. My heart began pounding harder through my chest as I was kicking and screaming, trying to get free. I kicked and grabbed anything that could keep me in the room, but it was all pointless. While it was yanking me out of the room, this terrifying creature grabbed one of my arms and pulled me to my feet letting my foot go. The woman from before ran in front of us and was clicking at this creature, following her was this hovering dome that had tentacles hanging down from under it. It looked half-mechanical with a polished metal dome head, reflecting the world around it and half biological with tentacles dangling from it.

Before I could think, this large insect creature had forced them both out of the way. It dragging me out of the door and onto the balcony. Then flung me onto its back grabbing my other arm and jumped over the rail landing on the lower floor with a great thump. I remember screaming so much and feeling so powerless, uncertain what would happen next. We rushed for the front door of the flat; The door was wide open, waiting for us to go through.

I began to fall from the large insect creature and fell forward with momentum; I spun and saw the dome-shaped, half-mechanical creature grabbing one of the large insect legs and pulled hard. It was an abrupt stop for the insect creature and a great fall for me; I tumbled backwards rolling out of the door only to find that there seemed to be no usual floor outside. I should have landed flat on my face and should have stared at the floor. Instead, I seemed to stare down a great wall with many doors down for as far as I could see. Then I began to fall in the most unusual way.

My heart continues to race, my breath being held, I gasped at the sight and stared at it in fear. Grabbing the bottom of the flat door with my hand in a panic, my feet swung round. They came round and hit the wall with a force that left me with bruises. Gripping the bottom of the door with all my strength, I expected to have to hold myself up by my hands. But then I didn’t feel any pressure on my hands. In fact, I was so successful at pulling myself up that my head was looking over the edge of the door. I felt nothing pulling me down, instead, everything was pulling me towards that great wall.

I could see the dome-shaped creature fighting with the large insect creature inside the flat. The woman had clambered onto the insect creature and appeared to be attempting to strangle it or something similar. The large insect creature moving side to side throwing the woman all over the place as the dome kept it in place. I glared at them. They seemed to not notice me. Then I decided I didn’t want to be looking at this bizarre scenario playing out in front of me. I took a deep breath in preparation to turn myself over hoping to find something normal, not knowing if I will end up falling or not. Well, I didn’t fall; I ended up staring upwards from this strange wall. But I remember thinking I wish that I never turned over. What I saw shocked me to the core, I felt so sick at that moment.

The great wall curved round and looked to be an immense cylinder covered in doors. I knew that if I got up and walked in a straight line against the curve, I would end up where I was again. In the centre of this was another larger cylinder, with a lot of wires and mechanical looking contraptions. I couldn’t see any way to reach that cylinder without some contraption to help me fly. But there I was, looking up at this mechanical mess with what must have been hundreds of the dome-shaped creatures and the insect creatures fighting. Some Insects were attempting to steal devices from the central cylinder. Thinking back, I am still unsure how those Insects got to that central core.

I was still throbbing with pain after being thrown out of bed and tumbling out the door. I was considering whether I could run, but then, out of the door came the insect creature. It was standing over me on the outside of the flat. It seized me and threw me onto its back. I looked back just in time to see it had destroyed the dome creature. Mechanical parts were scattered all over the lounge and a blob of what appeared to be a dying biological mess laid on the floor.

It carried me along like some rag doll; The woman running to keep close behind. As we were moving past different doors that laid on the outside of the cylinder, I noticed that each one was unique. Different shape, a different colour, everything. I glanced around; I wasn’t the only creature that was being carried against their will. There were so many of us, all different shapes, different sizes, different colours. I recall not knowing what to think of it all. I know now that I was looking at many alien species but I was in shock and couldn’t register it.

We walked and soon twisted into another room, where, much like the flat, the source of gravity changed at a right angle to the cylinder we had just exited from. I recognised the room. It was the one I thought I dreamt, part of my nightmare where I was in so much real pain. I felt my stomach drop as if everything in my body had just given way. Soon I had spewed up the breakfast I had when I first met the woman all over the insect creature. The insect creature didn’t seem to make a sound as my sick ran down its back, just threw me into a strange area of this white room. The force of me landing on this strange platform crumpled me in a heap. Looking up, I could see many large turrets facing me. I got up onto my hands as I saw the insect creature type something into what seemed like a little touch screen device strapped to its arm. There was this field that enveloped me and I couldn’t move. When I looked at the creature and the woman, I could see the woman was clicking as to be shouting at the insect creature. The insect kept her back by pinning her to the wall with one of its many legs, hands type limbs.

I remember hearing that dreaded sound like a vast amount of powerful lights being turned on. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught one of those turrets that aimed towards me lighting up. At that point the horror was setting in, I tried to get up and found myself held down. I couldn’t move at all, I didn’t know what to do, where to go. It was as though an invisible field was keeping me from moving! I heard this whistling sound and recognised it; It was a very distinctive mechanical sound of wind, like a fan speeding up. Just like I recognised the room, I recognised this sound. I tried closing my eyes, but this field seemed to not even allow me the luxury. A headache began to form and became more and more intense. It began to feel as though my head was burning from the inside.

The agony was continuing for what seemed like an eternity and I sought to scream out in pain. Not a sound could leave my mouth. Just then I heard the machine power down, and I fell to the floor. I curled up in a ball and held my head as the pain subsided. I couldn’t handle the pain back then and the memory of that incident is scorched into my mind.

“Do you know what you have done?” the woman was now saying to the insect creature.

It shocked me to find I understood the insect creature, “He needs to understand us,”

“He is not ready yet! His species is far too dangerous for him to learn the truth, he does not need to understand us!”

“His species is weak!”

I was standing up at that point staring at them with a puzzled look. The insect creature let the woman go, snatched my arm and picked me up from the floor.

“What could he do?”

The beautiful woman smiled and then I heard that sound of powerful lights being turned on again. Me and the insect began to freeze in our position, then I heard a very different sound. It was a sound of an explosion and I looked down, finding I could move. The insect creature had blasted a hole in the floor with what looked to be some blaster he held.

He then pointed the blaster thing at the woman. It was so quick and I never saw the dome-shaped creature appear. This dome-shaped creature must have had come through the door and was now lunging at the part arm, part leg limb of the insect creature. The dome-shaped creature knocked straight into the blaster as it was being set off. It caused a hole to form in the wall. For a moment I saw stars against a black background and felt a rush of air exit that hole. The insect creature’s grip held me from being sucked out of the hole. The dome shape creature ended up being sucked into the hole and sealing it with its metallic dome-shaped body.

I heard wind again. This time it was different, this time it was consistent. Looking around, I saw a jet of light coming from the Insects chest. I looked behind and saw that it was one of the turrets on the wall; It was firing some stream of light that cut right through the creature and began eating into the wall opposite. The insect collapsed to the floor as the beam cut cleanly and powerfully through its body.

I had landed on my feet but ended up on my hands and knees as the insect creature dropped me. Staring at the floor for a moment, I felt the woman had grabbed my clothing on my shoulder and helped me to my feet. “You’re a mess!” She said to me. I stared at her at that moment, not feeling anything, not thinking anything. She looked alarmed, “Damn! The core! We have to go!”. I didn’t have a clue what she was saying, I just remember seeing her take the blaster from the insect creature and exit the room. I stood there for a moment looking back at the mess that was the dome creature and the insect.

“Follow me!” she came back to tell me. I looked back at her with a blank expression then she gave me a gentle nod that made me feel more relaxed. She led me back to the cylinder room. She was firing the blaster she had pulled from the insect, shooting down other Insects. It seemed to create some plasma that exploded on impact. It created holes in anything it came in contact with. “Come on!” she ended up shouting as she began to run. We came to an open door that was a very bizarre uneven star shape. She entered, and I followed.

I twisted around and found myself in a forest full of plants with red leaves and black stalks. The heat and humidity hit me with such a strength, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. There were other creatures running through, all going in one direction. “Come on!” The woman was shouting back in an irritated way. It was easy to find the trodden path made that way from so many others that had already gone that way. I looked to my right to see a strange creature attempting to overtake everyone through the thick woodland area. Running fast, I saw it overtake and then disappear down to the ground. I guessed that it had tripped, and I also stumbled whilst watching the creature. The woman pulled me up, then we went on running.

While we were running, I heard the faint sounds of explosions that sounded like a battle. I just dismissed it as another weird thing that was happening and I didn’t understand. After a while, we reached a point where the forest seemed to end at the bottom of a cliff face with a hole in the bottom. It looked like there was an enormous cave within, much larger than the cliff face looked. A variety of creatures surrounded the hole with several of the dome-shaped creatures setting up portable versions of the turret things I had blasting me in the other room. They had ten groups of six turrets. The six turrets all faced a single point in the centre. It was all held up with thin scaffolding. I looked at them for a moment, thinking they were held up by nothing. The sound of wind filled the air, clouds of dust covered the area and constant flashes lit up the woodland. The creatures were having contraptions materialising on them that appeared to help them breathe. Each device was different depending upon the anatomy of the creature.

The woman pulled me to the side of the path and told me to hold my arms out and keep still. Not having a clue what was going on, I obeyed. The temperature began to rise as I stood there. I heard wind once again and there was this intense feeling of heat that seemed to settle into a weird warm sensation on my back and around my mouth. I took a deep breath and found I was breathing out of a mask. Equipment materialised on me just like the other creatures. The woman grabbed me and threw me to the side as she went into the same spot I was just standing. I watched as equipment materialised on her.

Looking over I saw one creature enter this large cave without apparatus. It entered the hole breathing for a while, but then it collapsed and began having a seizure. I watched as its twitching began to stop, and then insect creatures seem to appear from behind the opening. They had been waiting either side of the hole standing behind the cliff face in the cavern. They picked up the now-dead creature and pulled it to the side of the opening. That weird sick feeling was back, my stomach was churning, and I felt I needed to be sick. I held my sick back for a moment while I looked at the sight with shock and numbness that I had never felt before.

The woman was speaking in a casual tone, “Do not let any of these creatures steal that device!”, I turned to look at her, “you don’t know how any of these will react once we are inside the Myrmeke” she continued. Realising that I then seem to have what feels like a diver’s tank and mask on that looked much like her own, I nodded in agreement. She looked at me for a moment, took my hand and pulled me over to the hole in the cliff face. I watched her as she took a deep breath and said “trust me”. It took a moment for the situation to registering in my mind, “wait, you want me to go into that cave?” I said to her. “We have to, you will be safe with me!”, I remember thinking about that word ‘safe’, so far everything had felt like it was anything but safe. “There is no way I am going through that hole!”, she looked at me with great irritation. “What the hell is a Myrmoorke, anyway?” I asked as my numbness started to subside a little to leak out a little resentment. “James we don’t have time for this, we have to go!” at that point she began pulling at my hand.

“Answer my question!” I demanded as I pulled back. “If I do that will you come with me?” she asked in response. I looked at her for a moment, feeling ever so confused. She may not have been a great companion. But I felt that she was the only one around that I could trust to get me through this bizarre situation. After a moment of looking at each other and her thinking on what to say next, she then said “please trust me, you can you know”. I took a deep breath and agreed.

She gripped my hand hard as we rushed through the hole. I panicked when we passed through, my heart in my throat. It was the weirdest sensation. For a minute or two it felt as if there was an invisible field attempting to rip my body apart, it was such a shock. I only realised where I was when the stench in the air seeped through my mask and almost made me throw up. It was even hotter in this place and not somewhere where I would want to stay long.

When I passed through, I saw the Insects were standing each side of the entrance as if to stand guard watching as the various creatures enter this great cavern. It was huge and filled with hundreds of unique creatures, hundreds of the dome-shaped creatures and hundreds of Insects. The insect creatures either herding everyone along like cattle, doing something with the wall or carrying bits of the ship we were just on through this large chamber. There was some mucus substance covering the floor and the ceiling. It felt sticky to the touch, and I struggled to get it off my hands when I touched it. The floor felt bouncy and soft like some foam mattress laid beneath our feet. There was no difference between the walls and ceiling as the ceiling curved round to become the walls and the ceiling appearing like a giant dome above our heads. Apart from the floor, everything was round in design and looked organic. It was like we were in one great organic sack full of stale air and disgusting mucus. Towards the other end of this room were these large doors that allowed the width of at least 6 or 8 creatures side by side through at a single moment. They seem to be able to open and close independently, retracting and detracting like a muscle on the body stopping some substance and then letting it through. I was in awe, shock and still felt numb. I did not know what to make of all of this.

“Come on!” I heard the woman say muffled under her mask. She took us to the side, away from the chaos of everyone trying to get into this horrible place. Creatures poured in, and the Insects pushed them through as they clambered in through the hole we came in. This place had an eerie feeling. There was this slight mist that hung above the floor and relative darkness that filled the room. The only lights available were what I can only describe as strange-looking veins that glowed and lit the room. I looked towards the side of the chamber where those weird doors stood. The insect creatures were rounding the other creatures up and taking them in groups through those large organic doors.

“I’m Caroline” I look at this woman for a moment and even though we were in this awful situation. She had a way, at that moment, to soothe me with her calming voice. She smiled this beautiful smile and comfort took away my numbness. The distant sounds of explosions continued and seemed to echo in this chamber, they were also perhaps a little louder than the other room. Then one of the explosive sounds sounded much louder coming from what sounded like the wall of this chamber. The ground felt like it shook beneath our feet, I grabbed hold of Caroline as I almost fell onto her. She held me while I looked over, the insect creatures were sealing the hole we came through. Looking through the hole I could see what I can only describe as the hull of a large ship sitting in a vast ocean of space.

“We’re in space”, I whispered under my breath. “Yes,” Caroline ended up whispering back. “Why are we not getting sucked out into space?” I asked, looking confused at her. “I don’t know, the Stilla was never meant to have this technology” she replied. “What or who are these Stilla?” I was asking as I felt the fear and panic of not knowing enough about this situation. “US!” I turned to see an insect creature standing over me like some great giant wanting to intimidate us. “We are what you know of as Stilla!” it says as it pushes me and Caroline towards those strange doors. “Now you need to move!” For a moment, I was confused and then I realised it was this insect creature that was telling me these words. I looked back at it in complete and utter disbelief. “Move little ant, otherwise I will squash you!” The irony of it calling me an ant when that is what this giant looked like is hilarious to me now. As I was distracted with this strange-looking entity, Caroline pulled me towards the large doors.

I looked around and there were many creatures all looking anxious in their own unique ways. There were anger, upset, paranoia and even a creature producing the oddest sound I have ever heard at ear-piercing levels. We were all feeling afraid. Caroline burst out crying and then said “oh my god!”, she looked at me with terrified eyes and turned as white as a sheet. I looked back at her looking confused. Then it was like a switch had gone off in her head and she was back to being this calm and calculating person who I had seen her be. She then rushed to catch up with the group of different creatures we had ended up with.

“How can you deal with such intense emotions?” Caroline asked me, looking sincere in her question. “Excuse me?” I asked confused at the question, “How are humans able to process such intense emotion?” I looked back at her in disbelief, not understanding what she was talking about. She looked back at me and asks me again “How do you do it?” Trying to process everything I was trying to think about why she would ask such a thing. My brain didn’t function at all during that stressful situation but since I knew we were in space, it was only fair I asked this simple question. “Are you not human?” she looked at me for a moment thinking about her response. “No, I am your companion,” she said. At this point, we reached the strange-looking doors that looked like they were made of muscle. Then we stepped inside.

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