No Way Back – Chapter 16 (the not-so-long awaited?)

It’s been a week.  A long week.  An emotional week.  But I still managed to punch out chapter 16!  It’s not as long or emotional, but it’s a part of the story, right?

For those of you who are new, or are stopping by from LinkReferal.com, I bid you welcome, and hope you like what you read.  Seems I’m getting plenty of traffic from there!  🙂

Anyways, on with the chapter!

Chapter 16

I woke up lying flat on my back. I didn’t so much wake up as I slowly regained my consciousness. All I wanted at that moment was to wake up and realize I was at home in bed. With my eyes closed, I slid my hands and feet slowly outward to discover that that wasn’t the case. I re-gathered my hands to my chest, then slowly lifted them, palms up, into the air. When I extended them to full length and felt nothing I released a breath that I didn’t realize I was holding. Once the breath had escaped me, though, is when I realize that my head was on something padded this time. I obviously wasn’t in the same place.

The padding wasn’t exactly a pillow, more a slightly raised section of the padding that was covering my resting place. I let my eyes slowly open into the darkness that surrounded me. No blacklights. No lights of any kind, I realize. If this was my room I’d at least be seeing the window. That’s when I also realize that I’m not hearing the soft whirr of the box fan that I usually have standing on the dresser to help airflow.

“Crap…”

Slowly, I lift my body up onto my elbows and discover that I had something across my person. It was very light and loose, but still very warm. A blanket, I decide as I flip it off of my body and the resting pad. I hear it collect on the floor in a very soft whump, and I start to lift myself to a fully seated position, bringing my hands to the pad to press upward. As I do, I feel the sudden sharp pain and burning sensation that is crisscrossing my hands and I fall back onto the padding. I think back to the last time I’d opened my eyes and remember the painful shock I’d received before.

“I guess it was all real.”

I elect to try again, sucking in air through my teeth and clenched jaws as I suppress a pained groan. Finally sitting upright, I lift my hands from the pads and shake the pain away as I attempt to scan the room for anything obvious. The only problem is that there really is absolutely no light in the room, not even an ambient source, so night-vision in the room is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. I swing my feet slowly out to the left side of the bed and find that nothing is blocking my exposed toes. Once I feel myself perpendicular to the pad I let my legs drop downward towards what I’m hoping is the floor. They quickly find the solid and cold surface beneath me, and I discover that the sleeping pad is only above it by roughly two feet. I pull them back and underneath of my body so I can stand without pressing myself off the pad, then gently lift myself upright and off of the makeshift bed. As I stand, my body strains and stretches muscles that make me feel as if I’d been sleeping much longer than usual. I raise my arms over my head and flex myself backwards to feel my abdominal muscles pull loose. I let out a quiet grunt once I hit the furthest back my body will allow, then bring myself back straight. That was when the lights around the room kicked on.

The sudden appearance of bright white light flashed my eyes in their most open condition, and I can’t help but to blurt out a loud curse at the lighting. My hands quickly fly over my eyes to block the extremely bright illumination and I almost fall back onto the pad from which I’d just lifted myself.

“If you were trying to scare me, ass-wipe, you could simply have just put me back under that thing!”

“I can do that.” The words come at me as if difficultly spoken.

I bring my hands up to try to see what is speaking at me. Still under the effects of a heavy sleep, I find focusing a difficult task. That said, after a few seconds of squinting and adjusting to the light I am able to make out the white apron and fur of whatever had been outside of the blacklight earlier. I take a few more seconds to survey the room. The walls were paneled and a very light gray, and the floor was a slightly darker tile. The only thing in the room was the dark-tanned pads of the bed that I was laying on, and there are no windows, just a door that had been sealed, and the thing addressing me was standing in that now.

My eyes finally in focus, I look more closely at the being who’d entered my cell, starting at her feet. No, they were like giant paws of white. She seemed as if she had been standing on tip-toe, but I see its design is more fitting to standing as she is, and that was simply on the bared pads of her foot-paw. Between them, he could see the movement of what could have been a slender white rope. I quickly realize that it is moving of its own accord and accept that it was the tail that I thought I’d seen before. She wore a pair of dark red, loose-fitting pants that betrayed the shape of her knees, which met with very shapely thighs beneath a white jacket. Her torso had a very human shape to it, as did her arms, but her hands were replaced with elongated paws that held a flat, darkly colored metal device. The fur at her hands and arms were also stunningly white. I finally let my gaze lift up past her chest to find locks of reddish-brown hair flowing over her shoulders and framing a white-furred face that would fit a house cat perfectly. She stands slightly taller than I do, and I can see that from across the room. Her golden eyes looked at me with a deep intelligence, and I somehow felt a look of concern and understanding within them.

She slowly spoke again after letting me inspect the room and her, the words sounding as if she were reading a script. “I am sure you have many questions, but I am afraid I do not have too much time to answer them.” She takes three steps into the room, and the door slides with a soft hiss into place, a brightly polished metal door. “I’m here to ensure that you do not have had any sickening effects from the med… medic…” She looks away briefly as if to gather the word again. “Medication.”

I nod at her silently as I watch the feline step closer to me and lift the flat device. She points it in my direction, then gestures with it in my direction.

“Here. You. Take this. Hold.”

I smile as I take the plate and look at her. “What, did you not have time to practice that one?”

She simply shook her head, then gestured with her extended claw in a circular motion, then pointed at the plate.

“Turn it around?”

She simply looks at me, and I can feel her patience. She knows that I honestly am terrified but is willing to wait.

I sigh loudly, then turn it around. The other side shows some a few pictures, and a button displayed next to them. I look them over, then at her in confusion. “What am I supposed to do with this thing?”

“Talk.”

“I am talking! What do you mean, talk? What do you call what I’m doing?”

She shakes her head, then points to the plate’s images. “Talk.”

“You aren’t making any sense! I’ve been talking since you walked in? What do you–”

Her feline ears flatten against her head, and I see the patience replaced with an angry glare. “TALK!”

Something in my head clicks, and I realize that she wants me to say the words that go along with the pictures. “Oh, okay. Just talk the words?”

Her ears lift back from her head as she begins to nod vigorously.

“Alright. Um…” I look at the pictures. “Star. Planet.”

“No!” The large cat sighs, then pantomimes holding the unit. She takes her other hand-paw and presses at the invisible plate. “Talk.” Then she releases the nonexistent plate. “Now, you.”

“Alright, alright.” I press the button next to the picture of a star, then say the name. I continue to do so for the next several pictures. When I reach the bottom, they all change and I do the same thing. After several screen changes the pictures stop showing up and the screen displays a series of characters that I don’t recognize. A soft beep emanates from the device, and the female cat reaches over and takes the pad.

“Sss… Sssth…” I hear her grumble in irritation. “S-Thank you much.” She turns to head out of the room, her tail twitching in irritation as she crosses the threshold and the door slides almost noiselessly shut behind her.

“Hmm…” I start thinking to myself. She didn’t touch anything, and the door opened. Is it location sensitive? Motion sensitive? Does she have a badge or something that the machine recognizes?

I start to walk towards the door, hopeful that it would open. I continue until I’m practically touching the polished metal door. Nothing. I turn around and slowly walk back to the bed. So, I guess I’m a prisoner now. I hop back up onto the pad and lay down on it, waiting for something to happen. Anything.

– –

“He’s not really dangerous, Nishka. He’s young. He’s scared. He doesn’t know where he is or what’s going on. I don’t care what your lover says. I’ve been studying what little documentation we have on his race, and I think it’s all very sensationalistically written. It’s meant to scare us away from them and from establishing preemptive contact.”

The young Daraani may be correct, but that doesn’t mean that she had to be ready for any possible dangers. Nishka looked over Dharcia as the girl looked at the monitoring screen for the medical quarantine unit. She was watching the human with an unusual amount of interest, as was obvious in the way her chin rested in the palms of her hand-paws. And why shouldn’t she be? It was a new species to her and she was eager to study his habits and categorize him among the UFO life forms that were already cataloged.

“Do you think they’d make good pets? I mean, he is able to hold things, right?” Dharcia’s tone was playful, and Nishka couldn’t help but laugh.

The feline dropped the pad into a slot, and the reader beeped loudly as it connected to the system’s networks. “I don’t think so. Even if they did, I doubt you’d call him a pet. Slave, captive, prisoner, what-have-you, but I doubt you could call him ‘pet.’” She turned away from the collective readers and headed behind the younger skunk to watch the human. “I can only hope that the translation matrix can handle his language. It would make talking with him much easier if I could understand what the hell he was saying.”

The Daraani looked over her shoulder. “Oh, he asked you what you thought you were doing, that he was talking.”

“You understood him?!”

Dharcia snickered as she turned back to her monitor. “No. That’s just what I would have been saying.”

– –

Staring up at the too well-lit ceiling is the only thing to do in the room that I find myself in. So that’s just what I do. With my hands folded in behind my head and over the too-hard head-pad, I try to get comfortable, or as comfortable as I could, all considering. It had been quite a while since the cat-lady had stepped out of the room, but there was no real way for me to know exactly how long. With no time reference and nothing to do, the moments just dragged on. It could have been a few minutes or a few hours and there would be no real way to know for sure. I do know that I’ve had enough time to stretch myself completely, and that I’ve walked the room a dozen times. So far, I haven’t found any means of exit or entry beyond the door that is currently locked. Even the seams of the panels are tight enough where I can’t fit my fingernail into them. Wherever I was, it was meant to hold someone carefully and prevent injury. I hadn’t even been able to hit or kick the walls! Whenever I moved anything towards the walls beyond a gentle pace it would feel as if I were trying to force my hands through sand before I made contact. But, if I walked to the walls and brought up my hands slowly, I could feel the smooth plastic-like material that at least covered the walls. I could tap the walls, run my hands against them, but when I tried to trick whatever device was active, it would fail and I’d sense the sand-like feeling again. The light sources were around the upper part of the room, and were in no way in my reach. Eventually, I’d given up and just laid on the makeshift bed until someone, or something, showed up.

My boredom was interrupted by a trio of musical notes that emanated from the door. I look over without lifting my head to find that it hadn’t opened. With a frown, I bring my gaze back to the uninteresting ceiling. After a few seconds the sound comes again, and I sit up quickly in the bed. A door chime? I’m a prisoner, aren’t I?  I decide to respond since I’m still confused by the unusual thought. “Come in?”

The door slides open with the same gentle hiss and the feline, still dressed in her red pants and white jacket, walks in, this time accompanied by a purple animal of some sort that was wearing a white jumpsuit. The shorter female turns slightly, and I catch sight of her tail. It seemed very bushy, and had a pair of hot pink stripes than ran along it and met near its tip. A skunk!? What is this, an animal convention or something?

I bring myself back to my feet, causing both the humanoid aliens to take a quick step back. I notice the skunk sliding behind the feline and can’t help but laugh. I’m certain that someone is watching and if I were to attack these ladies it would end bad for me. I turn and walk around the bed, then face the animals with my fists pressed against the padding. “Is this better for you two?”

The initially timid skunk spoke first, a combination of fear and excitement lighting up the strange accent she uses to speak the language. “Yes. Thank you. You, new.”

“So, you can understand me now?”

This time it was the cat to speak as she moved closer to the pads. “Small.” Her ears droop and she shakes her head, then holds out her paws with a small gap between them.

“You can understand me a little?”

They both nod, and the skunk steps forward towards the bed. Her hands-paws hold the pad that the feline had been holding prior, and she extends them to me. “You talk pad. Help.” Her soft pink eyes seem so strange to me, but considering where I am and what she is, I suppose it’s normal.

The young creature attempts to cross the room, but the feline quickly grabs her arm and yanks her still, a loud hiss leaving her mouth. The skunk turns to look at the cat and says something in a language that is sweet and melodic, but makes absolutely no sense to me. The cat growls out in her sharper language, and the skunk nods slowly, her eyes wide, as she turns back to me. “Please. Lay. Bed.”

“Are all our conversations going to be terse like this?”

The skunk looks to the cat with confused eyes, her short pink hair matching the coloring of the stripes flipping over her shoulder with the gesture. She then turns back in my direction, pointing at the pads. “Please. Lay bed?” Her smile is wide in what I take is a comforting gesture, but with the sharper teeth that it exposes, it does little to help settle me.

I shake my head in frustration, then lay on the bed. Once I’ve taken up a laying position, they both enter the room and separate, each heading to one side of the bed. They stop just outside of arm’s reach, then the feline speaks, her voice far more gentle than it was a moment ago. “Please, calm. Not hurt.” When I nod, they both step up to where I lay. The skunk’s hand-paws are practically trembling as she tries to lift my shirt from where they met my pants.

“HEY!” I can’t help but yell at her as I start to raise my hand to block her.

In an instant I find the white-furred hand-paw at my nose, the black claws extended to their fullest length, nearly an inch outside of the fur. I hear the loud hiss of warning, and I slowly lower my hands back to the pad. I feel my heart thumping in my ears as I try to relax, but the sudden claw appearance has just thrown that attempt out the window.

“I can take off my own shirt…” I offer quietly, turning my head to the skunk.

“Shirt?”

“Yes, shirt. I…” I slowly point to myself with my finger, “will take it off if you need me to.”

The clawed hand slowly returns to the feline’s side, the claws themselves not quite fully retracting as she looks at me with hard eyes. She nods, them motions for her partner to move away, which she obliges, albeit unwillingly. I bring myself up and, with a quick motion, slip the shirt off of my body and toss it towards my feet. Once I’m shirtless, I lay back on the pads, finding their slightly cooler temperature to be soothing.

Both creatures had returned close to my sides, and the feline had taken a wand from the side of her belt and begins running it past my arms and chest. A pale blue light shines against my body but I remain perfectly still to avoid feeling just how sharp those claws are. I notice, though, that the skunk is studying my skin as if there were a test afterwords.

“Do you like?” I ask softly in her direction, forcing a smile to show on my lips.

Her response was a quiet chuckle, then an unintelligible word to the feline. The cat shakes her head and responds in kind.

“No M-medications. Safe.”

The cat then takes my hands and inspects the bright red skin, still sore from the burns. Her head still pointing at my palms, her eyes roll up and look to her partner. She nods across the table, and the skunk grabs something from her own belt. I find my other hand being lifted from the bed and places palm-up. She then looks into my eyes with her own unusually colored versions.

“You safe. I help.”

Then, a quick, stabbing pain slams into my right hand. I yelp but otherwise force myself to hold steady. My face contorts in pain, but that pain is gone after a second. Shortly after I notice that the burn and ache in my hand is dissipating quickly. I slowly lift it up and look at it, and find, to my amazement, that the opened splits have half-closed themselves. The red crisscrossed lines have all but faded away, and I can flex my fingers with virtually no pain. I catch a movement beyond my hand, finding it to be the handing over of a tube of some sort, then a sudden stab to my left hand, matching the pain that was my right. This time I can’t help but jerk my hand away from the pain, but there is no reaction from the feline except what sounds like a laugh. I look between them and smile, slowly sitting up. Once upright, I bring a hand to my chest. “Robert. My name is Robert.”

The feline tilts her head inquisitively, but it’s the skunk who responds. She places a hand-paw on my chest. “Robert?”

I nod.

She points to my leg, then looks at me expectantly.

I chuckle, shaking my head. “No,” I gesture towards myself, letting my hands point to all of me, “Robert.”

Her eyes widen in comprehension, then she points with one claw to her chin. “Dharcia.”

The feline growls at the mephit, then sighs, dropping her head and letting her ears droop. Finally she bounces back with a smile. “Nishka.” She points to the tablet in her friend’s hand-paws. “Talk.”

I smile, shaking my head and accept the pad. Two thoughts come to my mind. First, that I actually am safe, for now. And second, this is going to be a long night, if it actually is night.

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