Saturday, May 30, 2015

Seeing is Becoming: For Food and Raiment (Part II)

“How do you know that we’re on another planet?” Vearden asked.
“Don’t you feel lighter?” Saga asked in return.
“Either the wormhole creates some sort of gravity disturbance, or we’re experiencing the pull of a different planet entirely.”
“I thought you were a photographer.”
“I am. I’m one of those smart photographers you hear about.”
“Well, what made you think that closing the door would cause it to disappear?”
“You’re not the first person I’ve encountered here. A couple others have shown up, but they’ve all been killed by those things, except for one guy who managed to get back inside his door.”
“It sounds like they were mistakes. The people controlling this were probably looking for me, but found other people accidentally instead.”
“Not a bad assumption, but why is either of us here?” There was a howl in the distance. Saga closed her eyes in frustration. “They never stop coming. I lose them for an hour or two, but either the one chasing me finds me again, or another one. It feels like a sport to them. I literally haven’t slept in over a day.”
Vearden nodded then went over to pull the sword out of the ground. “Let’s go find a cave or something.”
It didn’t take them too long to find shelter in a recess on the side of a mountain. While Saga got some much needed rest, Vearden stood watch.
Night came and went. “How long have I been out?” Saga rubbed her eyes and yawned.
He looked at his empty wrist. “Over twelve hours, I would imagine.”
“You’ve been up this whole time? Why didn’t you wake me?”
“For obvious reasons. Where were you when they brought you here?” They spent a few minutes catching up with each other. She had done with her life what she promised she would. After interning at a nature magazine for a while, she made a name for herself and was given the freedom to travel pretty much anywhere she wanted, taking photos of whatever she wanted. He, on the other hand, didn’t do one thing right since graduating from university. He should have read the signs and not gone for a degree in journalism. There weren’t any jobs out there. He tried starting his own blog a few times, and finding other online sources to work for, but nothing came of it. He had spent the last several years finding nothing but temp positions and other jobs with no security. He hadn’t worked at the same place for longer than eleven months since high school. Before falling through the wormhole—or whatever it was—he was on his way to a summer camp. The deal was that he would have a job as a counselor if he went through the program once beforehand, to see what it was like. His younger sister had worked it out with a friend of hers, but Vearden was always disappointing her. It was ironic that, after finally being determined to follow through this one time, he was unable to for reasons that were legitimately out of his control.
“What do you think we should do?” he asked of her.
“I’ve gathered energy from sleep, but I haven’t eaten in a while either,” Saga replied. “It’ll take us 24 hours to run edibility tests on anything we find here.”
He opened his bag. “I have some food with me.” He pulled out one of those boxed lunches that were designed for kids, a single serving of yogurt, a can of vienna sausage, a piece of pie from a fast food restaurant, two half-filled bottles of water, and a loaf of bread with four or five slices left.
“What the hell is this?” she asked. She sorted through the food. “What is this strange medley of random items? Did you just open the cupboard with your eyes closed and brush down everything in the first row?”
“That’s ridiculous.” He pulled out a slice of bread and started eating the crust first. “I would never put vienna sausage and bread on the same row.”
She shook her head. “What happened to you, man?”
He shook back. “Nothing happened. A great big pile of nothing.”
She ate the sausage and boxed lunch. He offered her the yogurt, but she couldn’t make out the expiration date, and she wasn’t going to risk it. Not when it was coming from him. He was a stranger to her now.”
Just when they were starting to feel energized and comfortable, they heard a ruckus above them on the mountain. Men were shouting to each other and banging on the rock. There was also this sort of zipping sound, and they were getting closer. All of the sudden, a figure appeared from above, holding on to a rope, and stopped when it saw them. They were staring into the eyes of a humanoid alien. It was covered in fur, except for the head. The eyes were big and bulging. What skin was showing was tightly wrinkled into neat and straight folds. All of its teeth came to a point, like canines. They were markedly different than the intelligent creatures that had given chase before. Despite all this, it looked kind and honest. They assumed it to be male. He tilted his head inquisitively and tried to speak to them in a foreign tongue.
“Sorry,” Saga said. “We don’t understand.”
He leaned his head back but kept his eye on them before calling out to one of his mates. Another alien swung over with his own rope and looked at them with the same curiosity. The two of them talked to each other in their own language. Of course, Saga and Vearden still couldn’t understand them, but it didn’t seem like they were planning on eating them, or hurting them at all, for that matter. Once they had come to some kind of conclusion, the second alien addressed them, “human.”
Vearden nodded his head. “Yes.”
The aliens nodded their heads and smiled, apparently proud of themselves for having guessed correctly. They each cupped one hand upwards and pulled it towards their chests, indicating that they wanted the humans to come with them. Vearden and Saga obliged, because what else were they going to do?
As they stepped out from under the rocks, they could see other aliens rappelling down the side of the mountain. Some ignored the newcomers, but others smiled and waved. One called out to them in what sounded like Chinese, and unlike their own language. They were probably not the first humans to have traveled there if enough of them were familiar with two of Earth’s languages.
Once they reached the bottom of the mountain, they gathered in a crowd. The first two aliens—which, come to think of it, weren’t the aliens since this was their planet—appeared to be introducing the visitors. A third native walked through the group and took command, giving the others formal instructions. Afterwards, he pulled the humans aside so that they could speak privately. “My friend over there tells me that he smells Gondilak blood in you.”
Vearden looked down at his belly. He had changed into his spare shirt, and since the wound had closed up, there was no evidence of the struggle. “Yes. I was...contaminated by something; must have been a Gondilak. They attacked us, and stabbed me. I was forced to kill them, but some of their blood leaked into me, so I guess that’s why I healed so quickly?”
“You killed a Gondilak?”
“Two of them.”
Two of them. Impressive. We’ve not seen a human do that before.”
“What are they?” Saga asked.
“Not important,” the native replied. “Not anymore. Not now that you’re here with us.” He patted them both on the back. “Come. We will take you to the city so that you can change into visitor garbs and sample our victuals.”
“You’re not going to hurt us?”
“No,” the native laughed. “Not yet.”

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