Home > Choosing Theo (Clecanian #1)(2)

Choosing Theo (Clecanian #1)(2)
Author: Victoria Aveline

 She knew avoiding reality wasn’t the smartest or most mature idea in the long run. She knew that facing things head on was a much healthier approach, but Jade felt sure she was one thread away from snapping. She also knew, from experience, that pretending to be fearless and unaffected would help to keep her sane.

 The creature made another low hiss over its shoulder, and the second creature came to join the first. One of the aliens used a long, pointed claw to motion to her full tray of green goo.

 The more time she spent doing nothing but observing these aliens, the more she felt she could read their moods. When they were frustrated or possibly angry, as they were now, she’d noticed that their hissing became short, and spit flew off their tongues with each alien word.

 Whenever they retrieved her full food tray, they’d use that harsh hiss, and their long, broad tails would flick back and forth.

 It seems like they’re getting frustrated with my hunger strike, she thought as she watched them hiss back and forth while gesturing to her tray.

 The slightly smaller of the two walked away. When it returned to her cell a moment later and she saw what it had retrieved, she felt the blood drain from her face. The creature was pointing to her food with one claw-tipped hand and held a long clear tube in the other. It raised the tube a little higher, and she understood the creature’s meaning. She could either eat on her own, or she could be force-fed.

 The two lizard beings waited silently at her cell. The thought of being held down and force-fed through a tube made a jolt of fear run through her. Begrudgingly, she decided that keeping the aliens at bay was more important to her than possible food poisoning.

 Tentatively she moved toward her tray and used her forefinger to scoop up a small amount of goo. Shutting her eyes, she took a bite. A cold sweat broke out over her skin, and she tried to keep her breathing even as she waited for some reaction. When her throat didn’t swell, she began to relax.

 She let out a relieved exhalation when she saw the two aliens had left, apparently satisfied with her small bite of food.

 Her stomach gave a pained rumble, and she polished off the rest of the goo. Although awful to look at, it didn’t taste too bad. It was sweet and surprisingly filling. The water, however, was stale and tasted metallic on her tongue.

 Jade leaned back on her small scratchy cot and wondered for the thousandth time why she had been taken.

 Apart from feeding her and occasionally walking by her cell to check on her, the aliens had left her alone.

 What is the point of this? Jade thought again. Since she’d been conscious, they hadn’t touched her or experimented on her, but instead kept her fed and healthy. There must’ve been a reason for her abduction.

 The possible reasons to abduct someone that kept running through her mind were terrifying. She knew one thing for sure, whatever they planned on doing to or with her would happen when they reached their destination.

 How far could we have gone in a few days?

 She snorted. Who was she kidding? Jade spent her life drawing gardens and shutting herself away from the world. Why the hell did she think she could logic out how far a spaceship might travel in a few days?

 Suddenly Jade felt exhausted and beaten. She sat back on her bed against her cell wall. Eventually, the soft humming and vibration of the ship lulled her to sleep.

 ***

 A sharp pain deep in her ear made Jade bolt awake. Just as her vision cleared, she noticed one reptilian alien backing out through the force field. She scrambled toward it, hoping that whatever allowed it access was still working.

 Bam! She ran headlong into the wall and bounced back, toppling onto her bed. Rubbing her ear, she yelled at the alien, who was still staring at her from outside the cell. “What did you do to my ear, you scaly son of a bitch?!”

 Instead of answering, the alien hissed low and lumbered away.

 ***

 Jade had been on this stupid ship for more than a week at least. Apart from the painful ear wakeup call she’d gotten a few days ago, not much had changed.

 From her cell, she could study the console where the two aliens sat. It must be where they drive this thing.

 While watching them man the controls in shifts the past few days, she’d learned some things. One, she was pretty sure she was being sold. One of the aliens, whom she’d started calling Thing 1, had come back and flashed a device at her. Later, she was able to make out a picture of herself being pulled up on the console screen and heard them speaking with someone not currently on the ship.

 Her heart hammered in her chest when she guessed at what someone buying her would do to her. Why would they want her? Was she some kind of alien delicacy? Would they display her like a lobster and then boil her alive? Jade had spent a good half hour rocking herself in the corner after that particular thought had occurred.

 The second thing she’d figured out was that they were getting close to their destination. Alien number two, aka Thing 2, had thrown a large dress that resembled a sack with arm holes in her cell today.

  Looking for any reason to defy her abductors, she’d refused to change into the dress. The gray fabric of the dress was thick and reminded her of wetsuit material. One glaringly obvious pro to wearing the dress was that it was clean. Taking a sniff of her unwashed clothes made her question whether this was a stupid battle to fight.

  After finally accepting the water they’d provided with her food, Jade had been disappointed to learn that the small sink in the corner dispensed some kind of cleansing foam, rather than water. The foam dissolved the dirt on her hands, and she’d used it to clean herself as best she could, but the pajama set she wore hadn’t received the same attention, and the smell was starting to get to her. Her battle to remain in her dirty clothes had been short-lived, however.

 Thing 2 had hissed at her and lowered the temperature in her cell incrementally. Before long, she was forced to wear the dress to keep from freezing to death.

 The final, and most troubling thing she’d learned, was that she was pretty sure she wasn’t the only captive on this ship. She’d noticed Thing 1 holding more than one gray dress when he’d thrown hers at her. She’d also noticed they’d carry more than one food tray when delivering her food.

 She’d thought the other tray was for them. Even lizards have to eat, right? That idea was put to bed when she caught one of them walking by while swallowing a small, squealing, two-headed animal whole. After watching that, it was hard to imagine they’d also eat the green goo they’d been feeding her.

 Rapid beeping sounded from the console, drawing Jade’s attention. Thing 1 and 2 stood up and walked to her cell. Before she could figure out what they were doing, they’d deactivated the force field and dragged her out kicking and screaming.

 They each gripped one of her arms as they half escorted, half carried her down the hall. Their hands were rough and scaly but also somehow cold and moist, making Jade cringe.

 At long last she was outside of her cell, and all she wanted to do at this moment was return. The air in the ship was sweltering and smelled vaguely sweet, like rotting fruit. Jade began to sweat. The heated metal of the floor made each step burn against her bare feet.

 “Where are you guys from, the sun?” She panted, trying to slip out of their slimy hands.

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