Authors: Eve Langlais
Copyright © May 2011, Eve Langlais
is a work of fiction and the characters, events and dialogue found within the story are of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, either living or deceased, is completely coincidental.
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Maybe drowning won’t be so bad.
Megan’s numb arms and legs agreed. Yet, despite the fact her whole body wanted her to stop moving—screamed it actually—she kept fluttering, moving her hands and feet just enough to keep her face above the waves. Every now and then she got a mouthful of salty water that made her choke and did nothing to cure her thirst. At least she didn’t have to contend with the burning sun. Chances were she’d succumb to fatigue before the dawn arrived with its warming rays. Her sarcastic side—which was begging for a slap—piped in that she should also show thanks that she’d stopped shivering a while ago, her body acclimatizing itself to the Pacific waters she floated in.
Megan never intended to go for a swim when she set out for an evening cruise. She had her boyfriend—
stupid, freaking jerk
—to thank for her situation. And to think, she’d thought Cameron was “the one.” He’d certainly said and done the right things in his wooing of her and she’d enjoyed his company well enough, most of the time anyway, a rarity for her where men were concerned. She should have smelt something fishy when he’d immediately pushed for them to make everything joint soon after they moved in together—the whole cohabiting thing again, his idea. His claimed, “Don’t you trust me?” should have rung warning bells.
There was nothing as foolish as a woman in love, though, or in her case, like. She’d fallen into the trap he laid, and not just the trap of a con man, but a death trap.
I wonder if my grave stone will say “Here lies Megan, screwed by a man, yet again.”
In her defense, no woman ever expected the man she loved—or liked—to betray them—even if in her case, her track record with men should have provided a clue. She’d blithely agreed to go on a nocturnal jaunt with him, the moonlight cruise a celebration of sorts, the anniversary of their six month dating mark. A record for her. It would now also mark the date of her death. At least the bastard toasted her with champagne before hip checking her off the boat with an exaggerated “Oops.” Then, he’d had the nerve to laugh when she’d asked him for help as she treaded water, incredulity not making her see the obvious at first.
It didn’t take her long to clue in, and then she unleashed a litany of curses that would have made most seamen blush. Of course, the way she screamed in glaring detail the way she’d maim him when she got her hands on him might have factored in Cameron’s decision to go through with his deadly plan—or precipitated it? She should have probably left off the gruesome details about how she’d emasculate him. But still, what other reaction did he expect given his action?
Megan heard his derisive laughter for a long time after he steered the yacht away in the dark with only the stars to guide him. Hours later—or so she assumed given the numerous scenarios she’d had time to run through her mind where she survived and got her revenge—she floated at the ends of her endurance and strength, fighting to live even though she knew she had no hope of surviving.
A large wave rolled over her head and she floundered under the water for a moment, almost giving up, too tired to care. Then she saw it.
Disbelief made her stare under the water at the bright beacon hovering just above her head.
She didn’t question the improbability of it, just strained toward the brilliance using her last ounce of strength. Her head broke the surface of the ocean and she blinked in the bright glare, then blinked again as her body began to rise out of the water.
Did I die? Is this how my journey to heaven begins? Sopping wet and pissed?
Not to mention she’d always expected a much,
warmer reception when she finally did kick it. A poster child for pure living she wasn’t.
A flopping fish lifted from the water in front of her and rose rapidly, slapping her in the face with its thrashing tail in passing.
What the hell?
Hell had nothing to do with it, though, she surmised. She peered around in slack jawed disbelief as she and a football field of fish, along with other denizens of the ocean, rose out of the water, caught in some weird anti-gravitational field. And no she wasn’t some kind of science geek for thinking that. She’d recently watched a marathon of
films because of Cameron, a true Trekkie fan. She’d never expected the inane fiction of the screen to ever relate to her life, but what else could explain why she and thousands of sea critters were floating as if weightless, drawn toward an illuminated maw whose edges she could barely make out.
It occurred to her to scream for help, but seriously, she wasn’t an idiot even if she sucked in her choice of boyfriends. Besides, exactly who did she expect to save her from an obvious alien extraction? In her current situation, abduction sure beat drowning any day.
Excitement replaced her exhaustion and resignation of her fate. She was about to meet extra-terrestrial life. Would they be green? Short or tall? Would they appear like a wrinkled E.T. or humanoid like her?
On top of these curious inner musings, doubt suddenly piled on. What if they were violent? Ate humans as a delicacy? Or—
—sold human females as sex slaves? Megan looked down at her plump frame and her lips twisted ruefully.
I’m more likely to end up someone’s main course than a sex slave.
While she didn’t mind her plentiful curves, they didn’t appeal to everyone; although, she’d had more than one boyfriend claim it wasn’t her body that turned them off, but her mouth. She didn’t believe in keeping her opinions and criticisms to herself.
The slow aerial ascent took forever it seemed to reach the gaping hole in the bottom of the craft and about time, too, because out of the water, she shivered with cold, her damp sundress clinging to her. She hugged her arms around her body, but it didn’t help her chattering teeth.
What are the chances I’ll be greeted with a towel?
Looking around at the wide-eyed fish with their mouths gaping open and shut soundlessly, she didn’t count on it.
The bright light she’d mistaken for Heaven’s doorway didn’t diminish until she and her fellow aquatic abductees went past the lip of the ship. Then she goggled in astonishment because ringing the area on all sides were huge vats filled with liquid, oversized fish tanks if she wasn’t mistaken—and not all of them from Earth. A purplish fluid in one certainly didn’t resemble anything she’d ever seen and displayed the occasional black tentacle. Cool, although she wouldn’t plan on going for a swim with whatever resided inside.
As the beam she found herself caught in angled up over the lip of an open vat, she noted something disturbing. All the other tanks were sealed shut. Her mind quickly came to an unwelcome conclusion. If she allowed herself to get dropped into the approaching aquarium, she’d find herself right back in the same spot; drowning.
Not again,” she muttered. She twisted herself to look around and noted a network of beams holding narrow walkways running above and around the vats. She needed to get onto one of those. Using her arms and legs, she kicked and pulled, much like she would if she were in water, if water were a thick molasses that fought her every inch of the way. Sweat beaded on her brow as she struggled against the beams inertia, her progress slow, slower than the tractor beams implacable movement.
She brushed against other captives, their wet slimy skin icky against hers, their lidless eyes watching her passage—
and I swear they’re praying I don’t make it
. Revenge for her regular Friday night sushi she’d bet. She almost didn’t make it in time, the plopping sound of tumbling fish hitting water taunting her before her fingers grasped a cold edge of metal. She wrapped her hands tight around the beam and heaved herself over, cursing the fact she owned a gym membership she never used. Muscles straining, she brought her legs up to wrap around the metal support, the sudden loss of the anti-gravitational field’s support making her almost fall as she suddenly held her full weight. Her aching muscles screamed in protest, but she held on for dear life.
The raining plop of objects hitting water made her turn her head to watch as the fish and other sea population caught in the tractor beam were deposited in the huge tank. As soon as the last one hit the liquid surface, the beam shut off and she blinked her eyes at the sudden loss of light. She could still see, albeit not as clearly, as dim circular lights surrounding the chamber provided only faint illumination. Dim vision didn’t prevent her from hearing the whirring sound of machinery and the soft snick of the aquarium sealing shut followed by a larger thunk which she assumed meant the bottom portal had also closed.
Then it was silent except for a distant hum and her panting breath. Her arms trembled with the strain of holding herself, and it occurred to her that her first order of business should involve getting her feet onto firm ground.
Exhaustion brought her close to the point of hysteria at her inadvertent pun and she giggled. Okay, maybe not firm ground but at least a surface she could stand upright on. Hanging like a monkey, she looked around and saw a walkway not far away if she could only make her way over to it.
Just like monkey bars,” she reminded herself as she swung her body towards the next strut. Her hands caught the beam and she let her legs go so her body could follow. She hadn’t counted on the fatigue in her arms or how heavy her body would drag. Not to mention, she’d assumed a lack of or lesser gravity in space.
Her hands slipped from the beam and she plummeted, her short scream of fright cut off as she landed in an ungraceful heap on something unforgivingly hard and blacked out.
Tren, his feet propped on his main console, cursed as an alarm went off.
What the frukx is going on now?” He mumbled under his breath as he punched in a sequence of keystrokes on the armrest of his seat, forcing the screen in front of him to bring up the video for the transport bay. More than likely, one of his specimens had gotten free of the tractor beam, not a huge worry with this latest batch. The planet Earth wasn’t known for its deadly denizens. On the contrary, their creatures tended toward the docile side, especially the liquid faring variety.
The bay, with its huge vats, appeared in his view screen and he scanned the room, panning the camera in several directions. He didn’t see anything, but then again, some of the critters he’d captured were quite small. Not like the knovakian’s with their forty astrometric long tentacles.
Those he’d had to sedate before capturing them for transport.
With a sigh of annoyance, he stood from his chair and stretched his bulky frame before stomping to the elevator that would take him to the lower level. He stopped just before entering and barked a command. “Proceed to the seventh planet in the quadrant and then drop into hyperspeed. Heading, the Jifnarian galaxy, third planet.”
Course locked.” The smooth voice of his computer confirmed his orders. He grunted as he swung into the elevator and jabbed the button for the transport bay.
Going to wrestle a fish.
The thought made him sigh. He’d come a long way from his career as a mercenary. His new life as a wrangler and transporter for rare species from undeveloped galaxies might bore the frukx out of him, but it sure beat getting his ass shot off every time he turned around. Of course, nothing could compare to the rush of a mission where he outsmarted security systems, pitted his skills against deadly guards and came out ahead. But the life of a warrior for hire wasn’t a long one hence his career change.