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Episode 6 Part 1

By:  Lenady

The oppressive heat and an aching head were the first things that Tilly noticed. The sun was glaring, even through her closed eyelids.

‘Why am I outside? And why does my head hurt so much?’ she wondered. ‘Maybe I passed out while mowing. Dad’ll be pissed.’ She groaned with a realization. ‘I hear yelling. He probably already is.’

            The surface below her was not grass however, but sand, and the yelling she heard was indecipherable. She raised her hands up to her ears, grimacing. Whoever it was, she wished that they would shut up. Seemingly in answer to her thoughts the voices stopped. As a shadow fell over her face she cracked her eyes open. Everything was blurry and the sun was still bright despite the shade. She could make out two green unmoving figures though. Somewhat deliriously, she thought it was nice of them to shade her like that. 

            “Hi mister cactus”, she began to say. Her vision, though, began to clear and she noticed the figures probably weren’t plants. “thing… Sir …” she continued slowly as the world began to focus and her attention was brought to the features of those standing above her, namely the angry eyes, long teeth, and inhuman features. “Demon!” she yelled attempting to back away from the figures, with little success. She was still sluggish and they were already on their feet. Unlike her they had no trouble moving in the fine blue sand which surrounded them. Before she was even a feet or two away they had already grabbed her by the arms.

            “Sanrook!” She yelled while simultaneously stomping at their feet and trying to pull away. “Sanrook! Hel…”

Her words were muffled simultaneously by a hand over her mouth and a rather formidable knife moved threateningly into her direct line of sight. One of the figures yelled something at her, which she guessed meant shut up, or stop moving. Even if she couldn’t understand the words she could understand the threat behind the tone and the weapon. ‘If Sanrook is going to places like this I need a stinkin’ gun’ she thought, as her wrists were quickly and roughly tied behind her back. ‘If I get out of here that is’.

The worry must have shown on her face, because one of her captors, the slightly younger looking one, said something and flashed her a seemingly innocent grin. She didn’t know whether to feel relieved that at least one of them was somewhat friendly, or annoyed that he acted as if they were simply taking her on a picnic. Despite Tilly’s lack of knowledge about alien cultures it seemed to her that yelling and threatening a guest should not be the norm. ‘I don’t know who’s worse, Grump or Smiley’, Tilly thought. ‘At least I know how I stand with Grump. I don’t like you, you don’t like me.’ As if to accentuate that thought another piece of cloth was put in her mouth and tied around her head. The gag was bitter and was gritty with the blue sand that covered the area. Meanwhile, Smiley was motioning towards the cave, still grinning, and rambling on quickly, his two antennae bobbing along, in chorus with his gestures.

Grump yelled something at Smiley, silencing him, then barked an order of some sort at Tilly, pushing her in the direction of a cave opening.  The knife, although not as visibly showcased as before, was still held in Grump’s hand in case she tried to break away. The cave looked narrow and she had to duck her head slightly to get into the entrance. Smiley slipped in ahead of her and took hold of her arm to her relief. She could no longer see his expressions, indeed she could see very little. As she took a few steps into the tunnel she could tell that there were a few overhead lights, and her eyes were gradually adjusting. It still felt nice though to have someone hanging onto her that actually knew where they were going, especially considering the steep staircase in front of her and the drop off to the right side. The area below was deep enough that she couldn’t see the bottom, although she wasn’t sure she would want to look down that far even if she could. Some things are better off unknown.

Unfortunately for her Smiley holding onto her arm also meant that Grump was still behind her with the knife. By now all the advice she had heard through the years about never going with your captors, no matter what, was starting to sink in. But really, what does one do in a situation like that, get stabbed in the desert or go down into a dark cave with two strangers at knifepoint? ‘Great options’ Tilly thought, noting that the stairs were too narrow to attempt to try an escape. She’d just end up getting herself killed quicker, although it occurred to her that, all according to what was planned, the quicker option might be preferable.

She had to admit, even though the view down into the cave was somewhat frightening, it was also quite beautiful. The walls as well as the stairs, which had been carved out of the cave itself, were the same bright blue as the sand which was everywhere outside. Everything on the planet was blue it seemed, the sky, the ground, and who knew what else. As they walked down the stairs the lower sections of the cave final became visible. Levels below her were littered with pieces of old machinery, mineral deposits forming on them to make almost petrified forms and stalagmites that at times seemed to grow right out of the pieces, like a spikes that had ripped up from the earth to impale them. The sites, impromptu dumping grounds, were very familiar, taking her back to some of the back roads and hollows back home where people would simply throw old washers and such down the side of the hills. The plants even grew up through the trash in the same way. It was somewhat disconcerting to still see reminders in a place so foreign.

The stairs gradually widened at the bottom, enough so that Smiley no longer had to walk in front of her by the time they had reached the bottom. The floor at the bottom was made of the same blue sand that covered the ground and sounds of a busy town met her ears as they led her through an archway. Tilly was suddenly aware of stares, as the people closest to the entrance stopped and watched them walk in. She supposed it was understandable, since she probably looked as funny to them as they did to her. She smiled weakly and tried to ignore the small crowd that had started to form. With some difficulty, she focused instead on the town before her.

The sand was raked into paths and patterns like that which you would find in a Zen garden, which people seemed to walk along, in the place of sidewalks. Varying sized buildings surrounded her, some small, some taller with a pulley elevator placed alongside. They all however were somewhat similar in architecture, having glassless windows made into the sides and most having flat roofs with stairs or ladders leading up to the top. Lights similar to the ones lighting the stairway filled the ceiling, creating a fairly bright area. More people were beginning to accumulate around her, all speaking with words she had no hope of understanding. She was happy at least to something other than blue, as the people were dressed in many different colors.

Grump once again yelled and pushed through the group, pulling her and Smiley along.  She was taken down a path situated between a couple of buildings, wide enough to let a couple of people at a time pass through, but little else. Tilly assumed the buildings were homes, considering the clothes line stretched between them. While she was looking up a young girl looked down at her from a window, smiled, and waved before an adult pulled her away. As she walked past Tilly could hear the scolding, something that was recognizable, even despite the language barriers.

            What she assumed was the town center lay in front of her as they stepped from between the buildings. It was full of the people going about their daily business, with plenty of buildings surrounding the center court area, designated by more patterns in the sand. The focal point however wasn’t the artistic layout of the ground, but a giant structure, which towered over everything else in the town. With alarm Tilly realized that the center of the town was layed out around a giant rocket, and she was being led straight towards it.


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