RED PLANET STOWAWAY CH.1 - HIDE UNDER MALLOY'S UNDERPANTS
By JA Souders
You quickly bury yourself under the pile of gray-colored, nasty, smelly underpants and hold your breath. The sticky fabric crunches under your fingertips when you pull it over your head.
Each of the captain’s footfalls is in time to your heartbeat.
Please don’t come here. Please don’t come here, you beg, although you know it’s hopeless. Where else would he go to retrieve clothes?
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Your eyes water from the fumes drifting off the raunchy clothes, but you try not to move. If Malloy catches you now, it’s all over. Better to let the salty tears run down your cheeks than taste the rusty blood when he knocks every single one of your teeth out of your head for seeing him naked.
Malloy continues to grumble under his breath about “fucked up alliances” and “gray-skinned bastards whose only interest in camaraderie is eating our still beating hearts once they rip them from our chests.”
You wonder, vaguely, what the hell he’s talking about just as he wrenches open the door to the storage locker. Surprised by the abruptness of the move, you accidently gasp. The pile of clothes you are lying in tumbles out and across the captain’s bare feet.
Fortunately, the sticky substance on the grody briefs seems to have stuck the cloth to you and you remain concealed. You cover your mouth with your hands and pray he didn’t hear your slip.
Malloy’s mutterings fall silent. One. Two. Three heartbeats.
A tickle in your throat is causing you to swallow fast in an effort to control the cough brought on by inhaling the noxious gases pouring from his clothes.
What is this man doing with his clothes? Why do they reek so badly? Then you remember the sticky stuff and think it’s better if you don’t know.
Finally, Malloy mumbles about having the laundry bot maintenanced. He steps forward and his bare, gnarled foot, stinking so badly of moldy cheese that it overwhelms even the stench of clothes, collides with your stomach.
You try to control the wince, but it’s no good and the air whistles out of you as he kicks your stomach again, knocking the wind from you.
“Bloody gray-skinned bastards!” he yells and then slaps something along the side wall.
A siren blares. The call for General Quarters. You don’t have to look to know the red lights are flashing and crews all over the ship are scattering like ants to get to their battle stations. Not to mention that security is even now on their way to save the captain from the “enemy.” You.
Captain Malloy reaches up and pulls a white polycarbonate helmet—the kind they use for space walks--down from the top shelf of the locker as you struggle to sit up and explain. But even as you open your mouth, Malloy is swinging the hard plastic bubble at your head.
Stars explode in front of your eyes and you collapse into the toxic pile of clothes again. He continues to beat you until your vision hazes and you feel the floating sensation that is your consciousness as it leaves you.
Just as you black out, you see Malloy grinning down at you. “Thought you could get the best of me, didn’t ya? Going to report back to your Hive leaders what you heard here today? Going to let them know you saw me in all my glory?!”
You black out when he kicks you in the stomach again.
What feels like only seconds later, light floods over your body. You moan and wavering shadows swim into view. You can’t make out what these beings look like, but you can tell one is shorter than the other.
“It’s still alive. The captain said he’d killed it,” shadow one—the shorter of the two--says.
“Guess not. C’mon. We’ll have to finish the job,” the tall shadow says with a lisp. He sounds like a snake and you wonder if you were handed off to those “gray skinned bastards” the captain talked about. More clothes get peeled off your body and you moan as the light stabs into your eyes and a headache pounds behind them.
“Wait! That’s not an alien, that’s…” the tall shadow exclaims.
“Oh, shit! You’re right! What was the Cap’n thinking?”
“Does it matter? He thinks there was an alien here. It isn’t our job to prove him wrong. We need to get this…thing to the space lock like he said.”
“But it’s human?”
“Not according to the captain.”
You finally realize what’s happening and struggle to sit up, as the two shadows argue back and forth. When they see you sitting up right, they glance at each other. The smaller of the shadows takes your feet, while the other takes your head. They carry you down the hallway to a room with another smaller room at the end of it. The small room has a large circular door on one end with a window in it.
You see the red haze that signals that the red planet is circling below you.
You struggle harder, but it’s no use. They’re too strong. And they toss you into the tiny room. Then they leave, and the door locks behind them, echoing with finality.
You jump up as the warning lights and buzzers sound. They’re planning on tossing you into space without a suit!
You bang on the door, but the man standing at the window only smiles, waves, and points to the doors behind you as they slide open and pull you into airless vacuum of space.
Your last thought is how you can still smell the captain’s underpants.