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josh.townley
February 16th, 2012, 05:24 AM
James Altman awoke with a start. Bright light filled the room.

Christ! I’ve slept through my alarm, again, he thought, sitting bolt upright. I knew this would happen. Never should’ve let Rodger talk me into having another drink -- His head cracked against something solid and he slumped back down to his pillow.

What the hell...?

As his eyes adjusted to the light, he realised immediately that he wasn’t in his own bed. The light was artificial, and came from long strips that ran along the ceiling.

Where am I?

He tried to think back to the night before. He remembered Rodger calling to tell him about his promotion, and dragging him out on the town to celebrate. He remembered bar-hopping for a few hours, then a fuzzy deep and meaningful they’d had where Rodger lectured him about taking hold of his life and making his dreams a reality. But there was nothing after that.

Oh God, I must be in hospital, he thought, panicking. He looked down his sheet-covered body and tried wiggling his fingers and toes, and breathed a sigh of relief when he found out everything was still attached. His head was hurting, though. Why was his head hurting? He tried to sit up again, and again his head connected with something hard and transparent with a deep thud that reverberated around him.

Ah, that’s right, he remembered, rubbing his forehead. He reached out with one hand and touched the clear, glass barrier above him.
What is this? Some kind of pod? He started to sweat, thinking of the isolation beds from TV and the movies where people with deadly contagious diseases were stuffed to die a painful, lonely death. But I feel fine, he argued with himself, pushing the thoughts away. That’s always the first sign, his mind taunted back.

‘Hey!’ he called out, ‘Nurse!’

His voice bounced back at him, making him feel suddenly claustrophobic. I need to get out of here. He pounded on the glass hard, but it did not budge, replying only with the same dull thud that it had given his forehead. He pressed both hands and feet against it and pushed as hard as he could. The thin mattress sank down slightly, but the barrier would not budge.

Then he noticed a small handle attached to a cord at the top of his field of vision. He reached for it, hoping that it was like one of those glow-in-the-dark escape tabs you find in the trunks of cars, just in case you happen to wake up next to a shovel and a tarp in the back of some mafia goon’s Cadillac. As he gave it a tug, he heard a series of pops, like a dozen men cracking a dozen beers, one after the other. This time when he pressed on the glass, it lifted away easily, and he kicked it over the side.

Sitting up, he took a good look around the room. It was like no hospital he had ever been in before. The room was circular, with beds, identical to his own, around its perimeter. Almost like the numbers around the face of a clock, except there were thirteen in total. The walls were, unsurprisingly, sterile white. Complex instruments and screens were set behind each of the beds, though none seemed to be switched on. The lighting strips on the ceiling ran around in concentric circles, like a target and at the bullseye was a grating that looked like an air vent. On the opposite side of the room, between two of the beds, was a large double-door, white to match the walls, with two heavily tinted, circular windows at eye level.

As he lifted the sheet, he realised that he was naked beneath it, and quickly scanned the area for his clothes. They were nowhere to be seen. He drew the sheet around his waist and tucked one end down the front. At least he could preserve his dignity that much if a nurse happened to walk in. Somehow, though, he didn’t think anyone was about to walk in. The room was as silent as a crypt. The only sound was a distant humming that might have been an air conditioner. He swung a leg over a side, and quickly recoiled at the icy cold touch of the metal bed-frame. Beneath the mattress, the beds were more like something that would be found in a morgue.

There must be someone around that can tell me what’s going on, he thought as he hopped over the edge of the bed onto the floor. There, he received another surprise. The floor was warm, as if heated by some sort of underfloor system. Never seen that before in a hospital. This place must be state of the art.

He started towards the door, but his morbid curiosity got the better of him, and instead he did a slow circuit of the room, peering into each of the pods in turn. Only three were occupied, and all of the occupants were fast asleep. One was an old man of about seventy. Next to him was a young kid, perhaps seventeen or eighteen, with enough piercings in his face for every year of his life. The third was a young woman in her late twenties. James lingered by her pod and ran his eyes up and down her form. She had short, dark hair, soft features and a slender, curvaceous figure. Not bad, he thought, allowing himself one or two inappropriate imaginings before he turned back toward the door.

The doors had no handles, so he assumed they were either automatic, or swinging doors. As they did not open when he approached, he held out his palm and tried to walk through, only to find himself flat against it with a throbbing pain in his nose. Ow, that would have been embarrassing if somebody had been here to see it.

He cupped his hands around his eyes and tried to peer through the window, but all he could see was his own reflection.

‘Hey!’ he shouted again, slamming his fist on the door. Nothing. His heart began to pound. Something was definitely wrong here. He turned back to the room, his eyes darting around in a panic and eventually coming to rest on the vent in the centre of the ceiling. If he could get the cover off, it should be wide enough for him to climb through. He wasn’t going to wait around for the others to wake up.

He hurried over his bed and tugged at the frame. The whole thing moved a few inches with a screech of metal on metal. Thank God it’s not fixed! He pulled again and eventually manoeuvred the bed until it was directly under the vent. When he stood on the mattress, his head was about a foot from the ceiling. There was the slightest movement of air coming from the grate. Now, if he could only get the thing off he might be able to get out of this room.

Expecting the worst, he threaded his fingers through the small slits and pulled, almost toppling off the bed when it came away easily. As he tried to pull himself up into the dark hole he wished that he had taken Rodger up on the offer to be his gym buddy. James was what Rodger called skinny-fat. He looked fit enough on the outside, but put him in front of a flight of stairs and he’d be as out of breath as a three hundred pound couch potato by the time he got to the top. He was now having serious doubts as to whether he could even lift his own body weight. Jumping up, he managed to get his arms into the vent, and hung on with his armpits and chin. The vent headed in the direction of the door, where it seemed to divide in two, probably to follow a corridor outside the room.

With a lot of scrambling and grunting, and almost losing the sheet from his waist, he wormed his way into the narrow tunnel before collapsing in a panting heap. He had expected the duct to be made of something like aluminium, but it seemed to be more like plastic. After only a short pause to catch his breath he started to pull himself along. He sighed a huge breath of relief as he reached the junction, knowing that he had passed over the threshold of the room. To his right, the tunnel continued into darkness, but to his left he could see the light from another vent. He chose to go left.

As he drew closer to the opening, his mind continued to puzzle away. He was still unable to come up with a plausible explanation for where he could be. Certainly not a hospital, he was sure of that now. Some sort of secret Government facility, perhaps? But if that were so, where were the doctors or scientists, or heavily armed men in suits? And what could they possibly want with him? He was a nobody. Just a low level call operator at an insurance company.

When he looked through the grate he had his answer. His jaw trembled open and a whimper escaped his throat. Although he tried to tell himself over and over again that he was in a dream, or some kind of elaborate TV hoaz, he knew that what he saw was real. He was above some kind of cockpit, or control room. Three high-backed, red chairs faced a wide monitor that wrapped around them in a semi-circle, and buttons and levers covered panels in front of each chair. Indecipherable warnings flashed on the monitor, and strewn about the floor were the remains of the pilots.

They were short, with long, slender necks and small, hairless heads. Their skin was a pinkish-grey, but tinted with yellowing bruises. Upturned noses and well-defined cheekbones were common features to all three, but their head shapes were as different as any two people’s might be. They wore no clothing, which made the cause of death even clearer. Bullet holes riddled their small chests with congealed patches of dark red, human-like blood. One had taken so many bullets to the gut that he had been torn nearly in half.

As the smell hit him, he retched.

There was no mistaking it now. James was on an alien craft...

SeaBee1
February 17th, 2012, 02:57 PM
Dang, Josh, you've gone from Zombies and Grizzley Adams to Alien abductions, all in a few days! I wish wish wish my imagination was that fertile!

It looks like you are off to another good start, but need to watch a few things. Primarily, dropped words. For example:

"He tried to think back to the night before. He remembered Rodger calling to tell him about his promotion, and dragging him out on the town to celebrate. He remembered bar-hopping for a few hours, then a fuzzy deep and meaningful they’d had where Rodger lectured him about taking hold of his life and making his dreams a reality. But there was nothing after that."

It looks like you dropped the word 'chat' or perhaps 'conversation' or 'discussion' maybe, but I prefer 'chat' as it seems to fit your voice in this piece.

Another one:

"He hurried over his bed and tugged at the frame."

I think you meant 'over to his bed' as I don't think he has learned to levitate at this point in the story!

These are minor niggles that would be caught in a judicious polishing session.

What I liked:

"He started to sweat, thinking of the isolation beds from TV and the movies where people with deadly contagious diseases were stuffed to die a painful, lonely death." Man, that "stuffed" thing conjured up the image in my mind very vividly.

One last thing: I was expecting to see the obligatory spying out the aliens piloting the ship to some distant galaxy, but instead you gave me bullet riddled, dead alien bodies. Interesting... makes me wonder where this is going...

Best regards

CB

josh.townley
February 19th, 2012, 11:45 PM
Dang, Josh, you've gone from Zombies and Grizzley Adams to Alien abductions, all in a few days! I wish wish wish my imagination was that fertile!

It looks like you are off to another good start, but need to watch a few things. Primarily, dropped words. For example:

"He tried to think back to the night before. He remembered Rodger calling to tell him about his promotion, and dragging him out on the town to celebrate. He remembered bar-hopping for a few hours, then a fuzzy deep and meaningful they’d had where Rodger lectured him about taking hold of his life and making his dreams a reality. But there was nothing after that."

It looks like you dropped the word 'chat' or perhaps 'conversation' or 'discussion' maybe, but I prefer 'chat' as it seems to fit your voice in this piece.

Another one:

"He hurried over his bed and tugged at the frame."

I think you meant 'over to his bed' as I don't think he has learned to levitate at this point in the story!

These are minor niggles that would be caught in a judicious polishing session.

What I liked:

"He started to sweat, thinking of the isolation beds from TV and the movies where people with deadly contagious diseases were stuffed to die a painful, lonely death." Man, that "stuffed" thing conjured up the image in my mind very vividly.

One last thing: I was expecting to see the obligatory spying out the aliens piloting the ship to some distant galaxy, but instead you gave me bullet riddled, dead alien bodies. Interesting... makes me wonder where this is going...

Best regards

CB

Thanks for reading, SeaBee.
This was an idea that just popped into my head as I was reading someone else's sci-fi story, although it's completely different in terms of content. I was thinking 'wouldn't it be cool if a bunch of people were abducted by aliens, but something happened to the aliens before they could return them'. It was written in about an hour and a half merely as a diversion, so it's not terribly well thought out, and I'm not really sure where I was going with it. I might round it off into a short story some day.
Thanks for picking up the dropped words. I completely missed them.

Cheers :)

Leke A
February 22nd, 2012, 12:52 PM
I really enjoyed this opening chapter. I like how you just throw us straight in there and really get the reader interested. Just like the protagonist, i was wondering "where the hell is this guy?" Although i kind of suspected the reveal at the end of the chapter, it was still nicely down. You have my interest so i'm looking forward to reading more and seeing how James gets out of this out of this world predicament lol. Just a few grammatical mistakes I noticed:

"then a fuzzy, deep and meaningful conversation they’d had where Rodger lectured him about..."

"elaborate TV hoaz-hoax"

Sparx
February 22nd, 2012, 01:00 PM
Hello, I really enjoyed reading this entry chapter. I liked how you just threw us into the midst of things and it really grabbed my attention. Just like James, i was wondering just how where the hell he was and you did a great job in building suspense and curiosity around that. Just a few grammatical errors. The grammatical errors are in bold because I can't seem to use any of the bold or color functions.

then a fuzzy deep and meaningful CONVERSATION they’d had

some kind of elaborate TV hoaz-HOAX

I definitely look forward to reading more as i want to see how James will get himself out of this alien experience lol

ModernDayMozart
February 27th, 2012, 07:26 AM
A job well done for you sir! I wish my words would flow onto my computer or paper like yours did. You said its not well thought out!? I think its pretty good. Makes me feel sort of self conscious about the things I have posted on here. Like maybe I should go back and try harder because mine suck in comparison.

I am having a hard time finding things to give advice on besides things that are already mentioned!

Grape Juice Vampire
February 27th, 2012, 07:45 AM
Isn't it nice when the words just come out with very little thought? Anyway, i really like this, josh. Don't see anything else to point out mistake wise, but i really like the little twist of the aliens being killed. Very nice.

josh.townley
February 27th, 2012, 11:34 PM
A job well done for you sir! I wish my words would flow onto my computer or paper like yours did. You said its not well thought out!? I think its pretty good. Makes me feel sort of self conscious about the things I have posted on here. Like maybe I should go back and try harder because mine suck in comparison.

I am having a hard time finding things to give advice on besides things that are already mentioned!
Thanks a lot. Actually, this doesn't usually happen for me. Sometimes I can labour for hours on a single sentence or a description, but for some reason this came out easily.
I think a lot of people a little self conscious posting here. There are so many really skilled writers that make me feel like a complete beginner. I tend to go from feeling depressed about my comparative lack of talent, to feeling inspired to push myself further. I'm currently on an inspiration high, so I'm running with it. :)



Isn't it nice when the words just come out with very little thought? Anyway, i really like this, josh. Don't see anything else to point out mistake wise, but i really like the little twist of the aliens being killed. Very nice.
Thanks :) I have been reading a lot of Stephen King lately, so I think I might have drawn some inspiration from his style of writing short stories. It was a fun little experiment. I'll have to think of a middle and an ending some day.

namesake
February 28th, 2012, 03:15 AM
We need more backstory imo, what is a alien hopsital like. Something short could do the trick, doesnt have to be long.

tputnik
March 10th, 2012, 08:18 PM
I agree with namesake, would love to hear more about the alien hospital...