Kira and I watch as Megan and Georgie run their fingers along the panel of the alien ship's hull, trying to figure out how to pry it open and get out the girls enclosed inside. There are six capsules, and each one has another captive girl. Each girl inside has no idea of where she is or how she got here.
"I can't decide if they're the lucky ones or the unlucky ones," I tell Kira.
"Lucky," she says, her soft voice flat. Her gaze is fixed to the blinking lights and the dark wall of the hull. "They don't know what we've gone through for the last few weeks."
I grunt a maybe sort of agreement. I don't know that I agree with Kira, but she can be a real Debbie downer at times. The last few weeks haven't exactly been a party for the rest of us, but maybe it's better to know everything than to be blind to it.
Kira and I are watching the others work because we're too weak to actually help. Of the six of us, Georgie is the strongest still. She's been with the alien guy so she's been getting three squares a day and warm clothing. The rest of us have been stuck in the hull, and Megan is doing the best out of our small group. I'm weak and lethargic, and my toes hurt like mad. Josie has a leg that looks like it's broken in two spots, and no one knows how to fix it. Kira's ankle is swollen and she's super weak. Tiffany is possibly dying, since we can't wake her up out of the deep sleep she's in. She roused for a bit of broth and then fell unconscious again.
We don't need a warning from the aliens that this planet is killing us. Big duh there.
"It's opening," Megan says, and she and Georgie step back. The panel lifts from the wall with a hiss, just like in the sci fi movies. Inside is a girl in a t-shirt and panties, weird coils wrapped around her body and feeding into her throat.
I shiver despite myself.
Georgie and Megan study the sleeping girl, trying to figure out the best way to free her. Eventually, they just start ripping tubes and cords off of her and she wakes up and begins to gag. A moment later, the new girl is collapsed on the floor and vomiting up the last of the tubes as Megan strokes her back.
Well, that did it. For better or for worse, we have another person.
The girl begins to sob, her eyes wide. She's clearly confused and frightened, and Kira stands up, opening her arms to pull the girl to her. She makes quiet, soothing noises and enfolds the girl in a hug, helping her away from the wall. Without a single person touching them, the rest of the pods suddenly open.
"Shit, I think we triggered something," Georgie says, and they get to work freeing the next girl. In moments, there are several more girls collapsing on the floor. I get to my feet as best I can, ready to help out.
I limp forward, and as I do, I hear the sounds of the aliens talking. I look over even as the girl nearest to me begins to hysterically wail. "What's happening? Where am I? Who are you?"
I offer her my hand. "I'm Liz and I'll explain when we get the others, okay?"
She keeps wailing and I have to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from shouting at her. Look, I feel like shit and am probably a few steps behind Tiffany on the death ladder, but am I squealing and moaning? No, no I am not. I am sucking it the fuck up.
I gather up a second new girl, this one with freckles and bright red hair, and as I do, Squealer starts to make horrified, choking cries. "Oh my God, what is that?" She points a trembling hand in the distance, and I slap it down.
"It's not polite to point," I say, but the other girls are sucking in horrified breaths at the sight of the aliens lurking at the edge of the hull. Another begins to cry, and a third clings to my neck like she's going to climb me for safety. It's making my broken toes hurt like the dickens, and I look over at Georgie. "We have a situation," I tell her. "Do something, fearless leader."
"Right," she says, and hurries over to the aliens. A moment later, they all climb back out of the rip in the hull and it's just us human girls.
"Let's all go sit over here," Kira says, voice soothing. "We have a fire and water and blankets."
"It's cold," whines one. "I'm so cold and I don't have any pants! Where are my pants?"
"That's because the aliens took you while you were sleeping," I say brightly. "No one has any goddamn pants."
Kira bats my arm with a slap, indicating I should shut up. Okay, so I'm not the most patient woman in the world. Sue me.
"Blankets over there," I encourage, and it's more like herding cats – caterwauling, screeching cats – than baby ducklings, but we manage to get them around the fire and tucked under the blankets that the alien guys have provided.
"I'm still cold," one says, teeth chattering, as she hugs the blanket to her.