Lola laid half-asleep and naked in the pitch black room. It so small it was humid from her own breath. She was on the floor, a mere few feet from the ceiling. Her wrists were tethered to one of the walls by a cord made of a material similar to plastic. Her back and hips ached from the confinement, and her skin was covered in healed-over sores. She awoke fully, and resumed plucking her long blond hair from her head. After a few minutes she fell asleep again.
Several hours later, as Lola estimated it, she awoke, her brain and body anticipating the daily visit that happened like clockwork. She blinked her eyes in the dark, waiting. Slowly the walls, floor, and ceiling began to luminesce until they reached a bright white. She squinted in pain. There was a gentle thumping on the hatch on the ceiling. It slid aside and more light poured in. Then the light was blocked. It was climbing down. Lola shivered, tried to remain still, and looked away.
She heard it's bare feet touch the floor. It muttered sounds incomprehensible. It shuffled over to the shallow pan it made her use to relieve herself. It turned on a vacuum type device it always carried, to suck up the waste. Then it shuffled over to her. She slowed her breathing, but her heart, as always when it visited, beat furiously. It touched her shoulder with it's fingers, running them down her back. She tried not to flinch. Then it pulled gently on the sparse hair still growing at the back of her head. It ran it's fingers across the patchy bald areas she'd been plucking. It made more sounds, guttural this time. She assumed it was annoyed. She figured it had coveted her hair, as it had none on it's rubbery gray skin. It scraped against the floor, picking up the loose hairs, and made more sounds.
Then it pulled her over onto her back from her side. She did not resist. It stared at her, unblinking, black reflective eyes peering into and through her. She looked off over it's shoulder. It inspected her skin, looking for any new sores. It lingered on areas of body hair. Lola felt that it did not value her as a thinking person, but as a biological curiosity that could extrude keratin. She quelled a gag.
It opened a small clear bag filled with a milky gel. It squeezed out some of the gel, and daubed it gently on her cheek and ankles where new sores were forming. Then it opened her mouth with it's long bony fingers. Her teeth were loose and moved slightly with the pressure. It squeezed more of the gel into her mouth, then closed her jaw and held her nose closed. This was the only form of nutrition her body had received in the past several months, since the abduction. It tasted bland, and with the after-taste of Sucralose, although it was not at all sweet. She resisted swallowing, and closed her eyes to concentrate, hoping that this was the day she could suffocate herself. But after only a minute, her body acquiesced involuntarily. She swallowed, and it let go over her nose and jaw. She took a big gaping breath. Her eyes welled up with tears. Another defeat.
She pulled suddenly on the cords, and pulled again and again. It shuffled to the far corner, muttering. She kicked out her feet, and tried to scream, but only managed to get some of the left-over gel into her trachea. She coughed violent, then vomited. The creature quickly moved in with the vacuum to clean it up. It leaned over her, unbalanced, right next to the wall. Her understimulated brain suddenly roared to life. She quickly pulled in her feet an brought her knees to her chest. She pushed out her knees and pinned the creature to the wall by its chest. It muttered tones in a high frantic pitch. She pulled back a knee, then hit it's thorax. It grunted, then she did it again several times until her knee was bleeding. Finally it fell to the floor, lax, but still breathing. She pushed it with her knees until it was in reach of her hands. She tore at it's neck with her long fingernails. She tore until it's milky blood spilled out in great spurts and pooled underneath her.
When she was sure it was dead, she pushed it back to her feet, and then pushed it into a heap in the corner away from her. She tugged and tugged at the cords. Then she started to sob. She fell limp again, and rested her head in the creature's blood. A few inches from her nose was the vacuum nozzle. She looked at it closer. It had a serrated opening. She picked it up, and moved closer to the wall so that the cords were slack and she had room to work. She bunched up the cord and shoved it into the nozzle, then twisted and twisted and twisted. After an hour or so, the cord was frayed enough to snap, and she went to work on the cord hold her other wrist. In another hour she was free.
Lola crept along on her stomach to the hatch. She peered up, and saw another hatch several feet up at the top. She wriggled up into the tight space. There were horizontal ridges along all the sides, and she used these to leverage herself up. She pushed on the hatch, and it slid aside, into the wall. More light came in. There was a large room above her. She pulled herself up and out, and sat on the edge. There were more white glowing walls, but it looked like a living space. There was small low furniture. There were windows. It was daytime outside. She tried to stand, but her legs gave out. She crawled on her stomach to a table, and pulled herself into a sitting position. She was not sure what to do next, or where she was. So she cried out for help. She said it hoarsely three times before her voice gave out.
There was shuffling from another room. She looked towards the sound, shaking. Another creature peeked out from behind a corner. It was smaller than the creature that visited her. A juvenile perhaps. She stared at it, then said, "help", weakly. After a brief moment it scuttled off. Several seconds later there was more shuffling. The juvenile returned, flanked by two adult creatures. They muttered frantically with each other. The juvenile was sent off into another room. Lola pointed to the hatch in the floor. The two adults looked down, then back at Lola. One of them crouched down, and lowered itself into the hatch. The other crossed it's long arms and shifted it's weight from side to side. Lola smiled. Somehow she was reassured by this. It must be nervous.
The other adult creature crept back up from the hatch and muttered something to the other one, in low tones. The first creature sudden jumped back, then went to the hatch and peered down. Then it came slowly to Lola, and circled her. It cautiously reached out and touched the drying blood. It returned to stand next to the other one and there was more muttering. Then it turned and disappeared into another room. It came back momentarily with something in it's hand, something that looked like a stip of dark gray fabric. It approached Lola slowly. Lola tried to move backwards, but was impeded by the table. Slowly, it laid the fabric across her forehead. She felt suddenly relaxed, then she blacked out.
Lola heard beeping. It was somehow familiar, but she couldn't place the sound.
"She's waking up," said a voice.
"Her eye's aren't open," said another voice.
"The monitor says she's waking up," said the first voice.
"Who are you?" asked Lola in a whisper. She tried to open her eyelids, but they just fluttered
"We're here to help you recover, Lola."
"How do you know my name?" she said, trying to open her eyes again, this time succeeding. There were two blurry figures leaning over her. She flinched on seeing them.
"It's not important," said the second voice.
"Where am I?" she asked.
"You're in a hospital," said the first voice. Lola realized it was a woman speaking.
"Could you leave us please?" said the second voice, a man.
"Certainly. But let me know if you need anything Lola," said the woman. Lola watched one of the blurry figures leave.
"Do you remember what happened to you over the last two years?" asked the man.
"Yes, you were gone two years. Do you remember what happened?" asked the man.
Lola thought for a moment. She remembered the room, and the creature.
"Yes," said Lola. "I was abducted and confined." She tried to lift up her hands to inspect her wrists, but she was held back by something taped to the back of her hand.
"You have an I.V. in, so try not to move too much," said the man.
"Okay," said Lola.
"That's pretty much what we were told when you were returned to us," he said.
"I'm back on Earth?" asked Lola.
"Yes, you are," said the man. "You were the victim of a shocking and heinous crime, for both, uh, societies involved. The uh...'they' were very apologetic. I can't tell you much more than that about what happened after."
"I don't really care," she said.
"I do have to tell you that you cannot return to your old life, after what you went through, and what you came to know. I hope you understand."
"Okay," she said.
"So do you? Do you really understand what I'm saying?"
"Yeah, I get it," said Lola. "I'm really thirsty. I'm insanely thirsty. Could you get me a glass of water?"
"Oh. Oh of course." The man got up and left her field of view. She heard his footfalls. The room had linoleum flooring and he must have been wearing hard-soled shoes. He was probably a suit. She heard water running. He returned momentarily and helped her sit up. He put the glass to her mouth, and she sipped.
"Oh wow," she said. "that is fantastic."
"It's uh, just tap water."
"Dude, I haven't had any water in, well, two years I guess. You don't want to know what I had to eat."
"I do know, actually. It must have been awful."
"Yes, but that's an understatement. More please." He helped her drink again.
"So here's what's going to happen. You will be in the hospital for a few more days so you can get your weight up a bit more. Then you will be removed to another facility where you will undergo a full debreifing. You will also start physical therapy there, as well as psychological therapy. And after a few months, if all goes well, you will be given a new identity, a house, a job if you want it, and a significant stipend from the government. In return we expect your silence on this matter. Do you understand?"
"I take it I don't have a choice."
"What about my family?"
"I'm still trying to negotiate that. It doesn't look likely, but that could improve if your therapy goes well."
"So I have a chance to see them again?"
"There is a chance."
"You know, before this happened, I didn't believe. I didn't think the government was smart enough to cover up a conspiracy of this magnitude," said Lola.
"You'd be surprised at the kinds of things we've hidden."
"Now get some rest," said the man. "I or another agent will be with you at all times, to make sure you are dealing with this okay."
"Or so you can make sure I don't have loose lips with the medical staff."
"Oh they know this stuff. You're not at a regular hospital."
"Oh," said Lola. Her mind wandered off, thinking about the reach of whatever this was...
"We're glad to have you home, Lola. Welcome back," said the man. He grasped her hand and squeezed. Lola suddenly felt emotional at his touch--the touch of another human.