Where Am I (Part 2)
by B. L. Koller
Her recovery process took longer than expected.
“We’ve programmed your autopilot to take you right to Earth, Arianna,” Perma hummed, enthusiastic to be rid of her. Arianna was going to miss the blue furball.
The ship was in top condition once again, and felt a strange sadness as she slid into the padded leather seat.
“I won’t forget this.”
“Your memories have been faulty,” Perma reminded her.
“Goodbye, Perma. And you, Glac.” She waved a final time before pressing a bright green button shut the doors with a ‘click’. A few button presses the engines roared. She took a few moments to steady her breath before she gripped the controls before the ship left the ground, and began its ascent.
“You should arrive home in a few hours,” Glac spoke from a screen, and blew a kiss. “Stay safe. Oh, and check the glove box when you land. You never know what you might need on that odd planet of yours.”
Just like that, they were gone.
Autopilot left Arianna with little to do. When Earth came into view she relaxed, and landed near a lake.Eager to stretch her legs, she threw caution to the wind, and killed the ignition as the doors opened,then remembered to check the glove compartment. It opened with ease. Arianna found knives of varied sizes and a hand gun with what looked like a laser pointer. Alongside that rested three epipen-eque devices, with a note.
4 E MER GEN C!!
Regardless of what the things were meant for, Glac or Perma wouldn’t give them without reason.She shoved the Epipens in a pouch, along with the extra rounds she found after further inspection, and attached the knives to straps on her boots and belt. The gun startled her, but instinct overcame fear. Her hands trembled at the cool touch of the metal.
The streets were normally flooded with people in cars, or ships if they could afford them. Now the only sounds were the hiss of the ship as it locked, and her breathing. The only thing with electricity was the ship. Not a face, or llit building for miles. Arianna heard a low moan from ne of the buildings. She pulled out a knife, and walked cautiously into what remained of the dilapidated home.
“Hello?” The smell of rotted wood and mold made Arianna nearly retch, and she wrapped a scarf around her nose and mouth to block out the stench. It helped. A little.
Another moan sounded from the kitchen, along with the low hum of a ship in the driveway.
She found a woman who vomited a thick dark green liquid into her own hand, and ran over to help.
“Are you alr-” Ariana recoiled, and dropped her knife. The woman’s skin was rotted, and grey. Vomit melted flesh to the bone. The woman’s pupils turned her eyes black, and she crawled hurriedly towards her, until the end of a scissor pierced the woman’s skull.
“Are you mad?”
Ariana looked up from the floor to see a man pick up her blade.
“What? No, I don’t understand what… Just happened? I heard a moan. I came-”
“Saw ya looking daft as a bush.” He took a step closer, returned her knife, removed his bloodied glove, and offered his hand.
“You alright, Love?”
“Y-yeah. Thanks. For the help.” She stared up at him.Half his face was covered with a bandana.
It all came back when he pulled her up, and she stared at the woman on the floor. The chaos, and the rush to get help.
That’s why I’d left. Not a bet at all.
“Easy now,” The man caught her. “Let’s get you outta here and somewhere safe. Well, as safe as a hell hole can be, yeah?”
He guided her out the back door, and tossed his ruined glove back into the house, only to be met with her own ship.
“Finders keepers, Kiddo! You know how hard it is to find a ship that ain’t run on Gas? Solar powered ship. Bloody smart! If only you kept your wits and stayed the hell in it.”
“Stop using that, please. It’s impolite.”
The man sighed heavily as she down in the passengers side, and the doors shut. A
He shrugged and settled in, and filled up a canteen with the filtered water mechanism.
“Ah. I’m… Confused. I was gone for a little while. How long has it been since the outbreak?”
“Dunno. I’ve lost track of time.” He pressed the buttons in a strange combination, and the ship began to move quietly through the streets.
“How did you do that?”
“Read a manuel awhile back. When the world fell to sh- Everyone started getting sick, Reading material was on the low side. Take what I can get. Came in handy though, eh?”
“Sure did. Hey, why did you throw your glove off back there ? This isn’t spread by blood is it?”
“They say it’s not, but I’d rather toss it than risk it.”
“Smart move. What made you follow me?”
“You look too young to be on your own. Didn’t look sick. Saw you land and leave ship. Figured you needed a hand.”
“Well… Thanks I guess.”
“No problem. Good to have someone to talk to that’s not… Ya know. A zombie that wants to eat you. Are we going to a safehouse or something?”
The man laughed, and pulled the bandana from over his face. He had a thick, unruly beard, which made sense. Resources seemed limited, and he seemed like he’d won the lottery with this ship.
“Safe house? You reckon this is some sorta videogame? It’s you and me against the world. Like it or not, we’re a team now!”
He drove until sunset, and parked somewhere in the woods, but made sure to angle the solar panels towards what little remained of the sun.
“Let it recharge while we camp out for the night. Careful, these jerks seem to be nocturnal.
They hadn’t even traded names yet, but she somehow found the mysterious stranger endearing. Or maybe she just wanted to survive, and he seemed like a man with a plan. Things with names held attachments. He seemed lonely, despite the strangely upbeat demeanor, but his eyes told the story of a man who’d lost too much.
“I’ll take first watch. You go in the back and try to get some sleep.”
Arianna wasn’t about to argue.
“Keep your door locked! I’m gonna find dinner.” He shouted as she flopped down on the mattress.
Days blurred to months, and the two fell into routine. Arianna adapted to functioning on little sleep, and sudden hoards. So when a smoke bomb went off, she sprang to action, snatched up her gun, and jogged to join him. One of the windows opened a crack, He aimed at the approaching hoard.
“We’ve got company!”
She gasped when she crouched beside him. His leg was bleeding.
“Shoot them! Forget me leg!”
They both went through rounds quickly, she paused for a reload, and didn’t stop until the area was clear.The smoke bomb had warded off most of them.
“Dangers passed. Let me look at your leg!”
“I brought back food. Should last you awhile.”
“Food can wait! Your leg can’t!”
Arianna went to pull up his jeans, but his hand stopped her.
“You got bit…”
“I tripped running back here. But hey, we had a good run, eh Annie?”
Her eyes filled with tears, and she shook her head.
“ I told you not to go back for those waffles!”
“I know…” He slumped, and shut his eyes.
“Get on with it, Annie.”
Arianna wrapped her arms around him, her body wracked with sobs. He’d become like a father to her. What could she do now?
I’m too young to be here alone!
He gave her that arrogant grin, and placed a hand to her cheek.
“It’s okay, love
A note fell from her jacket pocket, and she gasped.
“Thank you, Glac!!” Arianna opened up a pocket in her pack, and found the epipens.
“Glac?! wh-” He hissed as the needle penetrated his thigh.
“We’re down to two.”
He gasped as the bite in his leg began to heal. The blood stopped, the puss cleared, and what remained was a scar.
“Where did you get that?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Tell me bout it over dinner, kiddo.”
She did, and they continued to be cautious in this strange world. Arianna prayed she’d never have to use those mysterious pens again.
He wanted to save them for a medcamp if they found one. They spent a day or two trying to contact Pluto, but no luck. And the ship didn’t seem capable of space travel anymore, but that didn’t bother her much. She had who she needed right by her side.