The beeping was intense; she couldn’t open her eyes from the pain. One, two, three minutes later, just as she thought her head was going to explode, it stopped. She almost preferred the siren. Eerie silence rang out in the room and down the ward. Easing herself upright, she stood from her bed on shaky legs. What was the beeping from? It wasn’t the fire alarm or the emergency lockdown – she’d heard both of those plenty of times. This one was new. She strained her ears but there was nothing. Where were the footfall of nurses? The shouting of the other inmates? The silence rang out.
Adjusting her gown, she reached for the door. It sprang open. The glee of freedom from her isolation was subdued by the sight that greeted her. Bodies of nurses and inmates alike littered the ward, red blood pooling out from their ears and faces. She mapped out the blood patches and made her way down the corridor. Peeking into a couple of the cells, it seemed that those locked up had been just as unlucky as those roaming the halls. A question entered her mind.
Was she the only one here? And, if so, why was she the only one to survive?
She headed down to the door, avoiding uniform and slacks alike. She pushed the doors. They didn’t budge. She cursed. Going back to one of the nurses, she carefully rolled them over and removed the ID tag from their pocket.
Clare Baterski, Psychiatric Nurse.
She admired the picture of the young woman before heading back to the door and giving a satisfied smile when it hissed open. It occurred to her as she passed through that this would be the first time that she had gone through these doors conscious. Translating the blue signs lining the walls, she navigated her path to the exit. She headed down the stairs and wondered how she would survive in the outside world. She’d been inside the facility for so long that she couldn’t remember anything else. At least not clearly.
And then there was the question of the beeping that seemed to have killed everyone but her – though she had definitely come close to seeing that white light. She headed behind the reception desk where an older man lay slumped over the welcome sign, blood covering his face and ears – just like the others.
Ruptured blood vessels.
The jargon entered her head and she paused. Then dismissed it; she probably heard the nurses discussing it.
Intense sonorous pressure, especially loud high frequency sounds, can cause bleeding in the ears and on the brain due to ruptured capillaries.
She ran the information through her head. She remembered reading that somewhere. As a student. What had happened to her? There was no time for that. For now – escape.
Waving her stolen pass, the staff exit opened with ease and she breathed in as the fresh air reached her. One foot after another, she took shaky steps across the tarmac. As she gained confidence that her legs would not fail her, she picked up her speed and soon she was running barefoot across the car park. She froze as a booming mechanical whir sounded from behind her. It came from the sky. Looking back, she stared in shock at the large ‘thing’ hovering above the hospital.
Spaceship, UFO, Aliencraft, Extra-Terrestrial.
A light swept out around the parameter of the facility and she dashed away, heading for the nearby gardens. Huddling within the rose bushes, she dared not breath.
She sat in the dirt for what felt like hours and still the light kept searching. Dusk was falling when it finally found her. She gaped at the sky as her face flooded with light from the beam. Suddenly her feet were no longer touching the floor and she screamed.
The darkness returned as she felt herself thrown across a room, hitting a metallic floor. Mechanical whirring and footsteps filled her senses and she looked up. A robotic figure stood above her, croaking. It took her a moment to realise they were speaking to her,
“How did you survive?” They didn’t sound angry, merely curious. She rubbed her arm where she landed,
“I don’t know” she admitted. They tilted their head,
“Who are you human?” They asked. She winced; she hated that question. For over 15 years the answer had been the same.
“I don’t know” they seemed to nod before picking her up over their shoulder and running down the hall. She smacked it on the shoulder in shock,
“Hey what are you – put me down” but they didn’t stop until they reached a room with a computer screen and a makeshift bed. They dropped her onto the blanketed panel and turned towards the computer.
“Why did you kill them all?” They turned to her,
“You are not angry” it was a statement. She shrugged, hugging her knees,
“My brain doesn’t work properly. It was why I was in there in the first place. I know I should be but I’m not” she answered. They studied her before handing her a glass. She took it warily.
“Humans require liquid. Drink” they instructed and she found herself obeying. The liquid tasted like sugared water and soon she had emptied the full glass.
“Thank you” they took the glass and she watched as it disappeared into the side and down a hidden chute. They sat beside her on the bed and simply watched her. She unfolded her knees and gazed back.
“Why did you kill them?” she asked again, filling the silence.
“If you are not angry, why do you ask?” they replied. She patted her lap as she thought it over,
“Curiosity I guess. And I survived so there’s that too” she answered finally. They nodded at her, seemingly satisfied with her answer.
“We wanted to deepen our studies of humans. So we started with the sick”
“But why dead? Wouldn’t live subjects provide more accurate results?” she surprised herself with the question. They nodded,
“It would be. But the dead are easier to dissect” they answered and she was intrigued by the sarcasm she heard,
“You tell jokes” they nodded,
“We have studied your media; this includes your humour”
“How long have you been watching us? And who is we?” she looked around for other signs of life but finding nothing.
“It has been 60 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, 9 days, 4 hours and 25 minutes. And we are Ship” the computer seemed to beep in reply and she understood.
“It’s just you and the ship?”
“I am not organic and so do not require supplies or companions” they explained logically. She smiled at the robot,
“I’m on my own too. Though I’m often forced to have supplies” she winced at the memories of the pills, the IV, the feeding tube, the hose. She’d always only wanted to go home but she didn’t know where home was anymore.
“Scan complete. Logging data.” The computer beeped once again and she jumped as an even more synthetic voice came from its speakers.
“Name: Luca Prince
Luca. She had a name. She looked over questioningly at the robot. They shrugged,
“You didn’t know who you were and research dictates that humans prefer an identity. I had Ship search the records for your image” they said matter-of-fact. She nodded, unable to say anything. Then she recited the information again in her head.
“There was no address” They shook their head,
“There was not one logged. You were recorded with no fixed address”
“I was homeless?”
“That is the used term, yes”
To Luca, this no longer came as a shock. She briefly remembered the cold nights and the sting of rejection as she tried to return home only to have the door shut in her face. Her family had discarded her and she couldn’t even remember why. All she could remember was the hate from being abandoned and the white walls of the facility.
“Your heart rate has increased. Are you unwell?” the robot tilted their head. She shook her head.
“”Not unwell, just remembering unpleasant things – it can have the same effect.” she explained. They nodded and she could tell that they were logging the information for future use.
As she sat there in the UFO with a humanoid robot, she slowly regained some of her memories from before the facility.
She was Luca Prince, a girl who had wanted to be a scientist. Kicked out of home, she struggled with college and no address but she muddled through. Then she got sick. And someone, she vaguely remembered a nurse’s uniform, dragged her into that madhouse. Her life after that was years of drugs, tests, and misdiagnosis. In the end they gave up and simply gave her enough drugs to shut her up, leaving her alone in that room.
The Ship beeped again and the robot looked at the computer screen.
“The area is cleared. We are ready to begin operations. Will you be attending?” They turned to face her. Luca was surprised by the invitation.
“You want my help?” They nodded,
“You have intimate knowledge of humans correct?” She remembered the textbooks, the diagrams, the lectures. She nodded.
“Then you will be of useful assistance” they answered. Luca grinned and followed it back down the corridor. She discarded her memories of the times before and stepped into the small shuttle.
The shuttle itself was clearly designed only for one and not an extra passenger and she found herself sitting in their lap. As the engine whirred into life, she clutched their shoulders slightly. She looked at them and they tilted their head in question,
“Do you have a name?” she asked them, and they nodded minutely, clearly wary of the lack of space,
“I am model 03B8765PL” Luca scrunched up her nose at the sheer number of characters and smirked,
“Can I call you B?” They looked at her, curious at the human need for nicknames,
“If that is what you wish. You may” it replied and she giggled at the curt speech,
“Will you call me Luca?”
“Is that what you wish?” She nodded and they seemed to look at her with a stillness that she couldn’t read. Their head swung back to the now open cockpit.
“Then I shall follow your demands. Brace yourself Luca” and the shuttle launched into the cloudless night sky with Luca whooping and B looking straight ahead towards their destination. They had a mission after all. They’d just gained a little help.