Random Title: Girl Without Time
Time: 45 min
Her fingers dashed across the keyboard in a near hum, underscoring the alarm blaring through the halls. The red lights lit up Zhi’s small form, her gold hair, and glimmered off of the equipment fastened to her pale skin. With each cry of the horn behind her, she pushed her fingers to move faster.
Lieutenant Stacy, you have been charge with high treason…
A crack drew her pale blue eyes upwards, to witness the gradual collapse of the roof. Her eyebrows knit together–the first true sign of emotion she had yet to reveal. Please, Reilly, hang in there.
The crime of aiding an enemy species…
The thin screen in front of her was showing her nothing but errors and red signs. How they revoked her numbers so quickly was astounding to even her. They had only discovered her crime just an hour ago. The collar on her neck was pulsing with light, and it took all her willpower not to grab at it. It was a matter of time before it would kill her, but not before she saved Reilly.
Accusations of theft, bribery, smuggling and trafficking of a banned species...
She screamed, barely reeling her arm back from the chunk of obsidian that fell. Collapsing to the floor, she grabbed at her forearm. Her fingers…they weren’t moving. No, not now. Not when the ship is eating itself. She struggled to stand. An entire species will die if she doesn’t stop it. Her left eye whirred, adjusting the focus onto the millions of small numbers darting across the screen. The uninjured hand tried its best to keep up the pace prior, but was failing horridly.
And murder of a fellow Officer. Thus, you are to be given the same punishment as our enemy species…
Her fingers dug into the keys, her human eye filling with tears. Warm goo trickled between her fingers. She gave it a quick glance, ignoring the fact that her government uniform was ripped…by the bone protruding from her skin.
Lieutenant Stacy…You have been sentenced to…
She fell down, screaming in synchronization with the alarms.
Okay, okay, Her chest was heaving, Think. What else is there? The collar at her neck tightened, bringing her to a gasp. The alarms rung loud, the walls were crumbling, and the cold, composed officer was breaking down with the rest of the ship.
Zhi grabbed at her face, features twisted. Think, think, think. Her eyes glanced upwards, throat dry. The codes weren’t budging. She had to accept that. If she could not stop the ship from its self-destruction… She sprung to her feet with new life, darting down the hall. There should be an emergency escape pod. There had to be. Every ship is supposed to have one. The newer ships were so well-built that everyone simply forgot that they existed anymore. But there should be. She needed to find Reilly.
Reilly…The one creature to ever break Lieutenant Zhi Stacy, to fill a defeated woman with boundless stamina. She leaped up the stairs, reaching the cargo haul within a minute. That’s where she commanded Reilly’s people to go and wait. It was the most structurally secure location in the ship, and largest room to house her diminutive-populated species. Her uninjured arm slid the heavy door open.
The vast room held a collection of boxes against the back wall, and seemingly nothing else. “Reilly!” She screamed through ragged breaths, “Reilly, where are you?”
The ground shuddered and convulsed beneath her. “Reilly, where–”
“Lieutenant Zhi Stacy, is that you?” Click, click, click… The polished shoes of yet another officer of the Union stepped from behind a support beam. A young man with the proud stature of a hawk, and the round, intense eyes of a snake. He may have been handsome, if not for burn marks running from his lip to the back of his head. In the light, the white of his skull was visible through the thin flesh.
“Kurshid Van Kann…” Zhi spat on the ground, “I thought I killed you.”
“Oh, yes, so did I. But, alas, here I am.” His smile pushed the distorted flesh on his cheeks together in an accordion fashion. “But not without scars, I assure you.”
“What do you want, Kurshid? And where are the others?”
The young man cackled with the enthusiasm of a court jester. “If only you would have been here just a few minutes ago. You could have seen it.”
A chill clawed down her chest, to her stomach, to her knees–she was paralyzed. “What…What are you talking about?” Her voice, often so composed, dropped into the desperate whisper of a child, “Where’s Reilly?”
“Did it bring you pleasure, Lieutenant? To watch me fall to my death while you and your alien lover ran off into the sunset? Leaving me in the barren desert…bones and rocks spearing my body…”
Zhi’s cold fingers wrapped around the gun fastened to her side. “Kann, I killed you once, and i’m not afraid to do it again.”
His chuckle was low, “A pretty thing, you know, considering. How did you come up with the name Reilly?”
“Zhi?” The lithe creature laying beside her whispered, “Can I have a name? A human name?” Her bright purple eyes watched Zhi with an innocent wonder. The long rabbit-like ears at her side twitched impatiently, “Please, Zhi? I want to be like you. I want us to be normal. And.. happy.”
The brief flood of happiness soured the quaking fear, nearly making her vomit. Still, she kept herself collected. Her arm extended, gun focused on the head of the man before her, “Answer me.”
Another quake sent both of them reeling backwards. They didn’t have long.
“Do you know how we unload the cargo room, Lieutenant?”
“What are you talking about?” Her eyes scanned the area, settling on the back wall. Behind all the boxes was a seam in the metal–meant to open outwards to receive any supply deliveries. All the muscles in her face fell.
“No, you didn’t–”
“One button and WOOSH! Like a vacuum, right into space.”
Her body was torn in a hundred directions. Fear, pain, heartache–Rage. Pure, blinding rage.
“You couldn’t imagine the suffering,” his voice low, “Of being gnawed on by insects you were too weak to swat away. And all the while I couldn’t wait for the day I–”
“AAAARRRGGGG!” She pounced, hands clutching his throat. Even her crushed hand dug into his dark skin, revived by the pain that pumped through her entire body. His eyes bulged, breath strained. He swatted at her, but she slammed his head into the cold floor– Again and again and again, trying to dig a crater with his head.
“I like ‘Reilly’,” The pale blue creature whispered, “Yeah… I feel so human already.” She rested her head against Zhi’s shoulder, “I can’t wait until we’re far, far away from this place…”
Zhi stopped only to ram her fist in his skull as hard as she could.
Reilly pulled at her ears, “How can you like me, looking like this?” The dots across her cheeks lit up red, giving her the appearance of freckles. Zhi smiled, “I don’t.”
The Lieutenant was screaming. After the third hit, Kurshid finally threw her off. Her head bounced against the thick floor. Everything went hazy.
“What?” Reilly stood, ‘freckles’ ablaze. “I thought you said–“ Zhi pulled her back down and into her arms, “Because I love you, little rabbit.”
The rage launched her forward once more, but found only a foot in her ribs, knocking her back down. She screamed loud enough to deafen the alarms. It was not in pain, but the only way her mind could express, I’m going to kill you.
She forced herself to stand, only to collapse immediately, grabbing at her throat. It felt like she was breathing through a needle.
“Oh, I was wondering when that would kick in. It amuses me how the council couldn’t decide between strangling you slowly, or having you crushed to death.”
Her hands hovered above her collar, but she dare not touch it.
Kurshid’s hand grazed the back of his skull, pulling it forward to observe the blood smear. He took a breath, “Well, I suppose it’s time for me to go. Escape pod is down below, right?”
Zhi glared at him beneath sharp eyebrows. But she had no response–she couldn’t breathe. He walked past her with a smile, “You know, I’m almost glad you left me for dead. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this much satisfaction in my life.”
Her face was red, hands digging at her chest. If felt like her lungs were tearing themselves apart. The alarms echoed to her core. There must be something…
There. Her eyes fixed on the gun she so stupidly tossed aside in her rage. Without oxygen, however, her muscles didn’t want to move. No, come on. Shuddering along with the rest of the ship, she crawled towards it. It felt like she might as well have been crawling through the vacuum of space. It was so close, resting against a support beam, handle pointed towards her. If she were to die, he was going to die with her.
Chunks of haul were falling around her, the floor cracking open into a canyon. Crunch! She couldn’t scream this time, only choke. A small chunk of metal crushed her foot, snapping most, if not all, the bones within. The pain made it harder to breathe. No, no, focus! She was almost there. Only a yard away. Her fingers reached out with such determination it was surprising they did not stretch.
The floor beneath the gun popped upwards. Horror seized her chest.
It slid right into her hand.
The Lieutenant couldn’t ponder her luck, she didn’t have that luxury. Every bit of energy went into getting to her feet. Her knees went outward, and the only solid part of her foot was her heel. She slowly turned around, robotic eye searching for a target.
She didn’t have to look far.
He smiled before grabbing her wrist, trying to twist the gun from her grasp. She fought, waving her arm in any way she could manage. She was eventually stuck with her arm held straight upwards, his arm around her body–like they were about to dance.
“Lieutenant Stacy,” he whispered with a growing grin. “You know, before you left me to die… I’ve always wanted to take you dancing. Childish, I know, but us in the lower ranks always, well, had a bit of a crush.”
She just managed not to roll her eyes.
“Funny to see where we’ve ended up, huh? I used to want to impress you, but then, well, you killed me. It’s a shame, because–”
“K…K…” She was trembling. He leaned forward with a condescending smile.
“What was that, Lieutenant?”
“K…K…Kiss…M…Me…” She choked, smile mimicking his. His composure broke, face falling.
“Did you just…”
She nodded, keeping her smile. His eyes strayed to her lips, chest heaving like a giddy schoolboy, “I suppose I have the time…”
He leaned forward, covering her lips with his own, effectively cutting off any remaining air.
His hand relaxed over hers. He felt her smile.
She pulled the trigger, beam shooting upwards.
He pulled away, brows knit. “Why did you–”
Before he could finish his question, the roof finally collapsed and crushed them both.
You know, I always start out hoping it ends happily. And then…