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Katy stumbled as the burly man roughly pulled her across the hot sand. Quickly catching herself and regaining her balance, she stumbled after him over the uneven ground. Dust blew in gusts across the sand.
She shook her head, vaguely remembering being grabbed, drugged, and thrown into the back of a car. She had awoken groggy and with a headache as the car came to a stop. This man had yanked her out of the car and was now marching her across the hot desert.
“Where are we? Who are you?” Her voice came out weak.
The man glanced at her, a stern look on his weathered face. “We’re where we need to be. And it doesn’t matter who I am.”
She tried again. “At least tell me your name. And why we are here.”
His grip tightened on her arm as he pulled her along. “My name’s Grant, but that’s not important. You’re about to go on a little adventure.” His raspy voice sounded menacing.
Her eyes burned and her muscles felt fatigued and weak. The drug had not completely worn off yet. “But I don’t understand. What do you want?”
“This is the drop-off point. We wait here. See that?” He pointed in the distance. “They’ll be here to get you.”
“Who? For what?”
His lips curled into a sneer. “It doesn’t matter.”
Defiance and anger rushed through her. “Of course it matters! I have a right to know what is happening to me!”
Grant glared at her. “You are an offering.”
She stared at him, not comprehending. “What?”
“An offering to alien beings. I bring them specimens, and they take you.”
Katy peered into the distance trying to see. “Alien beings? Specimens?”
A large metallic object now shimmered into focus, and three strange green-gray creatures stood in front of it. Katy stared at it as panic coursed through her.
“Yes. They require human specimens.”
Her voice shook. “For what?”
“I don’t know and I don’t ask. That is not my problem. I bring humans, and they give me—”
“No!” She struggled and tried to pull away from his grasp but his grip was too strong. “I won’t do this!”
Grant smirked. “Where will you go? We are miles from nowhere. You cannot escape.”
Katy glanced back at the alien spaceship, now clearly visible, and the hairs on her neck stood out. She felt her bowels loosen, and her breath caught in her throat. “Is that …”
“That is their spaceship. They are coming here to collect you. Just like the others.”
Her eyes widened in horror. “No!” She struggled again, desperately trying to get out of his grip.
The sound of a gun cocking cut through the struggle. She gasped and turned, her fear intensifying. Two men stood behind them, weapons trained on them.
One of the men gestured with his gun. “We will take her from here.”
“No!” Grant shouted. “That is not the deal. I deliver her to them. Only me.”
Seeing Grant distracted, Katy quickly twisted and bolted out of his grip, running a short distance away. But who should she trust? What was happening? Who were these two men with guns? Whose side were they on?
Needing to get away and have time to think, she sprinted, trying to get a good distance from them. A strong arm grabbed her. “Not so fast.” She looked back to see one of the men with the guns.
Her throat constricted. “I just …” Her body felt weak. Nausea rose into her throat. She wasn’t sure if it was terror, lightheadedness from the drugs, or the heat of the sun, but she started feeling woozy. She stumbled, her body trembling and weak.
The man caught her and held her for a moment. “Are you okay?”
“Who are you?” she whispered.
He smiled. “My name is Ken, and my partner is Nick. We are investigators, undercover officers. We’ve been watching this guy for a while.” He gestured toward Grant who was now being handcuffed by Nick. “We need to get you out of here.”
Movement caught Katy’s eye and she saw two alien creatures approaching, roughly one hundred feet away.
Ken stepped in front of her. “Stay behind me.”
Katy peeked around the officer and saw the creatures raise weapons. She closed her eyes as the loud crack of gunfire filled the air. She jumped and whimpered, her body shaking.
Ken quickly turned to her. “Let’s go — now. I need to get you back to our van. You’ll be safe there.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her toward a small mound of red sand.
Katy looked at the vast desert, confused. “Where is your van?”
“Here.” He pulled her behind the mound of sand, and Katy looked back and realized there was a large reflective shield that camouflaged the vehicle behind it, appearing from the front like an expanse of the desert.
Katy glanced back at the creatures. The two alien beings and their spaceship shimmered and disappeared.
Ken opened the door to their van, and Katy noticed a trailer hitched behind it. “Get in. You’ll be safe here. I’ll explain more in a few minutes.”
She slid in, feeling herself begin to calm down. She watched as Ken strode back across the desert and then returned a couple minutes later with his partner, who held tightly to Grant, his hands handcuffed behind him, pushing him forward toward the van.
Nick brought Grant to the trailer hitched in the back, and Katy watched as Grant was shoved into the trailer. Clanking sounds reached her as Grant was secured in the trailer. Then Ken and Nick took down the reflective shield, compacted it, and placed it in the back of the van. Ken got in the driver’s side and Nick slid into the passenger’s seat, glancing at Katy in the back seat and nodding at her.
Ken looked at his partner. “Is he secured?”
“Yes,” Nick answered. “He’s clamped into the restraints. He won’t go anywhere.”
Ken started the vehicle and then turned to Katy. “Are you okay?”
Katy nodded. “Yes. What is going on?”
Ken hesitated and then spoke slowly. “This has been taking place for a while. We are part of a sting operation to catch these men and the aliens, who the men are helping. The aliens have been landing in different places here in the desert, and it is hard to catch them, as they have advanced technology and shimmer in and out of existence. Even shooting them — they seem to heal and simply shimmer out, but then they return.” He paused and then continued. “We have now caught Grant, one of the men who have been bringing humans to them. But there are at least two more we are watching. We know how they operate, and we will catch them. And we will come back here and end this for good.”
Katy swallowed hard and licked her dry lips. “Why was I picked? And am I still in danger?”
He shook his head. “People seem to be picked at random. You are one of the lucky ones — we got to you in time. There are others that we could not get to fast enough to save, and they have not returned.”
Katy shuddered as the van moved forward, bouncing over the sand.
A hissing sound suddenly filled the van and a green-gray alien shimmered into existence on the back seat next to Katy.
She gasped and whimpered, throwing herself against the door, as terror flooded through her. Nick quickly turned around, held up a large weapon, and shot the alien in the chest. The alien’s eyes opened wide and then it shimmered out of existence and was gone, leaving a vague acidic odor behind.
Another whimper escaped Katy’s lips. “What … what …”
Nick raised his eyebrows. “This ammunition has a timed delay. Wait for it.”
Katy’s brow wrinkled. She couldn’t figure out what he was saying. Looking out the side window, her eyes scanned the sandy desert. A few seconds later, the spaceship shimmered into existence, and then a powerful explosion rocked the desert. A deep boom traveled through the ground and the air, rattling the vehicle. Katy clamped her hands over her ears against the loud noise of the blast as shards of metal rained down on the hot sand. Her eyes wide, she stared where the spaceship used to be.
“Got it!” Nick stated, pointing at the debris in the desert. “Finally!”
Ken braked and looked at his partner. “Great shot — we did it!” He raised one hand and they high-fived each other.
Katy cleared her throat. “Was that the—”
“That was the spaceship,” Ken explained. “We have now destroyed it. Hopefully we are finally done.”
Nick motioned toward the trailer behind them. “Except for booking Grant. And the other two men. And the paperwork.”
“Yeah, always the paperwork,” Ken murmured, as he pressed on the gas and the van picked up speed.
Katy took a deep breath and felt sweat trail down her neck. She could easily have been on that spaceship. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“You’re welcome.” Ken glanced in all directions around the desert. “Now let’s hope there was only one spaceship and it’s really over.”
Katy gasped, her throat dry. “What?”
“We’ll keep watch for a while. We hope this is it, but you never know — we don’t know who we’re dealing with or what they’re capable of.”
She nodded and bit her lip, gazing out the window at the golden desert sand flying by, as a shiver ran up her spine.
Copyright © 2020 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.
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