Chapter Three: Miri

 I stumbled through the forest in a daze, tree branches whipping my arms with every step I took. With no idea of where I was going, I didn’t even know if I was venturing out of the forest or further into it, but I didn’t even care.

All I knew was that I had to keep walking.

 Easier said than done, of course. I was growing weaker with each passing minute, my stomach roiling audibly: I was so hungry that I could eat the bark off a tree. I stopped for a minute then, one hand on a tree trunk as I tried to catch my breath.

My body was soaked with sweat, locks of greasy hair plastered on my forehead, and my muscles felt as heavy as lead.

“Yes, please,” I muttered under my breath, noticing an overgrown thorny bush just a few feet away from me. Red berries weighed down its thin branches, and I landed on my knees as I started picking them up eagerly. I stopped when I had a handful, my hands shaking from how weak I was, but I hesitated before putting any of the berries into my mouth.

Were the berries even edible? Or could they be poisonous?

I tried to rack my brains for an answer but there was nothing. Either I had never known about wild berries, or I simply couldn’t remember.  “Great,” I groaned, opening my hand and allowing the berries to spill onto the ground.

I watched them roll away from me with a heavy heart, and for a moment I even thought of taking the risk and eating them anyway.

I didn’t. As hungry as I was, I wasn’t looking forward to poison myself and risk a slow painful death in the middle of nowhere.

Groaning, I pushed myself up to my feet and dusted my pants off. I scanned my surroundings once more, praying for my memories to return, but I found nothing but the echo of my own thoughts inside my head.

The only thing I had was a name—Miri—but that was as useful as a good behavior badge during trench warfare. In fact, I would be much happier if I didn’t know my name and, instead, knew how to distinguish edible berries from poisonous ones.

“Just keep walking,” I told myself, frowning at the sound of my own voice. It sounded strange and familiar at the same time, which made for a really unsettling experience.

I decided to keep my mouth shut as I walked, knowing that it’d be of no use to obsess about who I was…or used to be. The important thing was to find a way back into civilization. If I had any luck, there’d be some kind of city or town nearby.

Of course, I could also be stranded in the middle of nowhere, no other human being for miles in each direction.

Thankfully, it just took me a couple of hours before I stumbled in what seemed like a small outpost. Still a few hundred feet away from its outer walls, the thick vegetation keeping me hidden from sight, I took a moment to examine it.

The walls were small despite their sturdy appearance, and I could see a dozen squat buildings right behind them. There didn’t seem to be much activity going on, but it was better than nothing.

Only when I started walking toward the outpost did I realize there were guards posted on the main gate. There were just two of them, and they were casually talking between themselves, their guns holstered. Even though I didn’t like the idea of talking with someone that could potentially shoot, I had no other choice but to keep on walking toward them. They had already seen me, after all, and one of them was even pointing his finger straight at me.

“Good morning,” one of them greeted me, and I was about to reply when I noticed there was something odd about the guards.

Not just odd.

Wrong.

They were much taller than a regular human, and their muscular bodies looked as if they had been designed to intimidate.

They wore full body armor, that almost entirely covered their skin with secondary plates.

Wait.

That wasn’t body armor.

That was their skin.

And it was green.

These weren’t humans…they were aliens.

I froze in place, not knowing what to think, and the two guards exchanged a confused glance. They started walking toward me and I couldn’t stop myself from panicking.

“Stand back!” I cried out.

Where the hell was I? And why were freaking aliens in here?

I knew there was an answer for all those questions buried deep in my mind, but I couldn’t dig it out fast enough. Especially with two green and scary looking giants making their way toward me.

“Calm down, miss,” they continued to say, their deep voices making my heart beat even faster. Could I even trust them?

I was still trying to calm myself down when I realized they were walking away from each other, trying to flank me. They seemed hesitant about me, and that definitely didn’t make me relax.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I had already launched myself forward and was running past them. They called after me but that just made run even faster, my feet kicking dust off the ground as I went.

I dashed into the small outpost in a panic, but I breathed out with relief as I realized there were humans inside the walls. A few threw curious glances my way, but most of them didn’t even pay me any attention and just carried on with their normal lives.

“Come back here, miss!” The alien guards shouted from behind me. Looking back over my shoulder, I realized they were closing in on me and decided to keep on running.

No way was I going to let these two lay their hands on me, that was for sure. I was still glancing back at them, clearly not paying enough attention to what was in front of me, when I hit something and tumbled into the ground.

“Crap,” I groaned, wincing as pain shot up from my knee to my thigh. There was a small overturned cart in front of me, a few jars of herbs and spices littering the ground, and all of it seemed to belong to a small elderly woman that was looking at me with an expression of pure confusion.

“What’s wrong with you?” One of the guards frowned, the two of them now looking down on me. Great, I had been caught. “Why the hell are you running away from us?”

“Because…you’re aliens”? I tried, not sure on what else they were expecting me to say.

“So?” One of them asked.

“She’s probably a member of an anti-alien group,” the other scoffed, folding his arms over his chest as he eyed me disapprovingly.

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” I said meekly, looking at the elderly woman beside me and hoping for some support.

Her eyes jumped from me to the aliens, and then went back to me again. She seemed as confused as me and the aliens were.

“Do you know this woman, Kanna?” The guard closest to me asked the old woman. She shook her head and pursed her lips, her eyes never leaving mine. Slowly, she then went down on one knee and offered me a smile, locks of white hair tumbling over her shoulders.

“My name’s Kanna,” she said gently. “I’m this settlement’s herbalist. Do you have a name?”

 “Miri,” I replied.

 “Good. And how can we help you, Miri? You look a lil’ bit lost, if I may say so,” she continued, the kindness on her voice enough to make me feel more at ease. “Where have you come from?”

 “The woods,” I said, quickly glancing back to the place where I had just come from. Frowning, Kanna just eyed me for a short moment, her focus on the small cuts and bruises on my arms.

 “And before the woods?”

 “I…I don’t know,” I admitted, feeling a knot in my throat. Why couldn’t I remember anything? There were so many questions bouncing around inside my head, and I felt that the answers were there too…but somehow they remained beyond my grasp. “I don’t remember anything.”

 “You don’t remember?” One of the guards asked, both his eyebrows arched.

 “I don’t. I just remember running through the woods…”

 “Alright, sweetie,” Kanna said, rising to her feet and offering me her hand. I took it, allowing the old woman to help me up. “Come with me into my shop, will you? I’ll get you something to eat and drink, and these two gentleman will try to figure something out.”

 I was too confused to protest. The aliens didn’t seem hostile, and even Kanna seemed to trust them.

Besides, the important thing was that she had offered me food. At that point, I was hungry enough to follow whoever promised me a handful of breadcrumbs.

 “And what are we supposed to do?” The guards asked Kanna, both of them looking uncomfortable. They seemed more prepared to deal with situations that required the use of a gun than with mysterious girls that didn’t remember absolutely anything.

 “Don’t you have superiors?” Kanna told them sternly. “Get one of them on those comms of yours and tell them what’s going. There has to be someone in the city capable of helping her.”

 “Right,” one of them said, clearing his throat. “Of course.”

 “Now, let me just pick these things up and we’ll go,” she started, bending over to pick the jars of herbs I had knocked over. I helped her do it, feeling embarrassed about the whole situation, and then we were on our way.

“These two aren’t the smartest of them,” she said as we left the guards behind. “But they mean well.”

“Yes, but…”

“But?”

“They are aliens!” I said, keeping my voice low so that no one could hear us.

“Why, of course they are,” Kanna laughed. “Where have you been living all this time? Under a rock?”

“I have absolutely no idea,” I said.

And that was the truth.

2 Responses to Chapter Three: Miri

  • Carol Shaffer says:

    Look forward to reading the entire book.

  • Lisa says:

    At this point in story i can usually tell if a story is well written and if it will a good thing to invest my time, imagination, emotions etc in.
    Ok… I’m invested! Really looking forward to what’s next… who’s next… and how they and it all relate to each other. Sign me up!

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