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Alien’s Treasure: Chapter Two

Kyla

All my life, I’d been plagued by anxious dreams, the type where you arrive at a classroom naked or have to sit down to take a test you’d never prepared for.

Or, after I grew up a little, I used to dream of returning to a hated job and having to log into a computer system where you didn’t know the password and were under a time crunch, stuff like that.

The thing about those dreams? Some part of me always knew they weren’t real. It was always a relief to wake up and escape them, but not a surprise.

This time… This time was different.

Not only was I unsure what was real and what wasn’t, but the dreams also seemed to stretch on and on. It felt like I’d drifted in and out for weeks… but that couldn’t be possible.

In my dreams, I’d worked my real-life job as an assistant in a small publishing house.

Being a grunt meant I got to do all the dirty work. That meant going through the slush pile — an industry term for reading through manuscripts submitted by hopeful writers. It would seem like a dream, especially for someone like me, who loves to read.

But the dirty little secret was that most of the hopeful authors submitted incorrectly formatted work with… extremely questionable uses of the English language. That was if they hadn’t mailed outright insane manifestoes. I got my share of those, too.

And sometimes the cover letter was written in crayon.

The way my particular publishing house worked was I received a cut of every good selling book that’d made it up the ranks. It was a great idea in theory, but a bad one in execution.

Not only did I have to find a worthwhile story in a literary pile of crap, but if it didn’t sell well on the market, I’d also be out some much-needed money.

In my dreams—or were they reality? I couldn’t tell anymore. My memory seemed to fade in and out, punctuated by things which couldn’t be real.

Anyway, in my dreams, I went through one manuscript after the other, frantically searching, searching, searching for any hint of something that could be pounded into publishable shape.

Did this person submit their manuscript in wingdings?

I blinked and looked outside. The San Francisco skyline had gone as dark as it did every evening with the bright city lights illuminating the foggy air. I blinked my tired eyes, then reached up to rub the bridge of my nose.

Was it ten o’clock already? I could’ve sworn it was only six a couple of minutes ago, and I’d just thought about taking a break. But then I became obsessed with finding that one good manuscript…

I had to get home. My office was okay, but I didn’t want to make the trip home too late at night.

Shoving the thick pile of manuscripts into my huge tote bag, I packed up and headed home.

Even then, I couldn’t help myself and plucked out a manuscript at random to read on the bus ride back to my cramped little studio apartment.

The best I’d say about this one was that it was written in English.

But… it appeared to be a philosophical tome about herding cows, when we were a romance publishing company.

“Yee haw,” I muttered to myself, slipping the manuscript to the bottom of the bag.

Once I got home, I made myself some cereal — the dinner of champions— as well as a mug of hot tea. Then I changed into my pajamas and sat beside the lamp at my desk to continue reading through the pile. My muted, forgotten TV provided the only other illumination.

That part of the dream seemed normal. Almost like a memory that I’d had a long time ago.

It even included the part where I fell asleep at my desk. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. I liked to consider myself a work-hard, play-hard type of girl.

But also unfortunately, the only thing I’d done recently was work hard.

The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back, still in my pajamas, surrounded by little green aliens.

That part… had to be a dream. Maybe Close Encounters of the Third Kind had been on my TV, or those little green beings had popped out of some broken part of my psyche. 

I’d experienced sleep paralysis before and although I was “awake”, I couldn’t move, couldn’t even scream. In the spirit of every nightmarish alien abduction story, the little green aliens seemed completely uncaring about my terror and discomfort. They were the classic ones you saw on TV: dark forest green skin, big heads, and large black pupilless eyes.

And they’d poked and prodded my pajama clad body with various instruments.

I squeezed my eyes shut, wanting it to end.

And that’s when I felt the pressure on my head, right on the side of my skull. My eyes flew open and I let out a scream that came out as a grunt as one of the aliens stuck something straight into my brain which looked far too much like a syringe for my liking. And it hurt!

This is a dream… This is just a dream… I told myself, hoping, praying, trying to convince myself that if I fell asleep, I’d wake up back at my desk, or better yet, safe in my bed.

But no, instead everything went fuzzy again. The next thing I knew, I was being shoved along, hazy and confused, still in my little pajama pants with the cute teddy bears on them and shuffling in my fuzzy bunny slippers.

There was a… Well, it kind of looked like one of those delivery tubes that old-style banks used to collect checks and stuff from drive-up windows, the ones that were vacuum powered. Only this one was easily six feet high and I was about to be the contents of it.  

It was some kind of pod. They loaded me in, and I turned around just as the glasslike substance sealed around me. Gas hissed and I felt my eyes grow heavy.

What’d felt like a long, long time later, I was vaguely aware something was going on around me. I heard yelling and screaming… But it was far away and in my exhausted, dazed state, I couldn’t find it in myself to care.

The world shattered and jolted around. I felt like I was on a carnival ride, flipped end over end. Or maybe a washing machine on the spin cycle.

Then it finally ended.

The next thing I knew, I blinked my eyes open.

My first thought was: Finally. Those terrible dreams, nightmares, hallucinations, whatever were finally over with. I’d wake up and see everything was okay.

What was that smell?

It wasn’t bad. It was a lot like dead vegetation. Not terrible, but unusual considering my apartment didn’t have so much as a potted plant. I had a black thumb and learned long ago I’d kill anything I tried to grow. 

The air was stiflingly warm, too, and humid, way too humid for San Francisco. Yes, it got foggy, but it hardly ever got hot and foggy.

My eyelids seemed to weigh a million pounds apiece. I cracked them open and focused my vision.

A cat stared down at me.

No. Not a cat. A man in a catsuit. No, a furry?

No… If that was a catsuit, it was the best I’d ever seen. It — he? Maybe? — was covered in gold fur with brown tabby markings over him.

He. Definitely a he, if those broad shoulders and narrow waist were anything to go by.

Despite the fur, he had a square jaw and beautiful green eyes. The rest of him was very human-like from his sharp nose to his pointed pricked ears that came up from his skull. He also wore a khaki-colored shirt, a bandolier with a number of tools, and pants.

Oh and also, he looked really, really pissed.

“Warxle blag fand sthreb.” Something stuttered and sparked in my head. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, the words now suddenly all in English. “That was the worst flight I’ve ever seen in my life. Did you come down blind?”

I opened my mouth, but had no words. There was a cat-man… yelling at me.

And he had a lot more to say.

“Why in all of the seven hellish planets did you have to crash your escape pod on the one part of the planet that actually matters?”

I screamed.

My shriek of fear cut through his tirade, and he stepped back long enough for me to scramble out of the tube and stare around. I was in a jungle. The rainforest?

Where in the world was the closest rainforest to San Francisco? Was I in Central America?

The trees and leaves all around me were broad and… giant in a way I’d never seen before. One of the heart-shaped leaves was blue and purple and just about as wide as I was tall.

That wasn’t normal. And of course, I hadn’t forgotten about my friend, the cat.

He spoke English, even though I was in Central America or somewhere. That wasn’t right, was it?

None of this was right.

When I turned to him, my mouth opened to ask questions. However, he’d looked away, scowling at…some sort of broken object. It seemed to be a pillar of some sort, now lying in pieces on the ground. It looked like it had taken down a few trees when it fell.

I followed the line of sight from the shattered pillar to a few skid marks ending at the tube-like thing I’d been encased in.

I’d seen it before — in my dreams. 

“What happened?” I asked.

He whipped around to me. “You tell me, human!”

“What are you?” I whispered.

He seemed to be too angry to hear me. “What is one of you doing all the way out here? No, don’t answer that, I don’t care. Why’d you feel the need to fly your pod right into the one artificial structure on this entire continent?”

He looked just about angry enough to want to tear his hair out. 

“I didn’t fly anything!” I yelled.

“No, that’s obvious. You just fell out of the sky. There was no flying about it.”

I’d had enough of this.

Maybe I was still dreaming.

Maybe I’d hit my head on something.

But either way, I was done being yelled at.

“Well? What’ll you do about this?” he demanded.

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” I snapped.

“The obelisk, my treasure!” 

It was a weird dream and I’d had enough of it.

With a sniff, I turned from him and stomped away in the opposite direction. Maybe there was a road or something somewhere.

I only took a few steps before I looked down and sighed.

I was still in my pajamas and bunny slippers.

This was going to be a very, very weird day.

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