I blink a few times to clear the flash from my vision. A few stray orbs of light linger like after someone has taken your picture. After a few moments my sight clears but all I see is black. I’m standing in a circle of light, but other than me there is nothing. I get the sense I’m in a cavernous space, but I don’t hear any echoing. I take a moment to inspect myself, and I seem to be all here. Nonetheless, my heart begins to race with the horrors of the unknown.
“What the - “
‘Be silent,’ a voice tells me. I think it was a voice, but I’m not sure if I actually heard anything.
I try to open my mouth to call out. My lips don’t respond. My breathing becomes faster, and I make a move to exit my spotlight. Then I hear hissing, like water being thrown on a campfire.
‘Don’t Move,’ the voice says. My body becomes still. I struggle to lift even an arm, but I can’t seem to concentrate on the thought long enough to make it happen. My mind swirls with panic and questions. Where am I? Why can’t I move? Or speak? I envision all kinds of bloody scenarios involving serial killers and monsters.
‘Still your thoughts,” the voice returns along with the hissing sound, and they do. I try to panic, but all I can do is stand in my circle of light in silence. My thoughts float up from the depths of my consciousness one at a time as I observe my situation in what seems like slow motion. I can’t seem to latch on to a single one of them though.
The rustle of cloth brings my attention to movement outside the spotlight. In the dark, something circles me. I can’t turn to follow the sound as it continues behind me. I’m left to stare calmly straight ahead. I know I should be panicking or trying to defend myself somehow, but those ideas simply float into my mind and back out again. It’s like trying to catch a hummingbird.
Without my inner thoughts to distract me, I become aware of a pressure in my mind. I realize it’s been there since I arrived here. I don’t know how I know, but it’s a presence, and it’s female.
‘I am Tahlana, your trainer. Remove your clothing,’ the voice hisses in my mind. A slight moment of panic darts through my languid thoughts as my limbs respond. I grasp the bottom of my dingy hoodie, remove it in one swift motion and toss it outside my circle of light. I kick off my shoes, held together with duct tape. Then I remove my tattered jeans, followed by stained and thread bare underwear.
Shivering begins to wrack my body. Not because I’m cold. This place is neither warm nor cold. I feel vulnerable. I expect Tahlana to speak peace or reassurance into my mind, but she doesn't. She lets me feel weak and exposed. I may even sense a confirming mental push from her.
‘You are unique among human slaves. Your eyes are different.’ Tahlana hisses in my head again. I know I should panic at those words. I try, but I can’t force it. I let the horrific images of the slavery I know flit across my mind instead.
‘Now, now. None of that. Our Masters cherish their slaves. They are especially affectionate to their human ones.’
I feel a small release of pressure in my mind, and I’m able to think one clear thought before the lid is screwed tight again. ‘I don’t want to be a slave.’
‘Yet slave you are,’ her voice caresses my thoughts. ‘I see from your memories, even before you were gleaned you were a slave. Slave to the search for sustenance, the need for shelter. Slave to those older, stronger, more powerful than yourself. It is an illusion of the greatest of humans that they are free. Your planet was seeded long ago with your kind to fulfill one purpose only, to serve our Masters. Your people are planet bound and mostly care for themselves so the Masters do not interfere. They come to Earth only to glean the unmissed among you for service when they are present in this sector.’
The pressure in my mind releases a bit. I recognize this as Tahlana’s invitation to ask a question.
‘What kind of service?’ I really don’t want to know the answer.
‘Humans are uniquely qualified to serve our Masters’ need in non-reproductive sexual interaction.’
I flash images of earth’s version of sex slaves to Tahlana.
‘Be at peace. Our Masters will care for you.’
A sense of peace did bathe my consciousness, but I knew it didn't fit and forced it out.
‘Oh!’ Tahlana sounded surprised and excited inside my head. ‘And mentally resilient. I think you will do well for the Commander indeed.’
‘Commander?’ I think.
‘All will be explained. Turn to your left and walk forward.’
I do as I’m told. Tahlana has clamped down on my thoughts, so I’m only free to experience the sensations of my feet falling on a cool smooth floor. It doesn't feel like metal. More like concrete. Again I notice the absence of echoes. This place must be massive though as I continue to walk, now completely in the dark. I also notice my own smell. I’m sorely in need of a shower.
I notice another spotlight up ahead. I look up but can’t find the source. As I approach I see two silver, waist high pillars at the edges of the light circle. They are octagonal in shape and about the size of a large dinner plate. As I step between them I hear the hissing sound again.
‘Stop,’ Tahlana thinks, and I stand at attention in the spotlight. I wonder if the sound is Tahlana’s speech.
‘Yes,’ she answers.
I know now that nothing I think or feel will be hidden from her.
‘No. It will not. Place your hands in the depressions.’
I see on top of each column there is a sunken in place in the shape of a human hand. Again, I obey.
‘This will be slightly unpleasant. Some modifications are needed for yours and our Master’s comfort.’
Before I can reply, electricity courses through my body.