A rural state highway
Oh my God, I’m going to die.
Jacey yanked the steering wheel to the right. The car swerved across the road, back into its own lane.
Triumph filled her for a moment; the wheels left pavement. Gravel crunched. Jacey fought to regain control. The car barreled toward the ditch, pulling up to skid into oncoming traffic.
“No!” she yelled.
In the other lane, the car lights, now nearly even with her own, tormented her with images of her friend Ebony’s death nearly six months ago. Jacey’s car crossed the centerline. Her friend’s vehicle had done the same thing on a very similar night.
She closed her eyes and twisted the wheel, trying to regain control of her old Ford Escort. The tiny car moved with the slightest breeze, and now, on the rain-slick road, it careened like a drunken ice skater. Jacey forced her eyes open as her car did a complete 360. Her headlights flashed against the taillights of the car she’d missed, and still the car whirled. It skittered off the road, bouncing across the gravel shoulder and down into the ditch.
Tall weeds buffeted her car. Blood pounded in Jacey’s ears, the din of the country music station forgotten. Even though she knew the folly, she still tried to steer. A metal post rose from the tangled underbrush in front of her. It screeched along her car as it tore paint from metal and ripped her undercarriage apart.
The car stopped. Jacey hurtled forward. The world moved in an awkward slow motion, and she watched, horrified, as the nose of her car crumpled. Only the seat belt kept her in place, but not soon enough, for she bumped her chin on the steering wheel. She bit her lip. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth.
Her hand gripping the stick shift flew forward. Her knuckles bashed into the radio, plastic knobs and dials biting into her flesh. Her knees rose and slammed into the underside of the dash.
She slumped back in the seat. Her harsh breathing filled the car. Gradually she became aware of other sounds, sensations, and Jacey groaned. Her body erupted in pain. The trickle of warm, wet blood slid over her knuckles.
She was alive.
She breathed a shaky sigh of relief. A wave of guilt, that she should live while her friend hadn’t survived, swamped her. She wallowed for a moment, and then she smelled gasoline.
The smell galvanized her into action. If she didn’t move, she wouldn’t be alive for long. Rain still pounded her windshield. Smoke and mist rose from the hood of her car. With shaking hands, Jacey pulled the keys from the ignition. She grabbed her purse from the passenger seat and then reached for her seat belt. She spent long, horrified moments wondering what would happen if she couldn’t get loose and the car caught on fire. She’d longed to die after Ebony’s death but not like this. At last, the catch freed, and she opened the car door to spill into the damp ditch.
Jacey crawled away from the car. Rain drenched her auburn hair, plastering it to her face in wet ropes. Her jeans and silk blouse clung to her body. “Ugh,” Jacey groaned as she pulled herself to her feet some distance away from her car. She stared out of the ditch, toward the road, or in the direction she thought the road was, and peered through the wet, inky blackness. The ditch sloped sharply up to the road, so Jacey knew she focused on the right direction.
She fumbled in her purse for her cell phone. In the dim light from the screen, she made out the tiny symbol that indicated no signal. “Fuck,” she growled as she dropped the useless piece of technology back into her purse. Slinging her bag over her shoulder, she thought there might be a better chance at catching a signal at the edge of the road. If nothing else, a passing motorist would see her. Digging her fingers into the muddy turf, she slowly hauled herself out of the ditch.
“I should have stayed at the bar,” she muttered. Her foot slipped in the mud. She lay on her belly in the dirt, wincing at the pain in her mangled fingers, and then slowly worked her knees beneath her. Her breath hissed from between clenched teeth, but she vowed to reach the side of the road. “At least then,” she said, finishing her thought, “I could have found out who belonged to the best ass I’ve seen since the last rerun of Farscape
.” He’d had his back to her, the mysterious man in the bar, and his jeans molded his ass and legs like hot fudge on a sundae, or leather pants on John Creighton. She hadn’t had anything stronger than her two diet sodas, before calling it a night, afraid of what she might do if she drank any alcohol. I might have asked him out. Heaven forbid I actually get a life
. She chuckled at her own self-depreciating joke.
Jacey scaled the ditch, hauling herself over the edge. She lay there, trying to regain her bearings, and stood on shaky knees to stare into the darkness. She pulled her cell phone from her purse, and then tried to call for help again. Still no signal. Damn. Damn. And double damn again.
A flash of light in the distance caught her attention. A car? Her heart leaped, and she watched the light grow brighter until it became a distant fuzzy white glow. The glare loomed large on the horizon. It hovered for a moment, neither coming closer nor disappearing.
“What the hell?” Jacey muttered.
She watched, transfixed as the light lifted into the sky. A UFO, her mind wondered. I must have bumped my head harder than I thought. There’s no such things as UFOs
. The glow grew closer. It surrounded her, reminding Jacey of a silly bumper sticker about unmanned cars and the rapture. She shielded her eyes against the light, taking an involuntary step backward. Her foot slid.
She reached, trying to steady herself. The light blazed brighter, surrounding her. Air whooshed past her, and belatedly she realized it wasn’t the wind. She had the sense of being carried, drawn even, toward whatever waited above.
She expected the fall. A glance down showed the ground receding farther and farther away. My purse!
It lay there along the edge of the road, lost and forgotten. She tried to reach for it but feared diving headlong into the ground. For a brief moment a to-do list of canceling credit cards and reissuing checks came to mind--did she even know what number the book in her purse started with?
She might have laughed if it weren’t for the ground dropping away from her. A UFO, it had to be. Uncontrollable shivers ran through her. She’d asked for an escape. Perhaps being abducted by aliens would be so much nicer than committing suicide.
She couldn’t even see her purse now. She knew, because she’d focused on the bright pattern, clearly visible in the light surrounding her, until she’d lost sight of it. Her one tie to this life--a life she wasn’t even sure she’d wanted--and it was gone. Surely someone would find it. She hated to be a downer but wondered if they’d care. Frankly, if she were being abducted, she wondered if she even wanted to go back.
Vertigo and velocity combined to give her one hell of a headache. Closing her eyes, she relaxed into the pull as the pace increased. She gave in to the abduction, regardless of what she would find. They’d chosen her out of all the billions of people on the planet. If this were an abduction--and what else could it be--then they wanted her. She held on to that hope as a huge silver shape materialized in the light above her.
She was being abducted! A moment of self-preservation flooded her system with adrenaline. Flailing her arms, she fought against her inevitable arrival. The silver doors opened. Beneath her she couldn’t see the ground at all. This really was happening. She fought harder, and a jolt, like electricity, shot through her.
The command filled her mind with compelling force. She struggled to keep her eyes open. Another command and her eyelids closed. The whoosh of doors opening filled her ears, and then she was inside, doors clanging behind her. Though she struggled to stay awake, a third and final command filled her mind, and she obeyed. Sleep!
* * * *
Jacey woke to a low mechanical hum. Opening her eyes, she surveyed her surroundings. Whiteness surrounded her, a soft, gauzy glow suffusing everything with light. White blankets spun of the finest material covered her, and a quick glance beneath the sheet showed her dressed in the same white gown. The room, a small one, boasted a white chair sitting beside the bed, and diaphanous white coverings on the wall.
Am I in heaven?
She didn’t think she had died, but the last thing she remembered was being surrounded by light. It could have been a car, she realized with sudden horror, and she could be lying dead on the side of State Highway 143.
It couldn’t be.
Jacey eased herself into a seated position. She peered around the room, noticing the same whiteness she’d seen before. Her soggy jeans and silk shirt had for all intents and purposes disappeared.
Alien ships were white too. She’d seen it on the History channel, those stories of abductions that she’d watched with giggling guilty pleasure. Aliens! It always had to be aliens.
Oh God. What if it was aliens now?
She tossed back the blanket and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. In the empty room, no one stopped her, and she rolled her ankles and tested joints. All seemed to be in working order.
The humming sound continued. It came from beneath her, from behind her, all around, really, and Jacey thought it sounded like a motor. The whiteness combined with the humming evoked images of specials she’d seen about alien abductees.
“Crap, I’ve been abducted by aliens.” The coverings on the wall absorbed her voice. She stood. She held out an arm and stared at it as if it were foreign to her. Her knuckles, scraped and bloody by the car crash and climb up the ditch, looked healed. “Where the hell am I and what happened to me?”
Jacey stepped away from the bed, her concern growing with each step. She reached the wall and ran her fingers over the silky covering. Then she touched her gown. The same material. It felt finely spun and soft as the most expensive silk beneath her fingers. She circuited the room, feeling for a door or window. She felt none. The material appeared to be a wall covering.
Apprehension filled her. Is this some sort of prison?
On television, those abducted by aliens spoke about all sorts of horrible procedures and invasions. She trembled, thinking the same thing would happen to her. Jacey looked up at the ceiling. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” she yelled. When her screams brought no response, she pounded on the wall with her fists.
“Hey! Let me out of here!” The more she struggled, the more the room seemed like a prison. Four walls closed in on her, and she sucked in deep breaths of air. “Hey, let me out of here!” She pounded until her fists hurt, then rammed against the walls some more. There had to be a way out.
Hissing filled the room.
Jacey looked to the ceiling from where the sound seemed to be coming and saw a mist filling the room. They’re gassing me
. “You bastards! Let me out of here!” She let loose with a string of epithets that would have made a factory worker blush.
Smoke swirled around the floor, and Jacey stood in a corner trying to get away from it. Should she drop to the ground? Stand on something high? The mist appeared to be filling the room; she had no way to escape it. Her body relaxed. The anger and fear drained from her, leaving her focused on the tiniest details. The gown slid against her skin, the rasp of the silky fabric against her body demanding all her attention. Her nipples pebbled at the touch.
She stilled, aware of the raw and sudden need that grew with each breath she took. The mist. It had to be creating this effect on her, but why? For a moment flashes of alien experiments shown on crap television shows filled her mind. Did they want her for something sexual? And why did the thought suddenly turn her on?
She took a deep breath, aware that she was completely, totally had-to-come-hard-and-fast horny. The sensuousness of the material against her skin demanded that she rub the fabric against her. She closed her eyes, her lips parting as the soft material glided across her flesh. She circled her nipples with her fingers. She pinched them slightly through the material, a delighted “oh” escaping her lips.
For long moments she focused on her nipples, rolling them between her fingers and the silky material. Her breathing grew ragged. The mist stopped flowing, though it curled like stage smoke around the floor. Wetness flooded her pussy, and she rocked her hips, seeking her ease on something...anything.
The gown had no slit. It covered her from neck to ankles. It seemed tawdry somehow to spread her legs and press the soft fabric to her sex, yet her pussy ached to be touched. The sensations roaring through her body reaffirmed to her that she was alive. She tried to question her body’s demands, wondered where her anger had gone, but instead, Jacey pulled the gown over her head. It fluttered to the floor, almost disappearing among the last vestiges of the smoke. The gas. It must have done something to me
. She tried one final time to fight the desire roaring through her body and failed.