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| Category: || Fantasy Science Fiction |
Posted:|| May 4, 2020 Views: 222|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
When a fantastical change of perspective heals the mind...
"An Offer She Couldn't Refuse"
by Y. M. Roger
The sun was just beginning to set as her Lyft disappeared down the dirt road. Nan stood – military duffle in hand – facing a house bigger than anything she’d ever dreamed of owning. When Atticus had shown up at her door four days ago, she’d initially wondered which of them would have been the better candidate for an asylum: her, with her increasing combat flashbacks or him, with his ancient-world clothing and strange speech.
“Honored Physician Nannette Bridges?” The ethereal-looking man had smiled like he’d just won the lottery. He’d then paused, and a warmth had passed over her… had it come from him? “Confirmation – I have finally found you!”
Who was she kidding? This place was bigger than any dream ever. Even in the hellish combat zones of Africa and the Middle East, Nan had never conjured up an oasis this big in her rare hours of sleep. And, as a combat surgeon on the front lines, those hours had definitely been rare.
“Okay, I’ll bite: should I recognize you from somewhere?” She’d grinned that sarcastic smile of hers. Exhaustion had probably marred her face like a prize fighter that morning – it had been an exceptionally rough week. “Like, perhaps the Roman gladiator fights?”
Nan chuckled at the memory of Atticus’ frown in response to her question – like he had no idea what Rome or a gladiator was. Reaching into her BDU pocket for the key, she approached the behemoth ‘residence’ that apparently belonged to her now.
“Your bloodli – uh, your family line has been chosen for residency, Physician Bridges.” He held out what appeared to be (and had proven to be when she’d contacted the IRS) a property deed in her name.
“My family line?” Nan reached out and took the paper, curious as to its contents. “I don’t have a family.” There’d been no vehemence because being abandoned at birth was simply a fact. She’d brought the paper up to read. “Hate to tell you this, Caesar, bu-u-u-ut –”
“My name is not Seeezar, honored one.” He’d bowed his head, those eyes becoming laser-focused on her face. “It is Atticus Eleutia Droningrodi-yada-yada…
Nan still couldn’t recall the endless name he had rattled off that morning, but plain ol’ Atticus had worked for them both. She slid the extra-long key into the first of three odd-looking locks.
“This place is huge!” She’d read through the specifications twice, making sure her sleep-deprived brain had seen it right. Atticus hadn’t smiled. He hadn’t nodded. He hadn’t done anything – not even blinked – until she had returned her focus back to his face. “Are you sure you’ve go–”
That’s when he’d interrupted and held the odd-shaped key out to her without acknowledging her exclamation nor the beginnings of her question.
“Since you have been found, the training zone will re-open in five of your standard days. Here is your initial access hardware.” He’d paused, his pupils becoming much wider than what she considered normal. But before she could be sure that was really what she had actually seen (the PTSD had been getting worse), that intense focus returned. “Four and Nine have been activated, Physician Bridges. Is that acceptable?”
“Su-u-ure…?” What else was she going to say? The guy, strange as he had been, had purportedly just given her a house…
Shaking her head at the memory, Nan turned the key in the lock. Lost in thought, she was completely unprepared for the sting of the sharp needle that sprung out from the metal contraption into her hand and retracted just as quickly. She dropped her duffle in surprise.
“Son of a bitch!” Nan turned her hand to see a small droplet of blood forming just at the base of her palm where it met her wrist. “What the hell was that for?” she hollered as she looked up and down the face of the house, as if expecting an answer.
Instinctively, she tried to examine the tiny wound, but when she realized it had already stopped bleeding, she rubbed it on her pants. Nan stared at the offending lock deciding how best to once again attempt entry.
On alert this time, she raised her hand slowly toward the key. Before her hand made it halfway to the door, the key began to slowly disappear into the lock until it was gone, the lanyard she had attached to it dropping to the ground.
Astonished, Nan bent to retrieve the lanyard, but before she could right herself, all three locks disengaged at once and the door swung open. Nan found herself staring at two pair of smaller-than-average feet with some odd-looking athletic shoes on them. In fact, they were like nothing she had ever seen.
“No, no, no! This is so wrong, Physician Bridges!”
One pair of shoes started a little dance in place as Nan continued to stand up again. The dancing feet belonged to a pleasantly plump yet very distressed-looking female, her skin mottled with freckles that were various shades of… orange? Her emerald eyes and onyx hair made for quite the other-worldly look on her four-foot height.
Blinking a few times to be sure she wasn’t dreaming, Nan let her vision drift to the owner of the other pair of shoes which caused her to raise her vision a good bit above her own five-foot-ten stature. Just as she had begun taking in the nearly-crimson skin tone set against a multitude of cotton-blonde braids and ice-blue eyes, she realized the shorter one was waving her hands in feigned distress.
“No, no, no, honored Physician! Nine and Four should bow to you!” As she pleaded, orange lady bowed once – wait, no, twice – and proceeded to not-so-lightly backhand the other, taller female who had been studying Nan intently. The taller one responded by completing one of those small almost reverent head bows that Atticus had done both during their brief conversation and before he’d simply vanished…
“You know what, Atticus?” She’d tried to keep her voice neutral. “Why don’t you step in here” – she’d left the front door open and walked to retrieve her phone from the kitchen – “while I call about this property deed.“
She’d expected him to leave like any other scammer who’d been busted, but when – phone in hand – she’d turned back toward the door, Atticus was still there.
“We know that you will take good care of our warriors, Physician Bridges. Four and Nine are at your service. The Collective thanks you.”
He had bowed a bit deeper that time. She’d smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as she’d held up her index finger to indicate that the call had connected. She’d only taken her eyes from him for a moment, but when she looked up again, he was gone. And when she’d run to the door, there had been no sign of him. Anywhere.
“Wait. How ‘bout nobody bows.” Nan stepped back, looked at the address on the house again and looked around, half expecting some TV camera crew to appear out of nowhere to film the situation. At least that would have made some semblance of sense. “I’m sorry, is this your house?”
The short one’s hands flew over her mouth to stifle a bubbly giggle, and the taller one narrowed her eyes as if trying to understand Nan’s question. The three of them stood like that for a stilted few moments until the taller one extended a hand – it was a six-fingered hand, but it was a familiar gesture nonetheless.
“I am Four, Physician Bridges.” Nan hesitantly took the hand and shook it firmly – her focus quickly volleying between the two unique females. She wasn’t going to make a bad first impression since they obviously knew her. “And this is Nine.” Four indicated the shorter one. “And this, honored physician, is most certainly your zone hospi– uh, your house.”
“Four and Nine have been activated, Physician Bridges. . . . Four and Nine are at your service….”
So Atticus had been talking about actual people… such as they were. Releasing her grip, Four stepped back and motioned for Nan to enter. Nan – still shell-shocked at everything – bent to grab her duffle, but Nine, chortling and smiling, waved her off.
“No, no, no!” It seemed to be a favorite phrase of hers – that and talking in the third person. “Nine will have this for you!”
Nan stepped inside to a huge open area with a raised ceiling and few walls. The space was flooded with both natural and artificial light, the source for which she could not immediately discern. To one side, there was what appeared to be a large medical operating area. As she let her eyes scan from there, it seemed there were numerous facilities for the various stages of treatment and recovery that made up this entire first floor of the… Wait! What was that Four had almost said but corrected herself? Zone hospital?
“Since you have been found, the training zone will re-open . . .”
Nan gasped in realization – the title of ‘Honored Physician’ abundantly clear – just about the time Four passed her heading for the large stairway immediately in front of them. Not noticing Nan’s noted inhale, Four spoke as she mounted the first step.
“Your living quarters” – Nine jogged heartily past them up the stairs, practically dancing and humming to herself – “are the entirety of the second level.”
Nan followed, still mentally trying to take all this in. She was sure she’d gotten out of the car and paid the Lyft driver on a deserted dirt road in the middle of a dense forest in the middle of nowhere. Where were the training grounds or zone or…
But when they topped the stairs, Nan lost her words. Her living quarters were like a luxury home from the movies. Nine pranced around the huge four-poster bed and tossed her duffle in the middle of it. More questions piled up in amidst Nan’s shocked and sleep-deprived brain, but she could find no way to voice any of them. Overwhelmed was an understatement at this point.
“You should get some sleep, honored physician, as training exercises begin again in the morning.” Four bowed gracefully and turned to leave.
“Nine will make you pancakes and lots of bacon for breakfast!” Nine clapped her little hands in excitement, and again Nan stood, dumbfounded. That was her all-time favorite breakfast… “Sleep well and welcome home!”
One of them must have hit the light switch on their way out because the area was quickly enveloped in shadow, and , yeah, Nan was exhausted. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was sleep. She barely managed to push the duffle to the side before her head hit the heavenly-soft pillow. Questions could wait until morning.
Ping. Ping. Ping.
It was faint, but it continued and was getting louder.
Ping. Ping. Ping.
Nan clawed her way out of another deep sleep. Even with all the learning and the surgeries and such, she’d slept better these last few months than in the two decades prior. And not one PTSD episode since her arrival.
She verbally commanded as she quickly dressed and fitted her comm-device in her ear.
“Four! Nine! What’s up?”
“Antalirian. Multiple entry wounds.” Four’s voice was confident as ever.
Nan paused, trying to remember… “And they're purple-blood with three stomachs?”
“Correct, honored Nan.”
At least they’d progressed past ‘physician’, she reflected as she bounded down the stairs.
Life here had certainly been an adjustment. Being the prime hospital ward to the Galactic Collective’s Elite Training Zone brought experience she’d never be able to use on a resume.
“Open the portal, Nine.”
The inter-dimensional portal hummed and crackled with the matter/anti-matter conversion. A field medic of reptilian-origins emerged beside a gurney carrying a writhing Antalirian. The medic gave report to Nine as Nan prepped for surgery.
“Ready sedation, Four!”
But Nan didn’t need a resume. The Honorable Galactic Collective Physician Nannette Bridges would never need another job. She was in this one for life.
Found It writing prompt entry
Write a story where your character found something that impacts his or her life. Maximum word count: 2,000 words.|
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