Excerpt from The Mating Games Series:
My name is Luna. Yes, I know. You can blame my parents for that one. My mother was born on the day that the first man landed on the moon and she’d always said that she should have been called Lunar. So she decided to inflict the name on me instead. Fortunately, my father persuaded her to drop the ‘r’ although Luna was a bad enough name to carry through kindergarten, middle school and high school.
My name wasn’t such a big deal by the time I got to college, although the fact that I was studying Astronomy did lead to a few predictable conversations, as well as more than a few suggestions that I really should be going into space.
I actually had no ambitions to be an astronaut, none at all. I’ve always been a kind of a geek, self-conscious, skinny and not at all athletic. People have always said I was attractive, that I should be out at parties and clubs, but I always hated that kind of thing. I mean, I got that I might be kind of attractive, but I wanted people to engage with my brain, not with my body.
Of course, what you want in life and what you actually get are two different things, and sometimes life can throw you into a complete spin so that you no longer know what is up or what is down and you come out of it a completely different person.
My life changed forever one night in July. I was living in the city, in a crappy apartment that I could only afford by working two jobs. Turns out that astronomy is not a particularly lucrative field and as there wasn’t much money in my family, if I was going to get my post grad qualifications, I would have to pay for it myself. So I took a job as a receptionist at a local law firm and, because I thought it might help me to be more self-confident, I also took a bar job.
Both jobs turned out to require the same qualities; that is, the ability to stay composed while being groped, leered at and generally treated as a sex object. For example, on my second day at the law firm, one of the partners called me into his office to tell me that my skirts were too long and that as the firm was known for the attractiveness of its female employees, I would be required to dress a little more in keeping with the company’s needs.
Naturally, I told him where to go. I gave the same response to the guy at the bar who kept calling me sexy and who tried to slide his hand up my skirt when I walked past. Like most women, I had long ago had to learn how to fend off men who didn’t know how to behave, but some nights, after a day spent pulling the hem of my skirt down at the office and dodging the pinching, groping and leering of the more revolting men at the bar, I felt as though I had been in a physical endurance race or been forced to climb Everest– in high heels and a short skirt.
It was on one of those nights that my life changed completely. I got back to my apartment around midnight after my shift at the bar and I was totally drained. But I still had to send some coursework through so I slipped out of my skirt and top, tied a silk robe around me and slumped down in front of my battered old laptop.
As I waited for it to boot up I noticed something strange. The usual loading screen had been replaced with rapidly scrolling bright blue lines. I peered more closely at the lines. It seemed to be a kind of computer code, but I’d never come across it before and none of the characters were familiar either. It was like a completely different script and language. Abruptly, the scrolling lines stopped, my laptop gave out a prolonged beep and then shut down.
I jabbed at the on button. Nothing happened. I shook the machine, and cursed. That didn’t work either. I was too tired to figure out what was going on so resolved to sort it out the next day, slipped out of my robe and collapsed onto my bed, falling asleep almost instantly.
* * * *
I woke feeling dizzy and disorientated. It was still dark but when I turned to look for my bedside clock I couldn’t see it, which didn’t make any sense. It also made no sense that the crack in my apartment ceiling was much bigger than usual. I wondered, still sleepy, whether I should do the earthquake drill we’d learned in school, but I couldn’t remember what it involved and I was pretty sure that the city was nowhere near any fault lines.
Suddenly a bright blue light blazed above me. I covered my eyes and tried to turn away and that’s when I saw my bed above five foot below me. I was floating in mid-air!
I screamed and tried to grab onto the wall but I was too far away. It made no sense at all but it wasn’t a dream because I could feel the cold air on my bare legs and I could hear the familiar noise of traffic outside and a distant siren. There was nothing there to hold me up, yet it felt as though I was being held in some kind of energy field, that was as strong as the repelling force of two magnets. And I was moving up, imperceptibly, but definitely, closer to the ceiling.
By now my screams had subsided into hysterical moans of fear and terror. As I tried to orientate myself, the blue light grew more intense and I could hear the humming of some kind of machine. The light was so bright by this time that I couldn’t even shut it out with both my hands and the humming grew so loud that when I opened my mouth to scream I couldn’t make myself heard. As the light surrounded me, enclosing me so that I could no longer see the ceiling or the walls of my apartment, a wave of blackness passed over me.
* * * *
The next time I woke all I could see was white. It wasn’t the same burning white that had swallowed me up in my apartment, but it was all around me. I felt groggy and tried to prop myself up on my elbows, though it took me three attempts.
Where was I? It was the whitest room I had ever seen. There was no recognizable furniture, no windows and I couldn’t even see a door. I realized that I could feel some sort of fabric against my skin. I looked down to see that I was wearing a short white gown made out of a kind of plastic, like a hospital garment, but smoother, and without fastenings.
“Hi,” said a soft voice. Startled, I turned to my right. The room had another bed like mine and on it a slender blonde girl was reclining. She wore the same kind of gown as me, though she seemed considerably more relaxed.
“Hi…” I said, uncertainly. “Who are you? And where am I?”
“Well,” she said, swinging her bare legs off the bed, “I’m Adira. And where you are? Hard to explain really. But I can tell you one thing, you aren’t on earth any more.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“What’s your name?”
“Luna,” I said, in a daze.
“Really?” She laughed. “Well that’s just perfect. Maybe you’re in the right place.”
“But what kind of place? Where are we?”
“Do you believe in aliens,” said Adira, looking at me intently.
“No. I mean, I believe that it is possible that they exist, maybe even likely given the number of star systems in the…”
I noticed that Adira was looking at me strangely.
“I’m an astronomer,” I explained.
“Seriously?” She looked at me skeptically. “An astronomer named Luna?”
“I can’t help my name,” I said. “
“I guess not. Well Luna, I take it that you’ve never met an alien?”
“No, of course not,” I replied.
At that moment there was a strange shushing sound followed by a high pitched whine and a series of bleeps. I looked around the room to see where it was coming from.
“Well,” said Adira, “You’re about to.”
At that moment, directly ahead of me the wall appeared to open up. Into the room stepped the strangest creature I had ever seen. It was at least seven foot tall, completely blue, with a prominent forehead and a small mouth. It was wearing a white tunic that reached to the floor like a long old fashioned surgeon’s gown. In its hand, it held a wand-like implement that sparked and crackled with a peculiar blue glow.
I saw Adira tense up, hitching her legs up to her body and backing against the wall as far as she could. But the creature wasn’t looking for her. It was coming straight at me. It reached the end of the bed and pointed a long, blue, nail-less finger at me.
“You have to go with it,” said Adira, her voice edged with fear.
“What? No way.”
“Whatever you do, don’t resist,” she implored me.
“Why? I’m not going anywhere,” I said. A second later the creature lifted up its wand and a blot of blue light filled my senses. Pain creased me up, searing through my core as though I had been electrocuted. Sweating and gasping, I doubled up on the bed. I desperately rolled towards the edge, falling off it and feeling my bare feet hit the smooth floor. Standing slow, I saw the creature pointing at the door.
“Where is it taking me?” I begged of Adira. But she had buried her head in her hands and turned away. I saw the creature lift its wand again and squealed, hurrying to the door.