Crisp air fills my nostrils and I open my eyes to whiteness. Temporarily blinded by the sun overhead, I rub the dust and grime from my eyes, feel the dryness in my nose and on my lips as I look around to gather my bearings. The flat, parched desert expands all around me, broken up here and there by scrubby bushes and plants.
Vertigo overwhelms me. I realize I don’t know how I got here, nor where here is. Blood racing through my veins, I shield my eyes from the sun and look out at the horizon. Distant peaks line the very edge of my vision, but before that, nothing. I begin to notice the sting of the sun on my skin. My heart rate increases and I can’t seem to get enough air. I stagger a few steps before my vision is clouded. I’m panting, taking deep, ragged breaths. My stomach lurches. My head spins. I feel bile at the back of my throat, anxiety gripping me.
A thud, the sound of my head hitting stone, but I don’t feel it. White.
Voices speak in a language I don’t understand. I feel their slimy fingers prodding my body. A jolt, like an electric current, my body is frozen. Cold metal under my naked body. A sharp pain below my collarbone, then numbness. The throb of my heartbeat in my ears. My arm grows warm as some fluid pulses into it. Then, white.
I’m in the desert. The sky overhead is a pale, unchanging blue. I walk toward the only feature I can make out, mountains in the distance. The only sound is the crunch of each step. I feel a pinprick in my arm, I look and there’s
— a tube sticking out, black fluid oozing into my vein —
a dark spiderweb pattern extending along the inside of my arm from the elbow. I reach over with my other hand to touch it, but feel empty air. I start to gasp again. My throat feels raw. My eyes search for landmarks but there’s
— a voice, guttural and alien —
nothing. My vision clouds again and
Another pulse rips my body. My muscles tense. I struggle to open my eyes but they seem sewn shut.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
A dark shape looms in front of me. My pulse hammers in my ears. A fork of lightning momentarily makes the world go white.
Liquid encases my body. For a moment, I think I’m still experiencing vertigo when I realize my feet aren’t touching solid ground. My eyes still won’t open. For a moment, I feel like the walls are closing in on me. The reality is worse.
The figure appears in front of me, hooded and dark against the background. The face…I can’t make out the face. If I just reach out, pull the hood back…
I try to scream and my mouth fills with goo.
A horrible mouth purses its toothless lips. Large insectoid eyes examine me. A hand reaches out, gray and lizardlike. It grips my arm.
I’m pinned down to the table. Cold metal supporting my naked body.
White light. Vertigo. So much empty desert disappears below me.