The Captive or The Cell, I’ve never been able to decide on either of those overly-simplistic titles, is a departure from The L Squad. It’s still about aliens and space travel, though it is not for children. Even though I’m trying to gear this blog toward children, as The L Squad and, my follow-up, Norman Normalson & The Normals are definitely for the middle-grade reader, I will not censor this story. I don’t believe in censorship and I will not condone it or acquiesce to it. There is only one word, used once to which parents might object, so fuck it. Oops, now twice. The overall tone and theme are also not kid-friendly. I think fans of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and the like will enjoy this story. It’s too short to really do anything with, and it’s been sitting on my computer for years, so I decided to post it here and share it with the blogosphere.
The Captive (or The Cell)
Hello? I have no way to know if this is working. My name is… names don’t matter in space. If you’re receiving this transmission my security code is 616-662-61312. I’ve been captured. I don’t know where I am or by whom I’ve been captured. I will transmit whenever I can for as long as I can. My only hope of refuge is that this transmission is receivable and traceable. I will attempt to transmit daily in short messages. If my captors learn that I’ve been able to retain my communicator, I will surely lose all hope of communication and rescue.
Hello? My security code is 616-662-61312. If this actually works whoever decided to implant communicators in the heads of space travelers is my personal hero. Of course, I’m a long way from home and probably from anyone who would receive and comprehend this message. In the thousand years or so since we’ve achieved interstellar space travel, only a handful of those who’ve gone missing has ever been found. Still, the only thing that can keep me sane is the hope, the minute possibility of communication and rescue. So I’ll keep talking, talking to no one in hopes that a transmission reaches someone. My captors… my captors are coming…
Hello? My security code is 616-662…ah, fuck it. If anyone can hear me, just talk to me. … That’s what I thought. This is stupid and pointless.
Hello out there. I’ve tried transmitting and I’ve tried not transmitting. At least transmitting grants me the illusion that I may reach someone. Or is it more of a delusion? Either way, it’s all I have, so here I go. I still have only vague images of the crash. No real memories. I have no idea how I got here. I have no idea what happened to the rest of the crew. I can’t imagine I’d be the only survivor. Out of a crew of hundreds, only a junior ensign survives? That makes no sense. There have to be others. There may be someone on the other side of this wall. Some may even have survived and escaped capture. If that’s true and you’re picking up this message, please come. You have to come save me… Us?
If there is a rescue mission being planned as I speak there are some things you should know. My captors are fairly large. They have extremely long appendages. Their technology is very primitive, with the exception of their weaponry. They seem to be a very war-like species. I imagine if they developed the technology to reach home… home… what a delightfully torturous thought. I wonder what my family’s doing. I wonder if they’re even aware I’m missing. It could take years for a distress call to even reach home.
Sorry about my last transmission. I kind of drifted off there. I was describing my captors in four words or less. Sorry. You know, like the game show. I guess it’s the simple things, the things we take for granted that one misses when it’s uncertain if I’ll ever get to even watch a game show again. There I go again letting my mind go drifting away on wonderful fantasies. Please allow me to recompose myself. I’ll be much more together for my next transmission.
I fear if my captors achieve the ability to reach our home world they could conquer us easily. Their weapons are advanced so far beyond ours. It could be fortunate that this primitive species seems so much more intent on creating weapons than advancing any other technology. Individually they seem pleasant enough. They often come and try to communicate with me, but the sounds they make are so bizarre I can’t imagine how they can be construed as words. Their tone is usually gentle and there seems to be a genuine attempt to communicate, but I can’t even emulate the sounds they’re making much less understand them. They also bring me some horribly offensive substances that I can only assume is supposed to be food. I try to consume some, but there is very little that my body will accept. I’m growing weaker all the time.
An escape pod. The captain shoved me into an escape pod. Completely against protocol. I’m just a junior ensign. I didn’t have the right to take one of the escape pods. The captain and senior officers get them first, and it works down the chain of command. Maybe the ship didn’t even crash land. Maybe it was dest… Aaahaaahah! I don’t want to think about that. It had to crash-land. It had to. The whole crew can’t be gone.
Is there anybody out there? There has to be somebody out there. I can’t be the only survivor. Somebody. Please. These walls. All I see is these walls. I’m imagining things. I see things that aren’t there. People. Creatures. Just… just things. Someone help me. Get me out of these walls.
I’m transmitting less and less. I feel like I’ve been asleep for days. I can’t even bring myself to get off this hard slab, with which I’ve been provided to use as a bed, anymore. I no longer see the purpose. I’ve never experienced such a feeling of solipsism. But I know… I know my only hope is to keep transmitting. That’s all I have left. All I can do is talk to space and hope, there’s that word again. That evil, teasing word. Hope. All I can do is hope someone hears me. Someone with the ability to save me from this nightmare, this endless nightmare. At least when I’m asleep I can dream of things… of things outside these walls.
We’ve finally had a breakthrough. My captors have brought me a substance, a sustenance that my body will consistently accept. The flavor is wretched, but I’ve been getting stronger each day. I don’t even know what a day is on this planet. From this room, I don’t know if it’s day or night. I don’t know if this planet has days or nights. I don’t know how long I’ve been in this room. Hours, days, weeks, months, years… I don’t know.
Some of my captors are kinder than others. I think. I’m not absolutely positive there’s more than a few. I’ve never seen more than four at a time and scarcely more than two. I honestly can’t tell them apart. They all look exactly the same to me. I can’t tell if one’s male or female. For all I know, they’re all asexual. They are the oddest looking aliens I have ever encountered or even imagined. Actually, wherever I am, I guess I’m actually the alien.
I’ve begun to consider a new possibility. What if my communicator was damaged in the crash? I know it turns on. It confirms that a transmission has been sent, but what if it’s not receiving? I’ve been discouraged lately, but this is my new hope. There could be someone on their way right now. I’m just not able to receive your transmission. If you’re coming, keep coming. I’ll be here waiting. That’s literally all I can do, sit here and wait.
I haven’t transmitted for a long while. Each time I transmit it fuels my hope and leads to a new, increased dejection when I receive nothing in return. The thought occurred to me that I should attempt to relay my security code again, as I haven’t for a very long time. I could be reaching someone I haven’t reached before. I’ve realized that the more time that passes the greater chance there is for a search party to arrive within a transmittable distance. This is a transmission from 616-… It’s been so long since I’ve abandoned such formality I can’t remember my security code. It’s 616-… aaahh… something.
Is there anybody out there? What if my transmissions aren’t going anywhere? What if this crude equipment, this archaic technology, is blocking my transmission? What if every transmission is merely a soliloquy and I’m just sitting in this room talking to myself? All this time, all this false hope keeping me going is only drawn out torment. No I… I can’t think that way. I have to keep going. I have to stay sane if I’m to survive. But why? What’s the point? No one can hear me. No one’s coming. I’m going to die here, in this cell.
I’ve been talking to myself, just to hear a voice, just to hear a language I can understand. I realized that I might as well be transmitting. That’s the only way anyone will ever hear me. That’s the only chance I have to be rescued. It’s my only chance for survival.
I’ve finally left my cell. It’s not exactly what I had in mind. My captors have taken me to another room and have begun experimenting on me. It’s only poking and prodding… so far. I don’t like this new development at all. This primitive species, with their primitive technology, aren’t capable of sophisticated testing, which can only result in barbaric procedures if they don’t find what they want soon. If there is a rescue operation underway I humbly request that it be expedited to the maximum capacity.
There haven’t been any experiments for some time. Perhaps it was an isolated incident. Or they’ve realized they don’t have the technology to pursue whatever goal they may have. Or maybe there are other survivors who are also imprisoned here. They could be conducting experiments on us one at a time.
I’m remembering more about the crash… or maybe it’s just a dream. I can’t tell the difference anymore. When fantasies are all one has to get by, it becomes difficult to discern fantasy from reality. The images in my head tell me that as soon as my escape pod hit this planet’s atmosphere it came crashing down. The gravitational pull on this planet must be very potent. I lost control and hit the ground faster than I could adjust. I do have images in my head of other escape pods, with perhaps more experienced pilots, defying the extreme gravity. I caught a brief glimpse of them on my way down. I don’t know if they landed or were able to escape the atmosphere before they were captured, but there have to be other survivors. The escape pods wouldn’t take them far, so they have to be here, on this planet. You have to be here. Someone has to be able to hear me.
They’ve taken me for more tests. This time they extracted bodily fluids. The ordeal has left me feeling very weak.
I’ve been thinking, trying to remember, and there’s been one thing that’s stood out for me. How did I know about their weapons? What gave me the idea their weapons were so advanced and powerful? The ship didn’t crash. We were attacked. The ship approached the planet and was settling into orbit. We were preparing to do a detailed scan of the planet before sending a team down for further study. Before we could start the scan we were attacked from the planet. They didn’t send ships to attack. They attacked directly from the planet.
I’ve been taken for more tests. I’m no longer convinced that these are actual tests. They’ve begun to lean much more toward torture than strictly scientific experiments. I can’t be sure what intentions they have. Their barbarism could be due to their crude methods and technology or it could just be torture for the sake of torture. They could be trying to extract information, but we’ve formed no mode of communication. Perhaps, they think I’m intentionally deceiving them into thinking I can’t communicate with them. Whatever their intentions I can’t take much more.
I’m now living in a constant state of fear. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. Every time one of my captors comes into the room I cringe and cower. Each time I’ve been taken for experiments or torture has been worse than the previous. I can’t imagine the horrors of which these creatures are capable.
There were other survivors. I’ve seen them. I’ve seen their bodies. They were mutilated and displayed in cases. Their experiments are brutal. I’ve heard screams from other rooms. They were dissected alive. I’ve seen my future. It will not be a desirable end. I fear this will be my final transmission. Don’t come here. Please, do not come here. Stay away. Stay far, far away. Our people must never again visit Earth.