Stink Bug – Chapter 30

When I awoke again, I was determined to have a look around. The greys (which I called them for lack of a better word) seemed to want to help me, but I couldn’t help but think they meant to keep me prisoner. Plus, I was worried about V’x. She wasn’t a vicious animal, as the greys thought. She was a good… person. And I cared about her.

I stared up at the ceiling for a moment or two, listening for any tell-tale signs that the greys were nearby or that V’x was awake. I heard the wheezing puff of V’x’s breath, and felt relieved. I didn’t hear anything else.

I rolled my head from side to side, then tried to move my arms. Everything was moving now, unlike when I had first awaken in this place. There were no new sounds. The greys were missing. I strained to sit up, and managed to get myself up onto an elbow. The room was stark white, with multiple cabinets and empty counter tops.

In the corner was a large cage in which V’x sat, her beak tucked under her one unmangled wing. She looked well enough, but to see her sitting in a cage made me sad.

“Vix,” I said quietly. She didn’t stir. I tried again a little louder. “Vix!” She stirred. “Vix! Are you all right?”

V’x looked up at me. She had some fresh cuts across her nose. She looked a me in a daze. “Nate?”

“Yes. Vix, are you ok?”

She looked around slowly. “What will they do to us, Nate?” She trilled quietly and hung her head.

“It’ll be ok Vix. It’ll be all right.”

“They want to hurt us.”

“I don’t think so. I don’t think they know what they’ve done.”

“I am so frightened.”

“Listen to me, Vix. They are afraid of you. They think you will hurt them. Don’t.”

“But they want to hurt us.”

“I don’t think so Vix. But they don’t understand. I will—. I can communicate with them. I will try to make them understand.”

“I am so scared.” Vix tucked her beak under her wing again. “They will hurt me.”

“Have they hurt you?”

“They poke me,” V’x said. “They make me hurt.”

I forced myself to sit up. My shoulder hurt terribly. “They don’t know what they’ve done.” I was naked. I wondered where my clothes had gone. “They have no idea.”

“Help me,” V’x muttered from under her wing. “Please help.”

I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and hopped off. My legs buckled immediately, and I found myself sprawled out on the floor. I was trying to get to my knees when a door opened and several greys rushed in. They were silent, until the moment they touched me.

‘What are you doing?’ one asked.

‘You must stay in bed,’ said another.

“I’m worried about my friend,” I said.

‘Let us help you lay back down,’ the first said.

The greys pulled me up and laid me back upon the bed. I tried to sit up, but they were adamant that I lay down.

‘Please rest,’ one said.

I grabbed a hand that was pushing me down by the chest. “Please listen to me,” I said. “Please.”

The act terrified the greys, and there was suddenly a cacophony of terrifying sounds in my head, though nothing came to my ears. I released the hand. “Please. I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you.”

The panic died down.

“I’m really sorry,” I repeated. “I’m just worried about my friend.”

A grey stepped forward and looked down at him. ‘We do not want attacks.’

“I was just trying to get your attention,” I said. “Maybe grabbing wasn’t the right thing to do.”

‘We do not do such things.’

I stared up at the grey’s dark eyes. I wished I could communicate more directly. I was scared. I was worried for V’x. I wanted to go home.

The grey cocked its head. ‘I do not understand.’

“What?”

Another grey stepped closer. ‘We do not understand.’

“Understand what?”

‘How do you speak with it?’

‘It is so dangerous. How are you not killed?’

‘How can it feel?’

“Whoa! You’re talking about V’x? And the other Vr’ak’l? They’re just like us.”

‘No. They are not.’

“No no no. They are the same. They feel the same. They just look different.” I looked one grey square in the eyes. “She is so frightened. You don’t mean to hurt her do you?”

The greys conferred. They looked at V’x cowering in her cage, then conferred some more. The discussion died down and they turned back to me.

‘We do not wish to hurt her or her kind. Nor do we wish to hurt you. We are uncertain.’

“I can talk to them and to you. There is a failure here, I think we can agree.”

‘Yes.’ All the greys agreed.

“She shouldn’t be in a cage any more than I should be.”

‘But she is dangerous.’

“No more dangerous than me or you. Yes, she has sharp claws. She doesn’t have to use them.”

‘She can control them?’

“They’re her’s to control. She only uses them when she thinks she has to. Does she have to use them?”

‘We do not wish to be hurt.’

I propped myself back up on my elbow. The grey’s moved back, startled by my movement. “Vix,” I said. “Vix, look up.”

V’x complied slowly. She was panting.

I looked at the nearest grey. “See? She is terrified of you.”

‘What do we do?’

“Vix? They are as scared of you as you are of them.”

Vix puffed her feathers. “What will they do?”

“I don’t know. Probably nothing, if we can convince them that you won’t scratch them to bits with your claws.”

V’x looked at her talons. She strummed them on the ground, eliciting fear from the greys.

“Oh yeah. They don’t like that,” I said.

“They are my talons. I need them,” V’x said.

‘They are so dangerous’ a grey said. ‘Cut us so easily.’ Visions of the soft flesh of the greys being torn open filled my head.

“It’s too easy to hurt them with those. I think that’s the main problem. And your beak is sharp.”

“I cannot blunt them. I need them.”

I looked at the grey. “I think we all just need to take a leap of faith and trust each other, despite the risks.”

 

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