By Adam Mac
Claustrophobius kept returning to the hatch door to see if it was still locked tight. He had managed to slip away and find a sealed compartment on one of the many levels of the container ship, but not before he had witnessed the slaughter of his mates.
He was outnumbered. Before finding his hideaway, he’d seen more than 200 of them in one of the loading docks. He couldn’t outlast them all. Besides, he needed food. He was becoming weak from hunger—his last food coming more than a day ago. For now, the air supply was adequate, but they’d soon cut that off. They couldn't reach him by climbing through the vent—it was too small here—but they could block the air flow.
They would be after him. He had been seen, and he knew they wouldn’t give up until he, the last of his kind, had been exterminated and his remains vented into outer space, the ultimate act of contempt among space mariners.
He couldn’t surrender. They didn’t take prisoners, and his race never surrendered. He had to try to take as many as he could with him, but he was no weapons expert and improvisation was not his strength. Nevertheless, with some recollection of his combat training in the officers' academy, he rigged a booby trap using his laser gun. When detonated the full force of the explosion would tear apart every living thing in the compartment. Crude, but—
Outside, he heard voices. Closer to the door he was able to make out the words. Sounded like English—North American accents. Languages were his forte, and he knew over 40 human languages and dialects. It was ironic that English would be the last language he’d ever hear.
“Bring the cuttin torch. Soon as we cut the openin, toss in the gas canisters. We want im alive. Museum won’t pay for another corpse.”
“And no mutilations. Lost my own—brother-in-law and best friend—but it ain't gonna bring im back.”
“But captain. One of them slimy creachers, he literally ripped my boy limb from limb and ate im up like he was a Christmas goose.”
“Ever tried one of them? Me and Hank lit one up yesterday. Tastes like chicken, and I've worked up an appetite.”
“Men, trust me. What we've got planned for this one is worse than any torture or death you could imagine. Now, stand back.”
Claustrophobius didn't blink. He never blinked, but his lizard tongue darted back and forth as he savoured the thought of leaving them a corpse instead of a captive and three or four fewer English speakers.
- - -
The author teaches ESL and occasionally writes for his dark half.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
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