Foreign Soil, by Andy Goldman
Myrella regains control over her body and flings herself out of the crystal coffin that has been her prison. She winds up on her hands and knees, retching up some pearlescent pink goo onto a grated floor. Around her, myriad voices moan and scream and cry out in confusion. She squints against the medicinal white light that is flooding the chamber and sniffs the air.
Food. She is surrounded by it, and the hunger burns a raw hole in her gut. She crawls like a sick baby from between her coffin and the next and emerges next to a middle-aged man who is likewise on his hands and knees, dry-heaving . He looks up and sees Myrella pulling herself toward him.
“Are you okay? Where the hell are we?” he asks.
Myrella opens her mouth as if to reply but the look on the man’s face shows that he does not like the answer. He screams briefly as she collapses onto him and plunges her fangs into his waiting flesh.
Usually she is a dainty drinker, two fang holes on an otherwise bloodless and unmolested corpse. Now she gnaws at his skin, bursting the blood vessels beneath the surface and lapping at his blood like a wild animal. It is all she can do to not howl in satisfaction when she is done.
Strengthened but still ravenous, she stands up and takes in the room. It is a massive warehouse filled with row upon row of crystal coffins. Everywhere she looks she sees mewling, sobbing humans staggering about, hugging each other, praying, mumbling, fighting and generally looking as lost and confused as she feels.
She strides aimlessly amidst the chaos, catching up whatever food crosses her path. With each long drink her strength and awareness return. After a baker’s dozen of humans, she comes to a stop, her face a red mask, and takes a deep and contented breath. It feels so much better to be full, it almost makes up for how wretchedly exhausted she feels. Almost.
If the people around her were confused and scared before they witnessed her feeding, now they are positively horrified. They push and shove to get away from her, but in the next instant, the tide shifts. The same people who sought to flee Myrella now run toward and past her, heedless of any danger she poses to them. Thinking that perhaps there is another vampire here, Myrella leaps up into the latticework of beams that criss-crosses the ceiling and takes a look. From her perch, she can see thousands of coffins identical to hers filling the cavernous chamber. She also sees the source of the mortals’ fear. It’s not another vampire, not even something remotely human.
Giant, slug-like creatures move amongst the humans, zapping them with three-foot-long electric prods, herding them toward a hallway at one end of the room. They have swiveling eye-stalks and multiple pseudopodia, and they bark orders in some unknown language. Resistance is met with repeated use of the zap-stick, which jolts but doesn’t kill.
Whether out of some hidden altruistic streak or because the slugs are taking away her food supply, Myrella curses at the sight. She races through the jungle of beams until she is above the nearest slug creature, and plummets feet-first out of the girders and onto its fleshy, corpulent mass. It explodes with a satisfying splat and she stands in the epicenter of its viscera. Slugs and humans alike stop and turn to see what just happened.
“Damn straight,” a young man says. He picks up the slug’s prod and waves it in the air. The crowd breaks into a weak cheer.
Surprised, Myrella basks in the adoration for a second. These are humans, they are food. But she was human once, too. Better to stand with them than these aliens.
She bares her teeth and turns in a slow circle, her eyes sunken, her hair a scraggly mess. People gasp and back away, but the young man stands his ground, holding his stolen weapon at ready. He eyes her warily, smiles.
“Let’s kill some slugs,” he says.
She smiles back. This one has possibilities. “Yes, let’s. I’m Myrella, by the way.”
Their flirtation ends when more slugs arrive and it is all Myrella can do to hold her own against the massive brutes. She becomes a blur of twisting kicks, raking fingers, and powerhouse punches that sink deep into slug flesh. The wave of slugs seems never-ending and Myrella can barely hold herself up after a few minutes of fighting. She clutches at her latest attacker and sinks her teeth into its flesh, to no avail.
Its blood is bitter and makes her gag, and while she is trying to bite it, it manages to bring its zapper to bear against her repeatedly. She sags to the floor and the slug holds the prod vertically above her chest, ready to impale her, and for a moment she fears death from this ersatz stake. Dylan appears and plunges his stolen zapper into the slug’s mouth. He triggers it again and again until the slug collapses backward with a moist squelch.
Myrella tugs at his leg and he looks down at her.
“Are you okay?” he asks, a rakish grin on his face.
“I will be,” she says, and yanks his feet out from under him.
He crashes to the grating beside her and she makes quick work of him.
There, all better again.
And so it goes until the room has been cleared of aliens. Dozens of humans are killed by the slugs in the chaos, and at least eight more fall prey to Myrella’s voracious appetite, but when the ichor settles, there are still hundreds of liberated humans in the room, many armed with their kidnapper’s weapons.
Myrella steps onto one of the glass coffins and addresses the crowd:
“I won’t pretend this partnership is going to last forever, but until we figure out what’s going on, I think we have to work together.”
An older man, drenched in slug slime, steps forward and stabs his finger at her.
“My son’s blood isn’t even dry on your lips and you want to work together? You go to hell! I’ll take my chances with the aliens.”
“You’re right,” she tells him, looking down her nose at him. “I killed your son, because I had to. Because if we stand a chance of getting out of here, I need to be strong. I’ll need to feed. But I’m in control now, I promise. I’ll only take what I need. I won’t kill and I won’t turn you.
“I’m your best chance. Are you with me?” she asks the crowd at large, eliciting a mixed response of cheers and boos.
The old man looks up at her, despair and determination etched on his face. Myrella can tell that he has somehow become the pivot on which the crowd’s decision will turn. She jumps off of the coffin and lands in front of him. To his credit, he stands his ground.
“You may think me a foul demon,” she whispers. “Because I murdered your boy. But don’t let your grief condemn these people to whatever fate the aliens have in store for them.”
He fumes silently, teeth clenched, tears cleaving a path through the grime on his face.
He says, “So we work together. We kill all the aliens and figure out how to turn this ship around. But when it’s just you and us left, there’s going to be a reckoning.”
“We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. First, we have slugs to crush. Agreed?”
The old man stares her down, his eyes bright flames, and then turns to the massed crowd behind him.
“I can’t speak for all of you, but—”
Myrella snaps his neck, lets him drop to the floor, and steps over him.
“I don’t respond well to threats. Now does anyone else want to discuss this all day, or should we go kick some slug ass?”
The crowd answers with silence and clears a path to the hallway that the slugs came through. Myrella accepts this as agreement and strides through them.
“Anyway, these slugs aren’t so tough. We should be able to clear them out in … no … time.”
She stops. More aliens pour out of the hallway, blocking it. These aren’t slugs, though. They look like seven-foot tall, hairy T-Rexes on steroids, and they are armed with rifles as tall as they are with wicked curved bayonets on either end.
Myrella blows some hair out of her eyes and crouches down, ready to pounce.
Slugs, dinosaurs? Whatever. She’ll make all these alien bastards pay for the mistake of abducting her. And if a few humans have to be sacrificed during the battle and the journey home? Well, no one ever said revenge was easy.