Chapter Four: Shots in the Dark
Gil looked up at the sliding hatch at the top of the small staircase in the exit chamber. He’d checked on Korben when he turned around in the cockpit, and again when he reached the opening behind him. Though Korben’s body had certainly moved since Gil’s improvised bomb went off, he attributed that to the motion of the ship. The alien was breathing, but was situated in such an uncomfortable position that Gil still figured Korben hadn’t yet come to.
Now, the door to the outside world was finally in front of him, and for the first time since his abduction, he thought of his home. He longed to settle into his couch—to lay in his bed and use his shower. He longed to grill up a real meal and enjoy a cold beer in any of the various glasses he’d procured from defunct bars.
But as he set his foot on the first step, he hesitated. He put both feet back on the floor and turned around.
Focusing his eyes on Korben again, Gil stared for nearly a full minute. When he felt confident the alien was absolutely unconscious, he walked forward until he was back in the corridor and the exit chamber silently slid shut behind him. With his eyes trained on Korben’s body, he quickly and quietly sidestepped to his left until he reached the area outside the kitchen. There was no view into the center room between the two areas, so Gil held his breath until he made it to the kitchen and could see the tall alien’s body again.
He spun around and used his bloody hand to enter the chamber, and once inside, retrieved two of the odd drinking glasses. He had to force them out of the snug containers which surely kept them from shattering against the wall each time the ship moved. The detour was reckless—or, really, stupid—but he couldn’t help it. What better example of a failed startup could there possibly be than this? How could he resist nabbing two of the strange cups to add to his eclectic collection at home?
But when he had the cups in hand, Gil pivoted on his heel and had to bite back a scream. He was just here, he thought. Had to be less than a minute!
The spot where Korben lay just a moment before was now empty, occupied only by shards of glass and a smear of green-grey blood. There were no bloody footsteps to indicate a path, but the creatures weren’t exactly brimming with blood. Gil listened hard for footsteps, but the only sound in the entire ship was the hum of the spinning disc. He didn’t smell anything either. Only the planked walls obscuring the ship’s chambers could be seen from side to side, but dead ahead, Gil saw the tall chair in the center of the open cockpit.
He whirled around, pressed his back against the inner wall of the corridor, and clung to the edge of the open doorway. In front of him, the kitchen’s walls silently slid shut. He could now see the cockpit again through the reflection of the kitchen’s porthole. Why didn’t I just leave? he wondered. Why did I need these stupid cups? From the reflection, Gil saw a weary Korben stagger into view in the distance. The alien was in the cockpit on the opposite end of the ship with one huge hand resting against the tall chair for balance. Gil involuntarily held his breath when Korben stopped and glanced into the center room, hoping it hadn’t seen the kitchen’s planked doors close. Okay, Gil, he coached himself, he’s gotta be at least forty feet away from you. He looks hurt bad, so if you keep some distance between the two of you, you can quickly get to the exit chamber, activate the door, open the hatch, and hop out. Then you’ll be gone before he can get to you. You can do this. You can do this.
Gil had a feeling Korben might search the ship to look for him, but the alien had apparently made up its mind that Gil had already escaped. Korben sauntered around to the front of the chair and sat down. Gil tucked the two glasses into the crook of his arm, and tip toed the twenty feet to the space outside the exit chamber. He held his breath again, and the ship was so quiet that he literally heard pins drop—it was Korben, sitting in the tall chair, plucking the shards from his punctured body and dropping them onto the floor.
Gil wiped his face, lunged forward, and used his bloody hand to get the door open. He ran forward as the planks spread apart and grabbed one of the clear spears without waiting to see whether or not Korben noticed. As he ascended the small staircase and gripped the handle of the sliding door, he began to hear footsteps—first slow and far away, then heavy, fast, and loud.
Gil pulled the handle to the right, and was simultaneously pleased the door was not locked or secured in any way, and horrified that he could hardly make it budge. The damn thing was heavy. He immediately flew into a panic, loudly jerking the door with reckless abandon—there was no point in sneaking around now. When a thin beam of sunlight finally penetrated the crack he’d worked open, he poked the spear out and used it as a lever to force a foot of space. The warm sunlight fell on his face and he burst into tears. He quickly grabbed the cups with the fingers of his right hand and chucked them out through the opening, hoping they’d land on something soft. He finally used both hands to force the levered door open, propped the spear in the door jam, and ran up the stairs as the footsteps behind him broke into a sprint.