An abducted cop and a gladiator prisoner must learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts…to escape their alien captors.
If you enjoy alien abduction science fiction romance, then visit the blog every Wednesday for another exciting chapter from CAPTIVE. If you've found this free read for the first time, you can catch up on the first 4 installments by following these links. Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four.
“Aye,” a deep, male voice said. “Ye best fetch her a drink.” Soft footsteps retreated, yet a presence remained at her side. “Lass, can ye hear me?”
Celtic aliens? She squeezed her eyes tight, not wanting to confront another unknown. Liquid splashed into a glass. The footsteps returned. “Dinna be afraid,” the brogue voice said.
Mentally cursing her curious nature, she peeked with one eye. Two smiling faces—both human—hovered above her. The girl appeared to be about her age. The man had graying temples and looked old enough to be the girl’s father.
Opening the other eye, Addy tried sitting up, but the movement made her head pound and vision blur. Not again. She collapsed back into the soft cushions of a couch. “What happened?” she croaked.
“I’ll explain everything to ye in due time. But first, drink.” As the man helped her to sit, she noticed the white T-shirt and jean shorts she wore. They probably belonged to the girl. She didn’t want to know who dressed her.
The girl placed a cup in Addy’s hands.
Neither one seemed to take offense when, instead of drinking, she glanced around the room. Three doors stood on the wall behind them. Two of which led into smaller rooms. The center door was shut. A knickknack-cluttered end table and a wingback chair sat to the right of her couch. To the left were an oak sideboard, a hutch, and a knee-high cherrywood Japanese-style table with mismatched pillows stacked neatly beneath it. Daylight streamed into the ten-by-twenty-foot room through an entire wall made of glass. About fifty yards of manicured lawn lay between the wall and a wooded area.
A small black cylinder rested on its side, wedged within the glass wall a little higher than doorknob height. The base of the cylinder appeared about the size of a silver dollar. What were the chances it was a button for opening a door? “Where am I?” Addy tried getting the words past her dry throat.
“Ye best drink, lass. It will help ye get yer voice back.”
Addy brought the cup to her nose and sniffed. “Orange juice?”
The other aroma smelled like some kind of alcohol. “What else is in this?”
“Just a wee bit of the malt.”
The girl turned to him. “You spiked our juice?”
“Well, I had to make it palatable.”
“Who are you two?” Were they with the cult or with the prisoners...or with the aliens?
“The name’s Duncan. This lovely lass is my daughter, Tess.” He flashed Addy a cheerful smile that made his warm, brown eyes twinkle. The lines around them couldn’t hide the kindness radiating from him. He appeared to be in his late fifties and attractive for an older guy. Or maybe she was a sucker for the accent.
Though he appeared to be a big man, she couldn't tell whether he were stout or muscular as his eggplant-colored Charles Dickens–like cloak hid his body.
Where Duncan had a big presence, Tess appeared quite the opposite. She had a frail look to her: small-boned, thin, and pale enough to see the dark blue veins under the sheer skin of her neck. Her gray eyes were the color of silver moss and a beautiful contrast to her fiery red hair. Like her, Tess wore jean shorts and a white T-shirt.
“I guess ye can call us the welcoming committee,” Duncan said.
Addy shifted on the couch. “Where am I? What were those creatures? What happened to Max?”
“Max?” Tess glanced at her father.
“Ye mean the gladiator, Max?”
“I don’t know. He’s a big guy with big muscles, dark hair, and the greenest colored contacts I’ve ever seen.”
“Aye. She’s met Max.”
“I didn’t just meet him. I was trapped in a room with him.”
“I dinna understand. Ye’ve been to a breeding box without going to the Yard first? Hmm.”
Addy sipped her drink—
“Och, well, ye must be ovulating.”
—and spewed the juice on Duncan. “Does anyone here, besides me, feel uncomfortable discussing my biological clock?”
“Settle down, settle down.” He used his cloak to wipe the droplets from his face. “Usually they bring ye new ones to the Yard first to get acclimated. Ye need to understand how things work here.”
“Where is here? What happened to me?”
“I dinna ken, lass. What do ye remember?” Duncan relaxed in the wingback chair while she explained about the forest fire, waking up in the box and not remembering how she got there, what Max said about the baby-making cult, his attack, his breakdown, the monstrous creatures, and getting drugged.
When she finished, Duncan rubbed a bushy eyebrow, ambled to the sideboard, and poured a shot of amber liquid. “Well, lassie. That’s quite an incredible tale.”
She slumped. What possessed her to spill her guts to strangers? She knew better than to trust anyone, especially with a crazy story. He must think her a lunatic talking about baby-selling cults and aliens.
“However, ye haven’t been told the truth. This isn’t a cult. It’s a human breeding program.”
“On the planet Hyborea.” Duncan turned with a proud smile and outstretched arms. “Welcome to HuBReC!”
Did he believe her about the creatures or was he mocking her? Maybe she could make a run for it. If the black button didn’t open a door in the wall, she could smash the glass and escape. She inched to the edge of the couch. Duncan appeared too old to catch her, and Tess definitely wasn’t athletic-looking.
“I know it’s a big shock.” Tess took Addy’s hand and patted it. “But you take all the time you need to come to terms with it. You should rest. We’ll explain more later.”
“No.” Addy jerked her hand away. “You’ll explain now.”
Tess gave her father a questioning look. He nodded before downing his drink. “HuBReC,” Tess said, “is an acronym for Human Breeding and Research Center.”
“You mean they breed human’s for f-foo—” She couldn’t say the word.
Tess laughed. “They don’t eat us, silly. We’re their pets.”
Tess and Duncan had to be lying. But hadn’t she witnessed the proof? Heck, an alien cradled her in its arms, for Pete’s sake. Who could argue with that? She touched her choker, remembering Max’s words. It’s how they keep us in line.
Legs itching to run, she bolted to the glass, slapped the button, and was instantly rewarded with white fog. A quick leap through it, and she landed on the grass outside. Duncan and Tess’s voices faded as the tree line grew near. She raced into the cover of the woods, but didn’t go far before resting against a maple tree trunk to get her bearings. Birds chirped overhead. Rushing water splashed in the distance. Forest surrounded her. Where should she go?
Her new footwear resembled moccasins. Almost weightless, they formed perfectly to her feet, bending with them when she flexed and circled her ankles, cushioning her like socks but with thin, hard, rubberlike soles that didn’t allow her to feel rocks.
“Addy. Addy.” Duncan and Tess’s voices grew louder.
Little hairs on her neck prickled. Her heart pounded from more than the exertion of the sprint. How did they know her name? She didn’t tell them or Max.
She took off toward the sound of the waterfall, easily hurdling downed logs in her path in her high-tech shoes. A clearing peaked through the trees up ahead. She slowed her pace, making her way to the forest’s edge. Laughter, splashing, and the slapping water filled the air. She ducked behind the trees.
Facing away from Addy, the woman in the pool reached to catch a naked little boy as he jumped. Squeals of delight followed his splash, and the woman set him on the grassy edge to do it again.
How could they seem happy and carefree? They were captives on an alien planet.
“That’s a bathing pool,” Duncan said when he caught up to her. His breaths were labored. “The Hyboreans built it. The water is recycled, filtered, and completely separate from our drinking water.”
That explained how water seemingly coming from nowhere cascaded over a fifteen-foot-tall rock pile into a pool with no stream or visible outlet for overflow.
The woman stepped out of the pool naked and very pregnant. Addy’s stomach lurched, remembering her purpose on this planet. Another urge to run away twitched her leg muscles, but where could she go? Not back the way she came. Not ahead to the bathing pool. Not toward Duncan.
She turned right, darted around trees, shoved branches out of her way, and tried keeping an even pace. Who knew how long she’d have to run before getting out of this nightmare. She hurdled brush and smacked full force into a solid dead end before landing on her back, gasping for breath. Pain stung her hands, chest, cheeks, and back.
What did she crash into, a tree trunk?
When her wind returned, she got to her feet and reached into the brush. The vegetation appeared three-dimensional as it waved in the breeze, but her hand moved through it like a ghost.
“A hologram,” she whispered in awe. It had camouflaged a long wall that continued in both directions as far as she could see and climbed upward until it touched the clouds.
She turned left and jogged alongside it for quite some time, hoping to find a way around, but another holographic camouflaged wall crushed her hopes. She was stuck in a corner. What was this place? Chills crept down her back.
Turning left again, she walked alongside the barricade until the woods converged with a large meadow where dozens of bare-chested men of different skin tones and races trained. Some of them fought hand-to-hand. Some fought with wooden swords.
An enormous, blond-haired man knocked the sword from his opponent, cocked his weapon back, and let it fly full force. He shouted when it stopped inches from his enemy’s neck.
Five others who had been watching applauded the winner. The loser retrieved his weapon and fell to the grass exhausted. Beyond the men, a large group of preteen boys shot arrows into a target hanging on the mysterious never-ending wall.
Addy didn’t need to turn around when the twig cracked behind her. She knew it was Duncan. She recognized the panting. “What are they doing?”
“I’ll explain if ye promise to stop running. I’m getting too old for this, aye?”
“Aye,” she repeated for the heck of it. Poor Duncan had red blotches all over his face. This must have been more exercise than he’d had in a long time.
He leaned against the hologram wall for support. “These men are practicing for the survival race.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“It’s a grueling competition that challenges strength, skill, knowledge, and survival instincts. It’s the Hyboreans’ favorite sport and the reason ye’re here.”
“Me?” The word came out high-pitched. “I’m supposed to compete in this survival challenge?”
“No, lass. With your athletic ability, ye’ll breed champions.”
She was about to turn and run again when he grabbed her wrist, stopping her. “No matter where ye go, you canna leave. This wall reaches all the way round on four sides.”
“You mean we’re trapped inside a giant square?”
“Och, no. Ye got it all wrong, lass. It’s a rectangle.” He let go of her arm. A proud smile illuminated his eyes. “Lassie, this is our Yard.”
Yard? Ha! Pen was more like it.
Stay safe out there!
Romance with a rebel heart