Excerpt Home from the hill

All Luca Brine could see around her was darkness. It was so heavy she couldn’t be sure her eyes were actually open. It was entirely possible they were pasted shut from the head trauma she vaguely recalled somewhere in her battered memory. Inky, impenetrable darkness pressed in on her, heightening all her other senses.

The thick smell of pungent drugs, unwashed bodies and sweat floated through the small, cloistered room. Sounds drifted past a set of bars in a small window of the only door in or out. The light glowing in that window dimmed, so that no light broke the veil.

That may have made the sounds worse, to tell the truth. Shouts, mournful moans, and the whisper of what could be broken, unanswered prayers were clearly audible through the doors, even the walls. Not being able to see, strapped to a bed with medical restraints, her mind fuzzy from the drugs the beefy nurse had held her down roughly earlier to administer all played with her head, twisted her insides horribly, and she thought the drugs were making her sick. Whatever they had in that syringe, she felt awful now. She knew she was weak and helpless.

A loud clang reverberated through the facility, causing the other prisoners to stir and yell and fight. She stiffened, listening with all her might, breathless. Footsteps. Steady and unhurried. Luca panicked. Her breath wheezed harshly, as she fought the restraints. Her heart pounded out of her chest. Her eyes teared painfully. He was coming.

When he came, he would hurt her again. She tugged one more time at her wrist, wrenching it painfully. Was that his hand on the door? She fought wildly, tearing at the skin of her arm against tight straps.

Breathing hard, Luca sat up in the bed. She looked around her quarters, the captain’s cabin of the Bell. The dream again, she thought. Just the dream. She thought of it as the dream. It was the only one she had at times.

She took in each shadow against the stark white furnishings. She’d added color, but the furniture remained white as snow in the dim lighting. Strangely, that was a comfort. That ghostly pale, built-in cabinet symbolized home and sanity for Luca.

She’d had the same damn dream every night for the past month . She’d written it off as anxiety, but that seemed harder to do right now. It was all so very real. Right down to the dank funk in the air of that brutal darkness. She knew the one she feared was a doctor, and she feared that he was all too real.


Luca jumped out of the bed and headed for the small shower. She never looked at the digital numbers on the wall telling her the time. Sleep was over for the night. She’d just get ready for planet fall and go from there.

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