Abducted by aliens— but why?
For the first year of my incarceration, I was convinced that their intention was to watch us suffer. I thought we were taken to be entertainment for twisted minds, that our screams and pitiful begging was simply for their amusement, but now I am starting to see things differently.
Almost nothing is known about our captors, whatever they are. They generally have little contact with us. Occasionally someone is taken at random, grabbed by long muscular tentacles, slick with dripping ooze and smelling like burnt hair. If those unlucky sods come back at all, it’s with bloody wounds and broken bones. And when asked about their experiences, they offer nothing substantive. At best, they simply stare into the void with glistening eyes and pale faces, but often, they scream inconsolably.
I came here about three years ago, according to Pamela. She keeps her insanity at bay by recording information about all newcomers. So far I have been lucky, yet to be taken, but I know it’s only a matter of time.
Some people have tried to escape of course, but they all end up back in here, sometimes with their feet ripped off, sometimes its hands. And I don’t mean cut off. No sir, I mean literally ripped off.
This place stinks of shit and piss and pain and death.
The road to my understanding began with the baby. The roof of our stadium-sized prison opened up and an enormous tentacle slithered in. It swept through the air and dropped the poor kid from half a dozen meters above the ground. What chance did the little bugger have? He landed on his head and died instantly. Of all the torture I have suffered, all the horrors I have witnessed, the image of the baby landing on the hard floor, and the sickeningly quiet thud it made like dropping an apple, is what haunts me most. But as I say, it was the first step to understanding our captors.
It was the way they dropped the baby in, no different to the rest of us. Somebody had covered the poor thing with a rag that had once been a jacket. When the tentacles came back hours later to take the tiny corpse, they first prodded and played with it, dropping it several times from a small height and pushing it across the floor, this way and that, smearing its crushed skull against the bloodied floor. Some people whimpered and cried, some screamed at them with clenched fists, and some threw up. I just sat and watched, feeling very little, with the seed of understanding growing in my mind.
I remembered back to when I was a boy, helping my father pull up an old tree stump. I was standing by the side, watching him hack at the ground when I saw something small and pink writhing in the soil. I screamed at my father to stop. It was a baby mouse; he had unearthed a nest. I picked it up and put it into my plastic Thomas-the-tank-engine lunchbox then stowed it neatly under the seat of the tractor, out of the fierce glare of the summer sun. I was careful to leave the lid open about an inch and I made a makeshift nest from some dry grass. We found seven more pups and I placed each one in the box with the care and steady hand of a watchmaker. My father humoured me, carefully handing them to me when he found them and, as I found out many years later, hiding the severed bodies of the ones his shovel found first.
At the end of the afternoon, when the job was done, we headed for home. I looked in on the sleeping babies quietly and carefully. They were dead. Every single one of them. My father told me they had needed a very precise temperature, that I had done my best and I shouldn’t blame myself. I did. I cried about it every day for weeks. That was my first lesson about death.
There are so many of us, crammed into this hellish hole, existing on lumps of festering flesh and rotten fruit they throw down to us from time to time. And boy is it hot here. I am often reminded of the time my goldfish bowl sprung a leak and I put Mickey and Minnie into my mother’s heated tropical fish-tank. I never had any more fish after that.
We have tried communicating with them, tapping out Fibonacci sequences and primes; creating elaborate representations of pi and hydrogen and even acting out scenes to portray our intelligence. But they don’t understand, or they choose not to. I imagine our screams of agony mean nothing to them, just another interesting behaviour. The same way lobsters whistle when we boil them alive.
So now I am beginning to understand. The creatures out there are huge and from what I have seen and heard they are nothing like us. No eyes to speak of and no visible mouth. Tentacles and horns and veined rubbery skin stretched over gelatinous bulk. I like to believe they have compassion. In fact, I imagine it would be hard to evolve sapience without it. But it is probably far removed from compassion and love as we know it.
Perhaps this will indeed turn out to be our punishment in hell as many believe. Or it just might be that we are victims of cruel and sadistic tormentors as I used to think. But these days I like to imagine we are just exhibits in a zoo or critters collected and placed in a lunchbox by curious, well-meaning kids. I want to believe those monsters love their children and each other. Maybe, in some way, they even love and care for us just as I loved the tiny wrinkled mice that I baked to death so many years ago.
And so I wait. I hide and survive and fear for my life. And in those terrifying periods when the sky opens up, I wonder how we would treat our captors if we had found them first.