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Science Fiction Speculative

Krissa used a large rock to mark another talley on the wall of the cave. She had woken up there nearly three weeks ago. She didn't know what had brought her to this dank hole in the mountain but she had been trapped there for the last eightteen days.

It had all started when she had decided to go camping in Rogue River, Oregon. Krissa had always liked the outdoors and was using up her vacation days before they expired. She figured a little time in the woods was a perfect way to detox from her paralegal job in Seatle.

Krissa had no trouble setting up her tent and fire pit. After a satisfying tinfoil dinner she had extinguished her cook fire, crawled into her sleeping bag and fallen asleep.

When she woke up she had found herself in the cave. Luckily she had a head lamp and spare batteries in her cargo pants. Krissa flipped on the light and explored the unexpected cavern. She took out a roll of paracord she kept in one of her many pockets and let it fall on the ground as she walked.

It turned out she was less than a hundred yards from the mouth of the cave. Not that it did Krissa any good. A deluge of rain was falling outside. She could hear thunder outside as well. It wasn't safe to be out in that weather. Her father had taught her that lightning could strike miles away from the storm. That meant getting out of the cave wouldn't be an option until weather improved.

Krissa sighed and waited for the turbulent storm to subside. Eventually the light outside dimmed. The rain and lighting still pounded. With a sigh Krissa picked up a rock from the cave floor and etched her first talley mark.

Eighteen sunrises and sets later Kirssa was still pinned down by the storm. She had heard of a storm lasting for three or four days but eighteen?! This was getting unreal. "Come on!" She shouted. "I know scientists keep talking about climate change but really?!"

Of course there was no answer. The cave was empty except for some camel crickets and some shelf fungus that turned out to be edible. Krissa had been missing for over two weeks. Why hadn't anyone come looking for her? Surely her boss or at least her parrents wondered where she went. Wouldn't they have reported her dissapearance?

It was hard not to cry. Even tough as Krissa was, being isolated was getting to her.

Out of habit she turned to look at the wall. Her mouth dropped open. The marks she had carved were gone.

How was that even possible?! The water collection system she had set up was far away from her talley marks. The small fire she had made wasn't close enough to obscure them with soot. What was going on here?

"We never expected you to make that many marks." A voice said. Krissa twisted herself around to see who was speaking. A cloaked figure stood in the rain. It's clothes were dry despite the rain. "Who are you? How did you find me?" Krissa asked.

Before answering, the grey clad entity stepped into the cave. "I am known by different names;" It said. "I have been tasked with studying the organisms of your world. You may call me Larch."

Krissa wondered if she had finally gone insane. "Larch like the tree?" She asked. "What the hell happened to me? Am I dreaming or dead?" Whatever Larch was it didn't seem normal. "Neither;" it said. "You are in our observation enclosure. My predecessor designed it to mimic your species' natural habitat."

"You mean I'm not in Oregon?" Krissa asked. "What's going on?" Larch looked puzzled. "Oree-gone?" It misspronounced. "Interesting. I was not aware that region of the planet was named by your kind." This was getting frustrating. "HEY!" Krissa shouted. "YOU'RE NOT ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS. WHAT KIND OF STUPID NAME IS LARCH?!"

Her cloaked captor backed away apparently startled by her outburst. "My appologies;" it said. "I forget how primitive impattient and agressive your kind can be. Firstly, Larch is not my real name it is merely the closest to what my name means as translated into your regional dialect." Krissa was now more curious than outraged. "And?" She prompted.

"As I explained earlier, you are in our observation enclosure;" Larch said. "This is the Nit'rei Interstellar Biological Research Center. My species, the M'dogu, have been studying your home world for mellinia. We currently are involved with a conservation project to save your species." Krissa suddenly found herself overwhelmed. "So this isn't where I grew up?"

"It is not."

"None of this is real?"

"It is real but engineered. We provide adequate nutrition and hydration for our specimens and attempt to make it look as close to the specimen's indiginous habitat as possible."

"Do I get to go home?"

Larch seemed a little sad. "Unfortanately, this is impossible;" it said. "Our research center is at such a distance from your home planet that even if we travel at ninety percent of the speed of light, we would arrive decades after you had left. It is unlikely anyone you remember would be alive."

Krissa was furious now. She had been supposed to be on vacation and now she was an exhibit in an alien zoo?! "You guys really suck!" She spat. "I don't know how you can just do this! I had a life! I had people who missed me!" Larch hesitated before speaking. "You are undersandably upset;" it said. "I regret this being difficult for you. But we do not intend to leave you alone." She wanted to kill Larch but she knew that wouldn't get her back to Earth. "You don't say;" she commented sardonically.

Oddly this seemed to encourage her captor. Perhaps aliens didn't have sarcasm. "Yes;" Larch said. "Our planetary probes indicate that your planet's climate is undergoing catastrophic climate change. If we are to be sucessfull in preserving your species' unique genetic signature, it is imperative that we breed you."

Krissa felt sick. She had never wanted kids. Now some alien was intending to make her reproduce for the greater good? How stupid was that?

"We procured a high fitness male of your species;" Larch informed her. "While we do not have binary sexes in our species. Our data indicates that your kind must mate with an individual with different genitalia to produce offspring. Please try to understand we're trying to help. We intend to introduce this male into your enclosure soon. I must go now."

Larch left Krissa's "cave" and once again she was alone. She briefly thought of restarting her talley marks. What would be the point? She was never going home.

December 30, 2020 19:51

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