This Slaughterhouse Earth

This Slaughterhouse Earth

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chapter 2 - Q & A

Megan wasn't stupid.  Never had been, never planned to be.  
Wisdom, on the other hand... well... yes, she could be foolish.  She knew that.  But stupid?  No.  A lot of people assumed she was, because she was pretty, and blonde (a natural blonde, at that) and had 36DD boobs.  But she wasn't.
When the green-things, the lizardmen, first showed up, it was around 10:15... Megan knew that because her break was at 10 every morning and she was just sitting down at her desk when someone... someTHING... grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of her chair.
Everyone was screaming, and when Megan got a look at the thing that had her by the ponytail, she screamed too.  It was green.  And had claws.  And the hand she could see -- the one not in her hair --  was scaly, and clawed and holding some kind of metal rod in it.
There were a lot of these things... Megan didn't know how many.  Her memories of the next few seconds or minutes were all a jumble.  Somewhere in there the smell hit her... it must have been coming off the lizardmen.  Fishy and rank and awful, like  that one summer her brother's aquarium had gone bad while the fam was away at the cabin.  
There was an electrical smell in the air too, like there had just been a thunderstorm.  And a sound like one of those insect zappers going off, over and over again.  And screams.  Blueish flashes of light.  And she was being dragged, and then shoved.  She stumbled and went to one knee on carpeting, and looked around.  She was in the conference room at the other end of the floor, where they had team meetings some times.  It was gloomy because the lights were out... and then someone else knocked into her from behind and sent her sprawling forward onto her boobs.  When she fell forward her boobs always hit first, and it hurt.
When it all settled down a little, there were like 20 of them in the conference room.  No lizardmen, which was awesome.  Not that 20 people, all scared nearly (or in some cases, she thought, literally) shitless, shoved into one room with no air conditioning, smelled much better.  
Steve was there, and Megan hugged him.  "What's going on?  What the fuck is this?"  Like he would know.  Steve was good looking and in great shape and she loved his tattoos and he played in a band, but he probably hadn't been smart even before he spent most of his life smoking dope.  She wasn't sure he'd ever read a book all the way through.  She'd tried talking to him a couple of times about whatever she was reading, but his blank, confounded looks had pretty quickly made her change the subject.
Now he just kept saying "It's okay, baby, I'm here."  He'd say that a couple of times, and then he'd switch to "Fucking ASSHOLES, I'm going to KILL YOU!"  He'd go back and forth between the two.  Jim would have said he was oscillating from one to the other.
After a while Megan let Steve go.  She'd gotten herself together and now she needed to look around and make a plan.  Megan was big on plans.  
She'd just realized that the two far corners of the room were occupied by people who had barricaded themselves in with chairs when some of the other girls in the room started screaming.  She turned to look and saw silhouettes through the smoked glass partition... not human silhouettes, they had like triangular ridges on their backs.  And tails that were thick at their butts and that tapered down to points.  Lizardmen.  Then the conference room door opened.
Megan screamed too, she couldn't help it.  Screamed and put her hands to either side of her face like the stupid little kid in the HOME ALONE movies her mom liked.  If they'd wanted her, she would have been dead meat.  But they didn't.  They ignored her.  One grabbed some guy she didn't even know.  He tried to brace his feet against being dragged out, and the other one reached past the first one and touched the guy with a little metal rod.  There was a crackling sound and the guy stiffened, then went limp.  The first lizardman dragged him out by the ankle.  The guy was face down and his nose bumped over the doorsill as he was dragged out of the room and it must have broken because there was a trail of blood on the floor on the other side of the door.  The lizardmen didn't seem to care.  But they did remember to close and lock the door behind them.
Megan didn't know when she stopped screaming... probably not for several seconds after the door was closed again.
But she noticed her throat was hurting, so she stopped.
Everyone else did right around the same time.
She looked around, and the first thing she noticed was Steve.  He was as far away from her... from the door... as he could get, all the way on the other side of the room, plastered against the wall.  He must have moved like a shot, because he'd gotten to the wall first and apparently nearly everyone else in the room had had the same idea.
Now they were all moving around again.  Kind of tentatively.  Keeping an eye on the smoked glass partitions to see if lizardmen were coming back.  
Steve came up to her.  "Are you all right, baby?" he asked, putting a hand on her arm.
She shrugged him off, and turned her back on him and walked a few steps away.  
"Aw, baby," he said.  "Don't be like that."
"Pretty sure Trudy wouldn't like to hear you calling me baby," Megan said.  Trudy was Steven's baby mama.  They lived together, and she called him like five times a day.  "I know Jim wouldn't like it."
Steve didn't say anything for a couple of seconds, and then she heard him mutter, "Yeah... whatever, bitch."
And that was that.
Megan shook her head.  Nobody had time for stupid work bullshit any more.  This was serious.  Motherfucking lizardmen had locked them up in a conference room, and apparently they were going to come get them one at a time.  Why?  Why would you do that?  Why would anyone do that?
Megan took a few deep breaths and tried to think things through.  Why would you put a group of people in a room, and then come get them one at a time?
Maybe the lizardmen were questioning them, one at a time.  Maybe they were like alien cops, and there was another alien criminal hiding out in the call center.   Disguised as a human?  Maybe.  And they needed to inspect everyone one at a time to see who it was.  Yes.  That could be it.
Although Megan couldn't imagine how a lizardman could disguise itself as a human.  They had snouts.  And those back ridges.  
Unless they could change shape, like the one guy on that old Star Trek show.
Obviously, they wanted whoever it was alive, so maybe it wasn't a criminal.  Maybe it was some lost space princess, or something!  Maybe...
Although they'd seem pretty casual about that one guy they dragged out, so... no.  Probably not a space princess.  
So maybe they thought that somebody in the building knew some important secret.  Like the nuclear secrets.  Or maybe where the whatchamacallit was... that cube thing in the AVENGERS movie.  The Tesseract.  Maybe something like that was  hidden somewhere on Earth, and the lizardmen figured somebody knew where it was.  And they were going to torture it out of them.  Okay.  That would account for them trying to keep everyone alive but not caring if they got a little damaged in transport.  Okay.  Sure.  
But that meant, if they kept working their way through people in the room without getting the secret out of anyone, then eventually they'd get to her, and she didn't know any secret...
Okay.  Back to the plan.
Megan looked around.  What did they have to work with in this room?  Huge conference table.  A bunch of chairs.  About half a dozen of them had been piled up in each corner to make a kind of fort, and there was someone back in each of those corners... that was pretty smart.  Not a great plan, but better than anyone else had come up with.  At least they'd probably be last to go... and maybe by the time they would have been dragged out, the lizardmen would have found what they were looking for and left.
She wished she'd thought of it.  
Or Steve.  She could have gotten Steve to share with her.
Well... it was two guys back in each corner.  If they were straight... Megan looked around the room.  She knew four of the girls who were there; they were from Sales, where she worked.  None of them were as good looking as she was, and that was what guys cared about.  There were two other women she didn't know... they must have been from Marketing.  But they weren't as good looking as she was, either.
Megan had paid attention to how things worked, and she'd talked it over with Jim sometimes, too.  Things always came down to the most attractive person available.  Like if you were on a bus.  Nobody admitted it, but everyone checked out everyone else on the bus, and you'd rank them, too.  Men did it.  Girls did it.  Everyone did it.   Except Jim said that guys generally only did it for the girls; they didn't care about how hot the other guys on the bus were.  Megan thought that was stupid.  You ranked the guys by which ones you'd pair up with if something weird happened and you had to, and you ranked the girls by which ones would be your most serious competition for those guys.
Megan was clearly the hottest chick in this room.  She could have her pick of the guys.  Now how did that help her?
Steve?  No.  Fuck that.  For all the good he was, she could already have been dragged out of the room by her hair.   Not that any of the guys in the room had seemed to exactly be knights in shining armor... although would you really want one?  If a guy tried to protect her from one of these things, he'd just die.  And, okay, that would probably save her one time...
She probably shouldn't hold it against Steve.  He'd done what anyone else would have done... what she would have done, if she hadn't just freaked out instead.  But still.  He was supposed to be her friend.  He could have tried to help.
No.  Screw this, this was stupid.  She needed a plan to get out of this room.  Maybe she could come up with something on her own, but chances were, she'd need help.  This was the kind of situation were being smart was good, but you might need some strong, too.
And, again... Steve.
But no.  Fuck him.  Not that she ever had.  Megan had only had one affair since she and Jim had actually gotten married (before that it didn't count!).  And that had been at her last job, two years ago, and Roy had moved to Colorado and Jim had never found out about it, so it really had never happened.  Nobody here knew about it, so forget it.
(It was kind of Jim's fault anyway.  She loved Jim all to pieces, but there were some things Jim just wouldn't do in bed... the first time he found out Megan wanted to do them, he nearly dumped her, so she didn't dare even bring that subject up again.  But Megan really liked a lot of those things.)
Flirting at work didn't count at all.  (Although, if Megan were to be honest with herself, it was probably going to turn into more than flirting pretty soon... if the lizardmen hadn't happened.  Not now, not with Steve, Steve was a jackass.  But... two years was a long time.)
Still.  If she could have her choice of any guy in the room to help her escape, then... who?
She didn't know.  And she was really thirsty.  Was there anything to drink...?
She looked around, and started listening.
No.   Nothing to drink.  Everyone was thirsty.   And the funny thing was, usually this conference room had a cooler with one of those big 20 gallon water jugs on the top of it.  But the cooler was gone.  
Someone was saying "We had a team meeting in here this morning and the water cooler was there then.  Those monsters must have taken it."
Megan thought about that.  So... the lizardmen wanted them to be thirsty? 
Maybe to make them more eager to cooperate?
"Megan," she heard someone say, and turned.  It was Rhonda.  Her jeri curls were all sweated out.  It made Megan glad she'd just put her hair in a ponytail this morning.  "Megan, sweetie, do you have a bottle of water in your purse? I am SO thirsty."
Megan spread her hands helplessly.  "My purse is in my desk drawer, Rhonda honey.  I am so sorry."  Like if she'd had a bottle of water she'd have given it to this bitch.  Rhonda had spent most of the last eight months since Megan got hired talking shit about her to everyone in the building who would listen, and why?  Because she knew that if her husband ever got a look at Megan, that's who he'd be fantasizing about the next time he had to fuck Rhonda, that's why.  Stupid ugly mixed bitch who told everyone she was 37 even though she was actually 42, and looked ten years older than that because she smoked and didn't take care of herself.
"Oh, honey, that's too bad," Rhonda sighed.  "I got me a whole bottle of Diet Coke sittin on my desk and it might as well be in China."
Soda would just make you thirstier... Megan knew that.  Jim had told her that there was a ton of salt, nearly as much salt as sugar, in every bottle of soda.  It was a trick to make you drink more of it.  But it didn't surprise her that Rhonda didn't know that.
But now Megan wondered -- what if she had had a bottle of water?  And she'd tried to take it out, and drink from it?  What would have happened?
These people were scared shitless.  They could turn into a murderous mob any second... not against the lizardmen, because the lizardmen were scary.  But against who ever was weakest in the room... whoever had something they wanted.  All they needed was someone to light a fuse.
Which was when that new guy Bryan had started talking to the older guy forted up in the corner.  He was saying that the older guy read science fiction, and must have some ideas, and the older guy was saying, in kind of a nasty tone, no, he didn't.
"No, really," Megan spoke up.  "I mean, of course, you know, nobody knows, but can you like guess or something?"

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