C7: Chapter Five – Lost on Earth
Nico felt weak and helpless when she heard the news. Strange emotions welled up inside her until she felt like she was going to explode from the pressure
She took off at a full run in an attempt to distance herself from her confusion and fear.
She realized that in only three short years, her entire existence, her old way of life, had completely changed. Her planet was in a revolutionary crisis and very soon, they would start over, destroying old traditions, creating new rules and living by different expectations… and when compared to the drone-like existence they had now, that could only be a better way of life, right? Or would it only seem better. What if it wasn’t? What if, in a desperate attempt to live independently, her people realized they couldn’t handle it? After all, they had lived and functioned a certain way for thousands of years, what if trying to change the infrastructure of their civilization failed? Would that mean the end of her species?
Although it was her duty to go back and assume her rightful position, Nico had no desire to be involved in a revolutionary war, even for the sake of her own people’s freedom – she was more determined than ever to stay on Earth and fight for her new-found independence.
In her mind, she was no longer Th’Urn.
Nico returned to her house and stopped to catch her breath in the shadowy doorway. She was soaked to her human skin. She bent over and placed her hands on her knees in an attempt to catch her breath.
“This is ridiculous,” she muttered aloud. “I am not a coward, why am I acting like one? I’ve never run from a challenge…” she stopped. She had never really been challenged until she arrived on Earth. Up until that point, she had simply moved through life in a trance-like state, doing what she was told and never questioning authority. There was never any reason to run before.
In fact, her life had been pretty peaceful until she had left her planet, peaceful and predictable.
Nico stood up and brushed water droplets from her eyes. What will Bob do? Nico thought. Will he turn me in, or will he help me hide from the Th’Urn? And do I really want to spend the rest of my life running?
She reached into her back pocket and pulled out her house key. She stepped into her safe haven, flicked on a lamp and concentrated on resuming a normal breathing pattern.
Nico looked around once again at all the nice things in her house, things that she had spent quite a lot of time shopping for and learning about; she loved every single thing, not just for the materialistic value, but because she, and she alone, had decided to buy them. She had made her own decisions and she quite liked the independence and the thrill each item gave her. They somehow verified her existence. Her people were not allowed to have identifiable emotions and those who had the “defect,” as their doctrine labeled any thought that was not included in the collective masses, simply disappeared. Most were never seen again.
The years on Earth had changed her so much that she had become someone in between those two completely different worlds. Nico was not only a part of the Th’Urn, she now considered herself half-human, at least on a psychological level. It was a bittersweet realization because now she wasn’t sure where she belonged.
And that’s when she realized that part of the reason she felt compelled to stay on Earth was not only the freedom of choice, the house she adored, or the lifestyle she had gotten used to… it was the man she never thought would become so important to her.
A simple human man named Bob Price – her neighbor, her friend, and now someone who had the power of her life in the palm of his hand.
She frowned. What if he chose to destroy her? Or perhaps sacrifice her for his career? Would he do that? She still didn’t feel like she knew enough about human emotions to presume anything, and even though Bob had never said anything to her directly about how he felt about her, still, there was something…
Nico sighed and walked into her bathroom to retrieve a towel. She began vigorously rubbing her hair dry. The short ebony strands stuck together to form small spikes all over her human skull. Her human skin was beginning to itch and she suddenly wished she could simply discard it and assume her natural shape.
But of course, she could not do that. And if she stayed on Earth, she would have to retain her human disguise and become someone different. Was she willing to forfeit her identity all for the sake of being an independent being?
She released another slow, sad sigh while tossing the wet towel on top of her washing machine. If Bob helped her and she was allowed to stay, would anything happen between them? Did she want it to? Was she capable of feeling human love, or better yet, was she capable of returning human love?
The knock on the door squeezed a squeal of surprise from her lips.
The pupils of Nico’s human eyes dilated and she ran her tongue over her lips nervously. Who could that be? Had the Th’Urn messenger already found her? How would they react if she fought them? She narrowed her eyes and clenched her jaw in determination. She wasn’t going back.
She shook her head. “I can’t do this,” she muttered. “I should do this, it’s my duty.” She couldn’t be selfish, her people needed her. Didn’t they? But if the whole planet was rebelling, they didn’t need her as their Empress, did they?
Nico continued staring intently at the door, indecision gnawing at her stomach.
Another hurried, brusque knock echoed off the door and Nico jumped nervously. She blinked and then issued a quiet, self-depreciating chuckle. If it was the Th’Urn, they wouldn’t know enough about human customs to knock… would they?
Nico cautiously moved toward the door and sticking her eye to the peep hole looked out to see who it was.
Chapter by Ani Chibukhchyan