Alex ran up the steps, her long legs effortlessly taking two at a time.
She stopped at the top, absently pushing her sweatshirt back over her bare shoulder before fishing the key card out of her pocket. She took a deep breath, swiped the card, and tugged the industrial strength door open.
She’d received the call less than 10 minutes ago. The door had failed to latch, her brother had said. Come immediately. Nick always took the nightshift. He wouldn’t have called unless it was urgent. Fueled by increasing panic and adrenaline, Alex had quickly donned clothes from the nearest pile on the floor and fled her sleeping quarters in the barracks.
Alex made her way through the corridor to another door, punched in her PIN and placed her palm on the reader. “Access granted, ” the voice stated. Click. Alex entered the next hallway and ran towards the security office, where Nick waited.
“The holding room’s been breached. The door to the antechamber is ajar,” he said, pointing to the monitor. “It doesn’t open from the inside. It had to be the latch.”
“Or someone opened it from the outside,” Alex countered.
“Impossible. It’s just us now. And the occasional tech guy. But they don’t even know about the antechamber.”
“Okay, okay.” Alex took deep calming breaths.
But it wasn’t ok.
Nick’s eyes darted back and forth. “He’s…in the antechamber. I think he passed out.”
Tuk, the last survivor of the Roswell incident, long forgotten in the wake of the Final War. Alex and Nick had inherited their caretaker job from their parents, who had raised them on this abandoned military base just so they could look after Tuk.
“You know he can’t last long in our atmosphere! Why didn’t you go in there and get him?” Alex asked, her voice wavering.
“I was worried about too much carbon monoxide coming through the open holding room door,” Nick replied, a little too calmly.
“That’s what the computer is for, Nick!” Alex sighed in exasperation. Nick had never really gotten the hang of the complex computer system.
They continued down the corridor until reaching the main work station. Alex logged in and checked the carbon monoxide levels. “Good to go,” Alex relayed as she disarmed the antechamber door and ran to the crumpled figure on the floor.
“Tuk, Tuk, Can you hear me? Are you alright?”
He lifted his head slowly and turned towards her. It was Nick, looking dazed, dressed in Tuk’s jumpsuit. Alex whirled around just in time to see the antechamber door slam shut. She stared at the face on the other side. Tuk.
Dumfounded, Alex could only ask “Why? We’ve been kind. We’ve taken care of you.”
“Taken care of me? I’ve been a prisoner here for the past 100 years. Do you think that’s kind? I’ve studied your mannerisms, assimilated your DNA. The others never let me get close enough but you were careless. A hair here, a skin cell there. Your DNA allows me to breathe oxygen too. Now I know enough about you to integrate into this world undetected. He shimmered suddenly and became Nick again. He shimmered once more, and Alex faced a perfect likeness of herself.
“For what it’s worth,” Alex-Tuk said, “I am fond of you both. But you understand, no one can know any specifics about me.”
“But we haven’t told anyone! You know we can keep secrets. Please…” Alex hesitated, struck by the oddity of pleading with herself. “Please Tuk.”
“I really am sorry, but no.”
Alex-Tuk typed a serious of commands on the computer keyboard, his hands now slender and graceful in the perfect imitation of Alex. The holding room began to fill with carbon monoxide, the major atmospheric component of his home planet Tyrek. It would be peaceful, he knew, so he only felt a little remorse.
He’d go to Alex’s room and take a nap before he decided what to do. Or maybe to Nick’s. He felt a bit more at home in the male earthling’s form.
There was no rush. He’d waited a century for this chance.
Ah, I’m finally back on the speakeasy, the totally awesome place for fiction and poetry. This week, we had to use the sentence “The door had failed to latch,” anywhere in our piece as well as refer to the music prompt, which was “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, one of the songs from the movie Flashdance. Head on over and have some fun!