“I never stayed in one place for long because I was too scared that I might be caught again. I even spent some time in Canada. I guess I just couldn’t stay away from my roots in Arizona, though. I wound up here, in the desert, and that’s where you guys come in.”
I looked at Zeke expectantly, waiting for him to say something…anything. But, he just stared at me, his mouth gaping.
“Zeke?” I asked. “Say something? Please?” But he stayed silent. It felt like days had passed by the time he responded.
“How did you keep your car running for three years?”
Wow. I rolled my eyes. “Really? That’s all you have to say?”
He nodded and I snorted. Wasn’t the answer obvious? “I stole gasoline and oil and topped up my car as I needed it. My dad taught me how to do simple maintenance jobs before he—” I trailed off and quickly changed the subject. “Is it wrong that I felt bad for stealing from the parasites?” I asked.
“I think it just shows what a good person you are,” he replied.
I smiled. “So, what’s your story?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Oh no, I don’t do back-stories.”
I frowned. That was totally unfair! I had told him my life story, and he wouldn’t share his? “Fine then,” I said in a huff. “Now what?”
“I think it’s time I took you to see Ben,” he replied.
I froze. Why did the name “Ben” sound so familiar? Wait a minute, I thought. Isn’t Ben the name of that guy they were going to have put another parasite in me?
Zeke saw my panicked expression. “Relax,” he said. “Ben is human. He’s pretty much our doctor.” He noticed my face going increasingly white and quickly continued. “We’re not going to hurt you. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
I spoke quickly. “Well, I’m fine, so I’ll pass. There’s no need for any doctors.”
Zeke raised one eyebrow—man, I wish I could do that—and stood up. “Look. Either you come with me, or I will drag you there. You already know that I can and will.” Damn. He was right.
I let out a shaky breath. “Fine, but I swear, if you knock me out again, I’ll—“
“You’ll what exactly?”
Umm…good question. I hadn’t thought that threat completely through and I could tell, just by the expression on his face, that he knew it.
“You don’t want to know,” I said, attempting to sound threatening. Zeke just laughed and helped me to my feet.
“C’mon,” he said, grinning. “Walk with me.”
As we walked, Zeke described where we were. It was an underground tunnel system. I feel like I’m in a movie! I thought in awe. It was one of the coolest moments of my life, right next to meeting Darren Criss, that is.
“The room you woke up in,” he started, “we normally use as an extra storage room. They would have put you in the infirmary, but I convinced them you would probably react better if you weren’t in a hospital setting.”
“You were right,” I told him. Wow, I thought. For a complete stranger, he’s very observant. He didn’t even know about the insertion before now. I looked at him, trying to be as observant as he was. By doing this, I wasn’t paying much attention to the description or the history of the tunnels that he was giving me; I was taking in his appearance. He had shaggy, dirty blonde hair that was long enough to fall about half-way down the back of his neck, but not long enough to make me wonder if he was a hippie. His green eyes light up as he talked about his home here in the tunnels. He was taller than me—he had to be at least six feet—and much stronger. He didn’t look like a weight lifter, though; rather, his muscles looked natural. I started to wonder about his age, when something he said caught my attention.
“Hold on,” I said, “Did you just say ‘bathroom’?”
“Yeah, I was just saying how water runs beneath a few of the tunnels, so we were able to create a bathroom…why?” Understanding crossed his face. “Want me to show you where it is?”
“Sure, why not.” I said casually. Meanwhile, my thoughts were screaming A BATHROOM!! THERE’S A BATHROOM!! OH, THANK YOU, GOD!!
The washroom was darker than I had thought it would be, and Zeke handed me a flashlight. “We try to save the batteries for emergencies,” he chuckled, “Sorry. No pun intended. You can use this to find your way though.”
“Ha, ha, very funny.” I turned on the flashlight and walked carefully into the washroom. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a sort of pool in the middle of the room. I felt the water with my hand. The water wasn’t still and it was cooler than the air, which was a nice change since I was roasting. I wonder if they take baths in it… I thought. I would have to find out later.
As I left the bathroom—sweet relief—I turned off the flashlight and handed it back to Zeke.
I looked at him expectantly, and when he didn’t respond, I decided to get dramatic.
“Onwards with the tour!” I exclaimed, making him roll his eyes.
I decided to pay more attention to what Zeke was saying. I had almost missed the mention of a bathroom and I didn’t want to miss out on any other important features.
Zeke showed me where the living quarters were, saying that he would help me find somewhere to sleep other than the storage room later. He showed me the mess hall and my stomach complained. I vowed to stop there on the way back from the infirmary. We passed more tunnels extending from the one we were walking in that lead to other less important areas; more storage rooms, a meeting room, the main room that everyone hung out in. Finally, we stopped at a room at the end of the tunnel. The lighting was very good in here. I looked up to see that it was coming from holes in the ceiling. There were several other cots in this room and I figured that this was the infirmary.
In the corner of the room, a man was sitting on the floor reading. The light shining on his black hair gave it almost a blue tinge. Zeke cleared his throat and the man looked up. He smiled at Zeke and, after a moment, noticed me standing beside him. His blue eyes were somehow mesmerizing, making it hard for me to look away from them. He walked towards me with his hand outstretched.
“Well,” he said, “You must be my new patient. It’s good to meet you. My name is Ben.”