“So Yvette,” Lillian started, “I know you and Mr. Wills and Mrs. Johns are aliens, but what do you even look like?”
Yvette looked at Lillian like she’d sprouted horns or something.
The alien glanced back at Noel, who was quite worse for wear, before turning back. “You’re asking me something like that now? Noel’s life is in danger here.”
Lillian shrugged. “It’s not like there’s much we can do. I don’t think Theo can hear what we’re thinking down here, so we can’t help him.”
“It’s true there’s no internet for this telepathy you speak of to function.” She looked up. “If I could draw, I would draw it for you. And I can't show you because once I turn back, this guise is completely used up. I won’t be able to stay.” She looked almost ashamed. “And you know, I really do want to stay once this mess is cleaned up.”
The other three were scheming to get out, crowding together in the one part of the room that no one on the other side of the glass could see. Lillian knew better than to try. She didn’t have weird fantasies of heroism. “I hear you,” Lillian replied, “I think everyone’s pretty weird, but I’d stay too.”
“Thanks. That means a lot. Besides," Yvette said, her face reddening,"I don't think I want you guys to see my real appearance.” Clearly eager to change subjects, the blonde looked over at the three plotters. “What do you say we help them?”
Noel could hear her stomach rumbling. It was loud, like an untamed lion, and she hoped it bothered Mrs. Johns too.
The woman had sat down, tired of rampaging while she asked questions, and had even stopped asking. She was probably tired of Noel’s disconnected trivia about brains.
“So,” Noel began, drawing it out cautiously, “Would it be possible to not be hooked up to this-”
Yeah. I thought so. “Uh… Any word on Theo?” she asked, again drawing out her words.
“Any idea what’s happening?”
“Are you happy?”
“Shut up!” the alien snarled, looking ready to jump from her chair.
Well that’s rude, Noel thought, she didn’t even let me finish.
Mrs. Johns leaned back and stretched in her chair, emanating a murderous presences. “What could be taking Mr. Wills so long?”
“I didn’t ask you.”
I hope Theo pounded him into dust, Noel thought bitterly. She couldn’t feel it, but she was probably stiff from being in the same position for so long. It was like that really long prayer at the end of church where everyone’s knee-knuckles cracked when they finally sat down. Stupid synovial fluid and tissue capsules.
And so they waited, watching the teens on the other side of the glass disappear into a corner where she couldn’t even see their blurs.
When Theo walked through the door, feeling quite sick again without all the adrenaline, he met another room just as white as the corridor. That was mildly disappointing because he’d hoped for something black and sinister with lots of blinking lights and switches. Instead, there was only a wonky machine with the awkwardest keyboard he’d ever seen sitting in the middle of the room. There were two white doors on the opposite wall, and Theo could not decide which one to try.
Eenie meanie miney mo, he thought, before shaking his head at himself, no. Noel told me you can cheat at that one. He tried another method. Heads is right, tails is left. He checked his pockets. Dang it. No change. This stomach ache is keeping me from thinking.
Mr. Wills was probably mostly free from the cement by then, so Theo tried the left door, to no avail. He tried the second, but it didn’t work either.
“God dam-” he screamed, banging on the the door before it burst out into the next room revealing the startled faces of everyone but Noel.
“Hey Theo,” Lillian ventured, an unimpressed frown on her face. “Nice to see you could join us in this lovely establishment.”
“Noel’s not here?” he said, holding the door open.
“Thanks for your concern,” Lillian said, rolling her eyes, “and she’s on the other side of this glass.” The girl pointed to the left, beyond what Theo could see from the doorway.
“Someone hold the door open while I look.”
“You don’t want to,” Yvette said.