Excerpt: Alienation

By Marie Robinson

Ash steadied his breath and finally stopped blinking. Looked down and realized that he'd stepped into the shower fully dressed. His clothes were covered in suds.

Ash stripped naked, tossed his soaking shirt and pants outside of the shower, then quickly rinsed his body before getting out and ringing the woman's clothes out to nowhere near dry.

Darcy stared as he stepped back into the room.

“What the fuck happened to you?”

“I forgot to get undressed.”

“Great. Did you forget how to drive or keep me alive?”

“No. I'm fine now,” Ash said, a second before falling onto his knees.

“What's happening?”

Ash knew exactly what it was, but there was no way to explain it until it was over.

I believe you have something WE need.

The Overseer's voice was in his head.

How? He thought he'd Separated forever. How was she still able to get in?

He couldn't ignore it. She was everywhere inside him. “Please … no.”

“Who are you talking to?”

THEY want the Puncture.

“No. GET OUT!”

Darcy scrambled toward the door.

“Not you. Darcy, stop! It's fine.”

The Overseer was gone — Ash could feel the empty space where she had just been — but that was still enough to startle them both.

“What happened?” Darcy asked.

“It was one of THEM … speaking to me.”

She swallowed. “What did they want?”

“The Puncture, of course.” But Ash was distracted. If the Overseer could hijack his mind when THEY were just nearing Jupiter, the Hive would have control in days.

He turned to…

What was her name?

“What is it? Why do you look like that?” Then, more urgently she asked, “And when can we get the hell out of here?”

“I … I can't remember your name,” he admitted.

“Oh, shit.” She looked worried. “What do you remember? Driving? Do you still know how to do that?”

“Of course.”

“What do you mean of course? You knew who I was five minutes ago. It's not an unreasonable question. Goddammit, FuckFace, what are we gonna do now?”

“Is that really necessary?” Ash asked. “To call me that?”

“No. Sorry. But I really think we need to get the hell out of here, and you're weirding me out in like, a thousand different ways. So can we please go? Or can you at least tell me what's wrong with you? Bonus points for both. We go and you tell me on the way.”

“I think I might be losing my humanity.”

“What?” She fell a tiny step back. “What do you mean by that?”

“I think the closer THEY come, the less I can control myself. I'm worried I might get an order that I won't know how to stop.”

“You're stronger than that. What's my name?” She stared into his eyes.

It took a few seconds, but then a wide smile split his face, “Darcy.”

“Darcy,” she agreed.

“Well, Darcy?”

“Yes?”

“I'm not that strong. Not against THEM.” He handed her the gun. “So I need you to take this.”

“What am I supposed to do with that?”

She still hadn't taken the weapon so he put it in her hand and closed her fingers around it. “If I try to hurt you, kill me. Don't think twice. Then run like hell so I can't get in to you.”

“That's crazy,” she said.

“It's not. This is real, and it could very well happen.”

She looked at Ash with a hesitant but evident suspicion. “What are the chances of you doing that? I mean … trying to hurt me?”

“At some point?” Ash apologized with his eyes. “Almost for certain.”

“Well, unlike you, the odds of my dying at some point are a hundred-percent. So I guess that's good enough for now. Let's get the Puncture, then get the fuck away from each other.” She laughed to let him know she was kidding.

“I never liked you anyway,” he teased.

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