Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Mackenzie was naked because he was too lazy to put any clothes on, and besides, his client was rich enough to keep the massive house heated. His feet were toasty warm thanks to the underfloor heating in the kitchen, and he flexed his toes against the tiles as he reached into the fridge for a carton of orange juice.
“Ethan? Ethan, darling, fetch me a drink too, won’t you?”
Mac rolled his eyes. Fat bastard should get out of bed and get his own drink, although Mac conceded he was being paid enough to grab a drink when he was asked. Heaving a sigh, he found a second glass and then poured another juice.
He scratched his arse, sipped his own drink, and had a nose around the kitchen. Everything was modern and expensive—shiny stainless steel and granite worktops. He wondered if his client ever did any cooking or if he hired a chef. Probably gets takeout, he thought, smirking. Something on the island in the middle of the kitchen caught his eye, and he wandered over to see scraps of paper covered in scribbles he couldn’t work out, a wooden box, and a big fat book about astrophysics that looked extremely dull. Glancing over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being watched, Mac picked up the wooden box and opened it up. Inside sat an intricate silver brooch, the metalwork all twisted and peculiar. He abandoned his orange juice and picked up the brooch to get a better look, vaguely wondering if it was worth a lot of money and if anybody would notice if it went missing.
He turned it over to see if there was a hallmark on it—not that he’d know if it meant anything—and cursed when the pin pierced his finger.
“Bollocks,” he muttered as blood beaded at his fingertip. He glared at the brooch and then blinked as it glowed softly. The metal turned red in his hand, heating up, and he was about to drop it when a flash of light made him screw his eyes shut.
He became aware of a cool breeze brushing against his skin and then warmth once more. When he opened his eyes, his heart fluttered. The room he found himself in was no longer the kitchen. He sat up straight—he was sitting on a chair, he realised—and stared at the scene around him, his brain not quite able to make sense of what his eyes were seeing.
The room was empty. White. But there was a door there, opposite where he sat, and as his eyes adjusted, he could distinguish the outline. He stared at it, not knowing what the hell was going on. The brooch fell from his hand and thudded to the floor.
“Shit,” he whispered. God, he was still naked. Was this some sort of weird kinky thing his client had set up? Was the man about to enter the room, tie him down, and probe him? Mac wasn’t into bondage. He tried to remember whether he’d specified he wasn’t into bondage or not.
Screw this. He got to his feet, ready to leave, when something crackled in the air and a voice sounded in the room. It spoke in a language he didn’t understand, and it made the hairs on his arms stand up.
“I don’t understand you,” he called. “Look, I didn’t sign up for this, okay? Blow jobs, anal… I’ll even stick my tongue up your arse if you bung me an extra fifty, but—”
The door opened and two men entered. They wore white robes and one carried a briefcase. Mac retreated behind the chair, though it didn’t offer him a lot of protection.
“Ménage is great and everything, but I usually ask for payment upfront. Nobody told me I’d be doing this tonight!”
One of the men took his arm and guided him back to the chair. Confused and with his heart thumping, Mac sat.
Before he could do anything else, the man grabbed him by the shoulders and held him in the chair, looking into his eyes and muttering softly in that strange language. Mac struggled, but the man was strong—he twisted his head to catch a glimpse of what the other guy was doing behind him and caught sight of a large needle exiting the briefcase.
“You stay the hell away from me with that thing! I don’t do drugs!”
The man took hold of his face and held him tight. Mac clutched his wrists, vainly trying to free himself. He didn’t know what the guy was doing behind him until he felt a sting in the back of his neck, just beneath his skull. His eyes widened as the pain sharpened, and he kicked out.
His vision doubled, blurred. The men both spoke to him and to each other, but he couldn’t understand them, couldn’t…wait…
“You understand us now? Yes?”
“I don’t think he does. You made the chip too strong. Look at his eyes! I don’t think they’re meant to be that red.”
“The chip is fine. His eyes are probably meant to do that.” Then to Mac, “Can you understand us?”
Mac stared. He had an odd metallic taste in his mouth, but it disappeared when he swallowed. He frowned at the men as they peered at him.
“What the hell did you do to me?”
“Translator chip; you didn’t have one.”
“Very primitive,” said the other man. “Backwards even. Are you sure he has the right make-up?”
“He wouldn’t have activated the pin if his blood was incorrect. I’d say his species is a cousin of some sort. Look at him. He looks almost kovan.”
Now that the men had released him and stood back, discussing him, Mac raised a hand and touched the back of his head. He couldn’t feel a hole, and when he looked at his fingers, there was no blood.
“Take a sample quickly. Then we’d better put him back.”
Mac blinked at the men. “What the bloody hell is going on?” he asked. “Who the fuck are you guys?”
One of the men crouched in front of him and gave him a smile as if he was a simpleton. “What species are you?” he said, slowly.
“Species.” The men exchanged a look and one rolled his eyes.
Mac glowered at them. “This is all very funny,” he said. “I’m a human. You guys are dickheads. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get the fuck out of this…whatever the hell this situation is, and leave. Martin will be paying me double for this. Bloody weirdo. I’m going to have to add more clauses to my profile now, you know that?”
“Human.” The men looked at each other again.
“Never heard of it,” one said.
“Does it matter? Just make a record of it. Human male. DNA match. Get the cell sample.”
“This is, like, role play, right?” Mac asked. “Just drop the act now. One of you can get my bloody clothes for me, and then I’m off. Tell Martin to shove it up his arse.”
As he stood to leave, one of the men moved suddenly and pushed something hard against Mac’s thigh and clicked the end of it, sending a searing hot pain into his flesh.
“Jesus Christ.” Mac doubled over and clasped a hand against the wound as the man removed the device. He could only lower himself back into the chair, his skin burning with indignation. He blinked and tentatively removed his hand. Again, there was no blood, but an angry red welt blemished his perfect skin.
“What was that thing? You people can’t keep sticking things in me. I feel violated.” He looked for the…whatever it was, but the men had secreted it away. “Right. I’m leaving, right now! I’m going to have you people blacklisted! Tell Martin nobody’s going to fuck him now.”
He got up, but one of the men reached for him saying, “We will send you back.”
Mac twisted out of the guy’s grasp, shoved the other man out of the way, and ran for the door. They shouted after him, but it only spurred him on. He reached the door, pulled it open, and emerged into another room that still didn’t look like his client’s house. White walls again, but this was a laboratory of some sort, and Mac was buggered if he was going to hang around and let the weirdos perform sex experiments on him. They came after him, so he ran on, out of that room and into a corridor of yet more white. Cursing, he chose a direction and sprinted onwards, his bare feet slapping the floor.
The air crackled and voices sounded out. “Attention. Subject loose. One human male. Not dangerous. Not intelligent. Needs apprehending. Will respond to Ethan Smith. Michael Harris. James Johnson. Mackenzie Jones. Aidan Peters…”
Mac almost stopped. How the hell did they know all his aliases? And they knew his real name. Not intelligent? Bastards! They were probably some big-city escort agency looking to put him out of work or recruit him. They’d probably been watching him. Well, he wasn’t standing for any of that bullshit!
Footsteps echoed down the corridor behind him, and he bolted to the nearest door and pulled it open.
Light dazzled him. Noise hit him, and when he could see again, he gaped at the sight before him. The ground beneath his feet was dusty sand, the buildings all around him were a mishmash of styles and from different eras—tall, glass-fronted office buildings, wooden shacks straight from a Western, oddly shaped bricked cottages, glass domes… Vehicles buzzed in the sky like something out of a science fiction novel.
Someone yelled, “Out the way!” and Mac pressed himself back against the door as a man rode past on a creature that looked like a short-eared giant rabbit.
“What the actual fuck?” Mac didn’t have time to take in anything else. Voices from behind the door alerted him they were still coming after him, so he ran across the street and disappeared into an alley between two of the giant office blocks. He kept running, changing direction, twisting and turning, and doubling back until he was certain nobody would find him.
Then he stopped, sank down to his backside, and wondered if Martin had drugged the juice.
The sand, while not unpleasant beneath his feet, was working its way up his arse-crack and reminding him he was still naked. If he was tripping, or…whatever the hell was happening…then he could at least not be naked about it. He stumbled down the alleyway, distractedly wiping sand from his skin, and kept an eye out for anything he could use to cover himself with. The buildings seemed to come straight out of the ground on either side of him, no doors or windows, the walls made from glass he couldn’t see through. Mac stopped and eyed his reflection, running a hand through his hair to tidy it and peering at his bloodshot eyes.
A dream, he thought. I’m in a dream. He couldn’t remember whether he was ever aware he was dreaming when he dreamt, but he was aware of it now. He pinched the skin on his arm, but the sensation didn’t wake him.
Sighing, he turned to look back the way he had come. Nobody came after him. No Kevins or whatever the hell they called themselves.
He waited but nobody replied to him. He didn’t know if talking in a dream meant he would be talking in his sleep. Nobody had ever told him he talked in his sleep—none of his clients, none of his partners. A girlfriend once told him he snored, but he’d been a smoker at the time, and since he’d given up, he’d had no comments on the matter.
The alleyway ended at a street, or a sort of street. It was an open, dusty area, opposite which there were more buildings, and along which people walked and chattered and rode weird rabbit-beasts.
Mac laughed a little. “No more cheese before bed,” he muttered. Nakedness in dreams was supposed to mean something, but Mac was buggered if he could remember what. Something about shame and embarrassment, probably. He felt neither and never had done about nudity. He looked great naked. He stood, hands on hips, watching the scene before him with a strange sense of detachment.
“Hey! Hey, you!”
Mac turned towards the voice. A man, dressed in red to match his red face, ran at him. Mac raised his hands to warn the guy off, but the man tackled him to the ground, turned him onto his front, and dragged his arms behind his back.
“Ow, bloody hell!” Mac protested. “Careful!” Something cold clasped his wrists, and he realised he’d been cuffed.
“You are under arrest for indecency in a public place,” the man said. “You will be taken immediately—”
“I’m dreaming,” Mac explained, as he was hauled to his feet. “Everything’s okay.”
“—to the holding cells at Baska Hall and kept until judgement is brought upon you. You do not have to say anything—”
Mac frowned as the man took off his red coat and covered him. “Hey, do I get a lawyer in this dream, or…?”
“You will be assigned a lawyer. And maybe a doctor to assess your mental health.”
“Great, yeah, I need one of those.”
Mac allowed the man to pull him along the street. He was aware of people watching him. He was also aware, when he looked closer, that some of the people didn’t look quite human. There was a face with more eyes than he could count at a glance, blinking out at him from a slender frame draped in black. A creature resembling a giant insect or a walking twig strode past him, its arms and legs long and gangly. Women—two of them—gazed at him from across the street, but when he looked again, a film passed across their eyes and they licked their lips with forked tongues.
The man stopped pulling him along as they reached a large silver sphere; he waved a hand and a door opened up before him.
“In you get,” he told Mac.
“What…?” He didn’t really know how to finish his sentence, so he didn’t bother. Dazedly, he staggered into the sphere, and the man followed. There was nothing inside but two chairs, and Mac sat because he didn’t know what else to do and his head was beginning to spin.
The man sat beside Mac and performed a few more hand movements. A brief vibration passed through the sphere before both chairs rose into the air and floated in the centre. Mac cursed. Two belts snaked from the seat, one across his lap and the other across his chest, and held him secure. He swallowed hard and chanced a look at the man to see if he looked like he knew what he was doing.
Then, the sphere disappeared, or seemed to. The inside became transparent. With the outside world visible once more, they moved forwards—the man controlling their direction with subtle flicks of his hand.
Mac laughed at the madness of it all and then, as buildings whizzed by faster and faster, he threw up and passed out.