Short Story 16

The Conference

He had spent his entire life looking up at the stars at night, imagining an otherworldly adventure that would whisk him away from normality and his mundane existence.

In the forty years he had been alive, he had always wanted more. Complaisance was an ongoing struggle for him. Despite his well travelled exterior, with his comfortable and well-paid job that he had worked hard to get, he always felt like there was something incredible missing from his life.

He knew he was a fool to daydream about aliens, ancient races, and science-fiction, but the magic of what could be was far too enticing for him to ignore. Without the omnipresence of fantasy within his reality, he honestly and wholeheartedly believed he wouldn’t be able to live.

As the definition of handsome, he always had a different girl by his side. But he was opposed to commitment because he believed that in a truly ethereal sense, he was protecting them. Lest he be taken away in circumstances that he couldn’t ever dream of explaining to them, put them in danger, or hurt them by getting killed while saving the planet.

Through his love of the extraordinary, he thought he was prepared for any situation, whether it was alien abduction, zombie incursion, time travelling, supernatural events, or intergalactic voyages. When push came to shove, however, he found that he was not prepared to believe the unbelievable.

On June 12th, 2015, his beliefs were tested whilst he was standing in a conference room of a sophisticated hotel with hundreds of professionals who were eagerly mingling with one another. But he was seldom interested in joining the conversations; instead, he imagined that they were androids who were waiting to be activated by an evil force which he had to stop in a dramatic display of fighting abilities that rivaled the great comic book characters he loved.

Right after his boss received a roundhouse kick to the face in his mind, a small explosion took out the stage in real life, and he stood there in shock as armed men stormed the room. He recovered when the gunfire started, and he even moved forward to help people get out of the way.

One of the hotel staff members, a young woman with dark hair, rushed over to his side and said, “What are you doing? Don’t go over there, you’re the one they want. I’d prefer if you didn’t die, so follow me, keep close and keep your head down.”

There was something familiar about her, and he didn’t hesitate to follow. But as he blindly followed, it didn’t stop him from wondering why she said they wanted him, not to mention the fact he secretly wanted to be away from the guys with the guns and bombs, so he would’ve accepted an offer from anybody to leave this situation.

The room was chaotic, and it took a lot of concentration on his part to keep track of the woman through the crowd. But that didn’t mean he missed the men starting to converge on them after one of the armed men shouted, “HE’S HEADING TO THE WEST EXIT!”

After which, two men appeared in front of the exit they were heading for, and he noticed the woman touching her ear before stopping. She grabbed his hand as the lights went out and they moved in unison to a service exit and down a few hallways.

Obviously she had some sort of communication device, because as she took off her uniform, and pulled on black skinny jeans and a singlet that she had placed there earlier, she started laughing and said, “Hey shut up!”

He had instinctually looked away as she undressed, so when she said those few words, he nearly responded, but she kept talking and so he kept quiet, “Why don’t you guys just focus on getting us out of here instead of making jokes.”

When she was fully clothed, she started walking with purpose, and he followed because, well, what else was he going to do?

They started climbing the stairs to the roof, and when they were about four floors away, she motioned for him to stay put while she moved to the next landing.

Two men came through the door in front of where he was standing and he thought that whoever was on the other end of her communications could clearly see things they couldn’t.

In any case, he was the first thing they saw and they headed directly toward him, but the woman threw herself at one of them. The other reached him while she was busy fighting and he surprised himself by dodging and blocking the attacks, before that assailant turned his attention on the woman too.

With surprise on her side, she took on the two guys that were twice her size. She threw the first one over the railing, and knocked the second one out through hand-to-hand combat. All the while, he just stood there in awe of this woman who couldn’t be older than twenty-five.

Once they made it to the top of the hotel, it suddenly dawned on him that the roof had very limited escape options. He was hoping that when they got to the top there would be a helicopter but he couldn’t hear one.

She walked to the edge and said, “This is going to require you to trust me completely and move as fast as you can.” He didn’t like the sound of that, but his adrenalin had kicked in and he didn’t really have a choice.

She handed him a metal bracelet identical to the one she placed on her wrist. Climbing on the ledge and beckoning for him to do the same, they carefully manoeuvred themselves to face north, which gave them most of the length of the hotel in front of them. She moved quickly towards the building’s edge and launched herself off the hotel and into mid-air, and he found his movements echoing hers with conviction.

He expected to be freefalling to his death, but instead he had only been falling for a few moments before he was caught by something gravitationally. Then instead of falling, they started floating upwards and then the sky suddenly wasn’t the sky anymore, but the inside of an aircraft.

His mind was reeling as he was pulled to an upright position and felt his feet touch the floor. He had essentially just been sucked into an unidentified flying object with invisibility shield capabilities, but instead of aliens, he was looking at military personnel.

The soldiers saluted him, including the woman he had just jumped off the roof with, and then she smiled and spoke, “Welcome back to the Maxima, Sir.”

By Naomi Eleanor

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