A man in green medical scrubs rushed around a corner. He held a syringe in one hand. Sticking the point in the alien’s neck, he pushed down the plunger. In seconds, her grip on Ryan loosened and she slumped against him.
She was surprisingly heavy, so he needed the doctor’s help to get her back into a chair. Now that his eyes were adjusted to the dim red light, Ryan could see the chair was surrounded by silent medical devices. Screens lit up as the doctor stuck adhesive electrodes on his patient.
“Sorry about that. The dosage isn’t an exact science.”
“Oh,” Ryan said.
The doctor looked up from his machines, taking in Ryan and Theo and the rest of the class huddling outside the door.
“Tour group from school?”
“Yeah,” Theo said. “Mrs. Stewart’s class.”
“Hello Mrs. Stewart.” The doctor peeked over students’ heads in an attempt to see who he was talking to.
“Hello Dr. Marcus,” Mrs. Stewart said. “Alright class, let’s get a move on. You’re in my way.”
The rest of the class shuffled into the room. Shoes scraped across the floor, betraying the lack of enthusiasm. Ryan’s eyes stayed on the chair and its occupant. The curtain was still half drawn, and the darkness hid most of her alien features. His brain kept flashing back to earlier this morning though. He imagined her red eye glowing in the dark.
It took a moment to realize that the doctor was still talking. Judging by the way everyone was looking at him, he’d just been asked a question.
A few of the exempt students snickered. Theo leaned over toward the doctor, but spoke loud enough for most of the crowd to hear him.
“It’s a little distracting. We saw her this morning.”
The doctor nodded. “I guess that answers my second question. Have you seen an alien up close before?”
Dr. Marcus turned to the rest of the class. “Who can remember what GTR stands for?”
“Genetic Testing and Reclamation,” one of the students said.
“Close,” Dr. Marcus said. “But the T is for Triage. We do treatment here. There are other labs for research. Think of us as the front line in the war.”
“Isn’t that us?” Theo asked with a smirk.
“Good point,” Dr. Marcus said. “I guess we’re more the second line. Tanks like these are one of our greatest weapons in this war though.”
“The aliens can’t make any more of themselves right?” one of the students asked. “Why can’t we just wait them out?”
“Those are good questions,” Dr. Marcus said. “All of which should’ve already been answered in your science class. Anyone want to help out the young man here?”
“Even their partial alien DNA makes them practically biologically immortal,” someone volunteered.
“Exactly right,” Dr. Marcus said. “Ninety percent of the world’s population was affected by the Hedron, so it would be centuries before we could reach an equal human and alien population, and we don’t have the resources for that many. Oh, and about them not being able to make any more of themselves. It’s true they can’t reproduce, but no one knows what happens for sure when they capture an enclave. Some people think they have a way of turning people.”
The class shifted their feet and more than a few people swallowed. It wasn’t something anyone wanted to think about.