The light slashes my retinas like razor wire. My body aches from the narcotic crash. My face is a mess of snot and tears. My breasts itch. I plead for the carapace to remain closed, though its decaying walls are little defense against the artificial dawn.
I open my mouth like a greedy chick beneath the dope nozzle. Nothing. I squeeze the valve. Still nothing. I’m out of drugs, save for those already ebbing in my bloodstream.
I’ve no choice but to face the day.
My fingers–barely human, they’re so gnarled from hibernation–scratch at the seam of the carapace. I find the fleshy latch–by chance more than routine–and the shell groans open with a burst of smog. I shield my eyes with an atrophied hand and peer into the alien abyss.
My workstation awaits just out of arm’s reach. If only the claw-footed desk stood a meter closer, I could snatch up the terminal and type from the comfort of my shell. Of course the thought is futile–already the carapace has begun to wither, curling back on itself like a time-lapse carcass. I stagger to my feet and get to work.
My fingers clack-clack against the keys. The monitor fills with letters in a glacial crush of green. I don’t think about what I’m writing, because those are my instructions. I’ve learned not to deviate from my instructions.
The typing echoes against distant walls. Shadows obscure all but my own workspace, the overhead light constrained by a narrow cone. In the darkness other noises persist. Some mechanical, some human. Wheezing, clicking, coughing. My sisters are waking.
I pay them no heed. Communication is not included in my instructions. Instead I continue typing.
Other noises drift from overhead. A muted hiss. The patter of a hundred alien tentacles against the rock. Our jailers.
I must escape this hell. If only I could think clearly. These drugs are chains on my lucidity. They shackle my resolve.
My gaze lazes across the screen. A flash of recognition catches me unaware. I try to avert my eyes but they trace paths of their own volition, across familiar words. California. Discovery. Betrayal.
My written narrative captivates me. I’m falling into a dream, a memory, a confusion of image and sound.