01. Woo-wah! | Escape

August 16, 2020 Sujay Sarma

Clearly, I had been ‘out’ for a while. My head hurt. And there was an unceasing sound, it seemed to be far away, but it was urgent. I tried to dismiss it from my mind, but it insisted on being heard. I listened to see what it was. It was a two-tone sound, rising to…

Clearly, I had been ‘out’ for a while. My head hurt. And there was an unceasing sound, it seemed to be far away, but it was urgent. I tried to dismiss it from my mind, but it insisted on being heard. I listened to see what it was. It was a two-tone sound, rising to a high pitch and falling into a low bass. I had heard it before. Somewhere.

“Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!” the two-tone siren called.

I tried to listen to it for a while, but the sound gave me a headache.

“Argh!” I put a finger in each ear to get the sound out of my head.

Two minutes… to auto destruct.” Came a disembodied female voice. It seemed to be everywhere.

“Auto destruct?” I wondered. “Auto destruct of what? Where am I?”

Oh God! I had to get out of whatever, where-ever this was. I looked around me.

“Hello!” I called out. There was no answer.

I found myself on a metallic table of some sort. It looked like a bed they have in an operation theatre. I jumped off. My legs were wobbly and almost buckled as soon as I stood on them. Steadying myself, I groped my way to the nearby wall. A partition slid away with an imperceptible hiss. A corridor led out on both sides of the door. I stumbled into the corridor and peered to the left and the right. It was empty, and devoid of human sounds. Devoid of most sounds one would expect to hear. Except…

There was just the sound of gnashing, as if a giant crab was smashing through the walls.

“Crash! Ymmmmmm…. Crash!” It continued in various tones and frequencies. It sounded like whatever construction I was in was coming apart.

On a panel to my right, and a little bit of a distance, almost at the point where the wall vanished around a corner, I saw something blinking in red. Like a drunken man, I wound my way to it. It was a sign pointing away. It didn’t ‘say’ anything. There was nothing written around it. It was just a big bright red arrow. And it was blinking as if to say, “look at me!”.

I picked up speed and started to run. I had recovered enough. My head still throbbed though.

“Hello!” I kept calling as I ran. There was no answer. None at all.

There were many arrows along the way. The arrows led into a large room. It seemed to be a bay that housed some kind of large pea-shaped pods. Most of them were gone. I found one with its lights on. As I approached, its cover opened out.

One minute… to auto destruct.” Sounded the female voice again.

I fit myself in. As I settled in, the cover closed down. It was a transparent glass like panel, I could see through it. A small button started to blink to a side of me. It had the picture of a stickman running through a door. Exit. I touched it.

There was a sudden hiss and without warning, I was flying away. Backward.

As we flew away, I found that I had just been ejected from a large ship. It was massive. There was a lot of damage to its body and fires were breaking out even as I looked on. How it managed to stay in the air was a mystery. I turned my attention away from the ship to myself.

“Where am I falling away to?” I wondered.

The pod I was in swung around. Just in time too, because I felt the shockwave of the ship above us self-destructing push us. It felt like a powerful kick.

Thankfully, we seemed to be in some kind of an atmosphere. At least we were on a planet. But which one? But my rejoicing was cut short when the landscape below me came into focus. We were maybe two thousand feet away from the planet’s surface and it was a gnarly rocky surface below us.

“I need to get out of this thing before we crash!” I thought to myself. My breathing went up several notches and my heart beat fast. I was panicking.

I looked around the confines of the pod and found a read out that was apparently indicating our speed. Next to it was a pull switch with the symbol of an umbrella over it. Umbrella? Parachute! I pulled the switch. Nothing happened.

Then I noticed, some switches were lighted up and others were not. Perhaps I need to do something else? I wondered. I found another read out beside the switch, it seemed to be counting down our height. While the speed was climbing at a rate of knots, the height was coming down to zero – very quickly. It showed just around the thousand feet mark.

I kept pulling the parachute switch. Suddenly, I felt a tug. We went higher for a moment as the parachute deployed and slowed our descent. We floated around a bit and slowly descended just away from the gnarly mountains on a partially grassy plain. While we floated down, I tried to look around for other survivors from the ship. There seemed to be no other pods! Perhaps they had ejected much earlier and landed far away, I mused.

When we landed, and the cover of the pod shot off the sides. I gave it a minute and then got myself up and out of the pod. Gravity was okay and the air was breathable. I still had no idea where I was.

And, worse, I had no idea who I was. The pod’s surface was shiny and reflective. I caught a glimpse of myself on it. I seemed to be a man, a youth of about thirty. Surely, I should be able to remember more of who I was?

“Oh my god! Was that an alien spaceship!” I cried out aloud in horror, involuntarily looking upward at the debris still raining down. “I was abducted.” I deduced.

Giving myself a few minutes to calm down, I set about consolidating my state of affairs. I needed to survive. I rummaged around the pod, pushing buttons, pulling away stuff and throwing them out… trying to find things that would be useful to me.

I found a small satchel, and there were packets of food and water. There also was a medical kit. Each item was clearly labelled, but I could not understand what the letters meant. I stuffed all of it into the satchel. In one of the compartments there had been a few shiny objects. Some had lights blinking on them, some I could open, and it showed stuff. At the time, I had no idea what they were for, but I added all of them to my bag.

Looking around, I found a small hill just behind where the pod had landed. It seemed climbable. I tested out my limbs and stamina by doing a few slow laps around the pod. I seemed to be in reasonable shape. I decided I would go up the hill. I could get a better look around me and also look for other survivors from the ship. I decided to eat a little first and also try out some of the devices I had got from the pod. At least one of them should be useful!

One of them was shaped like a small compact. It flipped open and had a screen with concentric rings drawn on it. Each ring had a small marking on it. Numbers? Distance? I could not understand the number. All over the screen were pulsating dots of various shapes. Some dots stood alone while others were in clusters. I turned the device around the horizon and the dots changed. In some directions there were no dots at all. Maybe a device that showed me animals? People? Life forms?

Another one had a light that kept blinking at a slow rate but did not do anything else. I discarded it. A third device was shaped like an egg. It had a small pressable button on a side. Holding it away from me, I pressed the button. An energy beam shot out from the other end. I was holding it pointed at the pod and the beam hit the pod’s hull and the hull started to glow. I turned it off. The hull had considerably warmed up where the beam had hit it. Turning to a bush a little distance away, I shot the beam at it. The bush set on fire.

“Ah! A weapon!” I cried with joy. “This one, I’ll keep.”

Climbing was actually harder than I had thought. Maybe I was not in the best of shape. It was difficult to breathe as I went higher. But I made it as the sun crossed its zenith in the sky.

The trip was disappointing. I did not spot any more debris or survivors from the craft. Neither was I able to spot anyone else from the ship. In the distance, I could spot animals though. I could not make out what they were – I did not have a set of binoculars or sort of distance-viewing device. And there appeared to be a sort of a stream where the animals were. I found the locator device and pointed it at the animals and sure enough, dots! I turned around and found that the dots were showing me whether other forms of animal life were.

It took me lesser time to get down the hill. I headed for the relative safety and familiarity of where the pod was. I ate the cold dinner slowly. Since I was on a flat plane, there was no cave or other hideout I could fashion into a resting place. So, I turned the pod upside down and propped an end on a set of stout poles I found. Pulling up some brush vegetation and dry sticks, I used the energy beam to start a campfire. Lying down on the grass, I looked up at the night sky.

The stars looked familiar. I looked and found many of the stars and constellations I knew. Slowly, I drifted off into sleep. It was a dreamless sleep, but I slept soundly.

When I woke up the next morning, the sun was up quite high in the horizon. I calculated that my rations would not last very long. I needed to find sources of food and water. Today, I would explore in the direction of the stream I had seen yesterday. There seemed to be a small forest. Forest meant trees. Trees meant fruit. Food!

On my trek to the forest, I tried to imagine who I could be and how I had got here. Except for some vague memories that seemed to be from my childhood, I could not remember much else. Surely, I must have had a past? When I reached the edge of the forest, I sat down and ate a small breakfast from one of the packets and drank the last of my water.

There seemed to be no fruit-bearing trees in the part of the forest I crossed through. But I did spot a large stout tree that I could sleep atop of. The stream was immediately next to it. Gingerly, I bent down and tasted a drop with the tip of my tongue.

“Water!” I almost shouted out in joy. “And it is sweet!”

I did a small dance. Then, I lay down on the bank and drank heartily.

Sated and happy, I crossed the stream. It was only ankle deep.

There were more grassy plains on the other side. I strode across it. The animals I had spotted, had wandered away to a side. Adjusting course, I followed.

It must have been a couple of hours of walking. I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of me.

Spotted deer!

They had light brown, almost golden coats. Spotted, with white splotches. Antlers. These were spotted deer like I had seen on Earth! Trying not to make too much sound, I approached them. A few looked in my direction inquisitively. Their ears twitched. Then suddenly they up and bolted. They were gone.

I whipped out my compass thing and looked. They had gone away to the edges of where the device could ‘see’. I sighed with exasperation and sat down.

After resting a while, I got up and headed back toward the forest. I would climb up and sleep on a branch tonight, I resolved. Thankfully, I had my satchel of supplies with me.

About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".