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ShardanaJase’s plea for release is inadvertently accompanied by a declaration of love for Althea. He wants to be set free of the environment which has become a prison for him. Unfortunately, the conversation is overheard.

“No need,” another voice broke in. Lawson’s nasal drawl was distinctive. “I had a feeling I needed to listen in. That was real sweet what you said, Jase, but it ain’t gonna get you nowhere.” His image flickered onto the screen beside Althea’s.

“Dr. Lawson, do you want me to die here?”

“What I want is what Cosgrove wants.”

“An Icthyuman and Human hybrid.”


“Couldn’t we bio-engineer something?”

Lawson pulled at his lower lip, shrugging. “Why bother when we can get the real thing?”

“Because she will kill me, Freddie. Shardana’s not like a human woman….”

A wild, ululating cry echoed through the jungle. Shardana was coming. He had moments only.

“Her fertile cycle starts in three days. If I’m still here, I become choice du jour, Fred. My death will be on your head. I keep copies of these conversations too, Dr. Lawson. And I have contacts on the outside who could take you and Cosgrove apart.”

Lawson stiffened. “Is that a threat, Dr. Thorngold?”

“That’s more in the form of a promise, Dr. Lawson. I have to go.”

Jase disconnected the call. Head in hands, he took a shuddering breath. Three days to get out or die. To him there was no option. If Lawson didn’t come with a directive from the Cosgrove board, he’d leave on his own. “Meanwhile, the Queen awaits.”

Sighing heavily, he filled a pack with biodegradable bulbs of fresh water. The pack would degrade as well, leaving no trace of humanity behind in this jungle paradise. He grabbed another beer from the refrigerator, tucked a few prepackaged meals in with the water and slung the heavy bag over his shoulder. Since coming here, he’d grown stronger, more athletic. He’d had to in order to keep up with Shardana. He hardly noticed the extra hundred pounds on his back.

Exiting the pod, he made sure it was tightly sealed. Saying a silent good bye to Althea, he set out to find Shardana by an indirect route. It took about fifteen minutes of muddling his path to come at her from the wrong direction. Forcing himself to smile, he walked up to her.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes


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