Raised in Captivity

Brad circled the intruder. The intruder had been waiting for him when he woke up. Or to put a finer point on it, the intruder had been laying unconscious on the bedroom floor.

Sunlight streamed in through the barred window, casting stripes across the floor, over the intruder, and up onto the double entry door. This was his space, how dare this person invade his territory. He looked around, reassuring himself that all was in order. His wardrobe stood tall and imposing on the wall opposite his bed. Ninety degrees from the wardrobe was a single door, half opened to reveal a toilet and sink. A small table and chairs sat to the left of the window.

He grabbed a broom, propped up against the wardrobe, and used the brushy end to poke the intruder. “No, not now,” mumbled the intruder and swatted blindly at the broom. He jumped back and gasped. This intruder spoke in the old way, the vocal way.

He studied the intruder. Its long, dark hair fanned out from its head. Its clothing was unusual, tubular cloth, stiff and blue, covered both of its legs and connected to form one covering for the hips and waist. Pants. He pulled down on the formless shift he wore. He missed pants.

The intruder’s top covering was in two pieces. The inner piece was a bright color, something called pink. He hadn’t seen pink since his mother had stopped visiting. The outer clothing was thick and padded, a drab green color, like an olive.

The intruder’s face was soft, lips parted slightly in sleep, eyes closed. Smudges of dirt smeared the intruder’s pale skin. He approached slowly so as not to awaken it. He licked his hand and rubbed some of the dirt off its cheek. A rosy blush was revealed as the dirt came away. The intruder stirred and its eyelids flew upwards. He gazed into almond shaped emerald windows and suddenly knew the word he had been trying to trick off his tongue. “A girl?” he said aloud.

She screamed and rolled away from him. When she hit the bed she jumped to her feet and tried to back up, but only succeeded in seating herself on the bed instead. “Who are you? Where am I?” She took a deep breath and looked around the room. “Those things were chasing me. Where did they go? How did I get here?” she asked.

He decided to keep his distance. He held up his hands to show her he was harmless. His hands were slick with sweat. What was he supposed to do next? Right, introductions, “I’m Bradley,” he said slowly. He wasn’t used to vocal communication. “Bradley Hanover, you could call me Brad, if you want to,” he said. “What’s your name?”

“It’s Karen,” she said. “Karen Wu. My family has been hiding from the invaders for years. Last night they almost caught me trying to scrape together some food.”

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Raised in Captivity

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