Choosing Theo: Chapter 3

If Jade had ever wondered whether she’d missed out on a career as an astronaut, she now had her answer. Flying through open space in an egg was terrifying. Her fear had caused her to somehow experience both intense claustrophobia and agoraphobia at the same time.

When a large planet came into view, her panic attack had intensified. She’d been able to breathe on the ship, and her common sense told her they wouldn’t have kept her alive this long only to send her to a planet where she couldn’t breathe, or one whose gravity was so strong, she’d be crushed like a pancake.

Logically she knew this. Unfortunately, at this moment, logic wasn’t at the steering wheel. The closer the pod drew to the planet, the quicker her breaths became until she began hyperventilating. When the pod hit the atmosphere, her vision faded to black.


Insects chirped all around Jade and a cold breeze blew, making her shiver. When her eyes cracked open, she saw she was still in her pod, but the door was opened.

Eyes widening, she sucked in a sharp breath and held it. A moment passed before she chided herself. Don’t be an idiot, Jade. You would’ve already died if you couldn’t breathe. She released her breath and peered out of the pod.

She was in a clearing with dense forest all around her. It was night, but moonlight illuminated her surroundings. When she stepped out of the pod, she understood why it was so bright. Two friggin’ moons.

Jade gazed around the clearing, marveling at how everything was both familiar and astonishingly foreign. The bright light of two moons, rather than one, shone down on a dark forest of trees. The forest, as a whole, was unremarkable. The tree trunks looked like wood, and the height of the trees was very tall but nothing out of the ordinary. The leaves, however, were unlike any she’d ever seen. They were very large and round like a giant lily pad. The thick, round leaves spread out and created an unnaturally dense canopy that caused almost all light to be blocked out.

The sounds of insects buzzed around her, but the noise just wasn’t right. Something about the unfamiliar pattern of humming and clicking that surrounded her made fear creep through her.

At least it’s a normal temperature, Jade recalled the intense heat of the spaceship.

Shaking her head in disbelief, she circled the pod and tried to take stock of her situation. What to do now? Did I crash or something? Veer off course? Why would Thing 1 and 2 drop me in the middle of the forest?

She heard a faint rustling to her right and froze. The spray! Where’s the spray? The small cylinder was no longer in her hands. Must’ve dropped it when I passed out.

As the rustling grew louder, she scrambled back to the pod, feeling around for the small container. Her movements became more desperate when the rustling changed into the sound of soft footsteps against the springy ground.

There! She found the tube without a second to spare. The steps were behind her, and she could feel a presence at her back. She blindly aimed the spray over her shoulder and dashed into the woods. Before she hit the tree line, she heard the satisfying “thump” of a body hitting the ground.

Heart racing, she ran. The forest was dense and almost pitch black. She continued to trip over fallen branches and slip in a slimy substance she couldn’t identify, but she kept running.

Her instincts told her that whoever or whatever was back there had made sure she’d arrived at night, away from civilization and therefore any other people. Whatever their motivation was, Jade doubted it was noble.

Jade had no idea how long she’d been running for when she noticed the trees start to thin. Her lungs burned with exertion, but she forced them and her shaky legs to keep moving. The trees continued to thin until they cleared completely.

Jade halted. In the distance she could make out the outline of a city backlit against the large glowing moons. There weren’t any skyscrapers or stark gray warehouses but rather tall, pointed towers that would not have looked out of place on a medieval castle.

To her right, the ground sloped and leveled out into a large field. On her left was a craggy path littered with bushes and boulders. Traveling in the field would definitely be easier, but she’d have no cover in case whoever was behind her caught up. The hill would take longer to traverse but had plenty of cover.

To anyone who didn’t know Jade, the field would’ve seemed like the more attractive option. She decided to choose the more difficult terrain, feeling that if her would-be kidnapper followed her, they’d assume she chose the flat field. Keeping the city in view, she began to climb. If she kept going at this pace it might only take her a few hours to get there.

Eyes riveted to the city skyline, she came to an abrupt stop. What if it’s worse there than here? She could be walking directly into a nightmare.

One thing was certain. The creature she’d run from had orchestrated her abduction. They’d waited for her to arrive alone. Why? She hoped it was because kidnapping was against the rules even on an alien planet.

Jade sank to her knees, hot tears running down her cheeks. Aliens, she thought miserably. Jade’s whole universe had shifted.

This was an alien planet. Even if she could find other beings, who’s to say she could make them understand what had happened to her? She was just one measly human from a world that hadn’t traveled that far into space yet. Why would they even care about her?

Now that she was alone, Jade allowed the events of the past few weeks to settle over her. Her life back home had been a lonely one. She had no family, very few good friends, and tended to keep to herself.

She lowered her head in her hands and cried weakly, attempting not to make any sound. No one will care that I’m gone. Will they even notice I was taken?

Sure, her employer would be put out that she’d just stopped coming in. They’d probably tried to contact her when she’d missed the meeting with that client a few days ago. After not hearing from her for at least a week, she hoped they would’ve called the police.

Her home would show that there’d been a break-in. She chuckled humorlessly through her tears. At this moment, she was most likely considered a missing person.

Jade realized that her work ID would be the only picture of hers that her coworkers had. Oddly, imagining her sad work photo on a missing person’s report, made her cry harder than anything else. How could she have shut herself off to the world so completely?

Jade batted away her tears. Dammit, her life hadn’t been the best, but it was hers. She had a house and a career, and if she ever got back to Earth, she swore she’d try and make more of an effort to let people in.

Somehow, she’d make these aliens understand what had happened to her. She would charade her ass off if that was what it took. Whoever abducted her wouldn’t get away with this.

She started walking toward the city and let her cool anger motivate her. If what they did was illegal, she’d find someone to help her catch them and punish them.


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