by Mark E. Schrull
“What are they going to do to us, Ellen?”
Ellen looked down at the grimy floor. “They won’t do anything to us tonight. You should get some sleep.”
“Sleep? How am I going to sleep? You sleep!” She sobbed into what was left of her torn uniform sleeve. “What are they going to do to us?”
“They are probably contacting the solar council and will release us to them once a ship arrives,” Ellen answered.
Colleen tried to compose herself. “No really, Ellen. Give it to me straight. Where are we? And why did they put us in here?”
Ellen looked at the floor again.
“Please, Ellen, I’m alright now.” She bit her lip. “I can take it. It was just the shock of being placed in here. Please tell me what you think.”
Gripping Colleen’s shoulders, Ellen whispered, “We must have crash landed on Sintas. I heard the chambers under the old iron ball lanes were once used to mate Sintanians for ore slaves. I think that is where we are, just under the surface.”
“Iron ball?” Colleen’s eyes searched for an answer on her friend’s face.
“It’s a disgusting sport the Sintanians used to play with prisoners they captured. The victims are forced to stand at the end of a small runway, on a platform.”
Colleen held herself and rocked back and forth as she listened.
Ellen continued, “Sintanians stand at the end of a small runway and roll iron balls toward the prisoner. They try to knock them off the platform. I saw pictures once in my Dad’s scrapbook from the war.”
Colleen sobbed uncontrollably. “It can’t be. It just can’t be. How can they get away with this? I thought the solar council prevented things like this.”
“They try, but Sintas has always been a lawless planet. They keep things secret.”
“We’re going to die. I know we are going to die,” Colleen uttered, nearly going into hysterics.
“Then we will die!” Ellen yelled. “You always knew a crash could happen. Get a hold of yourself!”
“No! No, no! My father always said if we had to bail out, the council would pick us up in a few hours.”
“Where is your father at now, Colleen? It’s been more then a few hours!”
“He’ll come. You’ll see. Then you won’t be such a smart…”
Ellen slapped Colleen across her face hard. Colleen crawled away to the opposite corner of the cell. Ellen frowned and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Colleen. But I don’t want to be here any more then you…”
“Shut up!” Colleen yelled. “I don’t even want to hear your apologies. When my father comes, I’ll decide if we should take you with us or let you stay here and rot.” She covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
Suddenly a door hinge made a squealing noise in the hallway outside their cell. Ellen listened intently as unfamiliar steps came closer and louder. “Someone or something is coming…”
“Its my father!” Colleen shouted, moving up towards the bars. “I told you he’d come.”
“Colleen, its not your father.”
“It is him! Daddy, I’m here. I’m down here.”
Ellen grabbed Colleen by the shoulder. “It’s not your father. Shut up!”
“Let me go, it is so him.” She slapped Ellen’s arms away. “Daddy, I knew you’d come.”
Ellen moved toward the back of the cell. A shadow came into view on the corridor floor. Colleen kept pressed to the bars, craning her neck to see the shadow’s origin. Her eyes widened as a slimy Sintanian moved into view.
“Daddy, its me,” the creature mocked. A sickly laughter blended with Colleens scream.
Colleen rushed back by Ellen and the two held each other, Colleen’s head buried in Ellen’s chest.
“Your daddy isn’t going to help you human. Nothing can help you now.”
Ellen stared at the Sintanian. It was wearing grimy cover alls. Its face was deeply wrinkled and greasy. Two yellow teeth protruded upward, out of its thick lips. An upturned nose was disgusting and runny.
Colleen lifted her head and shouted at the creature, “You aren’t allowed to do this to us. When council finds out, nothing will help you!”
“You stupid Human. Do you think the solar council cares about you?” It sniffed a sickening slurp like a child with a bad cold. “They think you’re dead. We sent out an inter-star fax late last night after your crash. Terrible news. A passenger shuttle exploded on impact with the city. Everyone on board was killed. Incinerated. Don’t you know there is nothing left of you but ashes?” He pulled a sword from his dark sheath and clanked it against the bars of the cell.
“You slimy animal,” Ellen shouted. “If it weren’t for us humans, your kind would have died out ages ago. We should have let the Montrey wipe you out in the war. Your stinking, filthy race should have been eliminated!”
“Maybe so, girl, but we didn’t die out.” He paused and wiped the scum from under his nose, slinging it on the floor with a sickly plop. “We lived! And since the end of the war with the Montrey we have tripled in number.”
“I bet,” Ellen, answered. “All you animals know how to do is eat and mate.”
“Yes, and play iron ball, and kill humans.
Colleen and Ellen were forced at sword point to walk up the corridor to a huge connecting tunnel. Several fat Sintanians stood against the tunnel walls and ridiculed them as they passed. Purple spider webs hung from the ceiling and yellow, muddy ooze ran out from rotting holes in the wall.
“I can feel it!” Ellen yelled suddenly, dropping to her knees. “I can feel the power of the Montrey!”
“Get up, you human pig. I’ll run the point of this sword right through you.”
“Ellen, get up!” Colleen said, yanking on her arm.
“I can feel the power of the Montrey. It is wonderful! It’s running in my veins. I have the power.”
“You don’t have anything!” the creature shrieked. “If you don’t shut up and stand, the only thing you’re going to feel is my sword piercing you.” A sharp pain shot up Ellen’s spine and exploded at the base of her skull.”
Ellen began rising slowly and deliberately. “Okay, okay. I’m getting up.”
The Sintanian pulled the point back from Ellen’s neck but kept it pressed against the center of her back. “I should kill you now. How dare you act like a Montrey? There are none here to help you. We’ve banished them from the planet.”
Ellen slowly turned around, facing the slimy creature. “You banished nothing,” she said, opening her eyes.
“Shut up! Turn around and get going.”
Ellen whispered to Colleen, “Fear not. I have the power.”
“Ellen, what is it? Your eyes – they don’t look right.”
“Get going!” The Sintanian pointed his sword at Colleen.
Colleen pulled Ellen and started up the tunnel. “You’re losing it, Ellen. Keep quiet or he’ll kill us.”
“No, Colleen. He won’t kill us. They need us alive to play iron ball. But we won’t be partaking in their games today. I have the power, and this atrocity must end.”
“Ellen, what are you talking about?”
“Shut up and keep moving,” The slimy creature warned. “You’re almost there.”
After walking a little further, the Sintanian pushed a panel on the side of the tunnel and a door slid open revealing a small, dark room. “In there.”
Both women entered the blackness. The door behind them slammed shut with a loud bang and both woman jumped. Neither of them could see the other but they held each other’s hands.
“Don’t be afraid, Colleen. The spirit of the Montrey has contacted me. They’re going to help us through my eyes.”
“What the heck are you talking about?”
Ellen began to explain, “The Montrey tried to wipe out the Sintanians decades ago. There was a war between the planets. The Montrey, who enslaved the Sintanians, used their powerful minds to keep them under control.”
Colleen remembered the books from her training. Pictures of the dark days ran across her mind. Humans handing out special headsets to block out the Montrey power. She shook her head. “We caused the overthrow. Why should they help us?”
Ellen continued. “The humans of that time should never have interfered. Sintanians are a terrible, nasty race and should be kept near extinction. Their only use is for dangerous operations in the mines. The Montrey will help us so we can survive and bring the facts of this event back to the council. I have been instructed to…”
A loud scratching noise interrupted Ellen. The wall in front of them started to rise and light flooded into the chamber, temporarily blinding them. The sound of cheering crowds roared in their ears. Together they entered the light and the door behind them slammed shut.
Colleen wanted to flea, but laser beams shot up around them from floor to ceiling. They both realized they were in the center of some type of arena, and at the end of an iron ball lane. Throngs of Sintanian spectators whistled and taunted them from surrounding seats. Many threw rotten food and empty cans.
A Sintanian announcer began to entice the crowd. “Are you ready to play iron ball?”
“Yes!” the crowd answered back.
“Do you want to see the human wenches die?”
“Yes! Kill them!” the crowd yelled back, stomping, clapping and cheering.
“Then lets hear it for “”IRON BALL!”
The spectators began to chant, “Iron ball! Iron ball! Iron ball!”
“Wait!” The announcer held his arms out and a silence fell across the crowd. “Do you humans have anything you wish to say?”
A microphone was lowered from a hole in the ceiling to dangle just out of the women’s reach. Colleen cowered on the floor of the laser beam cage, but Ellen stood straight and tall and pointed out to the surrounding crowd. “I am offering you, the Sintanian people one last chance. Set us free and you shall live. The solar council will then know there is hope that one day your people may hold a seat, and be represented by council. Begin this game and your planet will come to an end.”
“Play the game!” came a shout from the crowd.
“Roll the ball!” another fan screamed.
All began to chant, “Iron ball! Iron ball! Iron ball!”
“Then let the games begin!” hollered the announcer.
The microphone disappeared back into the ceiling and the first Sintanian player picked up a ball at the end of a runway leading to the women’s enclosure.
Ellen’s eyes began to glow with a ghastly, green light.
The Sintanian player looked confused. Instead of rolling the ball down the lane towards the girls as expected, he launched it fiercely into the crowd. The ball amputated a Sintanian female’s arm and injured a male behind her. Greenish blood flew everywhere.
Silence settled momentarily over the arena, followed by screams of fear and panic.
The player threw another iron ball at the spectators and it smashed into a male’s face, killing him instantly. Screaming Sintanians ran in every direction. The announcer pleaded for calm but no calm came. Panic danced with the crowd of fleeing spectators heading for the exits.
As Colleen watched in disbelief, Ellen raised her arms like a woman processed and Sintanians everywhere began killing each other. The announcer strangled himself with his microphone cord. A cook slit the throats of customers sitting around the snack bar. Iron Ball players grappled with each other in death grips. Guards at the exit points began hacking and slashing fleeing hoards and each other. Mayhem ensued and Colleen screamed as she watched the horrors unfold.
Ellen offered Colleen her hand and as Colleen stood and grabbed it, the laser beams surrounding them disappeared. Her eyes still glowing, Ellen guided both of them off the cage base and together they walked out of the iron ball arena. Mass hysteria remained.
Two days later, Colleen Mays and Ellen Montego sat in front of the solar council. A speaker neared the end of his summation… “And as it has been pointed out, honorable members of council, the Sintanians have been lying and covering up their filthy deeds all along. They are guilty of crimes against species. It is with great regret I recommend their elimination. Thank you.”
The council president hammered his gable. “Does any other member wish to speak on this issue?”
Voices whispered throughout the chamber, but no comments or questions were posed.
“Hearing none. I pose the question of the motion to the membership. Should the Sintanian race be eliminated? Signify by saying aye.”
A great “Aye” was heard throughout the chamber.
“Opposed, say nay.”
Not a nay was heard.
“The ayes have it.”
Ellen Montego stared blankly.
Colleen Mays smiled.
Copyright 2012 – 2014
Mark E. Schrull
All rights reserved.
(Originally published by Yahoo.com/voices 2/29/12)