Stowaway | Invasion Survivor Book Three | Chapter Six
Paige could barely make out the white tiled floor on the lower level. There were a lot of stowaways stretched out on it. They had no blankets or pillows, but they were trying to sleep regardless. There was still a little bit of noise as people tried to get comfortable.
Paige was sure it would be close to impossible to get even remotely comfortable on the cold, hard floor. But after a while, the fatigue took over and everyone fell asleep.
We need to get blankets and pillows down here, Paige mused. They can't treat us like this!
There were children down there, so the entire situation was just unacceptable. Paige didn’t feel tired at all. She was wide-eyed, as if she had just woken up and it was morning. From the looks of it, AJ wasn’t doing much better. Paige realized that they had excess energy, and it was more than likely because of the Black Mass inside of them.
Maybe we no longer need to sleep at all, she mused.
Perhaps the Black Mass had many characteristics they still had to discover.
Oh, joy, she thought without actual humor. Truth be told, she was terrified of the thing coursing through her veins.
However, all things considered, it was probably a good thing they didn’t fall asleep. Keeping constant vigil was a good thing because only God knew what could or would happen during the night. “Hey,” Paige said softly to AJ, nudging him.
He nodded as a way of reply.
“What happened when you were on the spaceship with the Shadow men?” Paige asked.
There was actually something else she wanted to know, but she wasn't brave enough to ask.
AJ looked past Paige and out into the darkness of space for a moment or two before looking back at her. “Nothing much. I found Willow and your mom, then tried to find the rest, but I wasn't so lucky. Just when I was about to give up, I saw you. You know the rest. There isn’t much to tell.”
“I know there’s more to it. You don’t need to lie to me.” Paige looked pointedly into his eyes, raising her eyebrows.
It was clear he was leaving a lot out of his story, and she needed to hear it all.
“I’m not lying…” He started to get defensive.
“Well, tell me more then,” Paige interjected, becoming angry. The scarce information he gave was annoying, but she tried to keep her voice low. There was no need to wake people up, especially after having waited so long for them to fall asleep.
Still, despite her best efforts, someone shushed them, and she hoped AJ wouldn't use that as an excuse to clam up.
“What exactly do you want to know?” He turned and looked right into her eyes. Even in this moment of worry and annoyance, Paige once again noticed how handsome he was with his perfectly-shaped brown eyes.
“Mom and Willow, do they also have the Black Mass in them?”
AJ paused briefly before answering. “Your mom and sister were not in the pod room but in prison, waiting for the advanced experimentation process to commence.”
Images of the pod as it was filling sent a shiver up Paige's spine, but then the rest of his sentence came through.
They were about to experiment on them?
Somehow that was even worse.
“Of course, she was highly hostile toward me and was trying to kick me away, but after Willow talked to her, she kind of calmed down.”
“And,” she paused. “You found Dave already turned?”
Her heart was pounding. Paige already knew the answer even though she was in denial.
“I didn’t get him in time. I searched everywhere for him, but then I encountered him by chance, and he was guarding a very specific part of the ship. He was very calm and robotic.”
“AJ… are you completely sure?”
“He’s got the Black Mass in him, yes. He became a Host. I’m sorry for not being able to save him,” AJ stared at her with an unblinking gaze.
Although Paige knew all that, she needed to hear it again for some reason, and it was still heartbreaking. He shouldn’t have gone on his own. Dave was her friend, and she should have been there to help him.
With her mind racing, Paige started to think about a way to get the alien substance out of their bodies.
“But Paige, he is still alive. With Brooke, they’ll find a way to extract that thing from him,” he added, reminding her that there was a silver lining to this story.
Still, Paige felt like she’d failed him, the boy who had saved her so many countless times.
“AJ,” Paige said after a few minutes. “Thank you for saving my family.”
“I promised you I would, and I'm glad I managed to keep it, at least partially.”
“I have to tell you something.” Paige felt a bit shaky, but still, the urge to share her secret with someone was overwhelming.
“Yes?” He looked a little bit worried.
Paige could clearly see it on his face, and before she lost her cool, she started speaking. “I have it in me, too,” she whispered with a trembling voice.
“I already knew.” He smiled softly. Him knowing shouldn't have surprised her.
“You are stronger than you used to be,” he said.
AJ gently took her hand, making her feel secure once again. Paige then realized that she was not alone, and she was comforted by that fact.
“What does this mean now for us?”
“Now it means that we have a stronger chance of getting through all of this,” he replied.