We Are Who We are Where We Are

"Where..." Carl began, but it took a moment to get the saliva going again, to ease his parched throat.  "Where the hell are we?"

"I don't know."  the girl answered with a small whimper.  "I just... I don't know.  This isn't VillaVine"  Carl swore.  VIllaVine wasn't a name he was familiar with. 

The atmosphere was warmer than he was used to and there was a heavier moisture content.  Overhead, the light was diffused enough that it could have been  an internal chamber.  But they could also have been within an environment-dome on the surface of Mars. 

"My name is Carl."  Carl offered.  He let the silence sit long enough for the question to be implied.

"Natalie."  The girl said, warily.

"Okay, Natalie."  Carl closed his eyes, tried to push the pounding of his headache to the background.  "What's the last thing you remember?" 

"I was rehearsing."  Natalie at beside him, placed one arm on one knee, propped up to hide her genitals from him, and lowered her head.  "I dance.  With NanoThorn.  We have a performance in a week in Haiyuan City, on Mars.  I am to be doing a solo.  I finished my warmups, entered the Zero-G chamber.  The lights went out.  I tried to disengage to airlock, but then..."  she waved around her  "This."

"NanoThorn?"  Carl asked.  Haiyuan City  was one of the centers of modern arts in the Fifth Wave Nations.  But there didn't seem to be any connection between them that would warrant them both being kidnapped and placed together.

At least she was talking to him.  "Okay... " Carl began.  "I'm with the TSA Military.  I was at LaGrange-5, waiting for a shuttle to Mars.  I was in the Officers' Lounge, just watching some stupid Revival Western...  I had a couple of hours to kill. I don't remember much beyond that."

"A lounge?"  Natalie asked.

Carl grunted.  "Not a lot of space on the swiss-cheese asteroids.  More like a water closet."

"You were with others?"

"No."  Carl said, understanding what she was getting at.  "No, I was alone at the time, too.  No witnesses but the Cybershell-bartender."  He gingerly touched his head again.  "Crap, I could use a drink."

"Is the blow to head."  Natalie said perfunctorily.  "You were at LaGrange-5.  Humanitarian Crisis?"

LaGrange-5 was one of the points between Earth and the moon where the gravitational forces cancelled each other out.  L5, located 60 degrees behind Luna's orbit, had become the trash-fill lot of the solar system, with most the structures in the area being towed there to avoid potential debris-collisions in space.  The colonies that existed there were often subsistence operations on the verge of one disaster or another.

"No."  Carl shook his head, then immediately regretted it.  "I went to testify."  Immediately, he'd regretted saying it.

"So." Natalie said, her lips pursed.  "Why put us together?  Is confusing."  Natalie's voice had taken on a tighter edge, like she was angry.  Carl was beginning to suspect why, but bringing it out would dissolve any chance of them working together to get away.

"Have you defecated or urinated since you've been here?"  Carl asked, keeping his voice neutral.

"What?"  Natalies' eyes shot up.

"Simple."  Carl said.  "It gives us an idea of how long we've been here."

Natalie nodded, apparently mollified  "No.  Not either."  She stood up again, with her back to him, and lifted her arms above her head to stretch, like a cat basking in the heat, she bent down slowly, one vertebrae at a time, and Carl couldn't help but appreciate her form.

He stood, too.   Though he was much more wobbly, he managed to keep his balance.  "Well, there's nothing for it.  We should pick a direction and go."

"I do not understand."  Natalie cocked her head to one side.  It was a pretty gesture, Carl thought.

"The temperature is too constant."  Carl said.  "And there's no wind.  We're either inside or in an environmental-dome.  Either way, if we travel in one direction, we should come to a wall.  If there's a wall, there may be a door."

The End

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