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Over the weekend, I decided to write a short story based on a prompt for a job as a freelance writer. Turns out the job wasn’t worth pursuing, but I wrote the story anyway. The requirements were 500 words on the topic “What would you do if you woke up and found yourself surrounded by aliens.” Enjoy :).

I wake to find the alien’s third eye staring at me from the other side of metal bars. A wave of nausea sweeps over me as the eye blinks then swivels towards me while the eyes on either side remain motionless. Instinctively, I flinch backwards and my stomach roils again.

The nightmare creature withdraws, giving me a moment to assess my surroundings. I’m in a basement. My basement. That’s right! Yesterday afternoon, I saw the news reports about the imminent alien invasion. I came down to the basement in the hopes that they’d take little interest in an unexceptional human in a city of millions. Clearly, I’d been wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong.

The eye blinks again.

“What do you want from us?” The words sound ridiculous as they leave my throat. Am I really trying to talk to an alien… in English?

This time, all three eyes swivel my way. I sit up, bumping my head on the low ceiling. I’m in some kind of box. No, not a box, a cage. I vaguely remember crawling into my dog’s old crate when I heard noises upstairs. As if a thin layer of plastic and a metal grill can protect me from extraterrestrials capable of interstellar travel.

The bony ridge that runs down the alien’s face splits apart, revealing a fleshy appendage. A tongue? The creature lets forth a howling noise somewhere between a yodel and a drowning cat.

I try again. “Why have you invaded our world?” Another drowning cat yodel. I grab the bars of my salvation-turned-prison and shake. “Let me go!”

I fall forward, toppling out of the cage as the bars swing outward with ease. The creature standing before me rises. Until now, I’d been so fixated on its face that I hadn’t noticed the rest of the alien’s body. Long and sinewy, it reminds me of an octopus mixed with a lizard: reptilian scales cover eight arms, each with four finger-like digits.

Two of the tentacle-arms reach towards me. I draw back, but the cage door swung shut behind me when I tumbled out. My back presses against the bars, keeping me out far better than it kept me in.

Two limbs wrap me and, I am not ashamed to admit, I scream like a six-year-old girl whose ice cream just slipped down a sewer. Another drown cat yodel and I wish the tentacles were wrapped around my ears instead of my chest. My brain burns from the high-pitched decibels.

An instant later, a door opens in the back of the room. Four more aliens burst—okay, more like slithered—into the room. I scream again as the squid-like creatures surround me. One of them presses a tentacle to my forehead.

That’s when I hear a voice inside my head. “Relax, child. We are here to save you.”