Chapter 6

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Anna woke up to a pain in the back of her head and sunlight streaming through the window in an unfamiliar room, clothed in a hospital gown.

"She's awake!"

Suddenly, a pair of arms snaked around Anna's shoulders and she felt Dena sigh in relief against her neck. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Anna sat up in bed, but Katelyn pushed her back down. "You need to rest! The doctor said you have a concussion and a sprained wrist, so you need to stay put."

"But-"

"Nope, you're not getting past us today." Dena and Katelyn got up from the bed. "Our visiting time is almost up. We'll visit you soon, okay?"

"Wow, ditching me so early," Anna rolled her eyes, but smiled as Dena gave her puppy eyes.

"Sorry, Anna, but we have to go. Promise we'll visit tomorrow." Katelyn blew her a kiss.

"You better!" Anna yelled after them as the door closed.

Sighing, Anna adjusted herself on the cushions and took her phone, which was on the bedside table. Scrolling through her notifications, she noticed a voicemail. It was from Taylor.

"Hey, Anna, I just wanted to know how you're feeling... I'm...really sorry for what happened. Really. I didn't mean for it to happen at all, and I promise I wasn't trying to sabotage you." He chuckled quietly. "Call me when you're feeling better. Bye." Click.

Anna looked at the phone and smiled. It was nice that her boss was looking out for her, but she would be fine. She set her phone back on the table and sank back into a dreamless sleep.

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As expected, Anna went back to work; she was elated to be back at her dream job. Except for one problem.

As someone who had been hiding from the media for over 3 years, the stares and whispers, mostly not rude, really threw her rhythm off.

"Oh my god..."

"I heard she fought an alien.."

"Is she Mr. Nielsen's new fling? I saw them in the park last week..."

"Ms. Rivers?" Anna looked up at Mark, holding out a thick Manila folder.

"Yes, Mark?"

"Here's your report back. As you've researched, the flora and fauna of Cezsna are quite similar to ours, if not for the slightly disturbing fact that they are all carnivorous. I'm glad to tell you that you will be having more lab hours starting from tomorrow." He handed her a thinner folder. "Your job is to perform various experiments on the Green, parasite aliens that enter the mouth to take control of the host."

Anna sucked in a pained breath, and her boss noticed. "Anna, you don't have to do it after..." Mark faltered off.

"No, it's okay. I'll do it." Anna's gaze grew steely as she looked at him. "What time should I report?"

Mark sighed in relief. As head supervisor of the new workers, he was shocked when Taylor told him about the accident in the Lab. But he knew that Anna, being one of the best new astrobiologists, wouldn't let up so easily. "You report at 9:30 at the Lab, coat and supplies ready."

After thanking Mark, Anna went back to typing up her next report, her fingers flying across the keyboard.

"Hey, new girl."

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