Michael stood there and watched her sleep. Couldn’t move. He’d never felt so torn. A part of him had the irresistible urge to protect her, yet he couldn’t help but wonder how much she wasn’t telling him about the Order. About those from her planet who’d killed his mother. She’d seemed sincere. He no longer believed she was the murderer. The fact remained she was from another planet. It excited and terrified him. It was strange that he felt anything at all for an . . . otherworldly being.

Alien.

What an effin stupid word, anyway. She didn’t look like one or act like one. She seemed cool. Even sick, she radiated beauty and energy. Yet her body betrayed her in its frailty.  

Her hands were tucked under her right cheek, pressed together. It looked as though she prayed, like an angel. Above the constant buzzing of the electric current, he could hear her wheezing. Each ragged breath moved her cracked red lips.

How could I have considered her a killer?  

He made his way to the two-way glass and pounded on it. “Hey, Frank. I need to talk to you.” Michael tried to peer into the small observation room he knew existed on the other side. But he couldn’t see anything. “You hear me. We need to talk.” He pounded the glass again.

Venus mumbled in her sleep.

Michael moved back over to the bars. “Venus. What did you say?” His mom had talked in her sleep a lot, especially when she’d fallen asleep drunk. When that happened, he’d sometimes ask questions. She’d answer. He hoped for the same response from Venus.

“Boots . . . A heart . . . beating. Boots!”

Those strange boots she always wore. That must be what she meant. It’d been difficult to remove them. Abe had tried to cut them off with an electric saw, pound them off with a hammer. He’d also tried a drill, too. When he’d pulled out a torch, Michael couldn’t take anymore. He’d rushed into the room and told Abe to stop. Then Michael pulled on the boots and they’d released from around her legs and come off her feet into his hands.

He, Abe, and Frank took turns checking out the stuff in the heels. A lightly glowing arrow surrounded by a blue substance in one and a slow beating heart with a grayish matter swirling throughout the other. They were bizarre, but awesome, too.

After a while, Abe finally gave up, and handed them over to others. Last he’d heard they were running tests on them. If she needed those boots, then he wanted to get them.

Michael went back to the observation glass and pounded. “She needs her boots. Bring them to her. Frank! Frank!” He waited. A few minutes passed. He was about to yell again when he heard the shuffle of shoes against the tiled floor. Frank stood in front of his buzzing cell.

“I hear you. Know that. But, Abe can’t give her back those . . . boots yet. We’re still testing them.”

Michael avoided eye contact, stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “I think she’s dying, Frank.”

Frank glanced over at her. “Yes, I agree. That’s why we need to continue testing her. I’d rather she not die. Strange, though, I was under the impression you wanted her dead.”

If Michael had been able, he would’ve clocked Frank right then. He was a heartless jerk. “She didn’t kill Mother. It was stupid of me to think she had. I’m sure you knew that though. Didn’t you?”

Frank sighed. “Michael, we need her.”

“I want to know what you’re doing to find the . . . alien that really murdered mother?”

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