Elena, an English teacher, ran away from her life on the dying planet Earth, to accept a job on Mesa Verde. Dakota, in her first class, knew she was the woman for him. She rebuffs him because she has a secret. Can Dakota convince her to accept his love? And can he help her stay on the planet when an earther with a grudge pursues her?
Elena shuddered as she felt the liquid being pumped into her veins beginning to take effect on her blood. She knew it was binding itself to the water so that when she was frozen in suspended animation, the water in her blood wouldn’t freeze into shards of ice crystals that might split open her veins. She felt herself becoming sluggish, and extreme tiredness crept through her body. It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, nor was she unprepared for it—not after the long lecture on the physical effects of cryogenics that all Starline passengers had to attend.
But still, the feeling was unusual enough for her to want to distract herself from it. She tried to focus her increasingly blurry vision on the nurse who was attending to her preparations.
“So, I’ve heard rumors that you guys have fun with female passengers when we are unconscious and unable to object.” Somewhere deep in her brain, she realized this was probably not a good subject to bring up—not here and now. But it was something she’d tried to put out of her mind. Now it forced its way up and out of her lips before her drowsy brain could stop it.
The nurse smiled as he looked up from checking the readings on the machine that would monitor her vitals for the length of the trip. “Is that old bullshit still being spread around by the ignorant Earth-only cowards who are too scared to think about leaving the planet?”
Elena nodded as she realized she was beginning to drool, and her arms weren’t responding to her brain’s orders to move up to her face anymore.
“Honey, once the door to your container is closed, you’re untouchable until we reach your destination. If anyone tried to open the door, alarms would go off, alerting everyone aboard to a cylinder being violated. The only way to get the door open quietly would be to wake you up, which is a time-consuming process, so not the kind of thing most guys intent on fondling or raping would want to wait around for. Once awakened, you’d be able to scream and fend off an attack.”
He snickered as he wiped off the drool with the bib she’d wondered about when she saw it was part of the sleep uniform.
“Besides, after being asleep for as many years as you’re going to be, the very first thing your private parts are going to want to do is pee. Not exactly the height of erotica for most of us, understand?”
Elena nodded heavily, unable to keep her eyes open anymore and feeling even her thoughts slow. She knew that she was being cooled down, but the cold wasn’t making her shiver. She felt warm and sleepy and ready for a long nap. Even yawning seemed like too much effort.
“How many years will I be out?”
“Ten. I’ll take my turn being awake for the first five, then asleep for five. By the time we get to Mesa Verde, you’ll be the same age you are now, but I’ll be five years older. Maybe you’ll think I’m too old to flirt with by then, eh?”
Her brain wanted her mouth to reply that she hadn’t been flirting, just giving voice to a concern that all Earth females felt, bred into them from their first realization that men could touch them without their consent because a woman’s body belonged to the state. Fears amplified by the rumors spread by the various Earth-only factions who were still trying to stop others, especially females, from venturing off their home planet for new lives. But her lips were numb, and her tongue was a swollen lump in her mouth. Her eyes had closed, and all she wanted to do was go to sleep.
“Good night, honey. You won’t dream much. And you won’t remember any of it once you wake up. Next stop for you…Mesa Verde.”
The nurse grunted as he pushed the heavy door shut. Elena wondered for a quick moment why she didn’t feel panic at being shut up in a metal cylinder with no air to breathe. Then she realized she hadn’t taken a breath for a while.
Her last conscious thought was of Mesa Verde. Where I can have a new life. And he won’t be able to find me ever again.