The Exposure Problem
“24, but I’ll be 25 next week.”
The interrogator nodded. “Now when exactly did your...” he said, searching his mind for a suitable word.
“Abduction.” the woman finished confidently.
The interrogator lifted his tired eyes from the clean, unwrinkled sheet of paper he held in his steady hands. “We prefer the word ‘encounter’ Now when did your encounter take place?”
Cora, looking slightly annoyed, brushed a strand of long black hair from her face. “Well, it was March 17, 2018. At least that was the day I was taken. I was returned March 19, 2018.”
“And now it is February 2019. Why did you not come to us sooner?” His slightly sarcastic tone angered Cora, but she kept her fury contained.
“Well, if I remember correctly, you found me. I had recently published a story of my abduction” Cora waited to see if there would be a reaction. When the man remained silent she continued. “in the paper. Then I got a call from a government agency or something, I can’t really remember what you guys call yourselves-”
“I am quite aware of how our paths crossed.”
“Well, I’m just glad things are turning around. First the story, and now I’m getting some important government people interested in what happened! Before this, no one would listen. They all thought I was well, crazy!” Cora said, remembering the many times she thought herself insane. But then the memory of the gray creatures with the monstrous eyes and miniscule mouths filled her head. She reminded herself of the very real horror she felt when those beings carried her struggling body into the, well... the luminous spinning spaceship, however silly it sounded. “But I’m not. Crazy. I’m not.” Cora assured herself.
“Sure.” the man said lazily.
Cora’s face darkened. “I’m not lying!” she said abruptly, standing up.
The man’s bored voice angered her, but she obeyed. “Well... I thought for sure you would believe me or at least want to hear what happened! I was cut open. Those, those things cut me open and looked inside me!”
“Really.” the man said in a fake tone.
“Yes, really! Why is it that you took me into this dark, confined room if you’re just going to disagree with me! I am sick and tired of people like you dismissing my terrifying experience for a hallucination! I was taken! I was taken!” Cora shrieked as she banged on the desk in front of her.
The man showed no expression. “Hmmm, and you say you were cut open? Examined? Do you have any scars?”
Cora’s face lightened. “Well, yes. Yes! Yes I do!” Cora stood up and lifted her shirt to show her stomach. “See? See? Just there,” she said, pointing to three thin creases on her stomach.
“I see nothing.”
Cora’s heart dropped. “No, no, you must see them! I know they’re small and faint, but see? They’re like the points of a triangle.” Cora said, touching her royal blue fingernails to each crease.
“I see natural creases made into an explanation.”
“Aha! But you see them! Well I know what it looks like, but I promise you! They cut me open!”
“What do you think they did to you when they cut you open? Have you had any health problems since your encounter?” said the man’s bored voice.
“Umm, well, I’m not sure what they were doing. And no, I haven't had any health problems, except for constant anxiety and fear, but that doesn’t mean anything!” she said when the man raised his eyebrows as if he had found proof. “I believe they want to know how the human body works. It would explain why I was taken. I am in my 20s, so my body is fully developed and I’m in pretty good health. I expect they took a male as well.”
The interrogator showed slight interest in this. “And why do you think that?”
“Well, I heard him you see. I was laying, strapped to this hard surface, staring at the only thing I could stare at, the smooth white ceiling. Then I heard a man talking. He was pleading with the, the aliens” Cora said, surprised she had spoken that terrifying word. “and crying, saying that he didn’t want to die. Then it sounded as if he was being drugged. I heard him start to babble unintelligibly; then slowly...he stopped.” Cora stopped as well, scared to go on, for the flashbacks were becoming too much.
“And what did you do?” the man said, not realizing that he may be showing too much interest.
“Well, I tried to get out of course. I tried and tried, but then they came and put a mask over my face. I remember them putting a needle in my arm, then everything went black. I think they put me to sleep as well. When I woke up, I found myself in a hotel 100 miles from home with these three scars on my stomach. And, well, that was it.”
The two of them sat in silence for a few seconds. “Ms. Canalyl,” the man said interrupting the silence. “have you been to a psychologist?”
Cora again looked annoyed, but put it aside. “I’ve been to them all, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and they do help me with the anxiety I constantly feel now. But they have not and never will change my mind on what I’ve seen and been through!”
The man sighed and ran a tired hand through his dark hair. “Look, Ms. Canalyl, I’ve seen a lot of people who think they’ve been abducted by aliens. All of their stories are very similar. So what I’m wondering is, what makes your story different?”
Cora’s bottled annoyance and anger burst. “What makes me different? Oh I’m sure very little.” Cora said, spitting sarcasm. “I see. I see through you plain.” she stood up, preparing to leave. “Nobody believes me! No one at all! You brought me here purely to poke fun! But I know! Yes! I know! I know those things were rummaging inside my body! And I know for a fact that there is someone out there that will believe me! I was in there with somebody else and I will find him! I will find him! I will not stop until we find each other and get the rest of you to believe. I WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS!” Cora shrieked at the top of her lungs.
The man’s voice was suddenly much darker than it had been. “We know Ms. Canalyl.”
Then two long gray hands reached around Cora’s head from behind, holding a drugged rag to her face. Cora remained awake long enough to see two pairs of large black eyes peering over her as she slumped to the floor.
The man stood up from the darkness surrounding him. Turning to the slender gray creatures hovering over the woman he spat, “She couldn’t be persuaded. If we let her go she might do some research into our little operation here. We do not want that. Also, she knows about the other human you took. Do a better job sedating the abductees next time.”
The beings nodded and picked up Cora’s limp body, carrying her out of the room.
“And make sure the cell you put her in is far away from her partner abductee! We don’t want them conspiring!” The man called down the hallway. He slumped back into the chair and straightened his gray tie, letting out a long and tiresome breath. The man stretched forward in his seat and held down a button on his desk. A beep rang out in the tiny dark interrogation room signaling someone on the other end was listening. The man breathed out then said, “Send in the next exposure problem.”