Disoriented, Kara stood naked in the scrub land. She turned in circles, letting her eyes adjust to the bright sun of this world. In the distance she could see the mass of people she had just left. Confusion seemed to be a common symptom from the journey. The guard that had been chasing her fell to the ground and began to vomit. Easily finding her land legs, she was handling the trip far better than him. Realizing this, she saw that it was her opportunity to get away. So she ran.
She traveled along the uninhabited valley road for hours. The sun that had been so blinding before continued raining down on her exposed skin, scorching it and baking it increasingly red. Her blond hair and fair skin offered little protection. The temperatures soared into the upper nineties. Covered in salt from her drying sweat, and unable to produce any more, she was quickly getting dehydrated. She needed shelter, but there was none. She continued on, hoping that someone might pass by and give her a lift.
However, this was a different universe and she had no idea what to expect. She could not be sure that this world even had cars, or, for that matter, people. Fortunately, she did not have to ponder the possibilities long. After a short stent walking along what appeared to be a major road, a vehicle arose in the distance. As it came closer, it sped to a stop. Alerted at first, Kara was relieved to see that it was simply a concerned passerby.
The shiny blue sedan glistened in the sun. A woman leaped out of the driver’s side. Kara watched as she came to her aid. The magnitude of the reality hit her. This woman looked so normal. Just like anyone she would have encountered in her own universe. She wondered how that could be. Though she never had thought of what to expect, the fact that this woman was just an average human was a strange realization for her. It was also a helpful thought, because if this lady was just a regular person, like those from her world, then she can be manipulated the same.
“Oh my goodness, are you ok? Do you need help?” she asked.
“Yes, please,” Kara replied in a dry and cracked voice.
“You poor thing. It’s ok, I’ll help you. Let’s get you something to wear. I have some gym clothes in the trunk. Clean ones at that. Lucky for you my intentions to go to work out is stronger than my will to.”
The woman went around to her trunk and grabbed out the clothes and handed them to Kara. She put on the yoga capris, a sports bra, and tank top. The clothes were a bit loose, but at least she was covered and they would not rub too tight on her burnt skin. The woman handed her a bottled water from the gym bag.
“Thank you,” Kara said, truly grateful.
“Get in. I’ll take you to the nearest town.”
They took their places in the car and went on their way. They sat in awkward silence for a time until the woman got the courage to speak again.
“Should I take you to the police station? Is there anyone you need to call?”
“I don’t have anyone here to call. I’m not sure where I’m going.”
“Are you, are you one of them?” she asked, uncomfortably.
“I didn’t mean to presume. I just figured, alone and naked, you might have been one of those people that just showed up. Are you?”
“What have you heard about them?”
“Not much. They have been playing the news on every station for hours. I was actually listening to it when I saw you. They don’t know much just that millions of people showed up all at once, all over the world.”
Kara ignored the woman’s original question and continued the conversation.
“Where are we headed?”
“Hemet. We’re about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles. Look, I suppose that it’s really none of my business if you’re an alien or what not. But, just so you know, they are detaining everyone who showed up. The authorities are going to want to speak to you. I have to report this.”
“Don’t. I’ll be fine. I’m not a threat.”
“It’s too late. When I first spotted you, before I pulled over, I called the cops. They have their hands full with that huge group a few hours into the valley. That’s the group I suspect that you were with. But they told me that I had to bring you to the station. I want to help you, but I don’t want any trouble, either. They took my name, they’re expecting me to bring you to them.”
“How long until we’re there?”
“We should hit the city limits in about ten minutes.”
“Hmm,” Kara thought out loud.
Without warning, she punched the woman across the face. As she reacted, she jerked the steering wheel to the side and they swerved into the unoccupied oncoming traffic lane. She corrected hard and jerked back the other direction before getting successfully once more into her own lane.
“Ow! What the?” she yelled.
“Pull over!” Kara commanded. The woman continued to drive. “Pull over or I’m gonna hit you again.” This time she complied. They pulled off onto the shoulder as the woman began to weep.
“Get out of the car, but leave the keys in it.”
“Please, I was just trying to help you.”
“You are helping me. You are helping me get away from anyone that wants to hurt or control me. You are helping me to get where I’m going. Speaking of which, leave your wallet. You got a smart phone?”
The woman nodded.
“Great, leave that, too. You said it’s only ten minutes to town, you can walk that far. Trust me, I have traveled much further than that today. With any luck, someone much kinder then me will be along shortly and give you a ride. Now, get out of the car.”
Wiping the tears from her cheeks, the frightened woman left the vehicle. Kara slid over into the other seat, put the car in drive, and sped away. She could see the woman still shaking in the rear view mirror as she drove off.