Olath: Chapter One

Evelyn

“I’m busy,” I shouted, trying to ignore whoever knocked on my door. The knocking only became more insistent. Fluffbutt meowed loudly, demanding I stop the noise. I sighed, crossed the length of my dorm room, and opened the door.

Lauren stood in the hallway outside my door, her lips pulled into a wide grin. Her hair disheveled, she breathed ragged, as if she had run the entire way to my door.

Without waiting for my invitation, she marched past. She made a beeline to the bed, flopped back upon it, and spread her arms wide. The ancient, metal bed frame creaked under her weight.

“Sorry, Lauren. Didn’t know it was you.” Even though we’d just met in my first-year of college, Lauren had quickly become my best friend. She was the one person I’d trust with my life, and the one who was always there whenever I needed her. More than a friend, Lauren was family.

“Studying for the midterms?”

She scratched Fluffbutt behind the ears while shooting my desk a glance. There, my terminal was lit up, a few mathematical formulas and Mechanical Engineering exercises littering the screen. A bunch of notebooks were in front of the terminal, the pages filled with enough numbers and equations to drive a mathematician mad.

“Yeah,” I replied with a shrug. “You know how Professor Andrews is with exams. If I don’t know every little thing in his damn textbook, he’s gonna make sure I don’t get a passing grade. And I really need to get a—”

“I’m sorry to say,” Lauren interrupted, “but there are more important things in life than Mechanical Engineering.” She scooted to the edge of the bed. She wiggled an eyebrow at me, like someone about to drop a bomb on my lap. I crossed my arms and tapped my foot against the floorboards.

“Alright, what’s this about?” I asked her, already feeling hesitant. As much as I loved Lauren, she had a tendency to come up with harebrained schemes all the time, such as ditching class to attend some rave in an abandoned warehouse. Granted, her plans were mostly fun. Right now, though, I really needed to study. “C’mon, Lauren, out with it.”

“Well, tomorrow is your birthday and—”

“I’m sorry,” I rushed to say, waving a hand at my desk. “But, I think I’m gonna pass on celebrating it. We can go out next weekend or something. I’m sorry, but I really need to ace this exam, or else I—”

“God, Evelyn,” she laughed, her grin widening. She then made a serious face and rolled her eyes at me. “I know how much Mechanical Engineering and nerdy formulas mean to you, but you gotta take a minute to listen to me.”

“Right,” I sighed, “I’m listening.”

“As I was saying,” she continued, “tomorrow’s your birthday. I’ve just come from the cafeteria, where I was looking at the lottery announcements, and guess who’s name just popped up on the feed?”

I opened my mouth to say something, then clamped it shut. My stomach twisted in knots. I felt all the color drain from my face. The lottery? Shit, this wasn’t good.

“Are you sure?” I sat beside her, my mind working at a thousand miles per hour. “I mean, are you really sure?”

“I’m positive,” Lauren said. “Evelyn Taylor, student number AHC9812, born on the—”

“Fine, I get it.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and took a deep breath. “Damn it, I really wasn’t counting on this.”

“You know, most girls, consider it a privilege to be a part of the lottery, right?” She arched a sassy eyebrow at me. “I mean, Evelyn, what’s there not to like? If you get selected, you’ll have one of those hunky Mahdfel to have fun with it, you’ll get to see the galaxy, and your family will get a cool $1 million.”

I glared at her.

It was true—a lot of girls hoped to be selected on Lottery day.

Unable to protect itself from Suhlik incursions, this galaxy’s evil bastards, Earth had entered into an agreement with the Mahdfel, the alien race responsible for keeping the Suhlik at bay. Mahdfel lacked sufficient numbers of females in their society, so Earth brokered a deal. In exchange for much needed protection, Earth would provide the Mahdfel with Earth women.

“This is the last thing that I need,” I muttered, feeling nauseous at the prospect of being shipped out to some far corner of the galaxy. I was a woman with dreams and objectives, not a breeding toy! Besides, who’d look after Fluffbutt if I had to move to some remote corner of the galaxy?

“It’s not that bad, Eve,” Lauren insisted, putting her hand on top of mine. Again, I just frowned. “I mean, sure, it must suck to be sent out against your will…but there’s a silver lining. Most women who are selected love it out there. And the Mahdfel aren’t that bad. They might be a lil’ rough around the edges, but they don’t mistreat their women. They know how valuable we are. And I can look after Fluffbutt, here. If it came to that. Just so you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said, even though I wasn’t sure I believed everything she said. Sure, Lauren would have loved the opportunity to explore the galaxy with a hunky alien by her side, and have lots of freaky sex.

That just wasn’t me. I wasn’t asexual, or anything—I just didn’t wanna have it because of some stupid intergalactic arrangement, with an alien I’d never before met.

“I’ll go with you.” Lauren gave my hand a squeeze. “Don’t worry. The chances you’ll be selected are astronomically low. I doubt they’ll find a match for your DNA. More likely than not, you’ll be back from the testing center in time for your exam.”

“I hope so.” My stomach remained tied in knots. What if Lauren was wrong? What if they found a match? Would I really have to abandon the life I’d built? I gritted my teeth and tried to still my mind. It was useless to fret about the future. Tomorrow I’d know for sure, and until then…

Until then, the only thing I could do was wait.

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