Izzy Wilson woke up in a strange place again; it wasn’t the first time by a long shot. Practice taught him that sitting up suddenly tended to attract a lot of unwanted attention. He closed his eyes and let his senses come into focus. He lay on what felt like a solid stone slab large enough to hold all of him. The stone felt as cool as the air around him, he knew he had no shirt on, but it still felt like he wore pants and shoes.
“It’s okay, you’re safe,” a female voice said. He almost flinched but managed to keep himself still. She was probably not talking to him.
“I know you’re awake, your brain waves changed,” she said. Izzy realized he felt something wrapped around his head. She was definitely talking to him. With a sigh, he sat up and opened his eyes to look around.
He sat in a large dim room, possibly a cave. A woman stood in front of what looked like a control panel of some sort. Different colored buttons and switches glowed and pulsed while the woman split her attention between Izzy and a monitor displaying scrolling lines of text. She wore a dark red lab coat, and her dark hair flowed straight down her back.
“Hello,” she said. She gave him a friendly smile but did not move from her spot. Her attention remained divided. “How do you feel?” she asked.
Izzy turned his body to hang his legs off the stone slab. He hopped off it then walked towards the woman to hold a proper conversation, but she held her hands up.
“Wait!” she said quickly, and he halted. “There’s a security field around you,” she added. Izzy glanced down and noticed a thick red line forming a square around him and the table.
“What, the line?” he asked. She nodded. Izzy lifted his hand and reached forward. At the line, he felt a solid wall, though he could not see anything. He pushed and leaned against it, chuckling at the odd sensation of solid nothing. The disconnect amused him, but then he noticed a dim red light forming in the air the more he prodded the wall. He experimented with it. First, he stopped interacting with it. Then when the glow started to dissipate he brought it back by pushing against the invisible wall again.
“That’s not a good idea,” she warned him. “It absorbs kinetic energy then discharges it at a certain threshold. It’ll hurt.” Izzy stopped.
“Am I a prisoner?” he asked.
“Patient. It’s also useful for quarantines.” A noise behind her distracted Izzy and he looked to see a tall, pale, distinguished man enter through an open archway.
“I’m sick?” Izzy asked. The woman ignored his question and turned to the tall man.
“He’s infected, no doubt about it.” The woman spoke loud enough for Izzy to hear also. The greying man nodded.
“And his immune system?” the man asked. She shook her head.
“WHAT?” Izzy yelled. They continued to ignore him.
“Do any of the serums work?” he asked. Again, she shook her head. “No, not this time.”
“HEY!” Izzy slammed his hands against the invisible wall, and it immediately left bright red handprints on it. “I’m standing right here!” he had enough sense to not touch the wall again. The man sighed, then approached Izzy.
“Yes?” He asked.
“Can someone tell me what’s going on? The last thing I remember is some little grey dudes were getting really friendly with me, then they gave me a tan.”
“They were studying you. When they finished studying you they dumped you on this planet; they’ve been doing it for thousands of years.”
“Any way to get home?” he asked. The older man shook his head.
“Not for you, sorry.” He said, then he turned his head to the woman. “Inform the council.”
“Why not?” Izzy asked, but he already knew the answer. He just needed someone to tell him directly that he was sick. The man turned his attention back to Izzy after the woman walked out of the room.
“The aliens, we call them the Harmaa, have been studying humans to find the most efficient way to wipe them out. At some point, they decided on a disease but they kept abducting humans to test it on.” The man locked eyes with Izzy through the invisible wall. His hard green eyes softened. “You’re the winner. The final version that can’t be cured. You’ll be dust within the hour, literally. The disease chews through everything, even bones.”
“I feel fine,” Izzy said. He brought his hand up to check for a fever. The man chuckled. “The good news is, the disease is so efficient, it’s practically painless.” Izzy’s hung his head, then moved to sit on the slab again. He laid down but turned his head to continue the conversation. “You said I couldn’t go home… but is there a way?” he asked. The man nodded.
“We’ve been working on transportation and communication. Transportation isn’t quite ready, but we think we have a way of communicating with Earth. The doctor went to advise the council to warn Earth,” he said. Izzy nodded.
“Can you do me a favor?” Izzy asked.
“A dying man’s last request? On my honor,” The man said solemnly.
“I never did anything with my life. I never had a girl, no family left. No one knows who I am, so there’s no one to remember me. I really want someone to remember me,” he said.
“Can you name the disease after me?”
“Of course. Unfortunately, the Harmaa always empty the pockets of their abductees. Tell me your name, and I will ensure the universe remembers your bravery in your final moments.” The man stood attentive, ready to learn Izzy’s name.
Izzy sighed then smiled broadly at the thought of being remembered by a whole universe. He took in a breath to say his name; but, his body disintegrated into a fine brown dust all at once. Izzy Wilson lost consciousness in a strange place again, for the last time.