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“You see,” said Sam, “the thing is… it was when we were in that tube thing. I don’t know how much you remember, but everyone started falling and it seemed like we were all done for.”

“I must have been mercifully unconscious for that part,” said Lachlan.

Something seemed to shift in the thick, red vegetation behind Sam, and Lachlan tried to ignore it. This was one of the worst places he’d ever had a serious conversation.

“Yeah,” said Sam. “Well, when we started falling, the same thing that happened to me back when I saw you die happened again. Well, kind of. I didn’t move through time, but I did start flying. You and Jen were the only two people near me, and I was only able to grab one of you…”

Oh. That explained a lot.

“I take it from the fact that we’re having this conversation that I was the one you grabbed,” said Lachlan.

Not that he wasn’t grateful that Sam had saved his life, but he didn’t really understand it. He and Sam had become fast friends for two people who had annoyed one another from the start, but they’d still only known each other for a few days. Why would Sam choose to save him over Jen, even in a split-second unconscious decision?

“Yeah,” said Sam.

Lachlan wasn’t sure what to say.

“Sam,” Jen cut in, “You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. If I’ve pressured you into this, I’m sorry. I’m really mad at you right now, but you don’t deserve to be forced into something like this. No one does.”

Sam sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“You’re not forcing me into anything,” said Sam. “Lachlan wanted to talk, and I’m making the choice to tell him.”

“I’m still lost here,” said Lachlan. “Tell me what?”

“Well,” said Sam, “you see, it’s like this. Um, I had this psychology class last semester and the professor said something…”

“Okay,” said Lachlan.

He had no idea where Sam could possibly be going with this.

“She said… um, she said romantic love is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. It can be reduced down to a mere chemical formula. It can be manufactured in a lab. Which I’m sure is no surprise to you seeing as you think everything’s controlled by a mad scientist.” Sam chuckled nervously.

“I… see?” said Lachlan.

He definitely did not see.

“Any two people, she said, if they were stranded on a desert island, regardless of sexual orientation, compatibility, anything like that, their brains would eventually start releasing those chemicals if they were stuck with each other for long enough, and they’d fall in love with each other.”

“Alright,” said Lachlan.

“It was funny,” said Sam. “‘Cause there were these two frat morons in the front row laughing and being obnoxious when she mentioned sexual orientation, and she told them that if they were on a desert island together for long enough, they’d fall madly in love and they got so mad and embarrassed.”

“I’m all for owning homophobes,” said Lachlan, “and I’m not a psychology expert by any means, but that doesn’t sound accurate.”

“Maybe not, but I kinda believed it at the time. Well, I believed it in a way. I thought it applied most people–definitely people like those two jerks–but I assumed I was the exception. I’m a very intelligent person. I thought I was stronger than the chemicals in my brain. And then here I was, stuck here with you, and it took me, what? A day?” Sam gave another nervous chuckle. “Guess I’m not as smart as I thought I was, huh?”

Huh? Lachlan wasn’t following at all. What had taken Sam a day? What was he talking about?

“I’m not even into guys like that, or I didn’t think I was. I thought it was just the thing my professor was talking about. I thought it would go away when we ran into the others. When I saw Jen again. And then it just… didn’t.”

What would go away? What was Sam saying? What did he–

Oh. Oh.

Lachlan suddenly wished Jen wasn’t there with them. Romantic confessions were probably a lot less awkward without the confessor’s ex standing there and listening in.

Come to think of it, this was about the weirdest place to make a confession like this. The rest of the group was a few meters away talking to giant snake people, they were in some creepy red alien forest, and the foliage behind Sam kept shifting like something was rustling through it.

“So there you go,” said Sam. “I’m not expecting you to reciprocate or anything, but there you go. Now the cat’s out of the bag.”

“Sam, I–” Lachlan began. Then he stopped short.

“It’s okay,” said Sam. “You don’t have to say anything.”

“No, it’s not that,” said Lachlan.

There was something shifting through the trees behind Sam, something the same color as the slick red-purple foliage.

Before Lachlan could say anything else, a spindly, taloned hand slipped through the leaves, hooked around Sam’s shoulder, and pulled him backward into the undergrowth.

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One thought on “10.17

  1. Sam: Now why couldn’t that have happened five minutes ago before I had to make the awkward confession?


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