The state of his Nokia added to more of the weirdness. It did show a bar, had power, and seemed operational. But there weren’t any new texts or voice mails, not even from the Shevari’s. The month and year showing were way off – June 18th, 9510, and he couldn’t seem to get a call out, despite the bar.

The screen winked out. Then brightened up again.

“Shit,” he said, deciding the battery must have died, and then repowered from the ambient radio waves just like Marty had said it would. It was a prototype, after all. A gift.

Ian let out a breath, then looked over at the pair in blue.

“Where are we?” he asked. “And can we go up on deck so I can get a proper signal?

“This way, fellow traveler,” Arc offered with an understanding smile, and pointed towards the cabin’s door. When he trundled over, it swished open.

“I better get some compensation for all this shit,” Iain grumbled as he followed the two. “I swear, Ken, I’m going to rip you a new one.”

Iain followed the pair out of the cabin, and into a corridor that seemed rather wider than one on any actual boat or ship he’d been on. With its carpeted floor and how that floor curved into the walls the hallway seemed more like a posh ocean liner than the smaller ferries he was accustomed to. But some of the discoloration on the white walls suggested it wasn’t new.

Iain’s mind kept to the task at hand, not wanting to deal with that, and the strange writing on those said curving walls.

Maybe it was one of those lake-crossing cruisers he’d been hearing about. Hadn’t they been bought from Norway, or somewhere in Scandinavia?

“Here we are,” Arc said and waved him through and archway… and into the incredible, the unbelievable, the impossible.

Iain turned back spreading his arms out in defeat.

“Please don’t tell me this is real,” he pleaded.

The two in their blue jumpsuits shrugged their wide shoulders.

But it is, came a rich sounding female voice from all around. It all is.

“Hey Skipper,” Arl yelled out. “Glad you could finally join us.”

I have been occupied, Iain noticed a hint of irritation in its tone. Running a starship, you know. Keeps me busy.

“That looks like an arm of the galaxy,” Iain forced out, then turned to stare at the floor to ceiling image he hoped the blue suited pair would contradict what he was looking at. “Am I right or not. Tell me I’m not. Please…”

Arl and Arc stepped up to either side of him, concern written on their faces, as though unsure if they should nod or shake their heads.

It is easier to traverse more empty space, the surround sound voice noted. May I offer you a belated welcome aboard. You have been woken in mid-excursion.

Arc, on his left, offered a noise of disgust.

“You mean mid-boredom,” Arc complained. “At least inside the arms there is something going on. We’re left to twiddle our digits in the meantime.”

“Yeah,” Arl replied, glancing up at the ceiling. “What he said.”

“Where are we going?” Iain asked then amended, “Where is the ship going.”

“Wherever the Skipper wants to go,” Arl replied with a smirk.

“Can I talk to the Skipper?” Iain asked.

I’m right here, the voice said. I’m everywhere. You are inside me.

“So, what’s you’re name, new passenger?” Arc asked.

“Uh… Iain,” Iain replied after a moment. “Iain Compton.”

“Well, Iain Compton,” Arc said holding his hands out wide. “May I introduce you to the Transient Void. The Skipper is the synthetic intelligence that drives this amazing starship.”

Iain sighed. He’d seen enough sci-fi shows to have an idea what that meant.

Go to Chapter Three

Go to Chapter Five

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