“I kind of figured that out,” he replied, then glanced in the direction Arl had, hoping it would help the fact he’d grown weak in the knees. “Okay, are we heading back to Earth any time soon? I’ve got stuff to do.”

“Earth?” Arl asked after the voice of the ship failed to respond.

“The planet I was abducted from,” Iain stated, looking up. “The world I lived on. I’d like to go back please. Now.”

Nothing. He turned attention back to the pair in blue. Arl looked over at Arc, Arc looked back at his twin. Was that another smirk?

“What?” Iain asked. “What do you know? What aren’t you telling me?”

“How long do your people live?” Arc asked.

“I don’t know,” Iain said. “A hundred years. Mostly less, some a lot less.”

The latter described most of his family. Compton’s weren’t known for their long lives.

“Why do you want to go back so badly,” Arl added. “You can see the cosmos with us. You are seeing it.”

He pointed at the glowing scene beyond the vast window.

“Because I have a life,” Iain said. “I have a job, friends, a girlfriend, okay ex-girlfriend, but I’m going to get her back, or find another one. I have tickets. NHL hockey. Platinum section. In a couple weeks Do you have any idea how much they cost me?!”

“How long does a typical civilization on your world last?” Arc asked. Iain could swear the hefty guy was tittering.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Iain wanted to know.

“Just answer the question,” Arl prodded. “How long?”

“A few hundred years,” Iain replied, not liking where this was heading. “Maybe a thousand. Rome lasted quite a while.”

“All right, you might want to sit down for this,” Arl offered.

Iain looked around. There were no chairs in the wide room.

“What?” he demanded. “On the floor?”

“He does have a point,” Arc said.

“The carpet is very comfortable,” Arl replied smiling.

The carpet did feel rather lush under his bare feet, that was true.

“How long have I been on this ship?” Iain asked, suddenly dreading the answer.

“About twenty two thousand years,” Arc told him. “Give or take.”

All Iain could do was stare.

“Twenty two thousand years?” he repeated.

A few minutes later, Iain was sitting at a table staring at the new glass filled with an odd liquid that possibly was staring back up at him. He glanced over at his two companions. They had assured him it contained fifty-one percent alcohol. He hoped it did.

“Twenty two thousand years,” he repeated, then repeated again, and again. Finally, he asked in a small voice. “How do you know?”

“The skipper told us,” Arl said. “And it should know. It runs the ship. It has always run the ship. And it said that on your cryopod”

“Well how long have you guys been on the ship?” Iain asked.

“About ten years, awake anyway,” Arc admitted. “Maybe about a couple thousand years in cold sleep.”

“Is there anyone else on this thing?” he wanted to know. “Any other passengers?

“Lots,” Arl agreed.

“Where is everybody else then?” Ian tried.

“Frozen. Asleep.” Arc said. “Very quiet.”

“You’re the only two, walking around?” Iain asked.

“Right now, Some times we have up to five, even six.” Arl piped in, then turned wistful. “But it never lasts.”

“What happened to them?” Iain was growing more alarmed by the moment. He took a gulp of the drink. I didn’t taste alcoholic.

“Got bored, left, went back into the freezer,” Arc told him. “You know how it is.”

“Yeah,” Iain replied, suddenly felt a little fuzzy, then glanced around at the lounge they’d taken him too after his first mind shattering experience of the day. Iain had only seen the like in the cheap 70’s sci-fi movies and TV shows his older brother loved so much.

There he swallowed the rest of his drink. It was like downing a jello shot. He hoped that was exactly what it was.

Go to Chapter Four

Go to Chapter Six

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