I watch everything my passengers do, the Skipper said. You will appreciate my advice. Less fluid particles with spray back on you.

“I think I know how to take a leak,” Iain stated, annoyed. “Is there anywhere on the ship you aren’t watching.”

That didn’t get an answer.

Iain finished up, looked around for somewhere to wash his hands. After three attempts, then a complaint, the skipper directed him.

He looked at himself in the mirror over the cleaning station. He didn’t look that different. Mop of brown hair, almost six feet tall and on the slim side, except for the paunch he’d been developing over the last few years. To much wedding cake and beer. Thinking of-

Dinner is in twenty minutes, Iain, the Skipper stated. Do you wish to partake?

God yes. He hadn’t eaten in… well, twenty two thousand years, probably.

Thankfully, the food didn’t turn out as horrific as he was dreading. It looked mostly like something he’d seen on TV, with the bonus nothing on any of the plates was actually moving around. And the flavors and textures, although weird, weren’t especially- oh, except for those green looking carrot like cone shaped vegetable. They were absolutely revolting.

“They’re filled with protein, and taste like meat,” Arl insisted as he chewed on one that stuck out of his mouth.

Not any meat he’d touch.

No, the main problem was his dinner companions. Arl and Arc ate like toddlers. They slurped their soup and ate with their mouths open, just like one of his gaming pals, Bruce. If he’d stayed longer, he might have even been more disgusted, but after twenty minutes, he’d really had enough.

And so, that was how his new life went, in deep space, in the far future. Eating, drinking, trying to avoid spending more time than he had to with the pair. There didn’t seem to be a library on the ship, either text, sound or video. Apparently with access to those so-called brain parasites, you could enjoy all you wanted.

His brain parasites, however, appeared to not want to speak to him much at all. Occasionally he experienced weird flashes. Distinct knowledge of something one of the twins mentioned. The first time was when they asked him about what kind of work he did.

“I work for an audio equipment company,” he told them. “You know, for meetings, weddings, parties, shows…”

The pair weren’t really interested in finding out about what that meant. It was just a jumping off point into stories they could tell about themselves.

“I could too have been a decent dark matter particle filterer,” Arc argued with his twin.

“What you?” Arl snorted. “Think you’re a Balleeni now, do you?”

Then he suddenly had a vision of an orange humanoid alien creature with three antennae.

You got to be careful, streaming dark matter through a plasma filter to get out the impurities. ‘Cause, bang! One mistake in the volume of flow and it’ll kill ya!

Great, he thought to himself, wincing at the voice he’d heard. He somehow had Australian brain parasites? Had Frosty Jack been an Aussie cat?

“You all right, human?” Arc asked nudging him a bit. “Your eyes went glassy all of a sudden.

“I saw what I think was a Balleeni,” he replied. “Orange guy. Antennae.”

“Hey, your ‘Zos are working!” Arl crowed. “More?”

“No,” Iain sighed. “That’s it. It’s gone. Nothing now.”

Arc patted him on the shoulder.

“They’ll be back,” he assured Iain. “They’re just taking their time in building those connections between your neurons and their inter-galactic network.”

Iain wasn’t so sure that would be a good thing.

Go to Chapter Seven

Go to Chapter Nine

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