Chapter 3

Written by: Joe Labrum

The euphoric relief faded quickly. Masterson stood there for what seemed like an eternity immobilized by indecision, confused by the alienness of his surroundings. He could feel the throbbing heartbeat of an immense mechanical organism in the deck-plates where he stood. He couldn’t recognize a specific source like an engine or power generator of some kind. The low pulsating rhythm seemed to come from everywhere. The entire ship felt alive. 

Jager moved towards him all the while maintaining the constant expression and welcoming demeanor that, somehow, made Masterson more uncomfortable as he came closer. As the full illumination of his helmet lamp fell on Jager’s face, Masterson instinctively retreated a step. 

“I assure you all of your questions will be answered in time,” Jager said and turned to leave, but not back towards the airlock from where he came. “If you will please follow me.”

“Masterson to Galileo… come in.” He spoke as calmly as he could into his mouthpiece. There was no response. “Galileo, come in,” he repeated with more urgency in his voice.

“Your communication device has been rendered inoperative, Commander,” Jager informed him in a briskly formal tone, the friendly hospitality no longer evident.

Masterson examined the airlock he had come through for a possible escape route. The hatch behind him closed securely when he entered from the docking bay. Given some time he might be able to hot-wire the opening mechanism but time was something he lacked right now. He had no choice but to follow his host (or was it captor?). 

The man Masterson had believed was Jager, but now wasn’t so sure, led him to a heavy bulkhead hatch that occupied much of the opposite end of the docking bay and dwarfed the two men as it loomed above like a sentinel guarding the inner sanctum. It gave the eerie impression of an alien place. The thirteen-meter diameter disk sat on the deck like a large wheel with the bottom cut off. As they approached, Masterson noticed the face at first appeared glasslike but opaque and flawless but it began to shimmer and change hue. It faded to transparency momentarily as they entered.

When Masterson emerged on the other side he found himself standing in a three meter cube, alone. The room was a sparsely furnished cell.  A cot sat against one wall and a small table and chair opposite it. The walls and ceiling which seemed to be the source of illumination were stark white and featureless. Panic rose in his throat and gripped his chest as he studied the room and saw no door or evidence of the portal he had come through. The drumming pulse, much louder now, was accompanied by a steady low humming that Masterson reverberated through his body. The gripping fear of entrapment settled into his bones.

*     *      *      *     *

“Moonbase to Galileo, what’s the status up there? We lost Masterson. His bio signature just dropped off the monitor.”  

Comments

Wonderful chapter Joe. Gently steering the mysterious story into another dimension was achieved effortlessly. The set has been constructed and the stage dressed. New characters, unearth-like are emerging. Like me you must be a bit of a Startreck fan. Sometimes it is what you don't write that captures the imagination. What's happening to the poor man outside? What happens when the Sirius 3 is further away from rescue when it carries on orbiting? This really creates a good springboard for the next writer. Loved it, Joe.
Oooh Joe, what a fabulous chapter. The description was gripping and I could see Masterson's surroundings as if they were images. Fabulous writing with great building of tension. Loved it. I especailly loved the opening: Masterson stood there for what seemed like an eternity immobilized by indecision, confused by the alienness of his surroundings. It drew me in and told me I was in for a good read.
Thanks Ray and Suraya. This story really has a good beginning.and the most fun to contribute to of any I have done. Yes, Ray, I am an avid Star Trek fan.