Chapter 7

Written by: Griffin

They were standing in the spacious, dimly-lit communications control chamber. The giant glowing metal disk dominated the far end of the room. Masterson was gazing at it vacantly.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Bret said.

The older man, energised, turned to face him.

“Never better, son. All systems go.”

“Did you find anybody?  Will we be able to get fuel?”

“Take a look at all this stuff.” Masterson surveyed a pulsating screen nearby.

“Come on, enough kidding around. You don’t sound yourself.”

Bret went over to get a closer look at the disk. It was purple, slowly changing to blue, and back to purple. The hum remained constant.

“This doesn’t look like original equipment. Someone has added it later, after the accident.”

He heard the voice of a younger man behind him.

 “You’re darn right, I apologise for that. It doesn’t go with the décor. Damn fine little appliance though. Dimensional converter.”

Bret turned around and found himself face to face with a crew member, dressed in the old silver body suit of NSTA, and a large embroidered name-tag, saying JAGER.

Masterson must have gone off exploring.

“I’m Bret Jamieson, of Galileo Explorer. We ran out of fuel.”

“Well howdy.”

Bret suddenly recalled that six out of the seven original crew were from Austin, Texas. Some human interest news item.

“You look only twenty-two years old. I don’t understand.”

Jager’s face became older and older, until he looked sixty. It then morphed back into someone aged thirty-seven.

“One of your years is equal to only a ten-millionth of our ballek. It’s hard to nail your age precisely.”

The light flickered, the figure disappeared, and Bret saw a river of stars and galaxies stretching from the middle of the room into the far, far distance.  Gravitational waves rippled towards them down the expanse. The fabric was imbued with intelligence.

 “Surely this is a laser light show,” he thought. “It is all a joke.”

“We like jokes,” he heard in his mind. It was a voice caressing, comforting.

The river of stars faded and the room returned to normal.

“We were just passing by your planetary system and were attracted to a very interesting resonant orbit grouping.”

“Yes, of course. Io, Europa and Ganymede,” Bret replied automatically.

“We like resonance. Sorry about the fire.”

“What about the crew that were left on board?” he could not help asking.

Jager turned towards a bulkhead covered with assorted pipes. He indicated a row of seven identical black metal cubes fixed onto a bench below, each the size of a drinking mug.

“Don’t fret yourself, they’ll be fine. Everybody loves the beach.”

The humming, throbbing sound changed to a lower frequency.

“Masterson?”

“He should not have seen himself. The procedure had to be aborted. He’ll be better now.”

Jager turned to his right and Bret now noticed an eighth cube fixed to the centre of a large slanted metal console.

They turned back to face each other, and Bret’s eyes met those of the alien.

Greg Rochlin (AUS)

Comments

What a fantastic chapter. I am not a sci fi fan but I found myself fully engaged with the characters and the events which were told in such a way I believed them. This is a tribute not only to Greg for his story telling ability but also to Ray for the way he set the serial up in the first place. Congratulations!
Eek!!! How do i follow all these unbelievably fantastic chapters? Me thinks run to the Cayman Islands. Lol... will give it my best shot. Great stuffGreg