Friday, November 19, 2010

Spaced Out - #FridayFlash

“Were you able to get us a room?” Ron eyed his friend expectantly, surmising the answer when David refused to meet his gaze.

“It’s only for three days,” David explained as they moved up the ramp to board the ferry to Alpha VII. “We’d never be in the room anyway. This leaves us with more money to party.”

“I don’t want to party, slum boy. I want to sleep. You know I get space sick. The only reason I agreed to come with you was because you told me your cousin could get us a room.” Ron thought about three days of dealing with the slow spin of the ship and began to weave.

“Hey, you’re turning a funny shade of green. It was my cousin’s friend and he couldn’t find a room for us but I promise you, you’ll have such a great time that you won’t even notice the star drive.”

“Why do you want to follow a girl clear over to Alpha VII anyway?” Ron grumbled. “Did our own planet suddenly run out of girls?”

David shook his head. “I told you. She’s special – and her dad’s loaded.”

A synthesized voice welcomed them aboard the Star Ranger as they slid their ID cards into the slot, directing them to E deck.

“You’d think they could at least have a human attendant to greet us, instead of a canned speech.” Ron continued to grumble as they made their way toward the crowded elevators. The dank odors of sweat and food in the confines of the overloaded car were enough to make anyone ill.

David didn’t seem to notice, blithely pushing past others to hit the button for E deck. A voice droned out of the speakers, wishing everyone a safe and pleasant voyage.

The deck they’d been assigned to held the dregs of society as far as Ron could tell. Other losers, like themselves, unable to pay for accommodations. Even David looked momentarily dismayed by the flotsam before reasserting his cheerful disposition.

“See? This won’t be so bad. We’ll just claim some chairs…”

They both could see that all chairs were taken. Fortunately, the flooring was of a spongy nature, used to absorb shock waves. They sat in a corner, away from foot traffic and listened to the departure proceedings.

The ship rolled as soon as the clamps were released. Ron grabbed his stomach, wondering how he would survive three days of this.

David stood up. “I’ll go find us some food and bring it back here, all right?”

Ron responded by throwing up on David’s shoes. Feeling grimly satisfied, he consented to having a glass of water and crackers brought back to him.

While David was gone, Ron had a chance to study the people around him. Most seemed unremarkable, but one stood out. A well-dressed woman sat at a corner table, speaking into a vidphone while fiddling with a necklace that she had strung out. It looked like she was disassembling the baubles.

Just as David came back the ship took a roll, scattering the woman’s jewels off the table. They quickly realized her baubles were flash charges when one detonated close to them, temporarily blinding the two men.

The loudspeakers blared a warning that the ship was under attack and all passengers must make their way to an escape pod. Ron and David crawled in a direction that they hoped would lead them to a pod.

Red emergency lights blinked in the corridor as their eyesight returned. The sounds of laser fire and screaming now joined the general bedlam of announcements still being issued.

“We’re being boarded.” David shouted to make himself heard. Ron didn’t waste a breath to respond to the obvious, instead running for his life in the direction of dubious safety.

They leapt into the nearest pod, anxiously waiting for other passengers to join them. Booted feet tramped down the corridor. David stuck his head out, quickly ducked back in and hit the eject button, fear etched on his face. Ron didn’t need to ask who the boots belonged to.

Once away, the two broke into hysterics as they studied each other. The heat from the flash charge had burnt away most of their hair and left their clothes in shreds.

“Won’t we be the fashion trend on Alpha VII,” David said between bouts of hiccups that he’d developed from laughing too hard.

“If we ever get there.” Ron punctuated his statement by puking again.

For three days they tumbled through space waiting to be rescued. When an in-system enforcement patrol ship clamped onto their pod, Ron opened a bleary eye and looked at David.

“Are we there yet?”

As the door circled open and a crewmember helped the bedraggled pair out, a synthesized voice came on in the pod.

“Thank you for choosing the Star Ranger. We hope you enjoyed your flight.”

©2010 Laura Eno