Whenever an idea comes to mind, I have to write it down. Today’s excerpt is from an idea that I had for a scifi story. I wrote up the synopsis and a dozen or so chapters but felt there were other projects that needed to be completed before this one, so it has sat on the back burner for some time now.
Take a look and I hope you enjoy it.
© 2010 Patrick Hester, all rights reserved.
Untitled SciFi Project
Floating. He did not truly understand the word, only the sensation of the warmth and fluidity which surrounded him always. It was something, the only thing, tangible and constant, that never truly went away with the words and images that would come and go. Although it did seem to retreat to the edge of his consciousness when the pain came. Lingering there, as an anchor against the darkness.
Darkness. This too was something merely instinctual. He had no understanding of light and darkness, black or white. Darkness simply was. It surrounded him as much as the warm sensation, but held a danger that could be sensed on some level. From the darkness came the pain.
Pain. It brought with it fear and anxiety. Striking from the darkness with speed and precision, he became aware of the signs of its approach. Waves of cold would strike against him, making him aware of extremities connected to his mind in some way. As the images began to flood in, these extremities would lash out, causing more waves to slap back and forth against him, churning a pit below him yet part of him somehow.
Each time the pain would come and go, the awareness of instinct, or these extremities connected to his mind, would always stay hidden. This awareness was never stripped away like all the rest. It was as if such knowledge was missed or ignored in the great expulsion. And so, each encounter with pain caused a quicker response by what was a great body of . . . . something. Him. Mind and extremities fighting together somehow to stop the pain and quiet the noise within.
Only the pain did not stop. It increased as more and more raw information flooded in. There was no easement. There was no stopping. It was more than had ever come before and nothing could stop it. He tried to scream – but there was no sound. And still there was more, causing the pain to become unbearable as his body flailed around, sending waves out and back in ever increasing power until everything became light.
Falling was a new sensation. Not one he had ever encountered before and was totally unprepared for as it happened. Sound, too, was new. It came as the falling stopped and his ears heard, for the first time, the muffled sound of glass breaking and liquid sloshing against a cold metal floor.
Cold he knew. But not like this. It pierced his skin much like the sharp shards of glass he fell into even as the water washed them away. The guttural scream coming from the pit of his stomach stung his ears as he flopped on the floor like some great beached whale. It was followed by vomiting as his body expunged the vile liquid that had fed his now burning lungs while submersed in the water-like liquid.
Instinct took over, as hands and arms gone unused now pushed against the cold metal for support, and the body, shivering and weak, crouched like a wounded animal. His eyes opened and light flooded in where none had been before, sending a new sensation of pain to his mind. He blinked even as his arms slashed out to block the light stabbing at him from all around. But as it flowed in, the images in his mind became coherent and almost instantly, made sense. It was no longer just raw data cluttered and disorganized. In one white hot moment of fear and pain, everything came together.
Comprehension followed quickly and he stood up and stretched his muscles that, now being used properly, appeared to be quite strong and tight. He looked down at the dead body of the man who had been crushed by his, he searched for the word and found, not realizing that he now understood language, containment tube? Yes, that was correct. Language would take some getting used to, but he knew it was all there in his mind. He simply had to access it. And when he did, he could read the label lying on the floor : Gene Sample 11646.
The man appeared to be very similar to himself in structure; two arms, two legs, two eyes and one head. Although, he was smaller in stature, and wore some sort of outer skin. Clothing. The word appeared in his mind even as he pondered the strange outer skin. He immediately understood the meaning of the word, but also the necessity behind clothing, and its implications on him if he were seen without it. Modesty.
He became aware of his nudity.
His eyes scanned the room and saw several vertical storage devices along the left side of the room, and understood their function. Moving toward them, he took his first steps, no longer paying any attention to the coolness of the floor beneath his feet, though he did watch for any shards of glass, and avoided them, knowing they could pierce his skin and cause damage.
The first locker was empty except for a few personal items on a shelf about mid-high inside. The second contained some undergarments that fit snugly, but fit. It also contained a jumpsuit that he put on over the undergarments for an acceptable fit, and a pair of shoes that were tight but manageable.
He saw his face now, for the first time, in a small mirror inside the door of the locker. Wet and disheveled, his reddish hair was cut short and he was able to straighten it acceptably by running his fingers through it. He noted the thickness as he pulled it back away from his face. His eyes were a light blue and he saw that he had facial hair beginning to break through his skin. It was rough and scratchy to the touch as he rubbed his chin.
He closed the door to the locker and looked around the room again. He knew now that it was a laboratory. There were five more tubes like the one he’d been in arranged on the wall to his right. They had thick tubing and thin wires running into them and through them, but he could not see through the black water filling them. Each had monitoring devices of every sort hooked up along with computers and machines that appeared to provide sustenance for those like himself who might be inside. Stepping close, he saw no movement inside, and guessed them to be empty.
Down the middle of the room were several long tables filled with all manner of scientific equipment and paraphernalia. There were also six computer terminals set several paces apart, two down one side, at each end, and up the other side.
To his left were fifteen small, oblong doors. He walked the length of the room, watching these doors. They were arranged three high, with five rows. They radiated a cold that made him shudder. Each had a label on it, but he decided not to read them, not knowing why they made him so uncomfortable. That he would not open one, went without even thinking.. He did not like the way they made him feel. Instead, he made his way to one of the computers.
As he stepped up to a computer terminal, the screen came to life and he studied it for a moment. There was a logo in the center of it; a triangle with a sword piercing it down the center. Imperial Starship. He understood the logo and its implications. The information was in his mind already. He stood in a science lab aboard a Starship of the Imperial Fleet. But which ship? The computer had no input device that he could see. How would he . . . ? Speech. It was a form of communication used between two or more beings like himself.
“What ship is this?” he asked. The words flowed from him effortlessly. He could not remember ever using this form of linguistic communication before, and yet, he knew it by heart. Every word. Every inflection.
“Please input security clearance and access code for computer activation,” the computer responded in a monotone female voice.
He looked to the dead scientist, and saw in his mind a still image of the man next to a long string of words describing him and his career. It included…
“Security clearance Alpha Jay Two Three. Access code Ryshen – exeter exeter four four seven.”
“Please insert identicard,” the computer voice responded.
He moved to the body and saw the card attached to the man’s lab coat. Reaching down, he pulled it from the coat and turned back to the computer. There was a slim opening just under the screen which took the card as he slid it in.
“Security clearance accepted. Welcome Doctor Ryshen. Please restate your requested information inquiry.”
“What ship is this?”
“This ship is the Imperial Cruiser Roken.”
“Roken,” he repeated absently. In his mind, images of the ship became clear. “Imperial Starship classification Cruiser. Fourteen forward particle beam cannons, seven starboard and seven port. One Keroton Laser, forward. Seventeen decks, four sections : Blue, Gold, Red and Brown. Primary reactor core aft of launch bay. Secondary core fore. Crew compliment one thousand fifteen. Five fighter wings consisting of twelve ships each. All are Bedian class light attackers.”
“Correct,” the computer acknowledged him.
He stepped away and it winked off. Fear and uncertainty now filled his mind. He did not want to go back into the tube, and yet understood that if he were caught, this would happen. He knew that he had to get away from this place, and get off this ship. He had to go . . . He did not know where, but anyplace had to better than this vile laboratory which had brought him only pain.
Taking a deep breath, he touched the control for the door to open up into the hallway. It slid back silently and he stood face to face with another man. He was shorter, with long black hair that touched his shoulders even as he looked up to meet the gaze of the other man. His eyes, a deep, dark brown went wide with fear as his mouth opened and let loose a quiet squeal. He had tore apart the locking mechanism on the outside and his hands were clasped tight on the wires for the door lock.
Anger welled in the blue eyes of the first man, who reached out with one hand and locked down on the neck of the shorter man like a great steel clamp. The shorter man’s eyes popped wide as he realized the danger he was in and began to struggle, slapping widely at the taller man with weak hands attached to stringy arms which flapped with each movement.
“Just a toad!” the shorter man gasped in panic. “No threat! No threat! I steal only what I need to survive! Food! Water! No more!” he croaked. His air intake was growing smaller and smaller and he knew that he would soon die.
But just as he came to that realization, the grip of the taller man lessened, and then gave way altogether allowing the shorter man to jump back. His chest heaved as the precious oxygen was taken in by his lungs. He stood there for several seconds before venturing to say a word.
“Are you mad?” he asked, in a moment of rare insane bravery. The words were not chosen wisely, simply spoken in response to the moment. He tried to look infuriated as he rubbed his sore neck.
“No,” the taller man answered honestly. Then, to the complete and utter exasperation of the shorter man, the taller man pushed his way through the doorway and began walking down the hall as if nothing had happened.
The shorter man stood there for a second with his mouth hanging open. Shaking his head, and chalking it up to dumb luck that the Soldier or Techie, or whatever he was hadn’t killed him, he stepped up to the door of the laboratory and looked inside. There had to be something worth taking inside. Perhaps a few ration packs left lying about. A hand held computer pad or identicard he could use…
He didn’t bother wasting any time in the room. With one wide eyed scan of the room, Toad ran down the hallway just as the taller man was rounding the corner. “Come back!” he hissed, not wanting to make any real loud noises, lest someone be listening. But the man did not stop, and Toad had to slide around the corner blindly, and scurry to regain his balance and start down the new hall.
“Would you wait just a moment?” he hissed, lowering his head as if that would make the sound of his voice slightly quieter than it was. A wide, toothy smile spread across his face as the man who, just minutes before, held his life in one hand, turned to look at him with a puzzled expression on his face.
Toad looked at him now and saw that the clothes did not fit him well, and certainly did not meet the Imperial standards set for people who worked on this ship, no matter who he was. His hair was wet, and poorly combed, and he did not carry himself as one does when they are trained in the Empire. He looked too, and Toad searched his mind for the right word, innocent?
“Look,” and Toad lowered his head again at the sound of his voice. He took three small steps closer to the other man, then took two more, standing just a breath away from him.
“Do you have any idea where you are?” Toad whispered.
“Yes,” answered the taller man in a loud, strong voice that made Toad twinge and hide his face with his arms, waiting for all manner of alarms and whatnot to go off.
When they didn’t, he put his finger to his lips and shushed the dumb guy.
“Keep your voice down. If you know where you are, then you know we’ll be tossed out the nearest airlock if we’re caught here!” Toad hissed.
“I was unaware of that penalty.”
“Penalty. Penalty? When were you born?” Toad asked shaking his head sadly. The equipment in that room told him all he really needed to know, this guy was some poor schmuck they’d used for experiments. This also meant that the kid was from some low tech world, where there was no real regulations against human test subjects.
“Backwater- can I call you Backwater? Good. You can’t just go walking down the hallways of an Imperial cruiser, okay?”
Backwater nodded a yes in agreement.
“If you get caught, well, it’s pretty much eeeecch!” he made a slicing gesture across his neck from left to right.
“Then how do I move from place to place, deck to deck?” Backwater asked.
“You follow me.”