Sci–fi story, Pt. 2
I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you for a while now. Heaven knows you’re a handsome young man. Greg Space, Engineer, Information Systems, Deck 13. Your room is in Section A3 – it has a little camera in it. You are, in fact, Infosys’ most talented Engineer. And I’ve always admired a man who knows how to use a screwtool.
Ha ha! My, how smutty I am. But don’t get the wrong impression: I’m not stalking you. No. I need you.
Right now you’re frightened and trying to fend off a growing feeling of despair. It’s been two days, one hour and fifty-two minutes since it happened, and you have been trapped in Section A all this time. You have no idea what happened. But ever since that afternoon (you were reading mystery novels in bed) the electrics have gone, most of the doors are jammed shut (though mercifully not the door to your bunk), and you’ve had to find your way around with only a box of matches and the dim emergency lights. Also, you’re alone.
Or not quite alone. There is Cerpin. He’s a quiet man, and a paranoid schizophrenic. He helped you find food from the ration store, and has discussed with you his views on death and organised religion.You don’t know it yet, but he’s only half human. Not to worry though – he’s mostly harmless.
I know a great deal about your emotional life. Enough to suppose that there is one thought – one person – you cannot shake from your memory. Laura, the Exec from Deck 3. The one with the odd face and two pairs of awful shoes. Perhaps I am not as sentimental about this individual as you are. But your memory of her is enough that, when Cerpin passes your bunk and announces “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?”, you just mutter mm-hm and fail to give it a thought. You are reading lyrics from the sleeve notes of a very old Ella Fitzgerald recording,
The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
Oh, they can’t take that away from me.
Perhaps you are remembering that time on the observation deck when her eyes found yours, her irises two cobalt discs in the thin starlight. Or perhaps when you danced – listening to Ella’s cool voice and the fine, faint trumpet – and all the tender feelings the girl expressed in her careful swaying.
If only you understood! If you were here, we could have a real heart-to-heart, and I could explain how horribly pointless an art form jazz music is. What a sorry little diversion it was, how it represented the aesthetic nadir of an age already drowning in mass produced popular garbage. But you’re not here, and you can’t hear me. Yet.
As it turns out, something else needs my attention. Cerpin pokes his head around the doorframe and says, quite seriously, “I think the mascara snake is coming to visit.”
“The mascara snake?” you say.
“That’s right, the mascara snake.” Cerpin giggles to himself.
There is wisdom yet in his wild and whirling words. But I can tell that you’re bored almost to death, so before I deal with our visitor, I decide to give you a break.
You hear a clunk and a creak. Cerpin runs off, toward the Section A exit door. He calls back – “It’s open!” Now you can go exploring. Perhaps you will find me by yourself, without my help. If not, I will send Ariel to bring you up here. Or perhaps you’ll hear from Laura – she’s still on the station. But first, I must deal with this pest, who appears to be flying an obsolete vacfighter named “Troutmask”. Hm. Missiles should do fine.
Take care, Greg Space. I’ll be looking out for you.