The Homer, a Galaxy Class III, FTL Cruiser, was carrying a traveling theatrical ensemble of the Sappho Guild: Words without Borders, on an eight-week voyage within the Milky Way Galaxy. The ensemble’s manager, Chester Dupont and Emil Douser, the production liturgist, were accompanied by an abbreviated compliment of production staff, actors and volunteers. Aboard a space vessel, crew members typically are multi-skilled–benefiting the ship as well as themselves, and the members of the theatrical group were no exception. The two theatrical volunteers, Avril Metaxas and Blair Delaware –both trained pilots–were also members of the Bridge crew–pulling six-hour shifts between destinations.
Avril Metaxas was an aspiring writer/director and, with Blair’s help, demonstrated her idea of interactive theater which she hoped would draw in larger audiences. In the first chapter, “Somewhere near Tau Ceti”, Avril staged a bogus murder in the Zero G Lounge which inexplicably contained real remains of a horrific carnage of what could only be multiple victims. Who the victims were was as much a mystery as who perpetrated the bloodbath. Security Marines were on high alert while ship’s Captain Pujari and Security investigated the incident. Avril was the primary suspect and was under house arrest.
That same night, Avril and Blair were barely on time for their shift. Blair sat in the Pilot’s chair while Avril took her place at Navigation, with a Security Marine sitting close by. Blair engaged thrusters and slowly moved the immense ship out of docking. Once clear of the space station, Ubuntu, the officer sitting in the Captain’s chair, nodded to Avril who entered the navigation commands and Blair put the pedal to the metal. Within a few minutes they were speeding out into Void Space, sacrificing FTL for a precarious–albeit, necessary, shortcut–skimming the marginal reaches of the Void. They were in a hurry to rendezvous with the fugitive space station, Archimedes–Chester and Emil having promised the exiled crew and their families an evening of Shakespeare and Beowulf, in the traditional format. Only, they never made it.
Twenty-four lifeboats were located by beacon just outside Void Space–only 8 per cent of the available boats–by the Mining Tug, Jimmy Durante. The survivors from the Homer consisted of some crew, ensemble members, and all but five of the casual passengers. The gory remains of the five absent passengers were in cold storage aboard the missing ship–assuming the ship was not destroyed. Among the survivors was a young couple: Cosmo Soucier and Cybil Harangue–two production artists new to the ensemble. When questioned, the couple insisted that they knew nothing about the reason for the evacuation, because they were engaged in sex in the Zero G Lounge for several hours–until the time they felt the ship shudder and heard a concussive “boom” like the breaking of the sound barrier–which of course does not occur in Outer Space. It was soon after that the couple exited the lounge and joined the herd of people in the gangway running to the lifeboat bay. What struck the couple as peculiar, was the complete absence of alarms sounding or ship-wide announcements.
Cosmo believed in the ancient saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and confided to the Tug Captain that he put his faith in smoke, and joined the fleeing passengers. They got into a lifeboat that was fifth in the launch sequence. Outside, away from the Homer they saw the majority of the bay doors still open and the lifeboats sitting dormant–not even in prelaunch mode. Then the ship visibly shimmered under a shower of multicolored rain, and disappeared behind a triangle or pyramid of intense, blue light. The rest of the survivors were interviewed and each one had a different experience. However, they all agreed on one major point: the description of how the Homer disappeared.
Aboard the Jimmy Durante, Cybil and Cosmo were standing in the port side observation deck looking out into space. Cosmo reflected on what Cybil meant by saying that she hoped Blair was right and they would see the ship and everyone on board sometime in the future. Cybil glanced at Cosmo and thought it was a shame she couldn’t keep him. Cybil did not feel a pinch of guilt for her role in the scheme aboard the Homer. She only regretted having to eliminate Cosmo because he was one of the few human males who could keep up with her appetites. He just knew more than she was comfortable with him knowing. Anyway, Cybil saw a couple of human males on the Tug who looked promising.
Inspiration Monday: Faith in smoke at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompts: Faith in smoke, sound barrier, multicolored rain, pinch of guilt, the speed of smell
Word Count: 754
Thanks and more thanks to Stephanie Orges at Be Kind Rewrite for hosting Inspiration Monday, every week, week after week, after week,….You are appreciated.