Emily

Jack is dead.

This is the fact I should begin with.

He’s been dead for three month now, and I’m responsible for it. Not that it matters, but I have to tell.

He is not coming back. Even if … He simply was a bad friend, a bad fiancé. An insufferable jerk…

Emily  won’t forgive me. If she knew what I did…

Suddenly she calls. Out of the blue, the phone rings twice, and  I hear her voice asking my name. “Sam?” She sounds so alien to me. As if she just says it for the first time… Actually she might have… I’m dumbstruck. And happy. I nearly cry. My heart beats to her voice. I… I know something’s wrong, but she calls me… She wants to meet ME… Something’s wrong. Awfully wrong. Can’t put my finger on it. But I will meet her right away.

There. Again – the nagging little voice in the back of my head. I should worry, but can’t. Something’s happening, out of control… Sooner or later, I’ll end up caught in it anyway…

Just keep my mouth shut. Emily needs me, that is all that counts. This is all that ever counted to me.

*

“There is a park nearby. At the back of the bakery. The one with the chocolate croissants you love.” I tell her.

I use to grab some for her and Jack.

He always swallows them nearly in one bite. But Emily… Oh, she eats them so delicately, with so much care… My eyes stick to her hands and jaws, moving in small elliptical figures. The divine geometry of her gestures, their almost arithmetic order – the hue of her gentleness. The reason I fall for her. Right away.

I use to hide a little flower in her napkin. She never unfolds them. I don’t know if she’ll ever find one… You see, I’m stubborn. I never give up…

Well, that’s not true.  I DO give up.

Not only stubborn, but also a liar.

I do give up. There’s no point in bringing breakfast for Emily and Jack anymore. Since he’s dead, and she refuses to eat breakfast brought by me…

“Please meet me… I think, I’m going crazy on my own. You know… I’m haunted, Sam.”

My throat dries up. A grinding goes through my head. It must’ve been my teeth. That sound. It was a bit too loud. Even on the phone. It makes her pause…

“I just have to be with a normal living person,” she begs. How could I refuse her?

*

The nagging starts again. Something’s wrong… Wrong! WRONG!

W. R. O. N. G.!

I’ll take a header into – whatever is coming.

The sun is setting. Wrong.

The trees wink at me. Wrong.

Emily stands there. Wrong.

Emily just stands there.

Emily.

She is dressed like one of those joggers, who keep running away from stress. You see them in the twilight, with their distinguished distance to regret. Like a new species. The aura of superiority…

I need to absorb this. Every second! The wrong, that is coming, is going to crash into us. Soon enough.

Get there first!

She has her back turned to me. I used to watch it…

She has lovely freckle on her left shoulder. My eyes find the spot through her sweater. It has the shape of a tulip.

The first time I see it, I walk in on her, while she’s changing. Accidently. She’s scared, then angry. Jack laughs his head of… Bastard!

“There you are!” she flashes a smile. I can tell she’s been crying though. “How are you?”

“Fine. I’m… fine.” The words barely make it out of my mouth. All dried lips and lazy tongue. It sounds husky. It feels ripping. I didn’t speak – not even to her – for so long, it hurts…

On the way, I even pick a daisy. Old habit.

The smile dissolves. Her face returns. Calm, nearly blank. Only her eyes move nervously. Why is she nervous? Whom is she expecting?

Did anyone find out? Is… Is someone following?! Or threatening?!

Did she find out? Would she tell anyone?!

She led them HERE?! TO ME?!  There you go – catastrophe!

No! Not now! With Emily so close? I’d just had to stretch my hand and… touch. Who could take her away now?!

“Let’s walk.” She turns abruptly and walks off the sidewalk onto the grass. There’s a daisy. She steps on it. She doesn’t notice. I walk right behind her… Placing one foot after the other in the marks she’s leaving.

*

“Sam?” she asks. “Why did you? Why…? Never mind!”

All of a sudden, she sounds shaky and afraid. I don’t care where she’s leading. As long as she keeps going, I’ll follow. No people, no dogs, no joggers around.

Nature. Evening. Trees around us, bushes, grass. No one here. Just us. The moon appears on a scrap of night.

“This far enough!” I hear her breathe in sharply. A demand?

“K… I didn’t mean to…”- obtrude…

I step back. I won’t push… Why is she so tense? It’s just us here – and I mean no harm.

A dog barks nearby.

A heavy weight crashes into me. Into my chest, squeezing the breath of my thorax -What was that? Something hit me. A branch? No, not something, it’s Emily. Emily pounces on me, hugs me violently. She’s so wild, that we both fall.

We lie on the ground. The night shakes itself. The moon shakes too. It devised itself, then fuses again, to one body. It stops… Finally.

I feel Emily’s breathing. Her skin on my arms, her back under my fingers, her arms ’round my waist. She’s warm and light. Her hair pours down my neck. The scent cloud makes me dizzy.  Is this a dream? It looks like she is resting her head on my chest, to hear my heart. It’s racing. She makes it to.

Is she crying? But why?

*

“Did I hurt you? Is it – too… much? Can you bear it? Are you suffering, Sam?” She means me… There is something else too, isn’t it?

She pushes her chin between two of my hurting ribs. It stings. Her eyes search for mine. She uses her fingers for the search too. It stings!

Why am I so weak?

Her face grows paler and bigger. It doesn’t have that blank expression anymore. Isn’t tense. She’s relieved… Strange, I can see her eyes clearly now. They glow blue. She looks so attentive. Is it – curiosity? What happened?

“Are you…” Her lips stop mine.

Her hair moves, and I see it! What’s that? Something sticks out. I don’t remember… The shaft of a knife? IN me? Blood… warm, red. It stings! It burns! Emily sticks her index into it, licks…

“Sour, not sweet at all. Tastes like a warm sunny day, badly screwed over.” Is this a dream? It can’t, ’cause it hurts. That wet wheezing sound, is that coming from me?!

“You’ve to sit up, or you’ll have a hard time breathing, Sam.” She states stark.

There’s a firm grip on my shirt, pulling. Ah! Ow!

“You’re heavy, sweetheart! Give me a hand, will you?” I reach out, to pull myself up, but there is only Emily to grab. She helps me to lean against a tree trunk. Her image shakes.

“So… you found out.”

She nods. And cries. Tears leaving her eyes quietly. No sobbing. How strong she is…

“Do you hate me?”

She shakes her head wildly. No. She doesn’t. What a relief! There will be no one… bothering us here. And she did not betray me. She just found out.

“I wanted you. Wanted – to know. That… I did. What I did…” So lazy this tongue. Weak tongue. Thirsty. Shaky? It’s cold.

“I know. Shhhhh! Don’t waste your strength…I’ll stay. Till it’s over. Listen… ” Her fingers caress my hair, cheeks.

Emily, don’t stop. Please… I think, I don’t feel my legs. Won’t need them. Ain’t going nowhere. I stay. And this is maybe the best solution… It could have been such a wonderful night. It could have…

“Open your eyes, Sam. Please! I have to tell you. I learned about three weeks ago, who Jack really was, and what you did for me. Did you ever think I could find out? Since Jack died… I sleep and wake up with death… I don’t even know, if I’m alive or not. Maybe this is all just a bad dream. It sure feels like one… We have a nightmare. Both of us. The same. I dreamed, that I died.  Someone else took my place and lived me… Do you understand? Someone else crawled into my skin, and pretends to be me… Am I crazy?”

I haven’t got much strength left. So I shake my head. Come on mouth! Smile! Say something!

“I’ll miss you Sam. I wish, I met you first… We could have been happy, you know. Just the two of us… I’m glad it was you. Sam… Sam?”

… and you thought you had problems.

Mr. Jones’ psychotic adventures – part 5 – end

-part 4-part 3-part 2-part 1

You wake up cause you can’t breathe. Albert is dancing on your chest, belly and tights. He’s heavy and his claws dig into your flesh, leaving red scratches all over you. „Good. Brwouuuf. You wake. Come on, human. Get her.“ You’re too tired to argue with the Great Dane. You think of complaining, but Albert keeps drooling on you. The dog won´t give up. You know that.

„Alright, right… her“, you grunt. It’s in the middle of the night. Dark. Albert steps on your toes. „Hey, watch it.“ You tell him, but know that it’s useless.

„I’ll bite you, if you don´t hurry.“ Albert growls. You shake your head at all the fuss. You wish you knew what´s going on. So, you are up now. Sitting on the bed. There is light in the wardrobe.

The dog puffs at the door and points to the kitchen. „Come on, human. What’s that thing doing in your face? Suck the air in. Sniff, man, sniff! Can’t you tell she’s in the kitchen?“ You look startled at the dog. You really sniff in the air. Scrambled eggs? Or is it just you, being hungry. You shrug and look hopefully at the dog. Albert rolls his eyes. „Humans…“ He really sounds annoyed. „Be careful. It’s full moon.“ He sits down. „Now deal with it!“

You scratch the back of your head. Albert expects you to go into the kitchen. There are sounds coming from in there. Someone is looking for something. You take a look. It’s Marina. She’s naked, her back turned to you, her tail twitching nervously up and down. She seems upset.

„Sweetheart?“ You ask. She doesn´t hear you, so you come a bit nearer. „Marina? Darling?“ You hear a low growl. Each step you take towards her, her snarling gets louder. She reminds you of a predator, crouching over her prey. You see her bloody hands. The meat…

„DON’T COME CLOSER!“ She screams. “DON’T!“ Her voice pitches, into a high painful tone. It resembles a sob, but isn´t. Like you step on the tail of a dog… It makes your guts cramp. She’s shaking. You notice that now.

„Tell me. What’s wrong? You can tell me everything.“ You start very carefully. You don’t touch her shivering back, but you want to. She cries.

„The moon.“ Your eyebrow goes up. Albert mentioned something about full moon.

„What´s with the moon?“ You try again. Even gentler.

„Look at me! It’s full moon. I’m a lycanthrope! A werewolf! You know what that means, don’t you?“ She looks at you and her face makes your heart skip a beat. Her eyes!

She has yellow eyes now! She is even more beautiful than yesterday! „I don’t want to hurt you. I like you… Really do. I don´t want you to get hurt. It makes me crazy. I need fresh blood.“ She shoves you apart and grabs another piece of raw meat.

She looks weary at you, searching for your reaction. Any reaction.

You sigh and shake your head. Then you smile, smile at her your brightest smile. „You know, darling… I have to tell you something. I should have told you the first time we met. I´m… I´m nuts. Mad. Completely… I´m a lunatic. The doctors told me. It’s Psychosis.“

She starts laughing. You giggle. She takes it better than you expected…

don’t forget the salmon

Mr. Jones’ psychotic adventures – part 3

-part 1 – Where to, Mr. Jones?

-part 2 – soft spot

You don’t quite think it through, do you? The woman with the tail, you don’t mean to lie to her. But it’s ok for now. You won’t hurt her with that. You tell her, that you are perfectly fine. Not honest. Shame on you! You shake your head at your own confusion- it is somewhat slightly amusing, you must admit.

There is this fact that might be true. The one, that you’re are nuts. You know that. Ziggy has told you. The gorilla and the skinny man too.

They believe themselves a part of your hallucinations. Ridiculous! If they are, then you can  control them, make them say things like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or make them eat disgusting stuff, or run around naked. …Oh wait, the gorilla does that, doesn’t he? And the thin man is eating fried crickets and spiders. You might be hallucinating them, after all.

You stop with sudden recognition. Those two. They aren’t doing it by choice. You force them.

How rude! You never imagine yourself THIS disturbed…

Where is your medication? You know you have some, somewhere… You need it, you tell yourself. True enough. Your memory would work much better. But you are feeling so fine.

Everything happening is so interesting, adventurous days, and far more exciting nights. You don’t want to be bored. Not since, you have a girlfriend. Plus you have really exotic friends.

Stepping outside, you get a day light shower, blinding you for some seconds. The noises of the street flood into your ears and brains. It’s too hot, too noisy. You are daydreaming again. Of her. Still her scent in your nose… Those curves, and her tail. Damn you are hungry. Raw meat isn’t your favorite. Seems to be hers though.

She kissed your forehead when she left, looking so perfect.  Maybe you didn’t make out with her. After all, your memory is full of holes, and you woke up when she came in. She could have been polite, giving you a place to sleep. Maybe you were too drunk to sleep with her… But it could have been the most thrilling night of your life and you fainted. Wouldn’t be the first time for you.

You try to ask, but her finger on your lips silence you instantly. The perfume floating around you two is captivating. „I’m already too late, darling. Let’s do this some time again! Soon. Come and visit me. Oh, and when you leave, just close the door really well.” She smiles. A beautiful smile that makes your knees go jello. What a woman! “Bye, darling! Next time, bring some salmon!”

The door closes behind her. You still stare at the spot, where she was just a moment ago. You swallow. Salmon.

She reminds you of some kind of big cat. A barbecue, it would be so nice. Or something like that… Yeah that must be it. Don’t forget to bring salmon.

And what if you wait for her? When she comes back, and you surprise her with flowers, and a cleaned up kitchen? How would she react to that? She likes you, doesn’t she? She won’t be upset, would she?

Here. You look around. Really nice…

It´s the only place that seems normal- and no one is trying to force-feed you insects. Plus, no naked gorilla showing off. Ziggy worries. Hopefully… You guess that he´s the one with the most brains between those three. But you have no idea, where those guys are. Hell, not even, where you are… Just not-your-appartment, which isn´t as confusing as the rest of the world. Maybe a  good sign, you ponder.

You find some cash and decide to go shopping. Nothing big, just groceries. You decide, that you are going to make a fancy meal. You will try to impress her. You will cook for your tailed – maybe cat – lady.

What are you going to need? You try to make a list: eggs, milk, bread, some nice spices, ketchup, coffee, flowers, beer… And something else too; a big salmon. Don’t forget the salmon. You should have lunch too. Your belly tells you. You are really hungry.

You start to walk down the street, on the sunny side. It smells of fresh bread. There must be a bakery nearby.

“Hey! Mr. Jones! Mister Jones! Juhuu!” Someone calling your name. Unease in the back of your head. No. Keep walking. You want to keep walking… “Mister Jones!” It´s much nearer. Damn. Maybe someone confuses you with some other Mr. Jones. You are not the Mr. Jones they are looking for…

A hand grabs your shoulder, makes you jump. „Didn’t you hear me? I was calling. I’ve been looking for you!” The voice belongs to Ziggy. It’s him giving you a big full teeth smile.

It’s fake, that’s written across his face. Weird. You don’t like that smile. That face is too tense. It’s a grimace. More mimicking a smile than really smiling… Why didn’t this cross your mind earlier? You never understand Ziggy.

“Now, you’ve found me. Congrats!” You try to smile back, and ask yourself, how did he find you anyway.

“The gorilla told me, you found some company for the night. Is that true?!” He seems a bit offended. “Was she good? Tell me. Did she satisfy you? I hope she did, cause I’m going to make you pay for it. Told the guys, that there was no way you’d choose a mere woman above us. You made me lose my bet!” His grin gets even wider, face redder than it usually does.

You get the feeling that he is more dangerous than you ever imagined. You underestimate him, consider him the normal one, a friend. You are wrong.

“Not today. See? I’ve got groceries. Even a list. I mustn’t forget the salmon.” You swallow, and keep on walking

Ziggy’s jaw drops. He’s speechless. At least he does not follow you, which is a good sign, you think. You know, you are wrong… But right now, you don’t care.

You need to buy some stuff and have lunch, before she comes back. You are going to have a really nice barbecue, and another wonderful night with her.

—————————————————————————-

part 4 – threats

part 5 – … and you thought you had problems.

soft spot

Mr. Jones’ psychotic adventures – part 2

 – part 1 – Where to, Mr. Jones?

There was a train, wasn’t it? You ask yourself, still half asleep. Train rides are always fun. You know that, don´t you?

Maybe not, when you are sitting on the lap of a full grown gorilla, and a thin man is forcing you to eat some fried spiders and crickets, with french fries. They are crunchy, but… Without ketchup, it simply doesn’t taste good.

You know, nothing tastes good without ketchup – surprisingly you never thought of that before.

The pillow has its own gravity. Your head seems way too big, so you decide to turn around and proceed with whatever you were doing before opening your eyes. Knocking. “Who the hell?” You grunt annoyed. “Stay put. Let it pass,” you tell yourself.

Then it dawns on you. It´s not your bed, not your room, not your apartment. You try to remember. Where are you? Your eyes fly open. Not your ceiling. Knocking. „Yeah…”

A woman comes in. Thank god! You are truly relieved. She’s a pretty one, not fully dressed. She’s a beauty! Except for the tail- yeah, that is weird. Long brown curly hair, blue eyes, and a fucking tail. You cannot unsee that. “Get up, darling,” she says, sounding worn out. “I have to go to work. I’ve already ate. Your turn.”

You still wonder what she is. Her tail twitches nervously. You stare at her back, while she starts to get dressed.

You know you should have stayed in bed. You hit your toe in the door, on your way to the bathroom. There is no milk for your coffee. The bread has grown hair. What did she eat? There is  raw meat in the fridge. A lot of raw meat. You think about those fried crickets. Weren’t that bad, after all…

Well… You go without breakfast. Suits you. Grinning to yourself, aren’t you? Yeah. Doesn’t matter, you had sex… Probably. You can’t remember.

A mug full with bitter black liquid is your only friend now. You don’t want sugar. Sugar is evil.

Sugar is the main part of becoming an addict. That you’ve been told. Last night. Ziggy has told you. Ziggy, the small strong man, who seems to know a lot about you. The gorilla too….

A really nice guy by the way. He’s from London, currently working as your driver. A polite person, but with a queer obsession for being naked. You’ll never understand that. You shake your head.

Your memories from last night are too jumbled. What happened? Why can’t you remember?

As far as you are concerned, you smoke cigars, you gobble bananas. Yes, gobble. Yesterday was gobble bananas and smoke cigars day. The gorilla has showed you how. Or was it smoking bananas and eating cigars? Anyway.

Now you can’t eat another banana for quite a while.

French fries would do just fine…

No french fries in not-your-kitchen. You want to ask her, if you can have her number, or her ketchup bottle. She seems nice, and smells good too. You think you can ignore the tail.

After all, you landed in her bed. You want to repeat whatever there was last night.

——————————————————————-

– part 3 – don’t forget the salmon

– part 4-  threats

– part 5 – … and you thought you had problems

The Harpy

part 3 - code 330
-part 1, -part 2

„What did you mean by, she’s not just a cargo ship?“ Eddy plunks down into a pilot seat, shrugs and ruffles his dark hair.

„You know- They don’t let a rookie doctor and a priceless AI in a man suit, just fly off like that, would they? Your company protects its belongings damn well. What do you think? They let you deactivate the tracking device you know of, and do nothing? Ha!“ I… I really did! Now that he puts it that way, it sounds bonkers.

„Don’t be upset… They are already sending someone after it. I told you, this is not a simple cargo ship, and I’m not only your captain, but also your and Proto’s bodyguard… Is it that shocking for you? Did you grow up in La-la-Land? Oz, you’re the most naive person I’ve ever met!“ He laughs his head off. „He’s got more bugs than you imagine. There’s one in the suit too. Yes, he took it, and launched all escape units, so we are trapped here. He even set the ship to self destruct, you know that? To cover all loose ends… Clever little shit! The missing suit is a bread crumb thread, if there is more left from the Harpy, than fuel snowflakes and debris scattered all over the belt. Do you know where he is heading?“ I shake my head. How did I let this come this far? „Maybe Europe, to the deep-sea terra-forming units. That’s where I would hide.“

He sits down near me, resting a hand on my shoulder. „Don’t sweat it, buddy. Not your fault. I’ve been waiting for something like this, to happen. I let the Harpy respond, as it expected it. Proto’s hacking did more damage than I thought. But Harpy is a tough girl. She can handle. She didn’t even send an S.O.S Signal. Brave girl.“ He pulls a chocolate bar from one of his pockets and offers it. „Eat. You’ll feel better. I promise.“ As I take the bar, he catches my fingers in his palm. „That he killed you, I didn’t foresee. I am really sorry. I failed to protect you.“

„- Tried. Thanks to you, I’m alive.“ His green eyes pierce my skull. Don’t blush, don’t blush.

„That can’t be helped now. I underestimated him, I admit. Didn’t think, it is capable of being this human…“ Releasing my hand and the chocolate bar, he turns to the screen and says,„hey babe, unlock E.K.1. for me. Would you help me with One and Two, sweetheart? How are your subroutines coming? Lets repair you ASAP and detach. I want to find that fuck tard and kick his ass to bits.”

“Your wish is my command, Eddy. Damaged data seventy-five percent restored.” The Harpy replies happily. With a rattling sound several terminals thrust aside, new terminals open up. Maintenance robots flood in from the corners of the bridge, darting for the body parts of One and Two. Like fire ants over a limping frog, the humming things run down the bits of cyborg. This is definitely – weird, but cool – and oh my god! Bio-suits! He has bio-suits! One black, one translucent, both hooked up to some iv-like accesses. I only heard rumors of them, being top secret military technology. Self sufficient systems for exploring new environments. Whoa. Now that’s a thing!

“What- what are you doin’?” Eddy’s taking his clothes off. I try not to look surprised. I should try not to stare instead.

“I’m dressing up for the big prom, so that I’m pretty for my prince. What do you think?! These are next generation bio-mechanical suits – they need full skin contact, and a bit more…” Wait, does that mean, that they are autonomous, or semiautonomous? Are they alive? “Ok. Ask now. I know that look, you will be bugging me over the com. So?”

“What do they need more?” I ask.

“Water, salt, carbon-dioxide, electricity, sugar and heat. They’re like overprotective giant leeches, designed to keep you alive, in order to remain alive themselves. Vicious things, instantly adapting to radiation, temperature changes and pressure. They are having their eyes where you aren’t looking. Giving you an extra hand, or tentacle, or spider legs, or wings. Just needing access to your bloodstream and your nerves- both sensory and muscular… They’re boosting your reflexes, beyond… I can’t explain. God, I love them!“

He stops suddenly, „…one more thing,“ and turns to me with a grave look. „I didn’t think of it… When I come back – stay away from me!“ What? Why?

„I’ll be high on their neurotransmitters. I can’t guarantee for your safety, nor mine. Stay put. That’s the best you can do… Prepare enough sedatives. Just in case -”

“W-What do you mean – just in case?” Now I’m curious. “After the first time, I tried to drink cooling liquid. The second time, I tried to walk out into space, cause my grandma was knocking on the airlock, from the outside… I’ll be hallucinating. I’ll be hungry. And horny. I could try to eat you, or fuck you, or both.”

“You’re kidding, right?” He can’t be serious.

“Just do me a favor, okay? Just knock me out, before I… Don’t let me do anything stupid. OK?!” He is begging? “I don’t want to wake up, with a big ass hangover, next to a corpse.” He leans over to me. „This is important! Harpy will tell you my specs. She prepares a modified robot for me, with enough drugs for a day sleep or so. If there’s a problem. Any problem… The override code for Ed-emergencies is 330. She’ll wrestle me down then. Don’t forget: three-three-o. I didn’t want to use the suit, with you on board, but desperate times… You know the rest.“ He flashes a big grin and proceeds undressing.

—————————————————————

-part 4 - the perks of jumbled memories

The Harpy

part 2 -  confused AI
- part 1 -another way to die

„Captain Edward Wong, Doctor Oscar Wellington, two cyborg pilots, ninety-six maintenance robots, and me.“ The Harpy answers in a flat tone.

„See?“ Eddy gives me the I-told-you-so-look. „Where is Proto?“ he asks her.

„Proto is not on board.“ What?! „His suit is missing. Scanning… He is jamming me.“ Another I-told-you-so-look.

Proto is my assistant. He isn’t supposed to leave the ship. Where is he? What the hell is going on? He’s going to get in trouble…

Being neither a human nor a cyborg, his legal status is not quite clear yet. Not on Earth, not on Mars, not on the lunar mining colonies, and apparently neither on this ship. As a matter of fact, he is the first of his kind. Between an AI and a human clone, he is a miracle, if you ask me. He is priceless! For the captain, he’s just an AI, in a man suit…

Crap, I even deactivated his tracking device two days ago, hoping to keep other companies at bay. Maybe this move qualifies me a dumb-dumb…

„Proto is going to get a good going-over. And if you don’t start pulling yourself together, I’ll beat you up too, for good measure!“ Eddy stands in the doorway. I can’t tell if he’s joking.

The soft purring of the Harpy interrupts. “Warning. Warning. Collision course. Risk: ninety-three point sixty-six percent. I suggest immediate change of course. Dr. Wellington’s vitals are stable. Captain, you are needed on the bridge. Dock station four has been activated. Escape capsule two has been launched thirty seconds ago… Launching remaining capsule… I am confused.”

“WHAT?!” We both cry in unison. ”What the hell is going on?!” The captain shouts sprinting out of my lab.

“Wait! Cap! Eddy!” I dash down the corridor, only to see  his back turning round the corner. Man, he’s fast. Better be! If this is sabotage… The only one, who could have done this, has already fled the ship. Crap! He’s gonna destroy us. I’m a fucking idiot!

“Warning!“ Harpy tweets. „Collision is now inevitable. Remaining time to impact: twenty-three seconds. Course change impossible. Pilots manually deactivated. Autopilot permanently deactivated. Override. Error. Override. Error. Override. Error – sorry.”

If the Harpy gets smashed to bits, and we both die, that’ll be on my head. Only my fault. Somewhere ahead the furious cursing of the captain echoes.

How did we end up here? The last thing I remember, we were passing Mars, to swing into polar orbit and – fuck. Why are we in the asteroid belt?!

“Buckle up! Prepare for impact. Eddy, it’s been a pleasure.“ Harpy adds cheerfully. Oh, no! Crap! The next thing I know, I get thrown into a blender and swirled around the place. Hitting the corridor ceiling, the floor, and some walls. Smoke! Shit! I hope the ship doesn’t cut out all the oxygen…

That’s a lot of smoke down the corridor. Behind me the doors slide open and I get violently pulled in, hitting something hard. Pan galactic gargle blaster – my head has doubled it’s size, I swear. What a fucked up day!

“Hey Doc? Oz? Come on, stay with me. I won’t kiss you twice a day, you know.” Eddy’s big hands slap the dizziness right out of me.

“You’re not my type,“ I lie.

“Good! You’ve come to,” he grins and helps me lean against the wall of a monitoring desk. Partially disintegrated, the two damaged pilots lay on the floor of the bridge, emitting sparks.This is bad… One head lies near my foot, looking right at me, smiling sheepishly.

“Is this One’s or Two’s?” I ask. The Captain is pressing something cool at the back of my head. He needs a cool-pack too. His nose bleeds, but he doesn’t notice, or doesn’t mind.

„Two’s. Only Two has this stupid grin. Proto’s gonna pay for this, as soon, as I manage to lay hands on it! I swear!“

”Was there a fire? Um, there was a lot of smoke…“ Eddy nods. „Is there any oxygen left outside the bridge?“ He shakes his head. „This is bad… Can you fix them? The cyborgs? You need them – to repair the Harpy, don’t you?“ I study my lap, then my hands. „I thought… I thought you hate AIs and cyborgs.” Color me surprise.

“It seems that way… Hasn’t your mama taught you, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” I didn’t consider him a decent human being, nor a life saver. His rude behavior with Proto… I assumed… Well, I thought he is a bigoted windbag. My bad…

His eyes lock mine. “Just look at you! Died and resurrected today. You’ve learnt nothing from it, did you? Still cheeky to your savior, bucko? Hm?“ Suddenly he shrugs, and seems a lot older and paler than before. „You had a rough day, kid. Now stop bleeding all over the place, will you?” What just happened? „I’m happy you’re alive.“ He laughs a deep guttural laugh. How strange, I never heard him laugh before… “And here I was thinking, this will be the most boring half year of my life, on this science field trip.”

I take the cool-pack, and offer it to him. “You okay? Anything broken?” He shakes his head.

“A fuel tank, but that’s not the problem. We can still detach, but we have to do that manually.“ Not what I meant. „Also, there is a leak somewhere I need to find, before we run out of oxygen. Fix One and Two. I hope my baby didn’t get hurt too badly… You know, she’s not just a cargo ship.” He snorts triumphantly. “If you hadn’t pass out, like an anemic victorian princess, you could have seen my brilliant maneuver. I landed her. I landed the Harpy, on a fucking asteroid! Which is unbelievably stupid and amazing at the same time!“ Did he just wink at me? That nose is broken, definitely. He smiles and turns away to look at the screen. We are spinning. “At least, we’re alive – for now.”

———————————————–

- part 3 - code 330
- part 4 - perks of jumbled memories

The Harpy

part 1 - another way to die
 

“Ugh. Stop. Go away!” I chase away the light and the fingers forcing my eyes open. „Where’s the horse?“ I crow.

„What horse?“ Who’s voice is that? The light hurts my eyes.

„That kicked me in the chest? Catch it, before it runs off.“ Sighing. The light and fingers retract. “Proto? Is that you?” I try to sit up, but the floor is spinning.

“No. Don’t you scare me like that, EVER again! Stay where you are, you hear me?” Looks like an uniform. I know that uniform. I know that shape. A captainshaped uniform… Oh… I’m in serious trouble. His silhouette swims into my field of view. Why is he kneeling beside me? Huh… I’m soaked. Why? I’m definitely too groggy for any of these answers. „Still on the ship, aren’t I?”

“Yep. Still on the Harpy.“

„No horses, right?“ Think! What am I doing down here? Something went wrong. Terribly wrong… Was it an experiment and I miscalculated the medication dose?

„Right. Oriented to location. Good. Now tell me your name.“ Oz. Oscar Wellington. Doctor. „Good. Who am I?“ Captain Edward Wong. „The one and only. Year? Don’t roll your eyes, you know the drill. Location, person, time, situation.“ 2098. „Now, do I have to run a drug test on you? Were you high, or what?! How do you explain THIS?“ He waves a hand at me, the destroyed electronics and scattered data sheets on the floor. „Besides… Why were you locked in, and floating facedown in that tank? Spill it! What happened?!”

“I, I honestly – I dunno. I can’t remember.“ Just look at that mess! Everything’s smashed… All my work! I can’t believe I did this. The quarantine doors are destroyed. It must’ve been the captain trying to get in. Did I lock them? Wires? What am I hooked up to? A defibrillator unit? “How many shocks did I get?”

“One to 250 and three to 310 Joules. Jump starting you wasn’t easy. It looked like you won’t make it. You’ll feel like a schnitzel… I might have cracked some of your ribs, I guess. Now tell me, what happened to you? Who did this?” Eddy’s eyes search for mine, but I can’t stand the look.

“Thank you for saving me, Cap. I’m sorry, I’m no help. I simply don’t remember.“ My clothes are ripped, muscles sore… I start pulling off the electrodes of my chest and back. Why was I fully dressed, if I was doing a hibernation experiment? That’s strange… „I tell you, what I remember. It was an experiment for induced hibernation. I was testing new chemical compounds. So- ” Shaking my head, I admit,„this was my first incident ever… Cardiac arrest is not an option. Damn…“ Strix Genome won’t be pleased with my near-death-experience… Not the first accident with hibernation research anyway. Where was my safe guard? CPR is been taking a long time, which means that my electrolyte metabolism is off balance…

“You mean, you did this on purpose?! You little prick! You were DEAD! No breathing! No pulse! What do you call that?! Fuckin’ power-napping? God!”

“… You exaggerate a bit, cap…” Oh-uh. I should’ve kept my mouth. That shade of red can’t be healthy. A human volcano is going to spit a ball of anger right into my face.

“WHAT?! The ships life-monitoring alarm went off, like a fucking X-mas decoration, to your vitals. And YOU tell me, I exaggerate? FUCK YOU! Next time-“

“Eddy, I’m sorry. Okay?” He grabs my torn shirt and pulls me up to his face, lips tightening.

”- NO! NOT OKAY! What if I hadn’t pulled you out in time? Or that liquid destroyed your lungs? There are no prosthetics on board! And you are THE doctor. IDIOT! Even downloading and printing would take nearly half a day!” He lets go and turns to leave, but got some powder left. He’s not done with me.

„Where’s your lapdog? Where is Proto? Isn’t it supposed to watch your back? PROTO? Where are you hiding, you little shit?”

“HE is doing research. I sent him.” I wonder, did I?

“Is it? You should stop protecting it. Processing useless data. Don’t make me laugh! The ship does that way better. Just ask!” He glares me down. I don’t understand… „Do you, or do you not know, where Proto is?“ I shake my head. What the heck? The captain turns to the surveillance panel. „Babe? Who’s on board?“

————————————————————————–

Note:  this piece is the original and the inspiration to SLEIPNIR, ergo influenced FENRIR too

- part 2 - confused AI
- part 3 - code 330
- part 4 - perks of jumbled memories