I hope you all enjoyed the first instalment of NaNoWriMo. There are a bunch of amazing authors putting there stuff out there this month and I encourage you to check out several. We are all waiting for you.
The first time I came to my head hurt worse than I thought possible and I’d once had a skull fracture from a bike accident. I vaguely remember groaning in pain and feeling really pissed until a needle stuck me hard in the arm. The pain and my awareness faded. Being pissed didn’t.
The next time I woke was better. Not great, but better. The lights had been lowered substantially and this time I woke a lot slower, feeling my way back to consciousness. The bed was hard and uncomfortable and I tossed and turned a few times, trying to shake off the dream I’d had before. Some rage driven nightmare about being shanghaied by long-haulers.
I flopped my arm to a side, looking for my pillow and found the edge of the bed. I grunted and flopped the other way and found the other Edge of the bed. Huh? It was too hard to be my couch and no where near lumpy enough. I blinked my eyes open. It wasn’t too bad. Most of the hangover I’d expected was gone and I was left with just a mild floating sensation.
After a few seconds I managed to stop blinking long enough to get a look at the room. The side I was staring at to begin with was flat and grey. After another second I realized I was staring at a wall. Just to be sure I reached out and touched it. It was a wall. Cold to the touch and strangely covered with some sort of rubbery substance, but solid and otherwise wall-like. I flopped onto my other side.
The rage dream slapped back to the surface. Curtis, the long-haulman, sat in a chair near my bed, snoring loudly. He wore blue coveralls and held a pistol loosely gripped in his lap. Behind him was a row of prison cells, most of them empty. I refocused on Curtis, finally seeing the thin bars between the two of us.
My mouth twisted into a grimace and I left my legs where they lay. Too much movement would wake anyone, especially when they were supposed to be on guard duty. I rolled back toward the wall and flopped in Curtis’ direction, mimicking as much as possible the motions natural to sleep. When I was as close to the beds hard edge as I could get without falling off I rocked toward the wall and threw myself backward into a roll, coming off the edge of the bed and falling to the floor. The motion sent my head spinning, but carried me forward far enough to get a flailing arm through the bars.
I slapped at the pistol in Curtis’ hand and managed to knock it loose. Curtis sprang awake and lunged forward in a half dive, half fall for the gun. His head smacked solidly into the bars in front of him, knocking him off his aim. I gripped the barrel of the gun with scrabbling fingers and yanked it back into the cell with me, quickly pointing the short metal barrel at Curtis’ stunned face.
“Open the door,” I said, uneasy at the strange croak in my voice.
Curtis raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “N..now just hold on Wade,” he stammered. “I told you what that party was when we met. I told you to be gone by morning. ”
“You didn’t say I’d be kidnapped!”
“Why else you think you gotta be gone by morning?” He was incredulous beyond belief. “Not enough cabs?”
I scowled at him. Partly out of outrage and partly because I had been worried about the potential lack of cabs as I was leaving the party. So instead of responding I studied the gun. It was a design I’d never seen before. There didn’t seem to be a place to hold ammunition or any action of any sort. Just a trigger and a short series of knows and dials on one side. I kept the gun trained on him and tried to sound tough, “Open the door. ”
Curtis lowered his arms. “I can’t. I’m just here to give you as much a friendly face as I could. It ain’t a real blast gun anyways, just a grav gun.”
“What the hell’s a Grav gun?” I pointed it at his leg and pulled the trigger.
Curtis let out a shocked shout and crumpled to the floor, his chair buckling beneath him. “What the fuck?” I shouted and let up on the trigger.
A cold voice came from down the corridor. “A grav gun.” It said. It was a woman’s voice, cold and impersonal, but somehow also carrying a hint of amusement. “This ship’s artificial gravity system can simulate up to 10 standard G’s of force or negate up to 20.” She finally stepped into view. She was a short olive skinned woman with buzz cut hair and green coveralls. She seemed the type to enjoy giving a lecture. “A grav gun is more of a directional remote control than a gun. It triggers the ship’s gravity system to shift, altering gravity in a localized area.”
“Neat.” I said. I pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger again.
Nothing happened. She cooked her head to one side like she was contemplating new levels of stupidity and said, “Of course I disarmed yours before I came down the hall.”
Just in case I pointed it back at Curtis and pulled the trigger. Again, nothing happened. I shrugged and pulled myself to my feet by the bed. “And just who are you?”
“Isabel Martinez, ship’s surgeon. ”
“Assistant.” Curtis grumbled crawling to a sitting position on the floor. “Whatcha want Izzy? You ain’t even supposed to be on duty.”
Her eyes flashed. “Don’t call me Izzy. I was coming to check on our newest recruit, to see how he was feeling?”
Curtis struggled to his feet with the aid of the bars. There was a strange fury in his face. “You mean you was checking if he needed a lobotomy like you did to the last two. Well, he don’t! Wade and me just about got it figured. We don’t need you.”
She laughed. It was ice cold. “Got it figured?” she asked. “Him with the gun and you on the floor? Better for everyone if you give him to me. No hassle and the engine room always needs more labor.”
Curtis put his back to my cell and squared his shoulders, drawing himself up to height. He put out his hand. “Wade. Give me the gun.”.
His tone of voice told me which one of us he was going to use it on. I flipped the gun in the air, caught it by the barrel and passed it back to him through the bars. The doctors eyes widened in shock and Curtis twisted a sequence of controls, rearming the grav gun. Isabella spin on her heel and stormed away.
Curtis watched her leave and spoke over his shoulder without turning, “We got it figured?”
I nodded. “It’s figured.”
Curtis twisted the controls on the grav gun and my cell door sprang open.