The Last of the Endless

Reads: 143  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Three boys discover a mysterious space ship from a time long forgotten. It turns out the ship is not abandoned after all...

Submitted: February 03, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 03, 2018

A A A

A A A


Charley was running as fast as his skinny, thirteen year old legs would carry him. The last of the tall, makeshift houses that loomed over the narrow road passed him in a blur. He was in the open now, almost there. Charley was good at running. If he hadn’t been, he probably wouldn’t have gotten away with half the things he did.

He looked up, above the overgrown base of the wall that appeared to his right, to where the end of the world met the artificial sky. You could still make out the peeks of the mountains that were once painted over the wall’s entire surface, but have since long faded away.

Success! He made it to the elevator and swiped his key card over the small sensor. See you later suckers, he thought, but to his horror the little light above the sensor flashed red and the dirt covered display read: ELEVATOR MELFUNCTION.

Not today. Charley glanced over his shoulder and saw that his pursuers were only about a hundred meters behind him. There was nothing to be done but to continue running. He needed a new plan, he wouldn't be able to outrun them forever. They had chased him all the way from school and now he was starting to get tired. He spotted another door about twenty meters in front of him. Above it, in faded red letters, that were hard to distinguish through the foliage, read: HANGAR BAY 28. The doors themselves were covered in vines, they looked like they hadn’t been used in years.

Please open, Charley swiped his card again. The doors let out a grunt and opened with a hiss of air rushing through them. The smell inside wasn’t very pleasant. As the lights above him flickered, Charley was able to discern rough shapes of small shuttles everywhere. He heard voices behind him so he ran down a row of ships, his legs were starting to ache.

Charley picked one of the larger ships and crawled under it. His heartbeat was the loudest thing in his ears and he had to fight to breath quietly. Thankfully the noisy search for him seamed to fade in the distance. Charley knew it wasn’t safe yet though, Zack definitely wouldn’t give up so easily.

A whisper startled him. It wasn’t Zack and his gang, Charley could hear them somewhere in the distance. This was closer, almost like a gust of wind rushed over his head and rustled his hear. He moved towards the sound and soon came across a small clearing in the densely packed rows. The ship in front of him was completely different from the others.

What was a ring ship doing in a hangar under one G? Charley could only see half of it, while the rest disappeared in the darkness above. Judging from the curve, the ship’s diameter must have been more than hundred meters, which seemed huge from where Charley was standing, but he knew it was nothing compared to even the smallest ring ships that roamed the void these days.

The ship looked new, or newer than those around it. Charley came closer. The surface of the ring was smooth and dark. He walked down its length until the arc of the ship rose above his head. He spotted a hatch in the bottom of the ring while passing beneath it. There were no buttons or nobs or scanners, just the door and a round symbol engraved beside it. It depicted a planet, Charley guessed, surrounded with a decorative pattern. He passed his hand over the symbol, the edges were still sharp and clear cut, the metal was cold. The hatch let out a loud hiss and opened.

“It came from over there! Hurry!”

Shit. Charley quickly climbed in, found the same symbol on the inside and pressed his palm on it, the doors closed. He found himself in absolute darkness so he curled up on the cold floor of the ship leaning his head on the door listening to Zack’s annoyed shouting.

Damn, he is really persistent.

Charley wondered if he had gone too far this time, his friends told him not to go through with it, but even thinking about it brought a smile on his face. Totally worth it, he just needed to avoid Zack for two days, until the weekend, and after that he would have probably forgotten all about it.

***

The next thing Charley knew was a sharp fiery sensation in his shoulder. His entire body was stiff and sore. Sleeping under the full one G always had this effect on him, the metal floor didn’t help either. He got up and shook his arm until the tingling passed. Everything was silent outside. Charley took out his multicomp and turned on the ambient light feature, it blinded him for a moment. He was right not to turn it on before, the outer wall was lined with windows. The opposite one had doors, with the same planet next to them, every few meters. Apart from some broken glass the bland metal hallway was empty, it arched its way up as far as he could see on both sides. Could it be that the ship was undamaged?

Seven twenty four. Dinner! He climbed out and looked at the ship one more time, he couldn’t wait to tell Cody and Lucas about this place.

He had to run across half the neighbourhood to get to the main elevator of section F. Charley loved looking at the people and houses as they shrunk beneath him, but all that was quickly replaced by the busy life of the dockyard, led under one third G.

Epsilon Eridiamus was the furthest system under the control of the Union, so Caspar station served as the gateway to the free world, its docks teeming with traders hoping to get rich. Unlike the ring, where human exclusivity was taken for granted, up here you couldn’t name a race you wouldn’t be able to find. From childlike Macronians who loved to share stories of their travels, to even a couple Elves, that would shove you aside like you would a peace of trash.

As much as Charley liked the ring he would never trade it for the docks. He probably got that from his parents. They were both born in the ring, but moved up here when they wanted to have a second child, the base fee was ten times less in the docks. But his parents didn’t stop at two, Charley had three brothers and a sister, he was the youngest. Both his parents had very high paying jobs, so everything was fine before his mother died six years ago. Since then Charley felt out of place. Nothing was ever said and Charley knew it wasn’t his fault, but the fact was that he was the single greatest expanse for his family. All of his siblings had to get jobs just to pay the fifth child fee and Charley wanted to help, but no one hired under sixteen.

He often spent hours looking at the freighters leaving the station, no one would have to pay for him if he wasn’t here.

When Charley finally got home, dinner was long over. He took the leftovers cold and went to his room. He connected his multicomp to the stations interface and sprawled out on the bed. “Call Cody and Lucas.”

***

Charley met his friends at the school bus station near Lucas’s house. It was a school day, but they agreed to go with him anyway. On their way to the hangar they talked about all the ships they could find in there, but Charley kept coming back to the ring ship. Lucas seemed convinced it was just some elvish ship captured during the last war with them, which didn’t mean it was any less cool.

“The doors work?” Lucas said after Charley had told them how he climbed in. Charley never really thought about it, but now that his friend had pointed it out, it was weird.

“That must mean the ship still has power. Are you sure this hangar is abandoned?” Lucas continued.

Once they entered and turned on the bright industrial flashlights, Charley had brought, it was pretty clear the hangar was abandoned. A thick layer of dust was covering everything and rust had started to form on most of the ships.

“Man, you weren’t kidding. There is so many?” They climbed on top of a tall ship. Cody was flashing the light all over the hangar. Incredibly the beam of light was eaten by the darkness before reaching any walls. Another thing he noticed from his high position was that the ships weren’t randomly piled up and left to rot but were actually positioned in perfect rows and divided by size with smaller ships closer to the door and larger further out. You could even make out lines on the floor that haven’t yet faded out, clearly marking ship parking areas.

“Is that it?” Charley looked to where Cody was pointing his flashlight. The ring towered over the entire hangar bay. He nodded.

“It doesn’t look elvish.”

“Oh, like you know elvish ships?” Lucas said immediately. Charley agreed with Cody, but all he said was “Let’s go.”

When they arrived at the ring ship Charley showed his friends to the small hatch.

“Cool, let me try.” Cody said after Charley had opened it and placed his palm on the symbol, but nothing happened. He did it a few more times but no change.

“You are doing it wrong.” Lucas stepped in and tried, with the same result. “Maybe you can’t close it from the outside?”

Charley tried one more time, because he couldn’t believe that to be the case. Sure enough the hatch closed.

“How did you do that?” Cody started to rub the symbol in every way possible.

“I just touch it.” Charley had no idea why it worked for him but not his friends.

The trend continued when they climbed inside. His friends couldn’t open a single door which frustrated Lucas more and more. He came up with a million explanations, but they were all improbable. He finally settled after he decided that Charley must have some elvish blood so the ship recognises him.

The first few rooms were rather boring. They were quite big for a space ship, but they were all empty apart from some metal bunk bed frames and desks. They did find a couple of cool things amongst the debris that littered the floor, it was mostly metal figurines. The best thing was a small metal globe of the same planet that was everywhere on this ship.

The next room however had potential. It was an archive. It was just as big as the others and was filled with shelves that could house thousands of data disks each. The initial excitement passed when they realised the shelves were empty. They looked and looked, but they couldn’t find a single one. However the very idea of these shelves once being full was interesting in itself. Lucas was now toying with the idea that this might be a Consortium ship sent out to gather data for the Central library. That bauble burst when Cody pointed out how in that case his elvish blood theory doesn’t fit.

When Charley opened the next door he almost let go of the magnetic climbers they were using.

“Holy shit!” Cody yelled.

A skeleton was starring right at them from the furthest corner of the room with its black empty eye sockets. Charley quickly closed the door.

“Is it human?!” Cody asked.

“No, it’s a monkey.” The sarcasm in Lucas’s voice was palpable.

A horrible realisation came to Charley. “Do you guys think he couldn’t open the doors like you?”

They rushed down despite already being half way to the top. The hatch still opened, but they didn’t want to take any chances, since they all had to leave their multicomps in the bus to fool their parents in case they checked their location.

They blocked the entrance open with a metal beam they found in the hangar. Once that was done they took a break and had something to eat. Cody and Lucas each brought two sandwiches, but all Charley had was a bag of chips and some power bars, so they shared. This time they decided to go the other way.

“Bingo!” Cody said when they entered the first room.

Just our luck to pick the wrong side to go up the first time, Charley thought.

“This must be the bridge.” Lucas immediately went exploring the command consoles.

The room was huge. All sorts of computer terminals and screens lined the walls. In the middle was a raised round platform that had a metal chair frame in its centre surrounded by a bunch of movable consoles. On the other side of the room was a large window that revealed the darkness outside. The room itself was extruded from the ring by almost a third, and even the ceiling was higher.

They spent a long time studying the control desks, but they were completely different from anything any one of them had seen before. They decided it would be best if they didn’t touch anything since the ship was obviously active in some way and it wouldn’t be good if they activated something like its gravity drive and blew the entire station to smithereens. Cody naturally sneaked a few pushes here and there, thankfully nothing happened.

The second door from the bridge had dried blood in front of it, so they came to it next. It looked like something was dragged inside. Not again. Charley opened the door. Thankfully there were no skeletons this time. It was not a large room, completely empty apart from a giant silver sphere in its centre. Blood marks led right to it. There was even a smeared bloody hand print on it.

Cody came closer to the sphere. “Is this the engine?” He asked looking more at Lucas.

Charley didn’t hear Lucas’s answer. It was drowned out by the whisper, the same one he heard yesterday. It was louder now, still a whisper, but it drowned out all other noise. Charley could understand it this time, “Free me.” it said.

“Did you hear that?”

“What?” His friends blank expressions told him they had no clue what he was talking about.

“Nothing.” Charley shook his head and looked around. He wasn’t superstitious, but the hairs on his neck obviously were. Did someone die here, he wondered. He reached to touch the smeared palm print on the sphere, not quite sure why.

Charley found himself in space, floating. Beneath him was a planet, the same planet that was all around the ring ship, and a huge battle in its orbit. One fleet consisted of about a dozen larger ships, they looked like cargo ships Charley knew well, huge cubes floating through space. Around theme were hundreds of smaller vessels.

The other fleet was only seven ring ships. It was hard to tell but Charley was pretty sure their diameter would have outshined even Caspar station by a good margin. One of these giant ring ships was broken into three pieces and was spewing fire and derby into space. Between these two opposing groups that were exchanging salvos were swarms of millions, if not hundreds of millions of small fighters dancing in fluid waves. It was like he was watching a movie.

Suddenly Charley was falling. He found himself on another bridge similar to the one they were just on, but bigger. It was empty but for him and a man standing right in front of him. Charley could see the battle rage around them on the main screen. The man was dressed in an Old Empire navy uniform, Charley recognized it from the pictures they saw in school. He had admiral wings attached to his shoulders. His lips were moving but there was no sound coming out, there was only buzzing in Charley’s ears. A sharp stabbing pain erupted in his stomach. The man had stabbed him.

As Charley looked up at his stabbers face, it dissolved, but the pain remained. He was in a massive hangar now, empty but for a ring ship, Charley recognized it instantly. He was flaying towards it, carried by the torrent of air trying to escape into space through the giant door that was opening on the other side of the hangar. More pain washed over him. The burning started in his back and quickly engulfed his body. Now there was only fire around him. He hit the ship.

***

“…small to be the ships gravity drive. Besides…” Charley was back in the small room, his hand on the sphere, his friends talking. Before he could compose himself and say anything the sphere let out a loud hiss interrupting Lucas in the middle of his sentence. “What was that?”

“What did you do?” Lucas’s expression changed from annoyed to worried.

“Are you ok?” His friends came closer. “Charley?”

Charley could only imagine how he looked, but no words could escape his lips so he just nodded slightly. Luckily the sphere soon became the centre of attention so he had time to compose himself.

It wasn’t really silver, it was clear but filled with some sort of dense silver liquid that was now being drained from it. It revealed a head. They all took a step back. An old man was sitting inside a giant mould of himself that held him securely in an upright position. His long dark grey hair was running down his shoulders and chest in slim wet locks, just like his beard. His entire body was wrinkled and littered with weird lumps. He looked like someone had taken a large piece of skin and wrapped it around a skeleton. It didn’t help that he was completely naked.

Charley and his friends just stood there for some time looking at the unusual sight. Charley had never seen an aged person before, at least not in real life. He was pretty sure his friends haven’t either. It was disgusting, but also interesting in a way.

“Do you think he is dead?” Cody was the first to break the silence after the sphere drained completely and opened.

“No I think he is the embodiment of life itself.” Lucas raised an eyebrow at Cody. “I know this is my third theory today, but this could be some kind of a tomb ship.”

“Nice!”

Charley couldn’t see how that is nice, if this was a tomb ship, he had just disturbed the tomb. Cody, on the other hand, was delighted. He came closer to the dead man, putting his face right up to his. “Ugh, the smell!” He shrivelled up his nose, but didn’t pull away.

“What are you doing?” Lucas was standing next to Charley with a disapproving expression on his face. “No. No. Don’t touch it!”

Of course Cody touched the body. “It’s wet and kind’a mushy, but it’s very rou-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Charley had never heard such a high pitch shriek come from his friend before. He jumped away from the body, landed on his butt and continued to frantically retreat. When Charley looked up to see what frightened Cody his breath got stuck in his throat. The old man was looking right at him. His dark grey eyes were cold and piercing, like they could see right through you.

The old man spasmed and coughed out a bunch of that silver liquid. When he calmed down again he tried to reach up with his right hand that was shaking terribly. It was obvious he was trying to tell them something, but all he managed was opening and closing his mouth.

Water, Charley suddenly thought. He forgot about the vision, for the moment, and took off his backpack reaching for the bottle. The old man wasn’t able to hold it so Charley had to. He was pretty sure more had spilled than the man drank.

“Food.” The man managed to whisper before his head dropped back down. They pilled all the leftovers they had. It was half a sandwich and three power bars. Thankfully the old man managed to eat himself. When he was done with that, he asked for more and pointed towards one of the cabinets in the wall, where they found a bunch of weird brown bars wrapped in an equally brown rap. The old man must have eaten at least fifty of them.

After he was done eating the old man studied them in silence going from one to the other and then back. He lingered on Charley in particular.

“New language.” He muttered to himself. The boys just looked at each other.

“What?” Lucas asked.

“Where am I?” The old man raised his raspy voice as to indicate he was talking to them.

“Uhmmm… Caspar station. We found your ship in hangar bay 28.” Charley was the first to speak.

“Who are you?” Lucas asked again.

“System?” The old man said ignoring the question.

“Epsilon Eridiamus.” Charley answered again.

The old man looked like that meant nothing to him. He just sat there studying his hands like he saw them for the first time.

“Not good.” The old man muttered and tried to stand up. As soon as he moved, his face clutched from pain and he fell, face first, out of the chair.

Cody, who got back on his feet in the meantime, and Charley jumped to catch him. The old man’s arms felt frail in Charley’s hands, like he could snap them in two just with a wrong move. He also noticed that the mould had a line of long spikes down its middle, right where the old man’s back was a moment ago. Once he regained his balance again, the old man tried to shove them away, but Cody just couldn’t let go without the old man’s legs buckling under his own weight.

“I need a cane. Something to help me walk.” The old man sounded annoyed.

No one moved.

“Well go find me one.” He waved his hand to rush them.

Charley and Lucas stepped out of the room leaving Cody with an uncomfortable expression on his face to support the naked old man.

“Who do you think he is?” Charley asked Lucas as they were walking towards the exit.

“I don’t know.” Lucas waved his head. “You?”

This was a first, Charley thought. “I saw something, before the sphere opened.”

“Yeah, what was that, you looked like you’d seen a ghost.”

They arrived at the exit, so instead of answering Charley pointed at the beam holding it open and said, “We could just use this, I don’t think we need it anymore.”

When he crouched to pick it up he found himself face to face with Zack. Before he managed to react in any way Zack climbed in, grabbed him by the collar and slammed him against the wall.

“Now you are going to pay for what you did.”

“Let him go or...” Lucas tried to come to Charley’s defence.

“Or what? You are gona tell on us?” One of Zack’s buddies laughed and pushed Lucas back.

Charley looked at his friend and waved his head slightly telling him not to do anything stupid. He knew there were going to be consequences for what he did, so it didn’t really matter if it happened now or latter. Still he was a bit surprised when Zack took out a knife. Charley figured he would just hit him a couple of times until he confessed what he did and then Zack would show that to the school. They would then put Charley on janitor duties, again, or some other stupid form of community service. Zack had other plans it would seem. He was only one year older then Charley and his friends, but twice their size.

Maybe he should try that two G gym, Charley thought.

“This was the last time you made me look like a fool!” Zack raised his knife to Charley’s eyes and waved the point between them.

“Which one do you use less?” There was something in Zack’s look that scared Charley even more than his words. He suddenly couldn’t breathe, his hearth was pounding like crazy, he was frozen in place by the sharp point of the knife a centimetre from his face. Why couldn’t he think of anything to say. He was usually good at getting himself out of trouble.

“Right it is!” Zack grinned.

The knife moved. Charley took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“Oh good! You brought friends!” The old man was leaning on the doorway. He was now wearing trousers, it must have been Cody’s skinny jeans because they looked two numbers two small on the old man.

“Who the hell are you?” Zack looked confused.

“And look how strong they are, unlike you three.” The old man just continued in a flat oblivious tone.

“What?” There was actually a hint of amusement in Zack’s voice.

“There is a lot of work to be done, so you better get started. First I would like you too sweep all this glass out and then we can go...”

“What is this zombie talking about?” The kid that was holding Lucas interrupted the old man.

Zack looked confused. “We are not your maids, grandpa.”

“I would pay you.” The old man offered. Zack’s grip on Charley loosened. “How about a thousand credits, each?”

“To clean your ship?” Zack seemed to have almost completely forgotten about Charley.

“And let the boy go.”

Why did he have to remind him, Charley thought.

“Two thousand. Upfront.” Zack demanded.

“Half now, and half when you are done.”

Zack was thinking for some time but ultimately nodded.

After the older boys were convinced the transfer was complete they actually started to clean, all of them but Zack that is.

“You idiots, what re you doing?” Zack marched by the old man and grabbed Charley again. “Let’s go.”

“But we didn’t do the job.” One of Zack’s goons said.

“We got the money you idiot. It’s not like the old purist moron can do anything. You can stay for all I care, but this little brat is coming with me.” Charley tried to fight back, but the older boy was stronger.

“Funny.” The old man stepped forward, he was leaning heavily on his new cane. “The deceived tries to outsmart the deceiver.”

“Piss of old man!” Zack continued to drag Charley towards the hatch.

The old man just smiled, he didn’t seam fazed. He snapped his fingers, the hatch closed. “Have it your way than.”

“How did you...” Zack suddenly fell silent. Charley blinked, the old man was now holding a gun pointed straight at Zack’s head. Where did he get that from?

“I have no idea where you come from, but you aint fooling anyone here with that toy. Now how do you open this?” Naturally Zack assumed the gun was fake, there hasn’t been a gun on Caspar station in over a hundred years.

The old man rolled his eyes. A deafening bang followed. The bullet lodged itself in the ships floor, right above the exit. Everyone was frozen for a moment.

“Hmm, it would appear I am a little bit rusty, but don’t worry, I’ll warm up quickly.” The old man aimed again. Zack stumbled and fell, he tried to open the hatch desperately.

What is happening, Charley thought. He couldn’t allow this. It was all his fault, him and his stupid prank. “No, no, no! Please don’t.” He stepped between Zack and the old man.

 “He tried to gouge your eye out.” The old man sounded surprised.

“Sorry man. Sorry. I didn’t...” Zack was sobbing hard.

 Charley ignored him. “You can’t shoot him for that, I started everything anyway. I shouldn’t have done what I did.” He turned towards Zack. “I am sorry.”

“Ok.” The old man looked like he was giving this a lot of thought. “If I let them go now, will you all promise not to bother each other again?”

“Yes.” Charley said while Zack just nodded weakly.

The hatch opened, Zack and his gang disappeared in a flash. Charley sighed in relief. How did this day go from great to crap so quickly?

“Now that was badass.” Cody stood next to the old man and raised his hand expecting a high five. Of course Cody found this fun.

The old man just raised an eyebrow. “As I said, there is a lot of work to be done and not a lot of time.” He limped of towards the bridge.

“Oh come on, don’t leave me hangin’. Guys?” Cody looked at Charley and Lucas. “No? Ok.”

“We need to get out of here.” Lucas whispered.

“Why?” Cody was surprised.

“The man is insane, he’s gona’ kill us all. For all we know he killed that guy.” Lucas pointed up, where the room with the skeleton was.

“He saved Charley.”

“No. He offered them a job and when they refused he would have killed them over a thousand credits.” Lucas really looked anxious.

“Four thousand.”

“Whatever! I’m leaving, before the psycho gets angry with us as well. Charley?”

Charley stayed out of their argument so far. He had to admit, the way the old man got rid of Zack was pretty awesome. And somehow he didn’t believe the old man would have really shot anyone. Besides, he really didn’t want to leave.

“If you want to stay fine, but open the hatch.” Lucas sounded annoyed.

Charley also didn’t want his friend to leave, Lucas was just overreacting as always. “Let’s just go talk to him.” Charley turned around and walked towards the bridge leaving Lucas no choice but to follow.

 “Hey!” Charley walked towards the old man, who was sitting in his ruined chair. “We are not doing anything for you until you tell us who you are and what you want and if you would have really shot Zack. We freed you from that ball and told you what you wanted to know. We deserve some answers. If we don’t get them I’ll go tell the guards you have a gun, right now.”

“And I want to know why I can’t open any doors on this stupid ship.” Lucas added.

“Oh, thank you for saving me. How can I ever repay you?” The old man said mockingly imitating Charley’s voice, but Charley didn’t move. The old man studied him for a while. “Fine, but first tell me what you saw in your little vision?”

How does he know about that? “The planet and the battle.” Words just came out of Charley’s mouth.

“And you don’t know which planet it was? You never heard about that battle?”

Charley waved his head.

“Did you hear of Earth than?”

“Oh great!” Lucas shouted. “Yes, we’ve heard of Earth.” He said in a mocking voice. “And no, we don’t want to be saved from the fiery death that awaits us all.”

The old man didn’t say anything. Charley needed to make sure they were talking about the same thing. “You mean Earth as the promised land, right?”

“I mean it as a planet.” For a moment the old man looked sad.

“Yeah, the planet where the faithful will be taken to live forever in a paradise after the gods return and man is judged for his sins, and all that crap.” Cody offered.

“Fascinating,” was all the old man said.

“What has that to do with you? Are you telling us that planet was Earth? That you were sent to save humanity?” Charley was confused, he really hoped this man wasn’t one of those nutjobs?

“The planet you saw was earth, but it is you who told the silly story.”

“Exactly, we keep telling you stuff, but you say nothing.” Lucas pointed out.

“Look, there is nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know. I could just tell you a different version of the same story. And you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. All you need to remember is that every story is a lie that started out as the truth.”

“Whatever that means. What about the doors?” Lucas just couldn’t let that go.

“If you want the ship to do what you want, you shouldn’t call it stupid.” The old said it like that was the most obvious thing ever. “Now, will you help me or not?”

***

The old man gave them a strange looking multicomp with a list of things he needed. He said that there is enough money on it to buy everything. It was basic things like clothes, food, hygiene products and also a couple things to patch up the ship. The old man told them to come back tomorrow morning, because he didn’t want to worry their parents.

That night Charley spent hours researching old myths and legends. Most of these couldn’t possibly be true, but he tried to do what the old man had said, look for the grain of truth the lies were based on. It wasn’t as easy as he had hopped, he fell asleep with more questions than before.

The next morning Charley packed some extra clothes before he left to meet his friends, just in case, he told himself. As it turned out Lucas did the same thing as Charley last night, but arrived at completely different conclusions. Cody on the other hand had played some video games.

It was already past noon when they got back to the hangar. The ship was clean, no more glass on the floor and all the walls were swiped clean.

 “You took your sweet time.” The old man stood up when they walked on the bridge.

“How about a thank you.” Lucas replied.

The old man just told them to go patch up the cracks in the glass with what they bought. That took more than an hour. When they returned to the bridge the man was dressed, all in black, his beard was shaven and he cut his hair shoulder length and combed it back. Charley could have sworn he looked older yesterday.

“What now?” Cody asked.

“Now we part ways. But, before we do...” The old man stretched out his hand. In his palm were three little transparent disks with a matte white planet engraved on them.

“Are those?!” Cody’s eyes grew from excitement.

“Carbon disks.” Lucas finished the sentence.

“I’m guessing these are even more valuable now then back in my day.” The old man handed them each one of the data disks. “Be careful what you put on these, once something is on it, it can’t be erased.”

“Awesome, thanks.” Cody looked thrilled, probably already thinking about what he could buy with the money he would get from it.

“Yeah, thanks.” Lucas most likely wouldn’t sell his, Charley thought. He’ll probably do something silly like storing his book reports on it. What would any one of them do with the most advanced data disk? Charley got a little angry. What kind of a life could he document for people to read thousands of years in the future? A life of a docker rat. He looked down at the little disk that was heavy in his hand.

At that moment Charley was finally ready to admit to himself what he wanted from the moment he first saw the ring ship. No, what he wanted his entire life. Charley looked up, his friends had already started to leave, the old man was still standing right there looking at him with those cold grey eyes.

“Take me with you.” Charley said, his voice determined.

A smile grew on the old man’s face, like he was expecting this. “You would leave your home, your family?”

“They’ll be better off without me.”

“What about your friends than?”

Charley turned around, his friends were staring at him in shock. He didn’t have an answer for that, his dream was that they would come with him, but that wasn’t happening.

“You would go with the psycho grandpa?” Cody came closer.

“Well I am not going.” Lucas instantly had to let everyone know where he stood.

Charley smiled, his friends didn’t understand, he knew that. They had perfect ordinary lives in front of them, he even envied them a little.  For Charley however, this was most likely the only opportunity he would ever get to leave the path he was on, the path he hated.

It was hard to say goodbye to his only friends. They went through everything together since they were in kindergarten. Charley even had to fight some tears.

“You better have some stories for when we see each other again.” Cody patted him on the back.

“Unlikely.” The old man interrupted them. “We need to get going.”

Before they left, his friends promised to tell his father he is safe and wasn’t kidnapped.

This is it, the rest of my life, Charley thought while he and the old man waited for the hangar bay to depressurise.

“This is only going to work if you do exactly what I tell you.” The old man said seriously. “And promise me you won’t screw up.”

Even though he didn’t know what the old man meant, Charley promised. He was so excited he didn’t even notice the sadness in the old man’s voice.

In the end Charley broke his promise, but that’s a different story.

“Where are we going?” Charley realised he never even asked that, he never even asked what the old man’s name was, but it didn’t really matter now. He was mesmerized by the millions of stars shining in the void. This was the first time Charley had seen stars.

“Everywhere.” The old man’s smile was playful. “I am dying to see what has become of the universe.”


© Copyright 2018 LogicalFanboy. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Science Fiction Short Stories