Frederick VonHassel, his wife Alana, his daughter Peeta were seated on the wide settee that ran across the length of the living room. Two of the other guests, Bernard Freeny and Jerry Cutler were engrossed in a chess game at a small table nearby. All had drinks of one sort or another by their side. Bernard had been drinking heavily ever since this whole mad experience had started. He hadn’t liked cats to begin with and had developed a definite hatred for anything feline in the meantime.
Jerry moved a piece and then took his hand off it. Bernard looked at the move, thought a moment, and then moved a piece to counter the threat while speaking. “You know, Jerry. I am beginning to wonder just what these furbearing aliens have in store for us. They keep saying how friendly they are, yet they keep us cooped up inside the hull or give us a very short exercise period walking around the deck. What’s the point of that if they really want to be ‘nice’ to us?”
“I couldn’t say, Bernie. But I could add that they haven’t done anything overtly to hamper our movements too much. Oh, sure, they keep the whole area around the ship dark, but they say that’s to keep us from going crazy. Frankly, I’d beginning to show signs of going crazy anyway. I wonder just what is out there that can harm us.”
For the most part, this conversation was being repeated below decks by the crew, albeit in a much coarser manner. Absent was Caption (No Kidding) Bly, but the rest of the crew were lounging around in, appropriately, the lounge, listening to music.
Mason Anders and Ralph (“Cookie”) Burns were leafing through several pages of inventory stores. They had just completed a thorough inspection of the storage areas and were rapidly tallying up what little there was left to eat.
“I tell ya, Mason, someone just hasta go tell the Captain we need to reprovision.”
“And I keep telling you Cookie that it isn’t possible as long as we’re in the dark about where the hell we are. Until we know that, we’re just flapping our gums.”
“Ya, ya. Suppose we ask dat cat of you’rn where we are. Think it will tell us?”
“I don’t know. Good idea though. I check with the Captain and maybe we can call a meeting with Loopy.”
“Ya. Dat’s a dumb name for a cat.”
“Except she isn’t a ‘cat’ though. She just looks like one.”
“Dat’s another thing. How we know she’s a she?”
Mason laughed. “For that, I have no answer, Cookie. We set up for dinner tonight?”
“Ya. We have beef stew left over from the roast. The last of the carrots though. I tell ya, we need more supplies.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Mason got up and wandered up the passageway to his small cabin opposite the storage area. Slipping inside, he listened for a moment. For a while now he had been bothered by the lack of sound coming from outside the hull. He missed the slap of waves and, especially, the slow rolling of the yacht. Since their capture (the best word he could come up with) they’d simply been held, floating, with no movement evident.
Up one deck, the VonHassel’s small meeting was going a little better. The two women were trying to understand just what it was that their husband and father had built that summoned the Dwee’num. He’d explained, of course, but his explanation wasn’t completely understood by either woman.
Frederick, exasperated, started anew. “Take, for instance, a garage door opener. It’s a simple device that, when the button is pushed, radios to the receiver that the door needs to come up. I attempted to modify it so that instead of a door, it opens up a ‘parallel door’. So what’s so hard to understand?”
“Fred, I think we can grasp the premise. What I don’t understand is what you are calling a ‘parallel door’.” Said Alana.
“Is it something we can go through?” Asked Peeta. “Like into another room?”
“Well, maybe. But whatever I tried, it never seemed to work. I gave it more power, varied the frequency, shaped the field differently, and even tried focusing the field into one direction. Nothing worked. Up until now, I imagined that to be true. Obviously it attracted the attention of Loopy and her friends.”
“I say we wipe ‘em all out,” slurred Bernard from his chair after being soundly defeated by Jerry.
“Oh, that’s good thinking, Bernard. Really good thinking. Then, not even knowing our starting point, we navigate back to wherever we were before. Is that it?” Said Peeta in a scathing voice.
Bernard didn’t respond as he had slipped quietly to the floor, cuddling an almost empty bottle of very expensive scotch. “Buzzzz,” he snored.
At that moment, Loopy, who had been outside listening to all the conversations, decided that a few changes should be made. One, allow the humans a little more freedom – possibly even out and into their own ship. Two, start using some of the food samples she’d received from the laboratory to see if the humans could assimilate what they’d created. And, finally, three: see where the enticing smell of Wowza was coming from. She decided to re-order her questions and locate the smell first.
© Copyright 2017 Tom Oldman. All rights reserved.
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