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August 15, 2022

Anachronocity v3p2

By Josh Brown

Land of the Bizarre - Part Two

"No. Niet. Yourself you say they badly lie. We keep them on ship now?"

Sela sat on a hard wooden chair in her quarters, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. A glass of scotch dangled from her fingers; the bottle stood on the floor next to the chair. Even with the dim lighting and the alcohol warming her head, the pounding in her brain continued to hammer at her. Yerik's mood didn't help, either. When ever he got riled up like this, the best thing to do was sit it out.

"They are spies. Can you not see that? Is too close to the end, Sela. Too close. No more room for mistakes." Yerik paced in front of her with animated shakes of his head and bulging eyes that looked dangerously close to popping out. "We not need like last time you decide to pull Good Samaritan."

If he'd been trying to get Sela's attention, he had it now. Her head jerked up, eyes locking on Yerik's eyes. "Don't you dare go there. That was not my fault and you know it. You're concerned. Fine. I can understand that. But you do not want to play who made the biggest mistakes with me."

"Sorry. Sorry." Yerik held up his hands. "But is good reason to be wary. All this will come unraveling if we're not careful."

"Too much doesn't add up. I'll agree there is reason to be careful, but I honestly don't feel they are spies." Sela drank from her glass, savoring the burn as it rolled down her chest and spread throughout her stomach. "Yes, they lied about who they are. However, they did not lie about not knowing who I am. And why did Sterling ask the year? That right there... I don't know. It's all very strange."

"Why do we keep them? Tell me. Why here?"

His question, while legitimate, had no easy answer. Part of Sela felt she owed them for helping her out when they had no reason to get involved. Where were they going to go, anyway? From what little she had seen of them so far, it didn't look like they had anywhere to go. The confusion that poured out of those two was hard to ignore. Besides, she loved a good mystery. The main reason she wanted to keep them was simply so she could figure out the answers to the puzzle.

"I don't know," said Sela. "They look capable. I'm sure they can contribute."

Yerik glared at Sela's glib response.

She loved him, but the man struggled as her first officer. His trepidation warranted serious thought. Best interests were at the core of his thoughts. She'd known him far too long not to see that. Sometimes, though, his passion for the cause overrode his humanity.

"Interpol tortured you," Yerik said. "Make you unreasonable. You not yourself. I kill them. Make all our lives easier."

Sela jumped to her feet, alert, pointing her glass at Yerik. Ice cubes clanked against glass. "Over the line. No harm will come to them. Understand? Don't make me order you, Yerik. Please don't."

Growling, Yerik stood his ground. This was exactly what Sela was afraid would happen. "I watch," he said. "One mistake and I kill them."

"You will not kill them."

"I see one sign they spy for Interpol, I kill them. No hesitation."

Doubting herself never occurred to Sela. Always she stood by her decisions and saw them through. Mistakes were made, plans were ruined, and lives were lost. Yerik knew how stubborn she could be, but his bullheadedness refused to give up on this. Why? Sela wondered. What about these two rubbed him wrong? The stress of the rebellion weighed heavily on everyone. Nevertheless, Yerik never stood so defiant against her like this before.

"If you see something that gives you reason to want to kill them," Sela said carefully. "Then you may detain them. However, you will not kill them until after we've discussed the situation and I have agreed death is warranted. Clear?"

With a frown etched on his face, Yerik spun on his heels and stormed out of the room.

Sela sank back into her chair, finished her scotch, and refilled the glass. Every part of her mind still alert screamed at her to storm out after him and demand an acceptance. She let it slide, though. Yerik was a good man with the best intentions of everyone in mind. She trusted him to make the right decision if it came down to it.

In the back of the dimly lit room, Sela's computer terminal chimed, alerting her to a new message. Warily, she hauled herself up and went to check it out. Even though she just broke out of prison, it didn't mean the rebellion had time for a vacation.

***

Katlyn stared at Alex's prone body on the other exam table. A dreadful feeling of despair washed over her when he went into convulsions shortly after falling unconscious. The strange man that had somehow swept her into the future flopped around on the table, dying as far as she could tell, and there was nothing she could do. She didn't particularly like him, given all the circumstances, who could blame her? But he was her only link to the past. Connected now, they would be until, hopefully, he could find a way to get them back to their own time. Assuming that was possible.

He didn't die, though. Mama rushed to his side, injecting him with a rather large needle that made her shiver. Almost at once, the convulsions stopped and Alex's skin took on a much less pale pallor. A few tests were ran, well beyond the scope of anything Katlyn could identify with. All she could do was watch and wait.

Now as she sat there, staring at Alex's unconscious form, Mama waddled over and rested a beefy hand on Katlyn's shoulder. "Your boyfriend's all right now."

"He's not my boyfriend," Katlyn snapped.

"Husband, sorry!"

"I don't know the guy. We just met."

"Anywho!" Mama said. "I zipped off a quickie to Sela explaining what happened. Apparently, he had some kind of reaction to the nanos. Most peculiar. Most peculiar, indeed. See, both of you are missing some very basic antibodies. Usually, at a very young age, the body will develop a natural immunity to many of the common bugs floating around us every day. But it's as if you two just popped out of some sterile environment. Well, not sterile exactly. You do have immunities. But you're missing a lot, too. Very strange. I gave the guy there a full dose of juice. I'll give you one, too. That'll take care of that. It'll take me a bit to get the ID implants ready, though. He's going to be snoozing for a while, too. So you might as well go get yourself something to eat. I'll call you once I'm ready."

After ramming an enormous needle in Katlyn's arm that looked as if it belonged 200 years in the past, not 500 years in the future, Mama ushered Katlyn to the door. "Oh, one thing. That injection might make you a little dizzy. If you start to feel like the ship is about to spin out of control, well, either those bastards at Interpol have hit us, or you're just feeling the effects. Don't worry about it."

As the door slammed shut behind Katlyn, she stared down the hall blinking. She lost her mind. That would explain everything. That disgusting beast of a man she tricked into signing her petition. It had to have been him. The last of her patience wore out and she cracked. Now she hallucinated being transported to the future. If only she could believe that. How much more simple life would be.

Katlyn wandered down the hall to the spiraling catwalk. Food actually sounded like a good idea. She found the stairs leading up to the top deck and climbed them. After a few minutes of searching the corridor to her left, she came to an archway leading into a small dining hall.

Inside, three picnic-like benches filled most of the room. Off toward the back, a small kitchen area held all the workings of what she'd expect in a kitchen--refrigerator, freezer, pantry, stove. Many canned goods filled the pantry, along with an assortment of dehydrated things like potatoes. Rubbing her sore arm where she was injected, Katlyn against mused at how backward everything appeared. Visions of the future tended to make one think of a far more advanced society. Everything here seemed opposite.

She shifted through the pantry finding nothing she felt like eating, along with a few things she'd never even heard of; discovery was not on the top of her list right now.

In the refrigerator, she eyed a tub of peanut butter. As she reached toward it, a sharp voice said, "Niet. Leave peanut butter alone."

Katlyn startled, nearly jumping into the refrigerator whole. She spun around, eyes wide, and saw the Russian from the great escape. Her mind flashed on the warning Sela gave about a Yerik. This, presumably, was Yerik. "Didn't know it was yours. Sorry."

"Is not mine," Yerik said. He stared at her with a harshness that made Katlyn feel uneasy. "Ham in can. Sound good?"

Swallowing, Katlyn agreed it sounded just fine.

Yerik motioned to the end of the nearest table, and then stepped around Katlyn and retrieved the canned ham. Katlyn sat down at the table, her eyes never leaving the man, but avoiding eye contact. Her nerves tingled, not wanting to piss this man off in any way. She considered the possibility that Sela had jokingly warned them about Yerik. Certainly, a man that was "mean" wouldn't be making her a ham sandwich, would he?

As Yerik set out two thick slices of bread, he asked, "What is you do? For living?"

"I'm a physical therapist." She said it automatically, then instantly regretted it. Undercover work proved to be more difficult than she would have expected.

Nodding, Yerik slapped some ham on the bread. "Mustard?"

"Sure."

"I am familiar with job."

As he walked toward her with her sandwich, Yerik's limp caught her attention. She nodded. "Your leg. What happened?"

He set the plate down in front of her--five parts bread, one part ham. Then he sat across from her, shrugging his massive shoulders. "War happened. You fight. Get injured. Get kicked out. They not care anymore."

"They?" Katlyn asked. She took a bite of the sandwich. It tasted even worse than she expected. The mustard alone could have been from her own time. Still, she chewed and did her best keep a neutral face. Gagging was not an option.

"Aye. Interpol."

"What? You fought for Interpol? I thought you were enemies."

"Everyone fight for Interpol, then Interpol surrender to Elders. You not so young to have forgotten this. Why act like you not know?"

He's testing me, Katlyn realized. Stick with the story no matter how terrible it may be. "It's all news to me. I've been out of the loop, so to speak."

"Yes. I hear story of abandoned world. Do not believe you."

She admired the honesty. He still scared the shit out of her, though. The fact that he came right out and said he didn't believe it compounded the uncertainty that this man could be dangerous.

Abruptly, Yerik stood. "Enjoy sandwich. All food is precious. Do not waste."

Alone with a sandwich that tasted like cardboard, Katlyn heeded Yerik's advice. Enemies were the last things she wanted to make on this ship.

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-03-06
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