Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alexandria bound

Ben's brain was spinning. "A years worth of credits were in his account, and a job offer, as intriguing, or decidedly odd as the position seems. It must be a scam, or some sort of a reality vid show is being made and I am the brunt of the joke. And leaving Bliss on a ship? Five years of that income would barely buy a person a one way ticket to any planet, and I would have one at my disposal?" Ben pulled out his credit reader and checked his balance. The display showed 76,266 credits. Ben shook his head as he contemplated the number, and got on the autobus to head back to his efficiency. Entering the lobby, Ben knocked on the door of the super's unit, and when the super answered, Ben grinned, and transferred to him the credits needed to pay rent in full, and added an extra 100 credits to fix the dent in the hallway wall. The super said, "Thank you Ben, but I meant what I said, and I have already rented your unit. So be out at the end of the month." Ben just smiled, and said "No problem, thinking to himself, I can afford something a lot better than this dive."

Ben walked into his unit, got the last pouch of Buzzed beer, tore it open and plunked on the couch. Checking his watch, Ben saw that he still had 2 hours and 15 minutes left to make a decision. Turning on the vid, he checked the help wanted ads, and noted that the ad he responded to was no longer there, and the remaining help wanted ads, if anything, seemed much worse than the jobs he had looked through before. "Miner's needed for heavy metal extraction", "Pseudo meat extruder operator position available for third shift".  "Yeee" thought Ben  "My credit balance will only last me for a year, even if I'm careful, and then what would I do?" Staring around at his scruffy mini unit he noticed that the vid was now showing an old travel log featuring some resort planet, with lots of attractive women cavorting under a waterfall in a lush, and alien looking forest.


Slowly the concept of taking the job coalesced into a great idea, and with a burst of energy, he grabbed his small suitcase, and filled it with all the things he imagined he might need on an exotic planet, especially his bathing suit. Looking around at the rest of his stuff, he muttered to himself, The super can have this stuff", and he headed out to the street. Catching the first autobus, he sat down and looked at his watch. He had 1 hour, and 12 minutes left. Stepping off the bus at the interview offices, he walked in and found the place was now bare. Ben's heart stopped for a second and started to think maybe this was all a joke when Jacob came striding through the front door and said, "Good to see you Ben, are you ready to go? The floater is outside waiting. Celeste said it would take you about two hours to decide, and she was right, as usual."


Outside was now a four seat rental floater with Jon inside holding Celeste in his lap, and the receptionist already seated in the back. Jacob opened the trunk and Ben tossed in his suitcase, then squeezed himself into the back seat next to the receptionist, who promptly smiled and said "Congratulations Ben, I'm Rachel, Jacob's assistant." Nice to meet you again Rachel", said Ben. "I knew you would accept Ben" said Celeste's voice emanating from the floater's speaker. "I had calculated the probability at nearly 100%, I nudged you a just little bit to make it 100%." Ben thought about this for a second, and said, "Celeste, did you rent my apartment, arrange to have that old travel log appear on my vid, and made up those awful help wanted ads? Celeste in a much lower voice contritely said, "Well maybe Ben, I just wanted to make sure you accepted. I know you will be good at this. I'm sorry, I won't do those things to you again Ben." Ben laughed, "Apology accepted Celeste, but I think I heard a small loophole in your apology didn't I?" "Only a tiny little one Ben", said Celeste, "and it was for your own good you know. I knew I'd like you."


The floater pulled into the space port and up to a small freighter. This was the only ship present, and it was one more than what was usually there. The hatch ramp had already started to deploy. Jacob got out, and opened the trunk. Ben grabbed his suitcase, and waited until all of the gear was removed. Jacob pushed the return button on the floater, and it headed off to its rental lot, Ben followed the group up the ramp, and walked into the ship. The interior looked liked the inside of a yacht. Ben surveyed the comfortable looking lounge he was standing in. He could see a short hall that seemed to have cabin doors off of it, and forward was a galley on one side, and a conference room on the other. Jon walked all the way forward, and secured Celeste into a cradle. "Thanks Jon" said a now very melodious Celeste. This is much better, I was feeling sensory deprived utilizing all of those primitive, and slow communication systems on this planet."  Jacob said, "Ben please find a seat, we are going to depart. Celeste, would you please take us to Alexandria." My pleasure Jacob, and Ben you will find you seat belt under your cushion. I won't depart until it's fastened" requested Celeste


Ben felt a gentle surge, and  downward pressure. The vid on the wall showed the spaceport quickly shrinking, and in a moment or two, the arc of Bliss's surface appeared. Ben felt a brief moment of weightlessness, and then gravity returned to a normal feeling. "First jump starts in thirty seconds, the next jump will be in about three hours, give or take depending on our actual location.", said Celeste. Ben felt his guts twist as if gravity was pulling on him from random directions, the vid went gray, and them it was over. "You are free to move around." said Celeste, "I will give a fifteen minute warning before the next jump."


Ben looked around saw that Jon had disappeared. Jacob and Rachel were now in the conference room. John tentatively said aloud, "Celeste?" "Yes Ben." "How long will this trip take?" "It will be about three days in subjective time Ben, and I have reset the clocks to Alexandria time. It is now 9:47pm." Um, should I be doing something?"  "You may do as you wish, but I have loaded your pad with a variety of things for you to study over the next couple of days. You may use cabin four, and the galley is automatic, eat whenever you want." Thanks Celeste."  "Good night Ben. Don't forget to put on the restraint belts before you fall asleep, or I will have to wake you up to remind you."






2 comments:

  1. MrB. First time to comment, long time reader of all, when will next Chapter be written, and posted, or do you need to send it to me. Have not been at the watering hole in a bit, doing a little R & R. however, i have seen your lovely better half on the way to work in the morning, will see you all soon, Peace Out my friends, KB

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  2. Is it a good day to be Kate, I hope so because it is not a good day to be Keith, have you received my above comment?, what do i have to do? or, have you not got beyond last chapter yet? i'm pulling my hair out!!!!!The Hawkster in his nest has my cell, would you please call me an advise, don't make me come to the watering hole, with that said, the Mrs and I will visit next week , as we are on VACA..Love you man, peace out, your friend ex Mr ATC...if confused with the initials, ask RET. Capt George..Now do you know who this is, HELLO???????

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