Monday, December 15, 2014

April 5, early



Damn it, we need an exorcist on this stupid ship. The haunting issue is getting completely out of hand.

By the time I hooked back up with Candy and Katrina yesterday, it was dinner time. My besties were still freaked out about the ghost encounter in our would-be dance club. Thinking back on it, I was feeling kind of chicken myself.

The three of us decided we would have a slumber party of sorts – a big sleepover for grownups who felt as vulnerable as children. It didn’t matter that our section of the ship was now being monitored as never before and Nobek security patrolled up and down the corridors. We’d seen that shadow thing disappear into nowhere. Blasters and big, strong Kalquorians were not going to keep it from going where it damned well pleased.

After dinner we congregated in the Matara rec room to hash over our spooky problem with the others. The place was full to bursting with our fellow lottery lasses since word had spread. There was concern and skepticism in equal amounts from those who had not met Mr. Ghost yet. I’d say everyone was equally divided in camps of believers, those who thought there was a more rational explanation, outright doubters, and those who weren’t sure what to think.

“What I wouldn’t give for a priest just this one time,” Heather muttered as the hour drew late. She and another woman who had been in our club-finding party planned to spend the night together after their scare. I had the feeling there were going to be plenty of ‘slumber parties’ tonight.

“I’m more afraid of the old Earth priests than any bugaboo,” snorted someone else.

“Yeah, well you didn’t see that thing trying to trap us either, did you?” Heather was defensive and had made it clear she would take a swing at anyone who dared to call her a liar.

I was exhausted and my head hurt. We’d talked the issue to death and no one had any answers except Candy. She still wanted to hunt the ghost down and try to make it move on to the spirit world. Even Katrina admitted she was ready to work with Candy on that front.

“I need to sleep,” I told my two friends. I was still pretty knackered from my wild time with Oses and Betra earlier. “We can pull together our plan for entity extermination tomorrow and get it done then.”

“I agree,” Katrina said. “My place, yours, or hers?”

“Mine,” Candy said. “I’ve got my computer with all my notes in there. We can get going first thing in the morning when we’re rested up. Not that I’m sure I’ll sleep one wink.”

“Candy, you weren’t even there when we were confronted by that thing today,” Katrina pointed out.

“But I’ve already seen it face to faceless face. I am perfectly justified in being scared.”

We adjourned to Candy’s room after Katrina and I stopped off for nightgowns and extra pillows and blankets. The women insisted my pregnancy allotted me bed sharing rights with Candy. Katrina set up camp on the floor next to the sleeping mat rather than out in the sitting room’s lounger. She had to shift a pile of stuffed animals and dolls to do so.

I don’t know how much the other two tossed and turned. I was asleep moments after my head hit my pillow. All hail the exhausting benefits of sex. After that and the excitement of my earlier spectral encounter, I was wasted.

I do know things were quiet until about two hours before my regular wake time. Then a hand gripped my shoulder, bringing me out of slumber. I blinked my eyes open.

I lay on my side, facing the side of the bed where Katrina had decided to sleep on the floor. She was seated on the bed at my feet, staring towards the door. Candy was at my back. She was the one who had gripped my shoulder. Fuzzy with sleep, I looked up at her. She curled against me, propped up on her elbow so that she sort of leaned over me. In the low-level lighting she’d left on, I could see her looking from me to the door and back, apparently waiting for me to wake.

When I also looked towards the door to the sitting room where my friends’ attention directed, Candy leaned close to my ear. “Katrina says something came to the door and peeked in. When she sat up, it went into the sitting room. We’ve been listening for the last minute, waiting to see if it's still here.”

I strained to hear, but all I could detect was my heartbeat and Candy’s breath, still close to my ear. “Should we go look?” I whispered.

“We've decided to err on the side of caution. Katrina tried to com Oses a moment ago, but he didn’t answer,” Candy said. “She’s about to try Betra.”

Indeed, Katrina had her portable unit in her hand. Her thumb pressed for the frequency.

I heard Betra’s sleepy voice a moment later, the sound a bit distant and tinny. “Liaison Betra here.”

At that moment there was a heavy thud in the other room. I heard what sounded like a growl. The three of us made scared sounds: Katrina gasped, and Candy and I yipped with surprise.

Katrina wasted no time yelling to Betra for help as I jumped out of the bed and grabbed the nearest thing I could find: a heavy colored glass vase Candy had purchased at the Xniktix Station. “Betra, something’s in here in Candy’s quarters. We need security!”

As for me, I’d had it with cowering from the unknown. The thing in our hoped-for club had freaked me out, but I’d had enough scares in the last few months to last me a lifetime. I did the stupidest thing I could. I ran into the sitting room, brandishing the vase.

No one was there, but Candy’s handheld had gone from the table to the floor. I knew for a fact where it had been sitting before we all went to bed. That must have been the thud I had heard.

Pounding sounded at the door to the corridor. The damned thing shook with the force of the blows. “Security! Open up!”

Well aware I wore only a nightie that ended halfway down to my knees, I answered the door anyway. I didn’t want them busting a hole in it. Two big Nobeks filled the opening. They stared at me and the vase I still hefted by its fluted neck, ready to crack someone’s skull open.

“Whoever it was has disappeared,” I reported, stepping back to let them in. “Unless he’s hiding in the restroom.”

They started sweeping the rooms as wide-eyed Candy emerged with my robe. She and Katrina helped me wrap up in it, though whatever dignity I was supposed to preserve was already betrayed.

Betra came running in barefoot, his formsuit pulled on over his legs and closed to his waist. The top of it flapped against his butt and thighs. His hair was a tangled mass. Even terrified, I noted that he’s cute when he’s just woken up.  “What is it? Did you find anyone?” he asked the Nobeks.

Before they could reply, Oses came striding in. He was in full uniform and as alert as a watchdog. “Report,” he said to his men.

They snapped quick bows before the taller of the two said, “We’ve found no one but the three Mataras present, Commander. We were outside this room mere seconds before the call came, patrolling this very hall.”

The other one was a bearded beast of a man. He added, “The doors along this corridor have been in our and the other patrol’s sights for the last two hours. No one has entered or left any Matara’s quarters.”

“Obviously they did,” Katrina said, her face grim. “I looked right at a man in this room.”

Oses glanced at the handheld on the floor. “What did you see, Matara Katrina?”

She sighed, clearly not liking what she was about to say. “A dark shape of a big man crossing before the doorway and taking a look into the sleeping room before rushing out of my sight again. He moved with those quick blurred movements, so I can’t give you a description other than he was close to your heights.”

The four men in the room were average to above average for Kalquorians. At about six feet, ten inches tall, Oses had a couple of inches on the next tallest man. It was a pretty wide range of sizes.

Katrina added, “I also think he was built big, with wide shoulders. He wore dark clothing, like your outfits.” She nodded at their black fleet uniforms. “But as you can see, the light in here was kept low. He was a few feet away, so details were pretty damned dim.”

“Anything else, Matara? Any characteristic movements, like a limp?”

Katrina shook her head. “He looked like he was messing with something at his waist before he moved off to where I couldn’t see him anymore.”

“That’s when she woke me up,” Candy added. “After a few seconds, I decided to wake Shalia too. Then we heard what sounded like something fall.”

“Your handheld,” I said, nodding to the object on the floor. “I jumped up and ran in here, but no one was there.”

One of the security guards gave Oses a worried look. “Commander, I’m telling you no one went in or out of here. We would have seen him.”

“Check in with surveillance,” Oses said. “See if they caught anything.”

The two security officers left the room to carry out his orders. Oses looked over the three of us and the disheveled Betra. His gaze lingered only a moment on the Imdiko before turning back to Katrina.

“You are absolutely sure you saw a man?” he asked.

She nodded curtly, as if expecting him to make fun or something.

“All right,” Oses sighed. Then he frowned at the whole lot of us. “Why are you all sleeping in the same room?”

“Because of crap like this,” shrilled Candy. “The stupid ghost won’t leave us alone, so we’re scared!”

Oses looked at me. “I’m sorry you’re being frightened. Security was in here within seconds though, so you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not in danger. We are ready to protect you at a moment's notice.” He turned to Betra. “What is your take on the matter?”

Betra shifted uncomfortably. “Well, I’d have to ask Matara Katrina if she was sure she was awake when she saw what she thinks she saw.”

Katrina said nothing. She turned on her heel and went back into the sleeping room.

Candy gave our liaison a withering look. “Nothing is ever going to convince you, is it Betra? Not even if the damned ghost got right in your face and said boo.” Then she turned and walked out too.

Oses’ com must have vibrated or something. He answered though I never heard it beep. “Weapons Commander Oses speaking.”

Someone said something in Kalquorian. Oses responded and then put his com back on his belt. “Surveillance vid shows no one has come in or gone out of this room since you three entered six hours ago,” he told me.

I shrugged. “So there it is. We’re either all crazy or liars.”

Oses said, “You’re neither, Shalia. I know better than that. Still, it is a mystery.”

Betra nodded and he looked at me apologetically. “I’m sorry I can’t buy into this idea of spirits of the dead. I believe something is going on, but not that.”

At least Betra wasn’t looking at me like I’d left my senses as he’d done before. Not with others swearing they were seeing the same things I was. It was enough for me to excuse him not becoming a believer in the supernatural.

I said, “I hope someone can figure this out soon. Being scared is getting old.”

Oses did a search of the quarters himself before he left. Betra hung around a bit longer until he discovered Candy and Katrina were in no mood to forgive him his disbelief any time soon. After I assured him we were okay, he left too.

I gave the two gals a little grief over their anger. “Betra is not trying to be an asshole,” I pointed out. “Katrina, two days ago you were saying exactly the same things as him.”

My eldest friend had to come off her high horse. “You’re right,” she sighed. “Now I know how bad I must have made you feel, Candy. I’m sorry.”

Candy gave her a hug. “Hey, you know the truth now. That’s good enough for me. Now we need to figure out what to do about our restless spirit.”

“Someone mentioned an exorcism earlier today,” I mused. “Can we give that a try?”

Candy answered by running out and fetching her handheld. Within seconds, we were researching our options.

“Holy water ... vestments ... prayers,” Candy intoned.

“Plus it needs to be done by a priest,” Katrina added. “I think we’re screwed.”

I was thinking hard about the situation. “You’re thinking about it along the lines of our old religion,” I pointed out. “That ghost had to be Kalquorian based on the size. We need to look at it from that angle.”

“Good point,” Candy agreed. “Hey, I think there is a priest from Kalquor’s Temple of Life on board. We can go talk to him.”

“Isn’t that Temple of Life thing more a philosophy than religion?” I asked.

Candy shrugged. “I’m not sure. It’s a place to start.”

We got dressed and prepared to go to an early breakfast. Just then, my portable com went off. I recognized Oses’ frequency.

“Hi,” I said. “Did you find out something about our intruder?”

“I’m afraid not,” came my favorite growly voice. “However, you’ll remember our conversation from the other day about returning to blaster training. I have time this morning if you want to work on that.”

I’d completely forgotten that I’d requested to get back into that as soon as possible. Everyone I’d started with had qualified, so the formal group classes had ended. I had to get one-on-one training to be cleared.

“I’m just heading to breakfast,” I said.

“Perfect. By the time you’re finished, I’ll be ready to spend an hour working on it.”

I shrugged helplessly at the listening Candy and Katrina. They waved at me to tell me it was okay.

“Where should I meet you?” I asked Oses.

“I’ll pick you up in the cafeteria and take you to one of the crew’s practice areas,” he said.

After I clicked off I said, “Sorry, ladies. I need to get this training in and Oses doesn’t get much free time.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Katrina said. She led the way as we left Candy’s quarters and headed down the corridor. “Candy and I will consult with the priest while you learn how to pack heat with authority.”

10 comments:

  1. I understand Betra's point of view he hasn't seen it yet and Oses only believes because of ALL the girls seeing "something" in the would be club. I wish Betra would spend the night and Shalia spots our "ghost" and wakes Betra. Seeing is believing, plus that would give Oses a good reason to stay with Betra and Shalia for the night. LOL this could get good...... Not that its not good now but the potential is great.

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  2. Katrina shook her head. “He looked like he was messing with something at his waist before he moved off to where I couldn’t see him anymore.”

    Definitely sounds like someone messing with some kind of "phase" device. I have a feeling that no Kalquorians are going to see whoever this is. I think they are specifically keeping out of sight except to appear to the women.

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  3. My bet's on Oses. Somehow, he's got a phase thing, and his subconscious is using it to work out the trauma of having been held captive, unable to protect the women, particularly Shalia. So he's "sleep stalking"--that is, he's having blackout periods where he goes into Protect Mode. Sort of like Sletran in "Redemption."

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    1. I see where you're going Isabelle but I thought Oses turned all the phase thingys over to the techs?

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  4. I agree with Lisa's phase device theory. Wouldn't it be interesting if it was one of the potential fathers of Shalia's child?

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  5. I am also in agreement it is some sort of phase device, though it is an interesting thought and would make a lot of sense, I think the timing is a bit off, I think a couple of times Oses was awake and on duty during the sightings, but I could be wrong. I still hope it is not that one obsessive from back on earth, grrrs drawing a blank on his name.

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    1. his name was Nang. I think im the only person out there who liked poor crazy Nang.

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  6. I agree with you girls, I'm thinking it's a phase device. I had also been thinking it was Oses subconsciously protecting Shalia, but I love Kesha' s idea of it being one possible baby daddy's. Especially Nang, I can't help it, even though he is such an ass, I loved Nang.

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  8. I don't think it could be one of the possible baby daddies. they are all still on earth and even with advanced tech I don't think a phase device would transport them even imperfectly from earth to months of travel away in space.

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