View Full Version : Time Stream- Part I - Part VI

06-25-2007, 06:21 PM
Warning- this tale is not overtly sexual, and is a novella- but I like it, although I'm biased,

* * *

I came to groggy, flat on my back staring up at a gray ceiling, feeling like I had a colossal hangover. The unsettling thing was I had no idea what a hangover might be, or for that matter who I was, not to mention where I was. I closed my eyes and concentrated hard on these facts. Flashes of images ran through my head, and then thoughts, but I wasn’t sure I knew what they were.

Despite the images, not a clue to any of these questions came to me, but I felt the faintest of rocking motions. I couldn’t place the sensation either, although there was a definite pattern to it. Funny thing was I knew what sleep was, but it didn’t feel like I had been sleeping. Again there were no clues to what it might be, just what it wasn’t.

Opening my eyes, I found the throbbing pain between my ears was still there. Ceiling and walls were smooth as glass, seamless, had to be metallic or one hell of a finish job. By this observation I reasoned I must have been some type of builder. No, that didn’t feel right. How the hell would I know all this, but not something as simple as my name.

I held up my right hand, my left, then my right leg, and finally my left leg. My body parts were what I expected to find, five digits on each, all in working order. I looked down to see I was wearing some type of one-piece gray garment, reaching mid-thigh and sleeveless. Clothing was a tight enough fit to see I was male, something I already knew, although happy to confirm. Female was the only other choice I had on the matter. As for the garment, God only knows what it was made of. Different materials came to mind, but not this.

A thought hit me. ‘God, a superior being that no one has truly seen.’ Why on Earth would I know this? Earth! Yes, the world I came from, but neither of these told me who I was. Why would I think I wasn’t on Earth? Identification! Yes, I should have some form of I.D. in my pockets. No pockets. No I.D. This was so confusing. I even knew the term for this condition, amnesia. As for this condition being so selective, not even a hint.

I knew the words. I knew the objects, or at least I thought I did. But, I had no clue to how... Thoughts came into my head, then images. Closing my eyes I rubbed my temples trying to concentrate, or maybe just clear my head. Hell, this was just confusing me further, if that was even possible. Opening my eyes, I decided less thinking was better than more.

Taking a look around, I found I was in a sterile room. Nothing in here to show how long I might have been here. Nothing to show I was even supposed to be here. Nothing personal that might summon a memory. I recognized the items and knew their uses, but they weren’t mine. Still, I had no clue to why or how I knew any of this, without knowing my name.

The room was ten by eight with a seven-foot ceiling, everything gray, including floor and furnishings. Bed I was now sitting on, metal framed, three inch thick padding. Sheet and blanket, both made of the same material as my clothes, no pillow. At the foot of the bed a small metal dresser, three drawers with a mirror above it. At the head of the bed a single unpadded metal chair. This was the only furniture in here. There was a door in the wall by the dresser. For light a single bulb in the middle of the ceiling, giving off a faint yellow glow.

Not knowing what else to do, I went to take a look in the mirror. The image was startling, a bit unsettling, however vaguely familiar. I stood about six-foot tall, weighed in the neighborhood of one-eighty, and quite fit for a fellow that was in his late twenties. Brown, close-cut hair, green eyes, clean-shaven, and despite the once broken nose decent looking. All this information I knew and understood. Problem was, for some reason I expected to see the reflection of an older man. But like everything else I’m not sure why.

Staring at the reflection, I muttered, “Nose and eyes are definitely the same, except you should be better than sixty, weigh two-twenty, with gray hair and it was receding. Hell, receding my ass, you were half bald.” Voice sounded somewhat familiar. But, how many people could recognize their own voice. That was an odd thought, which I tossed in with all the others I had been collecting.

Laughing at this stranger I noticed the slightly crooked lower tooth. “Who the hell are you?” There was a small scar on my chin, almost where a dimple might go. Acquired it at ten, during a game of baseball, sliding into home. Chipped my right front tooth at the same time. If the tooth was capped, the dentist did a good job. A dentist was a profession. Baseball was a sport and a profession. I wonder what profession I had?

Watching the reflection I asked myself, “Well stranger, do those looks come from your father? Mother? What about brothers or sisters, they look like you? What was your favorite pet growing up? Girlfriend, or wife and kids, maybe all you devil?” Nothing. No flash of an image in my head. No spark in my eyes. No grimace from some dark distant memory I didn’t want to recall. I knew the words. I knew what they meant, but nothing.

Scratching my head I asked myself, “Is that it buddy, you don’t want to remember what is now locked up there in that head of yours?”

Before I could answer my question the door opened, and a young lady announced, “Last one is here, we shall be leaving soon.”

I just stood there staring, trying to get my mind to focus. Here stood a woman, with her being in a similar form-fitting garment as I, there was no mistaking that. Her outfit had a yellow tint to it, making mine look dirty. She too was young, not much over twenty, with long golden brown hair and sparkling blue eyes.

When she turned to leave, I shouted, “Wait! Leave, where, how?” Why did I think she should be wearing white, have a name tag and be carrying files?

“Downstream of course, no one can go upstream. And how else do you travel the time stream, by boat.”

The way she talked it was as if I should know these things. A boat on water, I was on vacation. No, this was more of a hospital room than a cabin on a cut-rate cruise. She turned, and I raced to the door. “Wait, I’ve more questions.”

“Disoriented are you? Well, that shall pass in due course, just relax and take it easy. By the time we get there you shall remember most of what you need to–”

“Get where?” I asked, more confused than ever. I had no idea who I was, now I was going somewhere, and had been expected here. She must know my name, or at least who was expected.

She shrugged, and smiled. The left cheek dimple was bigger than the right, and her eyes shone with excitement. “Wherever we are going. Nobody really knows for sure. At least no one on this boat does.”

This was doing nothing for the throbbing in my head. “What is your name? Miss, do you know who I am?”

“My name was Ariella, now I just go by Skye. I am sorry, I have no idea who you were, and no one else on the boat will. It is very rare people go together–”

”What do you mean was and were? Or go together? Where? Who? Why?”

She looked at me rather strange, mouth agape and head tilted to one side.

“You said your name was Ariella, and addressing me with who you were, not who you are.”

“Yes, in the past my name was Ariella, and I suppose it still is. I am called Skye, because I just like it better. As for your past name, you shall remember it soon, but can be called anything you like. Sometimes it is easier to remember your job, or a year first–”

“What was your job?” I asked, hoping that might trigger something.

Her smile faded and the light in her eyes dimmed. “I was a whore. Could be, that is why I like my new name better?”

“You mean a real prostitute?” I squeaked in disbelief, quickly realizing what I must’ve sounded like. I wasn’t sure, but I don’t think I’d ever known a real prostitute. But, I did know the word, it meant whore, and what they were.

“No, where and when I came from, a prostitute or courtesan was a noble enough profession, one you could make a living at. I was a back alley whore doing what I could to survive. In my time there was not a wide variety of job choices for women, or anyone that didn’t have an influential family name.”

I wasn’t sure I wished to know, but had to ask. “And just where, or when was your time?”

“Let us just say I knew the back allies of Paris in the early fifteen hundreds quite well. How about you, what job and last year do you remember?”

I knew everything she was talking about, but it still made little sense. She was French and should’ve had an accent. I don’t know for sure what type of accent, but an accent. I knew little, if nothing, about the fifteen hundred’s or Paris, except it was in France. Then it came to me. “I was a doctor, and I celebrated the new millennium or millenniums as we called it.”

“Where I came from you were lucky to make thirty, and you lived thousands of years?” Skye asked in awe.

“No,” I replied, “there was an argument in college of when the new millennium would start, in the year two thousand, or two thousand and one. To settle it, some of us celebrated both years. God, I was so drunk, both times.” It then came to me, you got drunk, and the next day you had a hangover. Words were not a problem, images were, and facts no better.

Scratching my head I frowned. “No, that isn’t right. It wasn’t my last year, or my job.” I stood there stroking my chin reasoning it all out. “I was a doctor of science, and those were my college years. I think my name was James, yes that kind of sounds right.”

“How about Jim, Skye inquired, “or Jimmy?”

“No, definitely not. Some might’ve called me by those names, however I always corrected them. My name was James, is James.”

Without asking I reached out and touched Skye’s shoulder, then gently squeezed. She looked a bit perplexed, but did not back away. “Sorry, I had to see if you were real. I mean, you believe we’re in the sixteenth century and I the twenty-first, logic dictates one of us is wrong.”

She laughed. It sounded nice and reassuring, quite real, just as her shoulder had felt. “Well, in my former trade, logic rarely played a part. We all came here this way and it passes. I only know what I know, and soon you shall too. Now, you rest up a bit, then come get some food. Trust me things shall come back to you, in time. If not, you are probably better off not knowing about the memories. If it makes you feel better, just make up a life, lots of folks do.”

“Thank you Skye, will I see you again?”

“Of course. I am in the cabin next door. When you are ready to eat, stop by,” she offered politely.

After she left, I resisted the urge to return to staring at the mirror. Instead, I looked inside the drawers and found more outfits, all of them gray. There was also a long cloak, made out of the same material, but no shoes. That minor problem was solved when I turned to find a pair of sandals under the bed. Had they always been there? I couldn’t recall, but swore I looked over every inch of the place earlier. I chuckled at that, with all the unanswered questions I’m worrying about sandals.

Another fact I discovered was the furnishings were not metallic, like I first thought. Although, I had no idea what they might be made of. Don’t know why, but I was absolutely positive they weren’t plastic or ceramic, possibly a combination of the two. If that was even possible? From what I could tell, they were cast and color throughout. Same could be said for the walls and floor. I admit I was quite smug at all that I had remembered; still most of my personal history was just a blank.

Plenty of professions ran through my head, but nothing seemed to fit. I sat back down on the bed and stared at my hand. Assuming I was a doctor I should know all the parts of... nothing. They were Latin names, because it was a dead language, and I knew some of them. No, I was no doctor. I told Skye a doctor of science what did that mean? God dammit, the throb was returning. At least I knew swearing.

Sitting here wasn’t doing any good, and I was feeling a bit hungry, or maybe it was still just confusion. Could be fear, curiosity, even anger that I was now feeling, I wasn’t sure. So, I put on my sandals and headed out the door, only to run into yet another minor problem.

The four-foot wide hallway ran one hundred feet both ways, with doors every ten feet, and Skye never said which way next door. One more oddity, there were no numbers indicating the door, or where I was at, and with everything looking the same I had no idea how I’d find it again. I chuckled to myself thinking, seems to me that is all I had to say about this damn place, I have no idea.

I took a wild chance and went to the first door in the direction I was currently pointed in. Skye opened the door and waved me in.

Grinning I said, “I had no idea if this was your cabin, guess I just got lucky.” With a slight chuckle I absently shook my head thinking, ‘There I go again.’

“If you were looking for me, then it did not matter what door you chose.” Her slight giggle turned into a laugh, no doubt at the confused look on my face. “Excluding a few doors, if you were going to your room, except for the one you just left any door will do. Just as if you were looking for me any door you opened you would have found me.”

“Okay, you’re talking about one or the other of us teleporting, right?”

Shaking her head she shrugged and wrinkled her nose. “I do not know what a tele-thing is. I just know if you were looking for me I would be here.”

“Teleporting is moving matter from one place to another. Even in my time teleporting is, or was, science fiction, which means not real. You expect me to believe here we have technology to teleport beings, but regular door knobs and light bulbs?”

Skye gave me another shrug. “It is what it is. Granted, it is a bit strange, but you will get used to it. Now, did you remember anything else?”

Without thinking, I responded, “My name is James William Jamison, the third of–”

“Oh, of noble lineage,” Skye remarked, sounding a bit sad.

“No, not at all. It’s just a designation of me carrying my father and grandfather’s name. In my time we don’t have royalty... Well, actually we do, just not in California. Hey, I’m from California.”

She again wrinkled her nose, and shook her head, so I added, “It’s a western state in the Untied States of America.”

She gave me her customary half shrug. “Never heard of it. But in my trade, book learning was not at the top of the need to know list.”

“Ah, in your time you might have known it as the New World, across the ocean.”

“Yes,” she nodded, “I do recall hearing the phrase. But it was nothing except wilderness, full of beasts and savages. Only the foolhardy or desperate traveled across the sea to get there.”

“Back then,” I laughed, “I don’t doubt it. Now, it’s the most powerful country in the world and has been for some time.”

She looked at me in disbelief, but didn’t question or correct me.

“Ah, how is it you speak English? Or you addressed me in English?” I didn’t think her former profession would require this talent.

Shaking her head Skye bit her lip, and seemed to be more concerned at not knowing this answer than I was. Granted, I wasn’t expecting an answer, and not all that disappointed. She smiled. “It is what it is. Anything else?”

“No, that’s about all I remember of it.”

“It shall come, just have patience. Now, let us go get something to eat.” With that she pointed at the door. Before leaving I noted her cabin was a duplicate of mine, including colors. I found it a tad odd her clothes would be different.
* * *

In the hallway an old man was leaning against the wall as if waiting for us to come out. His twisted left leg and shriveled right arm were his most noticeable physical features. But what stood out most was the fact he didn’t have one of the garments on, or anything else for that matter.

He pointed a gnarled finger at me. “Hey, so this is the big hot shot? You ain’t shit boy, remember that! Hell, you cannot remember squat, right? Don’t matter what they call you, to me you are shithead. Got that–”

”Karl, what are you doing on this deck? It is meal time, go below,” Skye instructed.

“Name is Janur, and I ain’t talking to you, whore. If I was I woulda slapped the piss out of you to get your attention. Now–”

”Now, you watch your mouth Karl or Janur. Talk to the lady like that again, and you’ll be getting the piss slapped out of you,” I growled, stepping between the two. He was stooped over so bad he only stood five-foot tall and wasn’t going to be much of a problem for me, if he wanted a demonstration.

He tilted his baldhead to the right as far as it would go, and focused a mottled gray eye on me, the other seemed to be trained on the wall. “Krandor, name is Krandor. So what are you, patron saint of whores and lost causes, ‘ey shithead?”

“Old man, you’re wearing my patience thin. How about you go finish getting dressed, or at least start, and we can forget–”

“I ain’t wearing their god damn black magic. I am Pomaxia, a great magician and even if I did piss, you would not be laying a hand on me, boy. Don’t believe what they got to say, you ain’t shit and don’t got the temperament to lead.” Instead of turning his head he shifted his feet until that eye was looking at Skye. “So what do you say whore, how about giving me a ride? I shall pay you the two coppers later, when I get paid.” He cackled at his little joke.

“That’s it old man. On your way, or–”

”No, do not,” Skye cut in, pushing me away. “No fighting on the boat. You know that well enough Pomaxia. You shall go to the hold for sure. Laws are–”

”For idiots. Name is Karl. I don’t fear their laws or black magic. Go ahead shithead, let this bitch lead you around by your balls. But you best not believe their utter nonsense. Special, my ass, you are just another stooge. Remember, you are not always on this boat full of fools.”

Dragging that leg, he shuffled off in the opposite direction. Without turning back he flipped me off, with his left hand. Uttering more nonsense he entered a room through a door.

I looked at Skye and smiled. “So, what the hell is up with the crazy-ass old dude, and what was that about magic?”

“Pomaxia was a wizard, druid or some such, sometime in between four hundred to a thousand A.D. He has a hundred names and spouts nonsense constantly. Your assessment on his lack of sanity was correct. He is harmless and ignored.”

This entire encounter was odd, and got an eyebrow rise out of me. “So all that is crazy talk? Special, not on the boat, black magic, what does it mean? Or is this normal, for here?”

Skye gave me another shrug, and leaned in close to me. “Most say he does a crazy act to keep others from harming him, or having to do anything more strenuous than eat. There are a wide variety of people here, as you shall see.”

This didn’t get the arch out of my eyebrow, instead it got a rise out of the other. But she had already started walking. I had a hundred more questions. “Wait, that’s it?”

“Come on, we shall be late for our meal if we do not hurry. That was nice of you to stand up for me, but not necessary. I am used to it–”

“Where and when I come from, we don’t talk to ladies like that.”

“Yes, suppose not. But I already told you I am no lady.”

Walking side by side I looked behind her and down at her butt in that tight clothing, then leered at her breasts. “Can’t say I know a lot, but I know lady parts when I see them.” Yes, I knew the female form, but no one specific came to mind.

Skye laughed, it was more pleasing than when I first heard it. It made me feel like I was in a light sprinkling of summer rain. What an odd image and comparison. She said, “Ah, you are the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress from the old dragon. A fairy tale.”

“Well, not according to the crazy dude, what’s-his-name-for-the-moment. I believe he thinks I’m the old dragon. Hell, for all I know, he could be right. Maybe I’m play acting to see where it gets me with the ladies.”

She laughed again. “You have a most delightful sense of humor, and are a romantic, not a philanderer. I hope that does not change? And I enjoyed being in a fairy tale, even if it was ever so fleeting.”

“As funny as it sounds, I don’t know much about me. But, I don’t see myself as a romantic, and definitely no knight. Still, I can’t see why my personality would be altered that much from before whatever happened, happened.”

Another short laugh, then the smile faded. “Crazy as he is the wizard spoke the truth. From most do not expect help and cooperation, you will be disappointed.”

“Seems to me you’re helping me quite nicely.”

“My status here is not much better than it once was. I must survive by making alliances and allowing favors, more like demands. Like everywhere else, here the strong prey on the weak. It is a hard life, but I have my dreams. Besides, I am a woman, compromise is in our nature.”

“Well, I’m more than happy to form an alliance with you, and can promise I’ll ask for no favors or demands from you.”

Rolling her eyes she giggled. “Oh great, an idealist. How about we get something to eat?”

At a slow meandering pace we made it to the end of the hall, without seeing anyone else. That changed when she opened the door to what was obviously the dining hall, being as it was full of small tables with two chairs to each.

“This is one of the doors that never change,” she informed me. Had to be over fifty people in here, most seeming to know their way around. Although a handful or better had that dazed look I no doubt was sporting.

It was evident how to go about getting fed by the machines on the back wall, but Skye gave me instructions anyway and I didn’t interrupt her. Like everything else structural-wise this place was gray, but there were plenty of different garment colors. And like Skye said there were a variety of people here. We stood in line and received a pair of metal bowls, one full of a gray mass, the other with water.

“Skye, you and the newbie want to join us?” A young teen-aged boy asked, who was sitting with a girl about his age.

“Of course Vydal. That is if Mira doesn’t mind?” He was not much over sixteen, sporting closely cut dark hair, dark eyes, and an olive complexion.

“I do not mind. Why would I not wish to meet a newbie,” Mira replied, smiling coyly at Skye, but giving me the once over, if I wasn’t mistaken.

“Name’s James, how did you know I was new?”

The lad laughed, and pointed. “Gray clothes, only a newbie would leave them gray.” His outfit was a plum color. “Mine are the hue of royalty.”

“Gray, it has to be the most obnoxious color, don’t you think?” Mira added. “You need a color that draws you to it, like this pink. Be honest, it makes you want to just come over and squeeze it.” Gazing in my eyes she cupped a breast and demonstrated.

Vydal and Skye both ignored her. Being male I couldn’t help but stare. “Er, pink- ah, pink is… well, pink is nice.” I wasn’t sure of the laws here, or wherever I came from, but something told me she was too young and trouble. I glanced down to see if the rest of me felt that way.

With a wicked gleam in her eye Mira looked under the table. She sat back up, and licked her lips seductively. “You do like pink. I think I should stop by and help you try on a different color or two, what do you think?”

“Didn’t have any others, and I didn’t think it mattered much.” I looked around to see that no one was using eating utensils. The gesture was also made to hopefully give Mira a signal I thought she was a little young for me, contrary to what she had seen.

“It does not,” Vydal conceded. “However, they are usually only gray because no one has told the person they can be any color they wish them to be.”

“My brother is right. If you want I can show you how it is done, before we try them on,” Mira offered, licking her lips seductively, and batting her eyelashes.

“Which consists of nothing more than thinking of the color you want, and opening the drawer,” Vydal explained, glancing over at his sister in a disproving manner.

“Nice to know,” I said while sticking two fingers into the gray ooze. I stuck my fingers in my mouth, and made a nasty face. “I’m not real sure what food is, but quite confident this doesn’t qualify.”

The three of them laughed, and Skye suggested, “Think of something you like, and it shall taste just like that. If you have not noticed already, things around here are controlled with your mind. Three of those little bowlfuls a day are enough to sustain you, but if you want each could be a grand feast.”

“Course, you not remembering what real food is like, could be a minor problem,” Mira remarked, running a finger down my arm. “But, it doesn’t have to be food, it could remind you of the smell and taste of your last lady friend you–”

”Mira,” both Vydal and Skye chastised.

“What? There is very little else to do but eat and fuck on this damn boat, might as well combine the two.”

A large shadow crept over me, and the room grew quiet. Before I could turn around I received a rather stout tap on my shoulder. “Og, want newbie food, now!”

I turned back to find a mountain of a man towering over me, hand out and grinning. He was missing most of his teeth, and had fingers that looked like bananas. “Og, you do not want any trouble,” Skye insisted. “You shall certainly be sent to the hold if you take his food. Remember what I told you?”

“Not take Mistress. Newbie give Og.” This got me another hard rap. “Right newbie? You happy feed Og.”

“It’s not all that good. But I think I’ll need it to keep up my strength, and you don’t want to go to the hold.” I had no idea what that entailed, although no one seemed to wish to be sent there, which included me. Like I’d survive a fight with this behemoth.

“Og not always on boat. Find newbie and Og go.” Acting as if he were holding someone by the waist he thrust his hips at me a couple of times to give me the general idea of what I could expect.

I got the message loud and clear.

“Oh Og dear, maybe you could give me some of that on the ship,” Mira requested. “But Oggie, you have got to be good, and not kill any newbies.”

“And not steal from them either,” Skye added.

“Yes Mistresses, Og good. Og go sit now.”

After he lumbered over to the corner I said, “Thank you ladies. You saved my food, and no doubt kept me from having the bowls in a most uncomfortable position.”

This got a laugh, and Skye tried to convince herself or me with, “Og is not a bad sort.”

“Og is a moron,” Mira blurted out. “But he does have his uses. Um-m, speaking of uses, where were we? Oh, yes fucking and eating. So, how was the taste of your last lady friend?”

“Mira,” both Vydal and Skye again chastised.

“I don’t remember my last lady friend,” I admitted.

“My, my, we are in the presence of a virgin,” Mira purred. “Um-m, I would love to cure that little problem for you, and make it speci–”

”Mira,” Vydal warned.

“What? Do you know how rare it is to find someone that would actually think of me while making love to me. Hell, even you dear brother think of lovely Skye while you are fucking me. It did not use to be that way.”

“Mira enough,” Vydal threatened.

It was fairly obvious they weren’t from any recent century so I asked, “Where and what time do you come from?”

“Our nationality was Greek,” Vydal proudly answered. “But, we were Roman slaves most our lives. Skye, what year did we decide it was?”

“Roughly two hundred B.C., give or take a decade or two,” Skye replied with a grin. “As you probably know calendars have changed a lot since then. Still, it gives you a good estimate of their origins and their obvious different ways.”

“Here comes the incest lecture,” Mira quipped, rolling her eyes in an over dramatic fashion. “As if it is not being done now and forever. Hell Skye, you know your papa started you off on your chosen profession, being your first trick and pimp.”

“Mira, it is time to go,” Vydal instructed, as he offered her his hand. “She has a hard time with her liquor.”

“Which means it is time to go and get the hard one from my brother,” Mira said loudly, but did not draw any attention our way. “I shall be by later, and take care of your problem newbie. Before fulfilling my promise to Og, who will then be filling me.”

“That’s kind of you, but I don’t have a problem. It was an interesting conversation, and pleasure meeting you two.”

They both waved, and Mira blew me a wild kiss.

“Believe it or not, she can be quite gracious,” Skye observed. “When we are on land, or just after an expedition, but a little time on the boat just makes her catty.”

“Hm-m, that was catty? I believe in my time she’d be classified more as a raving bitch.” Skye laughed at my little joke, as I took a drink of water. “Could you point out where she got the liquor, I could definitely use a stiff drink or two?”

She shook her head, and snickered. “It is like everything else, in your head. When you fill your bowl think of what you want, and it is done. If you concentrate enough you can do it after you have poured the water, but it is a little harder.”

Thought what the hell and closed my eyes wishing for a cold beer. With eyes still shut tight I put the bowl to my lips and gave it a sip, tasting the soothing cold beer as if I had drank half a bottle. It reminded me of a barbecue on the fourth of July, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and ice cold beer. I opened my eyes and dipped out a finger full of goo, and it tasted sort of like a barbecue, or at least I thought so.

“You are getting there,” Skye commented.

I smiled and nodded.

“You know you seem like a smart fellow, and I probably do not have to tell you this. It might be better that no one knows your secrets. As you can see, after a while they do come out.”

“Oh, so that was true?”

“Yes, all of it. Mira likes to parade her acts of incest and sexual activities around as if they were badges of honor. Guess, it kind of makes her feel different than others. However, my father was abnormal, and is probably roasting on some plane of hell for his many sins.”

Looking around I whispered, “So, then this isn’t hell, or a plane of hell?”

She laughed, and touched my arm. “Hardly. A word to the wise, do the right thing because you do not even want a taste of hell.”

Before I could ask more questions a young girl of no more than ten walked up grinning. “Hi Skye, are you going out on the next party?”

“Yes Henrietta, my lot came up,” she responded sweetly. “Henrietta is from my part of the world. Although, she resided in a better part of Paris than I did. This is James, he comes from your time. Actually made it to the twenty-first century, or he is fairly certain he did.”

Those young green eyes lit up and grin grew to an all out smile. “Really, could you tell me who won the Super bowl in ‘82?”

She had an unruly mop of strawberry blonde hair, cut short like a boys. A nub of a nose, freckled, as were her cheeks, and she was wearing an outfit the brightest orange I had ever seen.

I massaged the bridge of my nose trying to remember. “Ah, Super bowl, that’s football, right?”

“Yes, my dad had tickets and we were going. Even flew on the Concorde across the Atlantic. It was just awesome, then we flew across the states in a nasty snowstorm. But, there was an accident on the way to the stadium, and I never saw it.”

“I’m sorry Henrietta, I don’t remember much yet. But, I’ll try, and when I do I’ll let you know, promise.”

“Okay,” she said taking it in stride. “You going on the next party?”

“I don’t know.”

“Hope you do, see you later Skye.”

After she left I asked, “What party?”

“Later,” Skye instructed. “For now, just work on getting your memory back. It might be your biggest asset for surviving around here.”

That sounded ominous, but try as I might she wouldn’t divulge more. When finished with our meal we sent the bowls down a chute just before we left the dining room.

We walked down the hall a ways then she said, “This is my room, yours is next door.”

“Alright, thank you for taking time to answer my silly questions.”

“As I said, around here it is a good thing to have friends, a lot of them.” She then whispered, “Trouble is, you can’t trust most of them. Remember to watch your back. Og you will see coming, but not the wizard or others.”

-to be continued-

06-25-2007, 06:31 PM
Great stuff thanks :)

06-25-2007, 08:09 PM
Very interesting. I would like to see more sex come in play, however, I find it hard to stop reading.

06-25-2007, 09:24 PM
I'm shopping it as a main stream novella, possibly a series, but if I got enough interest I could spice it up easy enough, there's certainly plenty of angles to play it from

06-25-2007, 10:20 PM
Thanks for the addition Wizard....and nice to see you here also...:)

06-25-2007, 11:39 PM
Hell, it's just nice being anywhere, thanks for the compliments-
Is there anywhere on site for hardcore critquing? (don't know if that's spelled right, and do damn lazy to look it up)

06-26-2007, 01:21 AM
Okay, first off to some who read Part 1, my hand spazzed or my mind did (I've put both on restriction, they won't do it again) but my original post was of a re-write about five re-writes ago, I have since posted my latest version, and this is actually the second part of the original (I added three other characters and changed some names so it wouldn't be so confusing later on. So, if you're thinking 'what the fuck?' There it is. I think only 1 or 2 read before i caught it and fixed it.
Hope I didn't confuse you too bad, on to part 2-

* * *

She shut the door, and I just stood there trying to make sense out of all this. I had to chuckle, trying to picture Og sneaking up on anything, the wizard too for that matter. Before going into my cabin I wished out loud, “How about a nice light golden yellow color, with a white carpet, to brighten up everything.” I walked into a gray room, and muttered, “So, much for that theory.”

I went and stood in front of the mirror. Gray definitely made me look like a newbie. “A light brown, or dark tan would be nice. Let’s call it nutmeg.” Pulling open the drawer I found a uniform in the color I had thought of, a dark tan. I took one out, and was about to change when looking down I saw the garment I wore was the same color.

“Amazing!” I lay down on the bed. Staring up at the ceiling I was trying to remember everything I had seen since waking up this morning, or whatever time of day it was then. I was also trying to remember everything else I knew, or had known.

The only drawbacks to my completing this information quest were the oddities I had seen earlier. Were just as many different people as there were colors of garments, and who knows what time they came from? It was safe to assume it could be anywhere between the last two or three thousand years. So, how was it everyone understood each other?

From what I could gather, everyone here had died, or should have. Which meant either I had as well, or there had been a mistake somewhere down the line. Here was another puzzle, how the hell did this mental thing work? I remembered seeing hypnosis stage acts before, but could it be performed on masses. With some of the elections I’d witnessed, my educated guess would be yes. How could I know all this information, yet next to nothing on my family or myself?

I didn’t get the chance to reflect on the matter further as there was a knock on the door and before I could say anything it swung open. I thought it might be Skye, but it was Mira. “Ready for lesson number one, virgin? Um-m, nice color, now skin out of it.”

She wouldn’t fall under the pretty category, but she was quite striking. She had long dark hair, dark eyes, and an olive complexion. With strong facial features, large hook nose, and muscles tense, she gave me the impression of needing to be in control.

And now her outfit was tossed on the chair, exposing a well-developed body. “Ah, I didn’t ask for this, any of–”

”I do not ask, I take.” She crawled onto my bed. “Do not worry you shall get used to my forwardness, and I assure you the experience shall be pleasurable.”

“You don’t understand, granted I don’t know much, but I do know I’m a lot older than you–”

“You are damn right, you do not know. I am better than two thousand years older than you. Do not look at me as if I were a mere child. At this age I was married for a year, and had my first child–”

“It isn’t that, I just don’t know?”

“Oh, you are one of those. I thought you liked me in pink, maybe it was just the pink.” She gave me a leering grin. “Still, that can be compensated for.”

“One of those whats?”

“You know, in every village there are one or two of your kind, open about their true being, and flitting around. But, most men drop by and see your type from time to time, just go home to their wives after they are through.”

I just stared at her dumb-founded.

“You know, one of those that like boys, and dick.”

I bolted up as if Og got a hold of me. “No way, you got the wrong idea. Or at least I don’t think I do that kind of thing.”

“Who cares? You like dick, I like dick. We have something in common. I can go get Og, he is not to particular, as you saw.”

I scooted for the corner. “I don’t know a lot, but I know that’s definitely not me–”

“You positive? We can prove the fact now.” She grabbed my crotch and purred. “Um-huh, seems you like me, or is that from just talking about dick? Might be able to stir up an image or two, with a nice long session of Mira. Um-m, you feel ready to address the problem to me.”

“I don’t know?”

“What is to know? Even if you like girls, I like girls. We still have something in common. Unless you got an aversion to feeling good, what is the harm?” She was kissing my neck, and nibbling on my ear between whispering lewd suggestions. “Who is to say, you might remember a thing or two. But I assure you any thoughts you get shall not be better than the new memories I give you.”

Pressed up tight to the wall, I was scooting along it towards the door. With a little pull from Mira I fell back on the bed and in one motion she peeled, or ripped, my clothes off of me. With a deep-throated growl she was on top of me. I might have gotten away, if I had put up a struggle.

I did get a flash or two of a lovely young lady I had gone to college with. However, I couldn’t recall her, or the school’s name. As Mira foretold my session was indeed quite pleasurable, although not insightful.

While getting dressed she informed me, “Not bad virgin! You catch on fast, and in my time might have been a party favorite, with more special training. I shall be by in the morning bright and early, do not make plans that do not include me, or I am apt to fetch Og.”

“I don’t understand?”

She snickered scolding, “James, it is not like the old days, I do not own you. Although, I certainly would have paid a pretty piece of gold for your ass. I am just saying, if you plan to be with another, let them know I shall be along to join in.”

“Oh, I have no plans. So back in the day, you were a rich slave owner?”

“No,” she laughed, and shook her head, “I was a slave. When younger my task was to buy and train the house’s entertainment, men, women, and -on occasion- animals.” I was not sure what my expression was, but she added, “Ah, do not look so shocked, life should be full of pleasures, or what is the damn point, right?”

“That’s one way to look at it.”

“This is the only way to look at it.” She snorted. “We use animals for transportation, food, labor, and even war, why not sex? In my day that was the most important thing in life, pleasure, and no one complained how you went about achieving it.”

“In my society we found these acts led to disease. Still some practiced it, just not openly. So, you were forced to perform such duties?” I didn’t think about any of this it just came out.

“Forced is not a word I would use, although I was a slave and not given a choice in the matter. But as far as I was concerned, the task was enjoyable, and I was competent at it.” She ran her index finger down the middle of my chest. “Good enough to last for thirty years, which was thrice most in my profession, and I retired a free citizen. Was not much else I could do, so I opened a house of my own, and provided the best services for another twenty years. A fact you can attest to, correct?”

“Yes, but it was still a bit weird for me. I think it’d be better to pass on the morning, and how about we just try being friends for–”

”Do not need more friends, we can be such after your mind returns. As I said, I do not ask, I take. It would be easier on you to just enjoy, because the other way I still enjoy the exercise plenty, but you might not.” She kissed me softly on the lips, and slapped me hard on the bare ass. “On the other hand, you might enjoy the lash too.”

She left, and I sat there rubbing the sting out of my ass, thinking what the hell was this place? So like me, Mira had reached an older age, but came here like this? What that had to do with anything I had no idea, but it seemed important.

I am not sure if Skye knocked, and I didn’t hear her, or she just walked in. “Well, I see Mira gave her your first lesson, and it was extended at that.”

Jumping up I hurriedly tried to cover myself, but couldn’t find my outfit. Should’ve been on the bed, but it wasn’t, nor was the garment under it. I figured Mira must’ve taken it when she left.

“Do not fret.” Skye laughed. “I come eye to eye with more than my fair share of a gent’s favorite plaything to blush at the mere sight of a naked man. Did it do any good?”

“Yes and no,” was all I offered, while heading for the dresser.

“Um, she knows her job? I fondly recall how comforting she can be when I was getting adjusted around here.”

This threw me a bit, although I’ve no reason why it should. I forgot about my state of undress and asked the most perplexing of questions, “Where are we?”

Shaking her head, she shrugged. “Truthfully, I do not know. Any guess I give would be just that, at best a crude guess, based on limited life experience and even more limited education, unless we are talking whoring. I and others hoped you might have answers.”

“Granted, I do have an extended education, as I recall, or think I did. But, nothing I ever studied was on this subject matter, and I seriously doubt I’m the savior people take me for. That crazy bastard in the hall was right. Perhaps, it might help to see where we are now? Is there anyway to see what is outside of these walls?”

“Yes. Not much to see, but I shall take you topside.” Pointing at my mid-section she grinned. “Best you get dressed, as you noticed things are different here than what you might be used to. However, most still honor traditions, at least the sane ones.”

“I’m sorry, of course. It’s just so frustrating to not have a clue. I feel like I’m much older than I look, and Mira told me she led a full life. Actually, for that particular time period, far longer than most.”

Pulling out a fresh nutmeg uniform Skye smiled at me. “Nice hue. There is a theory, we are in a form we enjoyed most in our lifetime. In cases such as poor Henrietta and mine, we took the form just prior to our untimely deaths. Her because of age, me because there were no such happy times.”

I pulled on my clothes. “My god, you died so young.”

“I reckon. Still, in those times and near a score of years in my profession, odds are you do not last long.”

“How old were you?” I asked, thinking she was twenty-eight tops.

“Twenty-three. Yes, I can do the adding. Done had to know basic numbers, so the bastards did not shortchange you.”

“You are quite pretty,” I said, then blushed. “W-we should be going?”

“Yes, and my thanks for the kind words.”

“So, if we can be any age we want, or what we feel the happiest, what is Karl’s problem? I mean he can’t, want that?” It was more of a thought, but I said it out loud. “Unless he was always like that.”

It was no surprise when she gave me a shrug. “Like I said, he is a strange one, and I am not certain he speaks the truth. Against his order’s canon he sold his services to a noble, which is what doomed him to this hell. Sometime before his end came he fell in disfavor of his master, and paid the price on the rack. He refuses to be anything but what he was, or so he says.”

Wasn’t positive but I think the arm was a birth defect. I didn’t correct her, because what would be the point. Granted, I could go ask him, but would prefer to not go through another encounter with him. Besides, there were too many more important unanswered questions. “Ah, can you change, I mean, say I decide I was happier at fifty, will I wake up at fifty?”

“Hm-m,” Skye tapped her lower lip, “I do not know. Although, I cannot recall anyone doing something like that.”

She escorted me back towards the dining hall, but just before the door leading in to the room she turned to the right. “Door behind, also goes to the deck. On most decks, the last doors we passed, one goes down, other up.”

This made sense, the doors all looked alike, solution would have to be in the positioning. “Which is which?”

“Does not matter.”

“You said most decks, what about this deck?”

“We are on the top deck,” she replied as we were now out in the open.

If you wanted to call it that, one hundred feet from the sides of the ship was a thick cloudbank, which allowed you to see nothing but gray. Reminded me of my cabin. Although, if you watched intently enough you could see it move, like it was boiling.

It was an eerie gray world surrounding us, no surprise there. Only color was the garments bobbing about here or there. No hint of where the sun might be. No hint of a breeze. “Does it rain?”

Skye’s button of a nose wrinkled. Light was better out here, and she looked a little older than I first thought. Or maybe it was I just knew her story better, and expected her to look older. If this was controlled by my mind would it be possible to see her the way I wanted to? I shut my eyes and thought redhead, short, and a touch overweight. I opened them, and she was still Skye, just like we first met.

“You remember more?” Skye asked.

“No, I was just trying a little experiment. I thought if this was all in my head, then you might be as well–”

“Was I?”

“No. So, does it rain?”

She shrugged, and gave me a little frown. “Sorry, I do not go on deck much, it is too strange. But, I have never seen it rain while on the ship. Although, I have seen it rain on expeditions. Does it make a difference?”

“Hell, I don’t know. Just trying to get a general feel of what’s going on. Christ, I don’t even know why I’m doing that either. Not like I’m going to remember anything to help us.”

Skye laughed, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Just a quick peck, which felt so nice. “You are funny. And that was for standing up to the wizard. Most talk however they wish to me, ordering me about. And with no choice, I do it.”

“Well, it wasn’t necessary, but thank you.”

Even with little to see there were a lot of people milling about. We were near the back of the boat on a deck that was twenty feet across. I walked to the very back, and found an open area thirty by sixty feet.

I looked up to see another story above. “Thought we were the top deck?”

“We are as far as we are all concerned, for there is no way up. Goes for the lower level, no way down.”

Nodding I headed to the ship’s front, a good three hundred feet away. As expected there sat the cloudbank a hundred feet out in front of us. I looked over the edge to find we were thirty feet above the water. Again, if you wanted to call it that. Whatever it was, it seemed to have a metallic gleam to it, and was thicker than water, kind of like quicksilver, but half as dense. The bow was cutting through the mess, so we were definitely headed that way, whichever way that might be. There were no whitecaps, but the liquid did roll or maybe just ripple.

“Why were you expecting me, or someone that might help solve these mysteries?”

She pointed straight down. “Well, besides those we cannot reach, there are four decks. Lowest, we call the hold, cabins are six by eight, with two people in each, and four rows of them, quite confining, and no deck.” She raised her hand up, palm down. “Next level, four rows of eight by ten cabins with two in each, a touch more comfortable, again no deck. The one below us, cabins are six by ten, four rows, but with only one person in each and a ten-foot wide deck. Of course, you know of our conditions.”

“I see. And who decides who gets what cabins?”

“We have no idea. But, it must have something to do with past deeds, and how you conduct yourself on expeditions. You do good, you move up a deck. You do bad, you head down. Most started in the hold, and you do not want to go down there for–”

“Who told you to move up?”

“No one.” I looked confused, and she continued, “You receive your food and water ration on your deck’s dining hall. There is one at each end of the ship on every level. And when you open any other door and go through you shall find yourself on your deck. We have no way of knowing how it works, it just does.”

“Obviously. So, we have something reading your mind, then taking you to wherever you want to go. It can’t be setting up whatever behind the door each time. Hm-m, what would happen if two people went through at the same time? With different destinations, or belonging on other decks?” I was more or less thinking out loud.

Skye gave me a thin smile, but her eyes were telling me she was confused. She confirmed the theory with yet another shrug. “Most these people are from lower decks, well not the lowest, they can only go as high as the deck below us. Once they go back through the door they shall find themselves on the lower levels. You or I may go down to the lowest levels, but unless we are visiting a specific person we walk through a door and we shall find ourselves back on the top deck.”

“But, how does that make me special?”

“Because, after our last expedition no one from the lower levels replaced the man we lost–”

“Wait a minute, lost? As in didn’t find his way back, or killed?”

“Died, as in fell off a cliff. Was this murder or an accident? The only witnesses were a pair of scouts from the hold. No one knows what really happened. But neither of them moved up, and there were five others lost… I mean, killed from other levels.”

“But, I thought we were already dead. How can you kill someone already dead?”

She gave me the customary shrug. “All we have are questions, no real answers. There are those who believe we are not truly dead, or why would we need food and water. Tell me this, what did you know of the afterlife in your time?” My nose wrinkled. Skye giggled, and touched my arm. “Sorry, I forget you have not regained your memories yet.”

I liked the feel of her touch, it was warm, and nothing that I could imagine a ghost or spirit would be like. But, then neither was Mira. I chuckled thinking, ‘whatever I had been it was not a ladies’ man, even in my dreams. Which this very well could be.’ I placed my hand on top of hers. “That’s alright, I’m getting used to being confused. It’s true at the moment I can’t give you any specific beliefs of my former life, except it was most assuredly not this. No way, no how, no shape or form was it ever this! Not in my wildest dreams, or nightmares!”

Laughing at my antics, she nodded. “You are probably right.”

“How long did it take you to regain your memories?”

“Not long, a day or two.” A smile must have crept across my face, because she quickly added, “But that was just me. Everyone is different and I arrived at the age I passed through whatever it was. Others it has taken time, depending on when their time ended, and this life began. That is the bad news, good news is you should know all you knew at the age you are at now in a day or two. Smaller details might take longer, and after that you shall learn maybe a years’ worth of memories in a day or two.”

“That isn’t so bad, three months and I’m back to where I was–”

“This theory is not carved in stone,” Skye insisted. “It will all depend on how much you learned in your life. For most, everyday life holds little memories, if any. For one getting a higher education it could take much longer–”

“Whatever. Nothing I can do about it. How many souls are on board?”

“Six hundred-forty, always. We do not sail without replacing those lost–”

“You said sail. That brings up another question, what is powering us?” I looked up, but there were no sails above the upper deck.

She shrugged as she followed me over to the inside wall. I pressed both hands and an ear to the wall. “Should be able to feel, or hear an engine. Damn, nothing. For something to provide that much power to transport six hundred-odd people here and there constantly, it’d have to be huge. Or in some kind of form I’ve never heard about. How about fuel, ever take on fuel?”

Another shrug, prior to me saying, “Come on, might have better luck at the back. Do you see people you know that died before you? I mean, surely all those you’ve known have passed. How about other boats, ever see any?”

“No one sees any others, except in their dreams. As for boats, yes we have seen some pass as close as two hundred feet, and people stand at the decks’ rail calling out loved ones’ names. But even if you found someone, what could you do?”

It was my turn to shrug, and shake my head. “How did Vydal and Mira manage to get together?”

“Mira obtained her freedom and bought her brother’s. But she talked her master into purchasing her brother as soon as he found her talent. When she died Vydal took his own life, not being able to live without her. He truly loves her, and obviously would follow her to the ends of the universe. They both arrived on the boat at the same time. They are the only ones we know who have done this.”

“Were you a suicide?”

“No. In one of his drunken rages my pimp beat me to death.”

“Your father?”

“Yes, for birthing purposes he was my father, but in no other way could he be called such. He did the same to my mother, and probably our two daughters.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “Like I said, the prick had a lot of sins to atone for, and shall be in hell a good long while. Since I have not seen him here I know this is not the lowest level you may go.”

“I’m truly sorry. I just thought maybe all of us had committed suicide. Although, I don’t think I was ever depressed. Course, at that age it might’ve been some prolonged disease and I couldn’t take it any more.”

We were at the back of the boat, and I put my ear to the wall. “Try it,” I said excitedly, “Do you hear it?”

With her ear pressed to the wall. “You mean, kind of a droning noise?”

“Yes, that is it. We’ve got to get to the hold, I bet we can really feel it there–”

“We cannot today,” Skye insisted.

“Why?” I asked looking at the sky, but there was no way of judging time, even if I had been any good at it, which I doubt.

“It is near meal time, and then our sleep period shall start shortly. Decks have to be cleared, and there is no movement between levels.”

“Hm-m, don’t you find that a tad odd? If there is nowhere to go why are we locked down? I’m fairly certain I wasn’t a devout believer of any religion, and not sure there was ever a superior being–”

“S-sh, never say such blasphemy,” Skye whispered, quickly covering my mouth with her hand. “You could wind up in the hold for less. We enjoy sleep periods, because that is when dreams occur. We are not restricted to our cabins, we look forward to our dream state–”

“Yes, you mentioned wonderful dreams earlier, and seeing loved ones.” I spoke through her hand, and didn’t try to remove it. “Are they how they really were, or how you wished they were?”

With her brow furrowed she thought about this, and lowered her hand. “I am not sure, what difference does it make?”

“A big one, a very big one. If they’re pulling it from your mind they’d more likely be how you wished them to be. If they were actually there, you might reason they’d be more like they really were. I admit it’s not very scientific, but it’s logical.”

“Yes, I see your point. I shall try to take note in this night’s session–”

A gong sounded overhead.

“Time to get downstairs and eat.” We were going to walk around to the other side of the boat. But turning the corner Skye pulled me back and held me close. She kissed me, pushing me up against the wall. We broke, and she whispered, “Og, the wizard, and that greasy zealot are down there.” Her hair smelled nice, sweet like honey, or flowers. It was the first nice smell I had enjoyed here. “Conspiring against you no doubt. Slide along the wall, and let us get back around the corner.”

We slowly made it around the corner, and I kept holding Skye. We kissed, and after breaking Skye said, “They cannot see us any more.”

“Are you sure?”

She peeked around the corner, then looked up and kissed me. “Pretty sure.” She kissed me again, a long tender kiss. “Probably safe now. We should be going back in.”

I heard what she said, but she wasn’t letting go. It felt so good I didn’t want to let her go. “Are you looking for a favor?” Skye asked.

“No, it was just… ah, no.” I dropped my hands to her side. My face heated up.

“It was a joke.” She giggled. “You are not the only funny one.” She still had her arms around my waist. Her head was laying on my shoulder and breasts pressed into my chest. “Um-m, my knight in shining armor.”

“They are gone, headed to the front doors,” Henrietta said, standing to my right. “That is assuming you were hiding from them, not just looking for an excuse.”

Skye giggled as I shook my head. “I, er- was ah, yeah staying, er out of... well, I was staying away from them. Ah, not sure–”

“You mind if I walk along with you?” Henrietta asked with a big grin, saving her from listening to my rambling, and me from making it up.

Breathing a sigh of relief, and hopefully not turning much redder as my problem below my beltline subsided. “It’s alright by me.”

“Of course you may,” Skye offered, “and join us for dinner as well.”

Smiling Skye wrapped her arm around the arm I offered her and Henrietta took the other. It was so nice, we walked to the farthest dining hall door. It seemed to be the same people in here that I had seen earlier, which made sense. While dishing up my food I thought about the barbecue and beer trick, but it didn’t change the gray blob.

We sat at the table next to Vydal and Mira. Smiling Mira ogled me. “So, what have you three been up to?”

“We were on deck, is all,” Skye answered. “Just taking a stroll.”

Henrietta giggled, and I felt my face heat up as Mira gave me a curious look, before it turned into a leering smile.

“Were you two Christians?” I asked. Hoping to change the subject, and before taking my first bite, which surprisingly did taste like a barbecue.

“Christians? You have to be joking. Only good uses for those type were to feed the lions, and warm up arena crowds for the real games.”

“Mira, you know there are those here who do not wish to hear such,” Vydal scolded. “When we were children we worshiped the gods, with Greek names. As Romans we worshiped the same gods, with different names. Why, is it important?”

I shrugged. “Don’t know, there just has to be a reason we’re all here, or logic says there should be. Although, I can’t think of anything we‘d have in common. Who is the one in here that has the earliest date in history?”

“Ak-tur?” Skye suggested.

“Maybe Og. He is such a moron he has no idea when or where he came from,” Mira said. “Might even be one of those cavemen.”

“He is no moron, just a touch slow, and no caveman,” Skye defended the giant. “Once you get to know him he can be nice.”

“Besides, he knows about wagons, carriages and horses, swords and gunpowder too. Some times we play make believe in camp,” Henrietta added.

“Definitely Ak-tur,” Vydal ended the debate. “But, it was so long ago we have no specific date. Still, he was an Egyptian, overseer of slaves building one of the burial mounds. Which were built before any of the pyramids.”

“And he’s not a Christian?” I inquired.

“Absolutely not,” Vydal said. “He is a devout follower of Isis. What does this mean?”

I raised an eyebrow, while swallowing a bite of my ribs and potato salad. “It means, I doubt this is the afterlife most believe is waiting for us. From the bits and pieces I can remember it sure doesn’t sound like it to me. Of course, our clergy could’ve been wrong and misled us–”

“My humble pardon for eavesdropping, and I know you are new.” A man two tables over stood. “But, most have no wish to hear such blasphemy, and surely our very surroundings contradict the heathen’s belief.”

He was a short weasel-looking fellow, with beady little eyes. He was wearing a dark brown cloak, but in here I’d put it more on the warm side than chilly. Random chunks of hair were missing from his head, and he had scars from cuts on his arms, some quite recent. I wasn’t positive, but suspected both conditions were self-inflicted. Being as there was a gray cross, obviously made from his food, on his dark brown under garment I took this man to be a religious extremist.

Henrietta was sucked up tight to me, trying to hide from this character. “Name’s James, didn’t mean to offend anyone, just trying to figure out why we’re here–”

“To be judged,” the man interjected. “Why it is quite plain, to have one’s life judged, by those above, brother James. I am brother Gregor.”

“Ah, clergy,” I observed. “Could you be so kind as to tell me where and when your first life was?”

“Spain in the fifteen hundreds, I was–”

Mira spat Gregor’s way, and muttered, “Fucking zealot.”

His eyes hardened, but he ignored Mira. I grunted. “An inquisitor, I take it?”

“I was an Abbot stationed just outside of Seville at a seminary school. Although, there were occasions I was forced to cast out demons from the locals. There is not much that may be done to blasphemers while on board this boat, just remember we are not always on board.”

“It is something I’ve already heard a time or two today. But, I shall try to, brother Gregor, I shall definitely try to.”

Glaring at him Mira spat again.

He gave me a nasty, foul leer, and a slight bow before walking away. He strode through the door and Skye said, “He was the greasy zealot with Og and the wizard.”

“I hate him,” Henrietta hissed.

I muttered, “There goes the theory of us all being innocents. I guarantee that prick is a murderer, several times over.”

“Undoubtedly,” Vydal said. “But, he is right, we are not always on this boat, and it is quite dangerous on land. He has a habit of stirring up people, spewing nonsense of his god shall provide.”

“His god might,” I suggested, causing Vydal to look at me strange. “Only problem is, his god is nowhere near here. Unless his all powerful god needs the help of mechanical engines.” I filled him in on what we had discovered, and as I suspected their dreams were also probably taken from their minds.

Another gong sounded, meaning it was time to go to our cabins, and I hadn’t had a chance to ask about these expeditions.

“I do not want to talk to him. Could I walk back with you?” Henrietta asked.

“Sure. Are you talking about Gregor?” For an answer the young girl shivered. “Is he giving you trouble, either of you?”

“Except for spouting off about my heathen ways, not me. I do not think he is overly fond of women, especially those in my former profession.”

Henrietta hung her head. “He just gives me the creeps.”

“Well, if he gives either of you trouble let me know. Apparently, we got enough problems here without him adding to them. And I’ll do what I can to put an end to his harassment.”

As we slowly walked to our rooms I asked Skye, “So, you’re not punished for blasphemy from whoever is running this ship?”

“Yes and no,” she responded just above a whisper. “They do nothing directly, but if you do not perform well during an expedition they shall take action, and it is rather easy to sabotage one’s efforts. That is why I said watch your back.”

“Evidently, good advice.”

We dropped Henrietta at her door, getting a nice thank you for letting her tag along. The next door was Skye’s, or I guess it could have been mine if we chose. Smiling she recommended, “If you wish to have Mira ease up on you, tell her memories of your sweetheart have returned. Course, if you want to keep the lessons going, do not.”

Hell, I didn’t know how to reply to this counseling, and just stood there like a simpering dolt. Damn, I wasn’t even sure I wanted the lessons to stop or not. I mean, it definitely had been a pleasurable experience, even with my reservations. But holding Skye had been very nice, and the kisses were even better.

I sat on the bed, and tried to make sense of the day. Didn’t take long for the light to dim, until it was barely on. Testing a theory I got up to see if I could leave as Skye had suggested, but the door was locked. With no other choice I went back and lay down. My intention was to replay my day in my mind one more time, but it wasn’t meant to be.

-to be continued-

06-26-2007, 01:26 AM
great stuff...keep it coming

06-26-2007, 11:06 PM
Very very interseting. Why do I get the feeling that this is some sort of alternate afterlife (like riverworld)?

A very good read. I'll have to keep my eyes open for updates.

06-26-2007, 11:38 PM
Hey, did they ever explain riverworld?

06-27-2007, 12:16 AM
Yes they did. Riverworld was taken from a 60's era sci-fi book series. It was basically an alien controlled environment designed to give rebirth to man, who had been wiped out.

06-27-2007, 01:00 AM
WARNING: there are no overtly sexual acts in this story-

* * *

I woke up groggy, flat on my back, staring up at a gray ceiling, feeling a bit disoriented. The only thing that kept registering was, Jesus, what wild dreams, forgetting who I was. “I’m James Jamison, the third,” I stated aloud to reassure myself it had just been a dream. “I live in- uh, California. That’s the state, the city is- uh... Shit, what’s the city I live in?”

Looking around I tried to figure out exactly where I lived. Definitely recognized the gray room and clothes I was wearing. They were from my dreams, along with that faint rocking motion. Stumbled over to the mirror, and recognized the reflection staring back at me. Trouble was, it wasn’t me.

Watching my lips move, and listening for my own voice I muttered at myself, “Dammit, this can’t be real.” Then I clearly recalled it wasn’t a dream, I was aboard a ship and most of my memory was gone.

I glanced up to see the light was still dimmed. It was the last thing I remembered before going to sleep. Wasn’t only searching for who I was, but where I was now. I had been told I was on a boat full of people that were out of time, probably dead. And as impossible as it might seem, these people were quite real, despite being dead.

There had been questions I asked, without receiving any decent answers, and observations I had made. Now the memories of my dreams last night returned. Yes, they had been dreams, granted quite vivid, almost life-like, however still just dreams.

But one of my theories had been proven, seeing as there were no loved ones in my dreams, just those I met yesterday. With no clock in here I had no clue to the time, or how long I had slept, but I did feel quite refreshed. Come to think of it, I had seen no other clock, or any means for keeping time.

The light grew brighter, and I could only guess it was eight hours after it had went nearly out. I suppose everyone kept track of time by sleep periods.

The door opened, and Mira walked in. She looked at me and frowned saying, “Oh, you’re alone?”

“Yes, I am, or I was.” I looked around her, to make sure she was. Like Og could hide behind this slip of a girl. “Well, I’m certainly happy you’re alone. Hey, did you take my outfit for a trophy–”

”A trophy!” She hissed, “If I want a trophy I shall take one of your balls. Now, let me see what you learned earlier,” Mira grabbed me by the ears, “pleasure me. Afterwards, we will go to lesson two, and if you do not do well I just might take that trophy.”

For such a small girl she had pretty good leverage on me, and with a little struggle I could have got away. I wasn’t about to struggle, although I was wondering if my door locked and would that stop Og if he decided to pay a visit.

Was going to try and at least keep an ear out for him, but with legs wrapped around my head and her loud moaning a herd of buffalo could pass through the place unheard. My mind might be Swiss cheese, but I knew what to do with pussy, and was fairly certain I got her off, except Mira wasn’t letting up. Snaked a finger up her butt, and with a loud squeal she definitely had an orgasm. For a bit I didn’t think she was ever going to let me up, then her legs relaxed.

She lay back, and a girl did come to my mind, even darker skinned than Mira, long black hair, big brown eyes, and the cutest smile, laying just like the girl in front of me, legs spread, body glistening in sweat. My little vision was about the same age, and for some reason I was thinking East Indian.

Whack! I got hit in the head. “What are you doing?”

“Enjoying just looking at you, you’re cute.”

“Um-m,” she gave me a bit of the squinty-eyed treatment, “we don’t have much time I like to get off at least a handful of times to start my day.”

“Yes ma’am.” I burrowed in between her legs.

Whack! I got nailed again. “I want dick.”

“Yes ma’am.” I slid up, and took a nipple in my mouth. Mary, I think her name was… No, it was Mauri, or something similar. Liked it better yesterday when she was on top of me, didn’t have to do so much work, and I could think. Although, this was nice, and she was quite talented, using her muscles to work me over. Not sure, but I don’t think I ever got laid like this, it’d be pretty damn hard to forget.

Forgetting about my vision I concentrated on this sexy little thing, seeing as she was biting my shoulder. Almost started chuckling, as it dawned on me, this was probably the only three way I had ever seen in my life. Wasn’t about to laugh out loud, she’d kick my ass. Sent that finger back up her butt, and had her squealing before I accomplished my goal, mutual satisfaction.

Mira slipped back into her outfit. “So, anything new come to mind?”

Needless to say, I didn’t say a word, just shrugged, postponing my having to make a decision.

“We better get our asses to the dining hall,” she smiled, “expedition will start soon.”

I was going to ask what the hell was an expedition, but she was gone. As I dressed I tried to sort through all the memories, but as far as I could tell except for the girl there were no new ones.

Skye was coming out her door the same time as I did mine. “Good morning,” I greeted her.

“For you I am sure it is,” she responded with a giggle, causing me to blush.

Hoping to change the subject I asked, “Do you wake up every time disoriented, like the first time?”

“No.” She closed her eyes, and smiled wistfully. “Actually, waking up in the morning on the boat is a pleasant experience, kind of basking in your dreams.”

“What did you learn from your dreams?”

“It is as you thought,” her smile faded, “they are pulled from my mind. How about you?”

“Surprisingly, no real new memories. I was a bit confused right off, but everything came back from yesterday fairly fast. As for my dreams they were quite interesting, but were of just people I had met here.”

“Um, that sounds provocative.” Skye slid her arm inside of mine. “Want to tell me them, or can you?” She rubbed my arm. “What about with Mira? You usually get a little something while you are enjoying yourself.”

Her touch felt so nice, sending pleasure throughout my body. It was different from Mira’s, maybe because there was a bit of ingrained fear in me when the young girl was near. It wasn’t her that caused the dread, but the hunger in her eyes, or the need you sensed. “Ah, Mira?”

“Yes,” she giggled, “you did.”

“Uh-h, a flash or two,” I scratched me head, “a young girl. But, I’m not sure of anything, maybe my first girlfriend, don’t think I was married, couldn’t have been I went to college.”

“Ah-h, girlfriend,” Skye snuggled up to me, “was she pretty?”

“Well, certainly cute, kind of like Mira, but darker.” Have no idea why, but I kissed Skye. Not a little peck either, I spun her in my arms, held her tight, and kissed her. “Not close to as pretty as you are.”

“Goodness,” Skye giggled, “you were a gigolo.”

“Don’t know much, but know I was no ladies’ man, and I know I’ve never been within any girl more beautiful than you.”

“Um-m,” she sighed, “would really like to continue this, but we need to eat. What about your dreams?”

“Yeah, dreams.” We headed back down the hall, and I was running everything back through my head. Unless she was older than she looked this vision had to be a girlfriend from my high school. But, that made sense right, earlier memories would come first.

“Well,” Skye gave me a nudge, “not even a little hint?”

“Sorry, I was just thinking about remembering. No, I can’t tell you about the dreams, but not because they are bad or embarrassing. I just have more questions. First, where are the facilities?”


I looked around, but we were being ignored by those headed for the dining room. “Yes, you know a bathroom. Where do they keep the sink, toilet and bath tub?”

“There are none.” She looked at me strange. “Do you need to use any of these things?”

This made me think a bit, and tugging at my ear I had to admit, “No, I don’t, nor have I. But, I should’ve by now. Don’t you find this a little odd?”

“Not if we are dead.”

And if that was the case, back to the question of why was there a need for food. This was my thought, but my question was, “Second, what can you tell me about this expedition?”

“Well, boat docks for a certain amount of time and we have to search for food and water to survive–”

“What about the machines in the dining hall?”

“Once docked they do not work, so a third of the crew goes to find food, and when we pull away machines work again. But, we do not sail until the ship is full of what you call souls.”

“So, this land you always dock at is dangerous?”

“Oh, we don’t dock at the same place every time. Although, I do not think we have ever landed anywhere that did not eventually claim someone, either by accident, murder or suicide. But, they do not all die, some just cannot take it any more and run off. Course, I doubt any survived long on their own any place we have been. It is hard enough to survive in a group, that is assuming none in the group want to kill you, and we do not eat nearly as well as when we are aboard the boat.”

“How long do these expeditions last?”

“Three to six sleep periods, sometimes as long as ten.” That answered my question on time keeping. “This is one of our quickest boat trips, one sleep period. We usually have at least three to recuperate, and never more than five.”

We got our two bowls, sat down at a table, and almost immediately a man walked up. He was my height, in his early forties, and a good thirty pounds heavier. Except for brother Gregor, and the crazy wizard, he looked to be the oldest one here. Og was off to his right, which led me to believe this was going to be another confrontation. “What have you found out?” He asked Skye.

She looked at him, then me and blushed. “He has some interesting views and–”

“And he is sitting right here.” The slight anger in my voice is probably what made Skye blush even more, and her eyes would not meet mine. I couldn’t believe she had been playing me.

“Ah, I apologize for my bad manners, Sir. It’s just we’re pressed for time,” the man started off. “Name’s Hector, once a proud senator in the great state of Virginia, circa eighteen thirty. Now, I’m kinda the leader around these here parts. Have you any idea where we might be, ah–”

“James, a scientist I believe, sometime in the twenty-first century. As for where we are? I don’t have enough information for even a decent guess or theory. However, I do have plenty of questions and observations.”

“He not the one,” Og offered his opinion. “Dumb like dirt. Og thump.”

“That’s not about to happen now Og,” Hector admonished.

I wasn’t entirely sure that he meant not to do it, or just wait. But the giant took a step back. We now had the attention of half those here as I went over the interesting facts I had discovered. There was some grumbling, and none of it I heard was good.

The gong sounded, and Hector informed me, “It’s time for the expedition to start. Let’s see what you observe from the deck.”

I shrugged and wolfed down most of my bacon, eggs and coffee. Being as I was in a hurry it just tasted like the gray goo and water. Tossed Og the bowl to finish off, hoping the act might keep him off my ass for a while.

As soon as I went through the door, I noticed the cloudbank was a lot farther away, above us and to the sides. But not gone, and there was no hint of the sun.

The ship was at the far end of a fifty-foot long dock and the surrounding area was well forested. At least the thousand feet of shoreline was, in both directions that I could see from this point. Inland the ground rose so you could see a ways, and ten miles or so off was a mountain. Which was tall enough most was lost in the cloud above. It was nice to see all this color, even though it seemed to be a shade or two off.

Sort of reminded me of an old movie set, instead of a vid-screen, and I had to think hard on what the hell did that mean. I remembered a movie was make-believe, filmed against a three dimensional background, and the scenery was always just perfect, sometimes too perfect, like it might be plastic. Latest things were vid-screens, just a big blank screen, and everything was computer generated.

I rubbed my temples wondering how I knew this, and where it fit in my timeline. How could I possibly know about movie sets and vid-screens, so young? This morning I woke up to what, being fifteen, seventeen tops. Alright, maybe some type of film class in school was the answer. I certainly felt confident this was an old-fashioned movie set, a very ominous movie set.

“Well, what would you do?” Hector asked.

Still rubbing my temples I couldn’t help but think, ‘These people had to have someone better at this than me.’ However, I had enough sense not to voice my opinion. “How long have you been doing this?”

Hector shrugged. “You are lucky to live through a hundred expeditions. When you come back the finer points of the past ones are lost.”

“We think it has something to do with being easier on the mind,” someone behind Hector added. I looked around Hector, to find a short bespectacled man. “T. C. Wolfe, Thomas Charles, but I’m just called T.C. For my former life I was an archeologist, with my last dig in Mexico circa 1906. Born in Iowa, schooled at NYU, if I can be of any assistance don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Thanks, T.C., I’ll do that.”

When I didn’t say anything else, Hector repeated, “What would you do?”

“Okay, can give it a try. It’s my understanding you never go to the same dock twice. Far as you–”

”Not that we’ve noticed,” Hector conceded.

“Alright, if that’s the case can we get the scouts to take a look around to see if anyone else has been here–”

”Look!” Someone shouted, “Up in the sky.”

Chuckling, I half expected Superman. It was off in the distance, a rather large flying creature, but not the man of steel. Hell, the only thing I could think of was, it must be a dragon. Then before I could remember what a dragon was, I recalled they were just myths. There were now two of them, and in no time they came close enough to make out their species. “Damn, they look like pterodactyls. But, that’s impossible.”

“Here nothing’s impossible,” Hector dryly commented. They stopped one hundred feet from the shore and would not come any closer. I had to figure it was the water.

“What the hell is a terror whatever?” Someone asked.

“A dinosaur,” I answered. “To be more precise, a long ago extinct flying predator.”

“I heard of them,” Hector conceded, “But also heard stories of them finding something like these beasts in Africa. What about it, T.C.?”

He shrugged, which seemed to be the only constant thing here. “Wasn’t my expertise, but there were always rumors.” He was average height with a lanky build, and still half hiding behind Hector.

“They were proven hoaxes years ago,” I said, getting more folks complaining. “Is there anyone that has arrived past the year two thousand?”

“Henrietta is the one that arrived the latest, besides you,” Hector informed me. “She’s the latest and youngest, we thought it went hand in hand. But–”

“Why the hell ain’t nobody off the ship yet? By Odin’s beard you ain’t even passed out any damn weapons,” a big fellow barked out, as most on the deck headed below.

“James wants us to scout out the area, Gunnar,” Hector informed him. “We also got a pair of creatures overhead–”

”So what! They take three or four people, then get full,” this Gunnar fellow replied callously. “It’s no different than any other land we’ve been sent to. We got to think of the greater good.”

“Just hear the lad out, before we send folks to their death needlessly. Gunnar is our classic Viking, roughly a millennium behind yours James,” Hector said with a chuckle. He sure fit the profile, six-six, an easy three hundred pounds, most being muscle, long blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. Og and the ship were the only things bigger than him.

“It wouldn’t hurt to light a fire in the middle of the clearing,” I suggested. “Most animals won’t go near fire, with luck that includes them. Might even throw some green limbs on, to get plenty of smoke.”

Hector looked over at Gunnar, and the Viking nodded, hand signaling to five men, and pointing to the clearing.

“How long do we have here?” I asked.

Looking around me Hector replied, “Four days.”

I turned to find a door on either side of the door that led to the cabins. Swear I hadn’t seen them there on my little tour yesterday. Above them were four single lines.

Gunnar opened the nearest, and it was more of a closet, just over a foot deep and full of weapons. The Viking passed out five spears instructing, “Guard those starting the fire.” There were more spears, machetes, and knifes in the closet, but no other weapons.

The other closet, a little deeper, held containers, which were being passed out. By my estimate there were around one hundred, five-gallon water canisters, and at least that many large food receptacles. They seemed to be made of a thin flexible plastic material, with metallic cloth straps. Looked like an ample enough amount, but feeding over six hundred for four days would take a lot of trips.

“So, how do you deploy the men?” I asked.

“We just head straight ahead, following the easiest route,” Hector replied. “If we don’t find what we need, we change directions.”

“And kill every damn thing in our way?” Gunnar growled.

“What would you recommend?” Hector inquired, ignoring the warrior.

Gunnar looked at me like it would be better if I didn’t answer. Despite this I stroked my chin thoughtfully, as if I were about to impart great wisdom. “You’re wasting manpower going in one direction. If you sent out six teams of eight, you cover more ground, and will benefit in the long run. You find a water or food source you could start transporting that immediately without waiting for the other. Better to work as teams than individuals.” Most in the crowd were now nodding, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good plan, or it was because they didn’t have to face those monsters out there.

Gunnar looked around, then nodded conceding, “Strategy is good.”

“Easy to say when you are on the upper decks, what about us trying to work our way up?” Someone from the back yelled out.

“Yeah, we don’t got a chance of moving up that way.” Another echoed.

“You don’t know that,” Hector barked at the unnamed dissenters. “Worth a try. Hell, nothing else has worked better.”

“Let me tell you what’d be a helluva a lot better,” a man held up a spear, “a pair of god damn Colt six-shooters, and a Henry repeater. Instead of these damn pig stickers.”

“He calls himself Bad Bob,” Hector whispered, “says he was credited with four bank robberies, and killed seven men in gunfights. Hails from the American mid-west of the eighteen nineties.”

He was probably five-six and might weigh over a hundred pounds, if he was carrying rocks in his pockets. Doubt he was much over nineteen, light skin, red hair and freckled-faced. A homely kid, probably picked on his whole life, until he got that gun in his hand.

“Well Bob, those weapons wouldn’t put a dent in pterodactyls, or most other dinosaurs. Best bet is to stay away from them, keep under the trees,” I suggested. What I was really thinking happened to be, ‘these things could not be real.’ “What group do you want me going with?”

Hector looked at me shaking his head. “Your first expedition is spent on the boat. The second you join the lottery–”

”Except,” I interrupted him, “if you’re counting on me to help figure this out I have to know what I’m up against. Which is out there.”

He looked stunned, then over at Gunnar. The big man shrugged passing me a spear, but saying to Hector, “It is his ass, but he still enters the next lottery. He wants to get a good look, let him lead a team up the center.”

“Fine by me,” I remarked, knowing it would be the most dangerous. One of the scouts was now trotting back across the pier. The seven foot tall spear was made of a lightweight alloy, and sported a steel blade. It appeared the steel machetes and knifes’ hilts were wooden.

Skye immediately joined my group, as did Vydal and Mira. Henrietta came over, and pestered Skye to come along. She looked at me and I shrugged, not knowing if it was a common occurrence to send out the youngster. Skye nodded, and the girl beamed.

Bad Bob smiled. “This might be a tad interesting, mind if I tag along?”

I nodded his direction, as Vydal was passing out containers and another man walked up to him. They talked a bit, then Vydal pointed at him, then me. I figured it meant another member had been added. He wasn’t much bigger than Bad Bob, which also indicated there wasn’t going to be a lot of muscle behind our spears.

“Small herd of swine following the shoreline,” the scout reported as he came aboard, pointing left of the dock. He was obviously Native American and near as tall as Gunnar, but a good fifty pounds lighter. Although not nearly as muscular, it was easy to see he was in good shape. “Also footprints all over the place, if we haven’t been here before, someone has.”

“Must be one of them boats that passed now and then. Does not mean nothing to us,” Gunnar remarked casually.

“Unless,” Hector muttered, “they killed all the game around here.”

“Do we spend the night on board?” I inquired.

“Why should we?” Gunnar replied, looking confused. “No reason to come back, til something useful is found. Talk about wasting time.”

“Except, if one of us finds an abundant area there’s no reason to keep looking in all directions. I say we go out no farther than three hours before returning with the lay of the land. If something is found before then, two people return to let the others know.”

“Something better be, we only got one more meal out of the boat,” Bad Bob griped. “We don’t get them people on the boat something, they might screw us over big time on their next expedition.”

“Might be a better idea if we were to light a signal fire for the others, once any of us come across something. Regular for food, a lot of smoke for water,” Hector said with a big grin. “Besides, how the hell are we going to know three hours are up around here?”

Made sense, so I smiled and nodded, while everyone else agreed to this tactic.

“Whatever! I am going after the pigs,” Gunnar declared. “Big George, you best go with this newbie, and see he does not get himself killed stepping off the dock. From the sounds of this bunch you are going to need to watch his back.”

The Indian nodded, and I took it this must be Big George. The little guy that had been talking to Vydal came over, and introduced himself to me. “Name’s Solomon Job Gates, but I go by just Job. Father was a southern preacher, and don’t ask me why he named me in such a conflicted manner, cause he never told me. Wisest man and the most beset fellow in the bible, guess you can figure which I take after?”

I chuckled. “What did you do in your former life, Job?” He was maybe thirty, short black hair, thick glasses, and that slight build.

“Except for preaching, this and that, here and there. It was during the Great Depression. When I was younger had a great ear and deft touch, must’ve been to make up for my bad eyesight. A perfect combination for cracking safes.”

“Get a move on, ain’t got all damn day,” Gunnar barked, as he and five other large men headed down the dock.

“Big George, I’m James,” I stated. “I’ve been assigned the center, guess you’ll take the lead? I want to keep in the tree line, and am in no great big hurry.”

“No problem,” he replied, before heading off, with Bad Bob right behind him.

As we came off the dock I asked Job, “What made you choose me?”

“Well, just by looking at me, it’s no damn secret I’m not much of a fighter.” He grinned and wagged a finger at Gunnar’s group. “These crazy bastards go charging in at anything and everything that moves, thinking they’ll overpower it with numbers. So far best strategy to move up the decks is killing those above you. Hell, half those we lose charging blindly into these messes are probably from the back. You’re the first person that I’ve ever seen that has actually thought out a damn plan of attack, or I should say a defensive strategy. Needless to say, I’m all for staying out of the open. One of those big-assed birds could snatch me up in one claw.”

I laughed. “And we shall try to keep that from happening.”

Judging by vegetation the surrounding area would be classified as rain forest, so I figured water wouldn’t be a problem, neither would food. Big George set an easy enough pace to allow me to take a decent look at the plants, as I brought up the rear. I recognized most of them, but for some reason I thought a lot were as extinct as the pterodactyls above us. Seeing as I knew their scientific names I must have been a botanist in my past life, or in a related field.

What there wasn’t much of around here was animal life. With all these plants there should be plenty of insects and birds. But, except for the pigs and pterodactyls there were no signs of life. Which was not a bad thing, just odd.

I kept Skye in the back, because she had warned me twice about watching my back. My reasoning was, if she warned me, she’d be good with the task. I kept looking towards the boat as much as out at that valley, but saw no threats from either direction.

The way I had it figured we had gone just over a mile when we ran across a small clearing, which Big George was waiting at, while the rest of us caught up. It was a good two hundred foot across before the trees started up again. But it wasn’t barren ground; on the contrary, it was covered in undergrowth.

“Should go left here,” Big George recommended, “to see if we can spot those critters, before we cross.”

“Won’t hurt to take a look, and set up a sentry. Appears we’ll be here for a time.” The Indian looked at me strange, and I pointed out, “Those vines are sweet potatoes, and they are ripe. We also have turnips, carrots, radishes and collard greens scattered about. Bet you we’ll be able to find wild onions and various herbs as well. Guess, where you’re from you don’t see many root crops?”

“Got that right,” he laughed, “I’m from Jersey, and never seen no damn reservation. Was a high steel worker when I got out of the army, after serving in the war, which would be World War II.”

I blushed a bit. “Oh, I thought–”

“Everybody that knows history jumps to the same conclusion. As for my scouting skills, I learned that in Germany. If you say there’s food out there, I’m not about to argue. I’ll go see where the critters are, and light a fire.”

I nodded as he left, then told everyone else what was out there. It was then I noticed a bit of wildlife in the trees across the clearing. Was nothing dangerous, just some colorful birds, but from here I couldn’t tell what kind. From the quick glimpse, my guess would be parrots, which fit in with a rain forest. The odd thing was the lack of animal life, being as there was so much food here.

Big George gave us the go ahead, and we went out to the nearest vine where I instructed Vydal to dig around with his knife. It didn’t take much for him to come up with a pair of sweet potatoes.

“All these plants got them fruits under it?” Henrietta asked.

“Actually, they’re vegetables,” I corrected her. “But, yes there should be plenty of sweet potatoes for a week. These over here, are collard greens. You just cut off the top leaves, roots are nasty, but we can eat them if need be. And these are turnips, you can eat the root and greens. Over there, carrots and parsnips.”

“Guess we will be eating stews for the next four days,” Skye stated.

“If Gunnar has any luck it’ll be a meaty stew,” Bad Bob added.

Grinning Henrietta showed off her dimples. “The people in camp are going to be surprised, we do not usually eat this well. Did you see any berries, or such for dessert?”

“Not yet, but we aren’t through,” I replied. “Job, you take first watch, and keep a good lookout. Everyone stay close to this side, and high-tail it into the trees if need be.”

Those with knives dug up sweet potatoes while those with spears loosen the ground up around the other vegetables. Big George came back to report, “Beasts are still off by the mountain. There’s a stream running through the clearing, probably not more than fifty foot in those trees. Lucky, you came along to find all this growing wild–”

“Might be lucky, but they aren’t wild,” I cut in.

“Someone planted these?” Skye asked, looking around apprehensively.

“Maybe not this patch, but somewhere along the line this land was cultivated.” I then explained, “For one thing, we’ve cool season crops growing with hot crops, which doesn’t usually happen naturally. For another, don’t ask me how, but I’m certain these sweet potatoes are a hybrid–”

”A what?” Vydal asked, as he stopped digging, looking at them as if they contained some kind of disease.

“They are perfectly safe.” I chuckled, and shook my head. “I mean, they’ve been crossbred to produce better results. We have here a type of Centennial, which doesn’t have to be cured.” They just looked at me even more confused. “Most sweet potatoes need to be cured a day or so before you eat them, but not these. We can pick them straight out of the ground, boil them up, or roast them in a fire. The only point I’m trying to make is, they aren’t found this way in the wild.”

“Can we do that now, I’m getting hungry?” Henrietta inquired.

“Sure, I’ll take care of it. If you want, you can give me a hand,” I answered. “Vydal, go with Big George to get some water. And we’ll be needing some six-foot long poles to pack these containers back to the boat easier.”

He nodded, and the two trotted across the clearing. I tossed Henrietta sweet potatoes, making sure she had to work a little to catch them, getting her to laugh at my antics. When she had all she could carry, I gathered up an armload myself, then we headed for the fire, staying in the tree line for cover.

First thing I did was check on the flying menaces, which were still near the mountain north of us. Or so I thought it should be, couldn’t keep calling it the middle or straight. There was no decent bed of coals yet, but I doubt anyone would care much. So we placed them by the fire, and I threw on some more branches.

“How long will they take?” Henrietta asked.

I chuckled. “Like most everything else, I have absolutely no idea. Never cooked them this way, or at least I don’t think so.” She laughed as I shrugged. “My guess would be an hour, or until they are soft.”

-to be continued-

06-27-2007, 01:08 AM
thanks for the new addition

06-27-2007, 03:53 PM
cool, I'll have to read it, thanks, and it's along that line, but more

06-27-2007, 06:23 PM
It keeps getting more interesting and more interesting.

06-27-2007, 06:28 PM
Thanks, it's my aim
Thanks for taking the time, and compliments, I'm going over 4 right now, for the 102nd time

06-27-2007, 07:36 PM
WARNING: This story is not overtly sexual in content-

* * *

With nothing else to really do, I took a good look around the valley, which sloped downward, away from this point. There was no end to it north and south, but directly across from where I stood was another forest at least two thousand feet away. In the middle was an orchard of a hundred trees scattered about, but from here I could not recognize the species. Colors had them as non-evergreens, which was odd in itself as the trees around us were full of greens. A stream fed, thirty-foot wide, pond was among the trees.

Far as I could tell the sun, or whatever might be up there, had not traveled or moved since we left the boat. I had to surmise the telling of time was as non-existent on these expeditions as on board the ship. We turned the sweet potatoes, and I noticed how hot the fire was, thinking, ‘at least that was real.’

Henrietta turned a potato with the toe of her sandal. “So, how do you know about this?”

Acting like one of the boat’s residents I smiled, and shrugged. “Must have read about it, or seen it on TV. Pretty sure I never witnessed this, but it was done a bit different in New Guinea, I think. They dig a hole, line it with coals, throw in some dirtj, then the potatoes and more dirt, before lighting a fire on top of it all. Come back in an hour or so and it’s dinnertime. Takes a little longer if they toss in a pig and vegetables, but done the same way.”

She had been watching behind us more than I had, and didn’t seem too concerned with the monsters. “So, have you gone out on a lot of expeditions?”

“Yeah, some say I do not have to, but I would rather be out here than in camp, especially when Og or Skye is out here. It can get ugly in camp and dangerous.”

I raised an eyebrow at this statement, but it didn’t look like she was going to continue. “How so? I mean more hazardous than those flying menaces?”

There was a hurt in her eye, and she forced a thin smile. “I am small, and quick enough most threats out here go for bigger targets. But in camp, small doesn’t help.” I didn’t think she would elaborate, then she bit her lip and said, “Some enjoy little girls, and they cannot do anything on the boat, so they wait.”

“And this is condoned by the others?”

Staring at the ground she traced circles in the dirt with her toe. “No, but you cannot be watched constantly. I stay with Og, and he takes care of me. So does Skye, except some times it causes her trouble. No one gives Og trouble.”

“Which is quite smart and logical. But, Og is on this expedition, why are you not with him now?”

She looked back towards the boat, and her eyes hardened. “He has been hanging around with the worst of the bunch, and might have been paid off. Skye said you were nice, and she likes you a lot. I thought if I hung out with you it would not happen so much.”

“Brother Gregor?” I growled. She barely nodded. “Henrietta, I promise it will not happen again. You can hang with me as long as you want. Now, let’s go get the others.”

She took my hand, and we went back to where the others were working. By the time we got there George and Vydal were returning with the water. Carrying two containers, with water still sloshing out of them Vydal grinned. “Got plenty of running water to make for an easy expedition.”

“Good thing,” Skye laughed, “if you are going to lose a third each trip.”

“You ever come across other people?” I asked, before Vydal could think of a comeback.

“Not exactly people,” Vydal admitted, but left it at that.

Before I could ask Big George clarified, “They’re humanoid. You know, a head, two arms and two legs, except they only have three digits on each. But, they’re more like something out of a freakin’ nightmare. You know what I mean, long claws, sharp teeth, horns, tails and such.”

“And they ain’t too friendly. But, be easy enough to kill.” Bad Bob frowned, then smiled. “Stick ‘em, and they just up and disappear. Of course, that’s what happens to us as well. You die, and poof, you’re gone.”

“They are different colors too,” Henrietta added, shuddering at the mere thought. “Red, green, blue, you name it, and there were some that color.”

Shaking my head, I looked the garden over. “Don’t sound like farmers to me. What about their structures? We talking cities, caves, or–”

”Anything, and everything,” Big George cut me off. “But, I don’t think they built any of the places I’ve seen, and sure as hell aren’t responsible for these crops. I’d say they were more conquerors of whomever built all of these places. When you see them, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think there are none of the original people left.”

“So, they are on other boats?”

Nobody answered, they just all looked at each other, shrugging and shaking their heads. Skye finally said, “Never heard anyone seeing anything but people on the ships.”

Big George gave me a shrug. “Those we come across are usually burrowed in whatever shelters they have. Not positive, but I’d say they didn’t build them overnight. Why would they, if they had a ship?”

Good question, but before we could continue the discussion people from the boat were spotted. Led by a Swede by the name of Lars our reserve party of twelve arrived. Big George took half of them to go get water, while the rest started loading up the food. With the poles they were able to carry all our containers and half of theirs. In no time they were loaded up, and back on their way to the ship, promising to send another party back immediately.

“Lunch should be ready,” I said, seeing as we had a little down time. “We can fill the other containers after that.”

Our meal was by no means a feast, and a touch messy to be eating with fingers. Plus mine was burnt a little, and tasted of smoke. But it was filling, and no worse than the gray goo from the machines.

“Are those fruit trees?” Henrietta pointed towards the valley.

“No, they are–” I started to say more, then looked to where she was pointing. Definitely looked like fruit on those trees, which I swore none of it was there minutes ago. I had been looking through a haze of smoke; still it hadn’t been that thick. “Uh, it might be. Hard to tell from he–”

”Can we go get some?” Henrietta asked excitedly.

Big George pointed in the direction of the mountain. “You forget about the monsters?”

“We can make it,” Henrietta said. “It’s only a few hundred feet to cover. If we run real fast we can be out there in no time.”

Job stopped licking his fingers. “Out isn’t the problem, getting back will be.” Using a stick he pushed another sweet potato out of the coals. “However, it has been a damn long time since I’ve had fruit, might be worth a try if just two or three of us go. A nice juicy apple sounds real good.”

I tossed the blackened skins into the fire. “I believe most dinosaur’s eyesight were poor, and they relied on movement. Or so goes the latest theories I can recall.” I poured a little water over my hands to get rid of the stickiness. “If that’s the case, then we stand a good chance of not being spotted.”

“I’ll go get the food bins,” Henrietta volunteered before darting off.

“I’ll take Skye and Henrietta,” I instructed. “They’re light enough so I can boost them up into the trees easier.”

Big George nodded. “We’ll have the food picked for the next group, and return with them for the night.”

I was carrying a spear, Skye had one of the machetes, and Henrietta the empty containers. It looked as if the pterodactyls were flying in a specific circle. We waited for them to be at the far side of the loop, away from us, before leaving. We kept low, and since I couldn’t see them, I reasoned they couldn’t see us.

Henrietta had been right, there were fruit trees out here. Just about everything you could imagine, apples, pears, peaches cherries, and even citrus trees. Over half of the trees were non-fruit bearing, and the trees were scattered around the area enough to not be classified as an orchard. Another odd fact, they were all mature trees, no saplings. For that matter, there was no fruit on the ground either.

“I absolutely love peaches so…” Henrietta shouted, hopping about before scurrying up the nearest peach tree. “Actually, these and apricots are the only fruit I really like. Course, you do not always get to eat what you like around here.”

“What a lucky find,” Skye remarked.

Shaking my head, I chuckled. “Once again luck had nothing to do with it.” I gave her a head bob, back in the direction of the garden. “It’s just like the vegetables, some are cool weather, and others are not. Chances of these growing wild here are next to zero. For such abundant crops, trees need different soil, and they don’t even ripen all at the same time. I have no idea where they came from, but know they weren’t here an hour ago.”

“Who cares where they come from, they’re so ripe and sweet,” Henrietta squealed, with a big mouthful from the peach in her hand. “When we get back to the boat we are going to be heroes.” She now had a peach in each hand, and was alternating eating the two.

I laughed. “We will not be heroes if you keep eating them the way you are.”

“Not my fault, they’re too good,” Henrietta mumbled, spitting peach everywhere, as the juices ran down her chin.

Skye was also eating one and giggling, but nodded her head in agreement. I thought what the hell, we had the time and I joined them. Because of the fuzz I never liked them right off the tree, but these tasted great. Sure seemed real enough to me, smelled just as real. On the other hand, so far everything did, despite my knowing different.

It was easy enough to fill the containers, and I realized this simple task was about to turn into work. Coming out here with a pair of empty containers was a snap, but taking back fifty pounds of fruit in each wasn’t. No way would Henrietta be able to handle one of the crates by herself, and we hadn’t brought one of the poles. I just made a new one, which solved that minor problem.

Our next problem was not going to be as easy. I went to see where our menacing friends were, and found them flying towards us, right down the middle of the valley. “Get back up in the tree, and stay there,” I ordered the girls. Not sure they were even after us, but why take a chance. For all I knew this was their only water source.

Without a word the girls hustled back up into the apple tree. It had plenty of foliage, and I didn’t think the beasts could see them, or even smell them with all the ripe apples. I stayed at the base, spear in hand.

For some reason I thought they should be a reddish-gray color, but these were a grayish-blue. I wasn’t sure if this was due to the grayness of this world or what. They were also a lot bigger than I had remembered them being, and sturdier too. Was no size difference from the male and female, but I would think there should be. Which meant these creatures were probably not taken from my mind, but that didn’t make them real. It also meant they were a bigger threat than I anticipated.

The beasts stood seven feet tall, with a wingspan of twenty-five feet, and a short stubby tail. Heads were half their body, and beak over two-foot long, lined with short sharp teeth. I was trying to remember their skeletons, and get a plan of attack in my mind. I seemed to recall the heads were solid bone, best try for the chest, or take out a wing. Those short legs were probably near useless on the ground.

Movies I had seen portrayed them as ungainly flyers and not exactly speedy, but these things were zooming overhead in no time. They were more gliding than flapping their wings, but there was no breeze, therefore no updrafts. Everything pointed to the pesky monsters being figments of my imagination, which everyone else could see. Everything except the facts, that is. Fortunately, they didn’t stop to harass us, and just passed fifty feet above.

I could see my party had already seen them and taken cover. Hopefully, those at the boat would have enough warning. As quick as they returned, I doubt they even went that far.

Skye climbed down to the lowest limb. “God, those things are vicious looking.”

I helped them out of the tree. “Suppose to be mostly fish eaters, but why take the chance.” I wasn’t sure there was even fish here.

Keeping low I crept out, keeping an eye on the direction they had flown off, but couldn’t see them. Naturally, I thought they were off to the north, flying that same loop. I should’ve taken a look at the rest of our party by the fire, instead of the direction they might be coming from. We started back towards the others hauling the heavy containers.

When I finally heard Big George yelling it was too late. Evidently, the things were a bit smarter than most thought, because they had circled around the grove, and now we were caught out in the open. No way were we going to be able to make it to the safety of either grove of trees.

“Get behind the containers and stay flat on the ground,” I instructed, putting myself between the girls and the flying beasts. There was not a chance we hadn’t been spotted, and the two beasts were screeching as if clarifying this fact. I got lucky and only one was coming straight towards us, the other was fifty feet to my left, looking as if it were planning to circle around behind.

The one attacking was starting to rise, and thinking it was just making a pass to judge our strength I let the spear fly, catching it in the chest. There was enough force to throw it offline a bit, and it hovered a second before diving straight for me.

Only trouble with my attack was now I had no weapon. With little else to do I ducked down hoping it would miss, thinking I would soon know what death was around here. By sheer good fortune the spear hit the ground before the flyer struck me, and drove the weapon deeper. The blade must have hit bone, and with an ear-piercing shriek, its own momentum was ripping a jagged gash in its chest.

The haft cut a furrow towards me until hitting a rock sturdy enough to catapult the monster right over the top of me, slamming it violently into the ground. The action had created enough of a stinky breeze to make my nose believe this was no illusion. The claws on its wing grazed me, but those nasty jaws were no longer snapping.

With the other nearby I had no time to double check to see if it was dead. I pulled the spear from the creature, and tried to get a fix on the other. The mate was now fifty feet behind me being pestered by Big George, stabbing at the thing with his spear. At least he was smart enough to not disarm himself.

I came at this one with George on my left, while Vydal and Job ran down to join the fight. I let my spear fly, catching it in the back and with snapping jaws it turned its attention to the new attacker. George used the distraction to his advantage, and with a lunge ran it through the middle of the chest. The flyer hit the ground flopping about, but bleeding profusely was going nowhere. George backed away, and kept the others from getting closer, just waiting for it to die.

“Guess their eyesight and hunting instincts are better than you thought,” Big George wryly observed, as the thing finally stopped thrashing around.

I grunted, “If those other creatures disappear when they die, why not these?”

“Pigs don’t go nowhere,” George said. “Maybe these things are real.”

“Are these dinosaurs good eating?” Vydal asked smiling, not worried about them going anywhere now.

I performed the mandatory shrug. “Most call them dinosaurs, but they’re really just flying reptiles, more closely related to birds. Plenty of people eat snakes and lizards. But, I doubt there’s much meat on them.”

Big George cut a long, wide strip off its breast, then peeled off the leathery hide. “We’ll see soon enough. Logic says pigs stay here to eat, why not these.”

“Be a nice change,” Job quipped, “eating something that’s always trying to eat us.”

Mira walked up wearing a big smile, and applauding. “Would not mind making a belt or two out of them to commemorate such a grand feat.”

“Can you believe it,” Henrietta crowed, “We got everything, meat, greens, water, and fruit. When has that been done lately? We’ll be the greatest party ever.”

“Not so fast young lady,” George warned, giving her the meat. “Go throw this on the fire, and see if it’s worth fussing with.”

“If nothing else carcasses might draw something out, which is better to eat,” Bad Bob suggested, as he walked up.

“Kind of got to the fight late,” I commented.

“In this world risking your ass when you don’t need to is just plain stupid,” Bob responded. “Which you’ll learn soon enough. Just lucky these flying critters don’t put up much of a tussle.”

Looked over at him, and thought from where he was it wasn’t much of a tussle at all, but I was still panting. Skye picked up a pair of apples from the container at her feet. “By your theory that means this fruit is ours.”

“Ship’s law states all food and water found is shared with the rest,” Bad Bob countered, grabbing an apple out of the same container. “Nothing in the law about taking, or sharing, dumb-ass risks.”

Skye’s nostrils flared, and there was fire in her eyes. “Fine, then you can do your part by carrying this.”

Bad Bob was smart enough to just take the crate from her and let the matter drop. While George carved out another couple of long strips the rest of us went to check on the condition of the first. Like it’s mate, this one was dead and no longer a threat. We got the other two containers of fruit.

Mira let out a little giggle. “Very nice tactic, that flipping thing. Never seen it done before.” She tilted her head, and gave me a strange look. “You remembered something?”

“Why thank you for the compliment my lady.” I gave her a bow. “Worked out just like I planned. And yes, I did remember something. Henrietta, the Forty-niners won the ‘82 Super bowl.”

“Really?” She squealed.

“Yes ma’am, played the Bengals at the Pontiac dome, in Michigan, score was 26-21. From then on they were constantly in the playoffs, and won five times in the eighties and nineties. Kind of took a nose dive in the early two thousands, but got back to their winning ways after that.”

“I knew they were going to be a great team, and would’ve won the bet with my dad.”

Laughing, I shook my head. “How in the world did a French kid ever get to like such an American sport, and a team from the west coast?”

She laughed. “Father was a diplomat posted in San Francisco most of his life, and all of mine. I was born in Paris, but spent nearly ten months a year in San Francisco. I also enjoyed watching the Giants and Warriors, but football was my favorite, and I was going to play for a junior team next year.”

“Meat’s done,” Bad Bob announced, between munching cherries.

We gave the honors to Henrietta, and she bravely put the roast meat to her lips, but it was a bit too hot. After blowing on it and waving it about some she took a nibble, then a second bite. She shrugged. “Not as good as roast pig, but better than nothing.”

Mira passed chunks around to those wanting to give it a try. To my taste it was a tad tough, stringy, and a little on the gamy side. Still the girl was right, it would be better than nothing.

Skye came over, and pointing asked, “That hurt much?”

I looked at my shoulder to find a long cut, not too wide, but deep enough to have bled some. It was good to see I could bleed, and there was dirt on my arm. It was somehow reassuring and made me feel alive. “Never felt it. Of course, with all the excitement that’s to be expected. Guess it happened when I performed the Jamison maneuver, you know, flip the monster over the head trick.”

We all had a good laugh at my little joke. Skye cleaned my wound with water, and cut a strip of cloth from the leg of her garment to use as a bandage. The decision was made to go butcher the pterodactyls just as the reserves showed up.

I couldn’t recognize most in this party, but Og was clearly in the lead. Skye and Mira went out to greet him, or talk some sense into him. Henrietta waited to see that Gregor wasn’t in the group before heading over that way. I stayed on the other side of the fire, and kept the spear in my hand.

Og was the last of the party to come in, and I resisted the urge to poke his big ass with the spear. God, he looked bigger than he was on the ship. Had to be over seven-foot tall, and every bit of four hundred pounds.

With a hunk of meat in one hand and apple in the other he came my way. I fought the urge to run, as everyone gathered around to watch the impending confrontation. Smiling and spraying chunks of food my way he said, “Og like eats. Not think James the one. Still, Og like. Gregor says, James take little friend. Og not like. Og got to pound James.”

“Gregor is full of shit, my hopefully new big friend. He and others were abusing the young lady, but no more. No one is taking Henrietta again, she is my friend too. I’ll take care of Gregor later.”

Og gave me a squinty-eyed hard stare down, then looked over at the little girl. She gave him a big grin, and nod. “Og like, no pound. Good eats.”

“Yes they are big fella, and we have plenty of it here. You just go ahead and stuff yourself to your heart’s content. Eating is a lot better than pounding.”

He looked at me, and tilted his head to one side as if weighing this all out. “Og like pounding. Og like food. Og not pound James.”

“Glad to hear it.” With that settled the people got busy, or at least quit watching us like vultures.

By popular vote they chose more fruit over vegetables, so some of us went back out to the grove. Although, these creatures were no longer a threat we kept a guard on duty, just in case they weren’t the only ones here.

Once the containers were full I decided a quick swim would be in order. It didn’t take long for Henrietta to join me. After a bit of playful splashing, from the two of us, Skye came in. Before long everyone out here was in the water, and having a good time. When we brought the filled containers back to the main group we got a strange look or two, but no one asked what we had been up to since they were ready to go.

When we got back to the ship, Henrietta had been right, we were given a heroes’ welcome. Not far from the pier a series of tents had been set up, but nowhere near enough to accommodate everyone on the ship.

Gunnar had brought back five pigs, although none of them were that large. Just to have some variety besides dragon meat, which is what those in the camp were calling our kills, more would be needed before our stay was up here. As for the other groups one had come across a water source, but the rest found little of interest.

The pigs were already on the fires, and in stew pots as well. I found out two closets on the far side of the ship held the camp equipment. The pterodactyl meat would go into the stew, and with the fruit we were going to have a fine meal this eve.

I saw the asshole, Brother Gregor, slinking about near the pier. I borrowed Vydal’s knife, and headed over to talk to the prick. Quite a few people trailed behind me, but kept their distance.

“You come to gloat, you blasphemous swine? Every dog has his day, but they are forgotten the next morning. Mark my words, you will not have the answer one time, and this pack of curs will turn on you.”

Ignoring his rambling I walked straight up to him and stuck the knife to his throat. “If we can’t come to an understanding I’m here to kill you, you child raping piece of filth. I don’t want to hear no denials, or it will be the last thing you say.”

His eyes grew big, but with hate not fear. “One day here, and you think you can change the way it has been? Think again.”

“I thought about it all I need to. You come within a spear length of Henrietta I’ll gut you like the pig you are. And every time I lay eyes on you I’ll kill you. Boat, no boat, hold or not, doesn’t matter to me, you’re dead rapist. You understand me?”

“You do not know how it is–”

“Yeah, well I know how it’s going to be.” I stuck him with the blade enough to make him shut his mouth, and tilt his head back. “No more, period. You and your bunch get the urge to commit rape come on by and see me. But, it might be safer to fuck each other. What do you say Og?”

“No bother little friend, or new one. Og pound, then ugh.” The big man demonstrated his favorite tactic to all, which got a laugh and encouragement from most of the ladies present.

“You heard the man. No more raping, got it?”

“You think I’m the only one? There are others–”

“Yes, and they’ve just been warned as well. No more raping will be allowed. Goes for you abusing other men as well as the women and children.” I ran the blade down his cheek, not deep, just enough to get his attention. “There’s a little reminder of what you can expect if I catch you anywhere near her.”

He flinched, and started to spout nonsense when I hit him square in the nose with a left, sending him back five feet. He lay flat on his back and wasn’t about to get up.

I walked over, and looked down at him. “You best stay out of my sight, because I’ll give you the same every time I see you.”

“You are a dead man. Mark my words, a dead man.”

“Yes, apparently so. But I’m no rapist, and from now on neither are you.”

Keeping his eyes locked on me he skittered away, on all fours like the dog he was. He headed towards the ship, with the crowd cheering and jeering. He was followed by a handful of others, and I made a mental note on who they were.

Once the crowd quieted I turned and said, “Goes for any others that think they can take whatever they please, whenever they want. Anyone has a problem come see me or Og, it will be handled. We might have no control over what is happening, but we can act in a civilized manner.” This received more applause and support.

Wiping a single tear from her eye Henrietta took my hand. “Thank you. It has always been expected, accepted, and endured. Perhaps, it might be different now.”

She was now crying in earnest, and I wiped away the tears. “No perhaps about it, little lady, it is a definite. I can’t do much about the monsters on the expedition, but you don’t have to be afraid of those on the boat too.”

With a tear in her eye Skye slid an arm around my waist, and gave me a kiss on the cheek, but didn’t say anything.

The three of us headed back toward the main section of camp with people thanking me and agreeing things had to change. Mira smiled conceding, “Nice speech, but old ways are hard to change. Laws and human traits are easily forgotten.”

“Common decency should not be one of them,” Vydal argued, as I gave him back his knife. “If the laws are enforced most will abide by them, and I shall do my part. But Mira is right, not all will.”

“Those that can’t, you tie their asses up and leave them on an expedition,” Job suggested, while focusing his attention on whittling a small trinket. “Can’t kill them, they’d show back up on the boat. But, strand their ass, and we’re shed of them for good.”

“Sounds a bit harsh,” I said, but thinking that would be the only sure way to purge the boat of these assholes. Except, there were no guarantees the replacement would be any better.

Job grunted and spat. “Spend any time in the hold, and you wouldn’t think so. It’s a damn constant fight down there and too many animals, so they have your way with you, if they have a mind to. Even as big as you are it ain’t gonna make much of a difference with a pack of them, and they do run in packs. Leaving the whole god damn bunch marooned is more than they deserve.”

Being new I wasn’t going to argue, and once in the hold what did you have to really lose. My main problem was, now everyone was convinced I was the one to straighten this mess out. But, Gregor was right, I screw up once and they would undoubtedly blame me for their troubles. People were all smiles now, but thinking that would last forever would be plain foolish.

There were no answers to my questions, or any new memories returning, but it seemed as if the colors were different. Brighter perhaps, or maybe just closer to what they should be. Or could it be a concentrated effort because of everyone being so happy.

Hector came up and complimented me saying, “Looks like you did well, newbie, sort of. You’re a hit with the ladies, but you better watch your back. Seems you painted a big ass target on your backside, and not just with Gregor. Always knew something was wrong with that crazy bastard. As for the expedition, even Gunnar thinks you did great, and he’s hard to impress.”

“Just lucky. I was thinking of going out to the mountain, if no one minded.”

“After what you did today, why would anyone mind? But, why the hell you want to go traipsing off that far?”

I shrugged giving the lame excuse, “To see what’s out there. Can’t be that far away, should only be gone a day–”

“More like two, mountain is a good fifteen miles away,” Big George corrected me. “If you don’t mind the company I’d like to see what might be out there myself? Been a damn while since I’ve been up in the air.”

I shielded my eyes, and took another look, not because I had to, just for the effect. “Not at all, glad to have you along. Fifteen miles you say, oh well looks to be fairly flat.”

“Great, I’ll have a pair of packs ready, and we can leave at daylight.”

“So, then it gets dark around here?” I inquired, looking up.

“Not dark, more like dim,” George answered. “It’s more of an expression than a matter of time. We can leave anytime you’re ready.”

I laughed, and nodded. “After a good night’s sleep would be fine.”

The meal wasn’t as easily served as when board ship, but was performed in an orderly fashion. As a bonus there were seconds for the ones who wished, unlike on the ship. We were nearly through with our meal when the gong rang out.

I looked over at Skye. “Is that automatic?”

“Guess so, no one is ever assigned the duty.”

I then requested, “So, we don’t have to be back in our cabins for the night?”

“Not while on land,” Vydal answered, instead of Skye. “Since the doors do not work, it is just a pain in the ass.”

“The doors don’t work?” I squeaked.

“They do, but they do not,” Vydal countered.

This did little to clear up the problem, but George clarified, “The teleporting or whatever trick doesn’t work, but cabins are still there. However, it’s a lot easier to just find a place on the deck, if the land is unsafe. Besides, except for the top deck it’s the only time you get a little bit of room to yourself. Some times your roommates trade off, and you get the cabin all to yourself. Course, that don’t keep people from barging in on you, there are no locks.”

I glanced up at the liquid silver sky. “What about rain?”

Frowning Big George shook his head. “It never gets cold here, the rain is kinda welcome, and never lasts long. Although, no one really wants to sleep in it, but there is enough covered deck so we don’t get wet.”

Didn’t relish being a target out in the open, so I was headed for my cabin. Henrietta felt the same way, so her and Skye were spending the night next door to me. Thought about asking a question or two on other matters, but had plenty to think about.

I let everything else drop, and picked up a piece of charcoal. I wanted to see what this dim night looked like, but was far too tired and already in my room when the final gong sounded. That was after I saw the ladies to their room, and scrawled James on what I took to be my door. I looked at the wound on my arm in the mirror, and found it wasn’t that bad. I also noticed my outfit had been torn, and put on a fresh one before lying down.

As last night I went back through my day, or tried to.

* * *

-to be continued-

06-27-2007, 07:41 PM
Thanks for another great chapter :)

06-29-2007, 05:10 PM
WARNING: This is not overtly sexual in content-

* * *

I woke up groggy, flat on my back staring up at a dark gray ceiling, a bit disoriented. This time it didn’t take long for me to say, “I am James Jamison, and I have no damn idea where the hell I am.” I couldn’t remember ever going to sleep so fast, then chuckled thinking, was a lot I couldn’t remember.

My eyes shut tightly I predicted, “Dresser with three drawers and a mirror above it at the foot of the bed, chair in the corner and single door–”

“You always talk to yourself?” Skye asked, as she quietly came in.

A little embarrassed I sat up. “J-just getting my, uh you know, ah, my bearings. Everything is a bit fuzzy. Don’t know what’s a dream and not–”

”Yes, happens to most, and has been my experience, dreams are more pleasant.” She was holding one of her outfits, and put it at the foot of the bed. “Although yesterday was an exception I truly enjoyed. Naturally, we could have done without the fight, but it was exhilarating and fun.”

“You classify being chased by a pair of pterodactyls as fun?”

She giggled, and put her hand over my mouth. “No surviving being chased by a pair of pterodactyls was fun, as was finding the food, and playing in the water, not to mention being able to eat all you want. Best of all Gregor and the rest of those rapists getting what they so richly deserve. I think this is the first expedition any of us could ever say that. I mean, about all the food mainly.”

“Well, I’m happy you’re happy.” I glanced at the door, noting the light bulb was still dim, so it was early. I also took note my outfit from yesterday was gone. “Where’s Henrietta?”

“Sleeping next door, told her I was coming here, she will be fine. You waiting for Mira, and want me to leave?”

“No, just kind of don’t know what to expect if she walks in,” I answered honestly. “Ah, she can be a bit scary.”

“Well, she is not coming this morning. We made an arrangement, and her social calendar is quite full. Still, I suppose she can squeeze in one more without too much trouble. I mean, if that is what you want?”

“No, I think I’ll leave the scaring to pterodactyls and such, not Mira.”

“And you don’t find me scary, or anything else?”

“Oh, you’re something else indeed. But, we have an agreement, and I honor my word, or at least I think I do, and if I didn’t… well, I do now, and–”

She cut my rambling off with a kiss. It was a soulful kiss, a prelude to something special. I let out a contented sigh. “What about our agreement?”

“A lady can change her mind.” She stroked the back of my head. “About Henrietta’s age I had this boy I could tell anything and everything to, without being judged. Planned to run away together, and make better lives for ourselves. He died of fever before we could, and might be the only man I ever loved, but we never did more than talk.” She kissed me, ever so lightly. “I want another friend like that.”

“And I’m here for you, gladly,” I shook my head, “but I don’t want to take advantage of–”

“I never had a lover,” Skye blurted out. “Have been taken in every conceivable way, many times, too many, but never had a lover.” She cradled my head in both hands, so we were looking in each other’s eyes. “I want a friend and lover. I want that friend, that lover to be you.”

Why did she remind me of a summer’s rain, and it’d be easy to get lost in those blue eyes. This close I saw a small scar at the left corner of her mouth, also more on her cheek, obviously her father had been right-handed. Holding her by the waist I pulled her into me. “Are you sure?”

She answered with a kiss, and I pulled her even closer. Skye broke the kiss. “Does not have to be just me, and I understand if–”

Kissed her, rolling her on her side, and we were up against the wall. “Might not know a lot of things, but do know I like being with you.” I scooted back away from the wall, bringing Skye with me allowing her to lay on her back. “I’d be happy to be your lover, and they’ll be no other.” I kissed her, then slid down to kiss her hard nipples, as they tried to poke through the material, getting her to sigh.

Her arms at her side I kept nibbling her titties, pulling the garment off her shoulders. I got the outfit off her titties, and it pins her elbows. Taking her right nipple in my mouth Skye wiggled around, but could do nothing more than rub my sides.

Once the outfit was around her waist Skye pulled her hands free, and began rubbing my head. I had the garment almost to her knees, her bush was nowhere near as big or wild as Mira’s, and legs smooth. Had to wonder how this was done in her time, and here. Would a back alley whore shave, and she was French, for some reason I didn’t think they shaved. What of Mira, I stroked my smooth chin, or me. I wondered if I could get away not shaving days at a time when I was alive.

Got back to the matter at hand, and pulled her outfit off her bare feet, then slid up to her. Looking into her eyes I kiss her. “You’re beautiful.”

“You must be blind.” Skye rubbed her belly. “I have far too many scars.”

“Nonsense,” I kiss her on the lips, down her neck, then nibble her ear, “you’re beautiful inside and out.” I took a nipple in my mouth, and she sighs.

With her cooing I gave her titties plenty of attention, then kiss my way down her. Once past her bellybutton Skye gasps, “James, only ladies do that.”

“No, sweetie,” I chuckled, “they don’t, and I’ll prove it.” Enjoyed proving the point, but not as much as Skye, and she smothered me in kisses before I entered her. I couldn’t be sure, but I can’t imagine it ever being more passionate in my whole life than it was at this moment.

With her laying on my shoulder, basking in the afterglow I said, “Is it me, or are there shades of gray, not just one in here now?”

“Why? Do you see different shades?”

“Ceiling is darkest, walls, then furniture, and lightest is the floor. Not much, but a shade or two lighter each progression. I don’t think it was that way earlier, for me. How about you?”

“Is a slight difference.” I could feel Skye smile, and shrug. “Rather it has been there all along, I have no idea. Could be you have been so busy concentrating on other things you never noticed before.”

“Um-m, could be. So, if we can change the colors of our clothes, why not the blankets or tents? Is the same material, logic dictates we should be able to do it.”

Her nose wrinkled, and she sat half up. “You have a strange thought process. Does it make much of a difference?” She gave me a kiss. “Everyone just accepts it for what it is.”

“So it seems.” Was my turn to shrug. “In the long run, I guess it doesn’t really matter. But, if we knew the answer it might tell us other things.”

She wrinkled her nose, and shook her head.

“Look at it this way, if it’s to conserve energy, why bother with the clothes. If it’s because we must be touching the items, well we aren’t touching those in the drawers. Why three drawers, when everything can fit into one? Hell, why more than two outfits? Only need one to wear, and one in the drawer.”

“Very strange thought process indeed.” She gave me a kiss, this one longer. “You are late, better go find Big George.”

“Right. You and Henrietta stay close to Og, til I get back.”

“We will be fine, and still have work detail. Besides, the rest of the crew will not allow them in camp except when getting their meals. So they are not going to try and get revenge for a while, two or three expeditions would be my guess.”

I mumbled and grumbled while getting dressed, seriously reconsidering the tactic of stranding their asses, and being done with it. However, I didn’t think that was me, if I ever found out who I was. Skye put the outfit I took off of her back on. Scrunching up my face, I pointed at the one on the bed. “What’s that one for?”

“Oh,” she grimaced, “most men tear off the one I am wearing. I did not kno–”

“No, Skye,” I cut her off with a kiss, “would never do that, don’t care how bad things get, I will never be like that.” I stroked her hair. “Can’t believe you came to me, thinking this might happen.”

“Well,” she grinned, “I hoped this might not be the case, and happy my dreams came true.”

“Um-m,” I gave her a kiss, “certainly got something to dream about tonight, and assure you I will not be forgetting it soon.”

I left Skye next door, then headed outside. Needless to say I was late meeting Big George. “Sorry, I got held up a bit.”

“Yeah, I saw. No big deal.” He gave me a toothy grin, handing me a small pack. Which was nothing more than a food container refashioned so you could carry it on your shoulder. “Came to get you a little early when I saw her go in your cabin. Besides, not like we’re in a huge rush or anything. This is the best I can do on packs, one for food, one for water. So we better find something out there to supplement our grub.”

“I’m sure we will, and it might not be a bad idea to still stay close to the trees.” I thought it could be cold tonight, and brought along my cloak, which in testing a theory, was about two shades darker than the outfit I was wearing. But there wasn’t enough room for it in my small pack. So, slinging it over one shoulder and pack on the other I was ready to leave.

Coming off the ship I thought the color of the forests were clearer, or just more crisp. But I couldn’t tell if this might be caused by our keepers, or me getting used to this weirdness. The gray cloud was still surrounding us, and didn’t look any different than yesterday.

Camp was different too, not the colors, the people. Plenty of them were now up and moving, greeting the new day and us happily. Since neither of us wanted stew for breakfast, being as it resembled the gray goo from the ship, we decided to leave, and eat breakfast at the orchard, assuming it’d still be there.

It was indeed there, but we stopped by to see the kills first. From the looks of the carcasses there had been no scavengers here, which was odd. Seems if there was any life around at all you could always find scavengers hanging about, or at least insects. Although, not having them continually buzzing about your head was a nice change for being in a jungle. How did I know what could be found in a jungle? And all those plant facts, but nothing personal.

The two of us had a fine meal of fresh fruit before filling up our packs. The work party showed, which consisted of all but Gunnar’s group, who were on a pig hunt. George and I set off for the mountain after reminding the workers again to keep an eye out for threats.

George set a good pace, which I was sure would be fast enough to get us there way before nightfall, but cautious enough to keep us from running into anything. We passed two areas having a variety of vegetables in large gaps between the trees. There was also another orchard, but not near as big as the first, and without the pond, and that was just on this side of the valley. Which was odd, seeing as there was plenty for us in what we already found. By simple reasoning these had to be real, and not made up for my benefit.

We traveled through thick trees, skirting rich pasture, but saw no animals, didn’t even see any signs of animals. Just another something odd to add to the long list of odd somethings now floating around in my head. Big George stopped beside a stream. I guess a better term would be creek, seeing as it was only about two foot across. “Belly says it’s lunch time. Made good progress, and we’re well past the halfway mark.”

I looked up to see the mountain looming over us, foreboding, and I was near positive I hadn’t been a mountain climber. “Is it like this always? Mean, the trees, with plenty of food and water sources?”

While I dug through my pack George shook his head. “No, we’re lucky to find a single water source about this size on most expeditions. Sure as hell don’t find no swimming holes. Where those other creatures are it’s mostly barren rock.”

“They over hunt the area,” I wiped a bit of sweat from my brow, “another clue they go on the ships.”

“Wouldn’t exactly call it over hunt, more like destroy everything they find.” I raised an eyebrow, and he shrugged. “No real proof, it just looks that way.”

I held up my fingers. “Sweat, why would a fancy image of me sweat, I was panting like a steam engine fighting the monster and bleeding. Plus we have to eat.”

“Ah,” George massaged his lower lip with his thumb and forefinger, “we’re real?”

“Except we don’t piss or shit.” I massaged my temples. “Why are the pigs only on the shore?”

“Pterodactyls?” George shrugged. “It’s the farthest point they could get away from them.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Gazed up at the sun, or where I thought it might be. “You just get used to this no time thing?”

Passed him a sweet potato and chunk of pork. He took them, and laughed. “Most say, around here it is what it is, and you better get used to it, because there’s nothing you can do about it. When we’re away from the boat we judge time by how hungry you get, and sleep when we’re tired. So, I guess if you’re busy, time goes by a lot faster. Hell, if we had the energy I suppose we could keep walking right on through what they call night around here.”

“No need to be that ambitious, I just want to climb the mountain a little to see what’s around he–”

”You’re assuming we’ll see something besides that cloud.” Big George passed me the water container.

“Hope to. So, how do we know when the ship leaves?”

“There’ll be two loud horn blasts giving you two hours, or so I figure, then it sails. I suppose you can hear it four or five miles out, but usually no one wanders off so far on the last day. If we’ve food and water there’s no reason to, and if we don’t we’ll soon enough.”

Try as I might I couldn’t get the sweet potato to taste like anything else. So the reasonable assumption might be they were real. “I take it people have been left behind. Wonder what happens the next time a ship would come here?”

“Well, seeing as it isn’t wise to greet strangers they probably wind up killed by the next expedition party.” George held his right index finger up, and waggled it a bit. “If it was me I wouldn’t even approach anyone else. What good would it do you?” He let that sink in some, before pointing back the way we came. “Not like you’d have a place on that ship. Hell even if you missed your own ship you wouldn’t have a place aboard it, if you were to ever find it again. And that would be a big-league if.”

Looking back at the valley I held up the potato and pork. “If you had to be stranded, this wouldn’t be a bad site for it. There’s plenty of food, water, and shelter.”

His brow furrowed, and he grunted, “Reckon there’d be worse places to be stuck than this one, know I seen plenty. Wherever, or whatever, this place is, people’s lives are cheap, and there are always more shortly. We better get going.”

I nodded, and took another drink. “Never thanked you for yesterday and appreciate you keeping that second one off my back. Doubt, I could’ve handled two, hell barely handled one.”

“Not a problem. But like Bob said, most wouldn’t help you out around here. However, I believe you would’ve done the same for me.” He laughed, and spat. “Besides, I figured they were only a threat if they outnumbered their intended victim. I was just trying to chase them off, til you took care of it permanently.”

“Which was a pure accident,” I laughed, “just caught with my pants down. What do you think this place is?”

Shaking his head, and chuckling his face puckered, as if biting into a lemon. “Man, I don’t have an inkling of a clue. But, I can tell you it sure as hell isn’t the happy hunting grounds of my forefathers, or any heaven I heard preachers talk of so fondly. Still, it has to be some kind of afterlife, and there are worse places than here, just as there are better ones.”

“What about contractions?” I wagged a finger between the two of us. “We use them, and except for other Americans most don’t, not that I noticed.”

George stopped and took a drink, then passed me the water. “Now you mention it, don’t recall any others.” He chuckled. “Served with some southern boys in the service, and you needed a damn interrupter for half of them. Old Hector ain’t been north of the Mason-Dixon line, but he doesn’t have a hint of a drawl or twang.”

“Yeah,” I took a drink, then handed the water back to George, before we took off walking, “what I thought. You ever hear of a computer?”

“Sure,” George nodded, “a thinking machine, right? Plays chess against you, right?”

“Um-m, and then some now.” I smiled. “How about cyber-age, Intranet, cyber-porn, holograms, video games, virtual reality, liquid crystal display, digital imaging, Microsoft, any of that ring a bell? Can you see an image, or get a feeling of what it might be? Like monster truck?”

“Nope,” George scratched his head, “recognize words, but not the pairings, we talking code names? I know about the wind talkers, but I’m not Navaho, I’m Lakota, but don’t speak that either.”

“No, those are things that happened after the seventies.”

“Okay,” he tugged on his ear, “what’s it mean?”

“Well,” I now scratched my head, “we can communicate with the others, but it’s just translated, not taken from our heads. I don’t know, they probably have a syntax problem. So, do these other creatures talk?”

“Um-m,” George ran a hand through his short hair, “make noises, grunts and growls, but doesn’t mean diddly. When you stick them they squeal. Does it mean anything?”

“Hard to say,” I shrugged, “if they’re more animal-like you’d expect the translator not to work, or the pigs could talk. On the other hand, they might be telepathic, use sign language, or think in a different manner than us, using concepts, maybe feelings. Next time we run across them, if we can observe them a bit, we might get a better idea of what we’re up against.”

“Hm-mpf,” George grunted, “between them and Gunnar that might not be possible.”

We didn’t discuss it further because we were now in the foothills of the mountain, and couldn’t spare the air. Trees had thinned out, and quite scraggly, plus we were going over or around piles of boulders. Still saw no sign of animal life, including any indication of the pterodactyls being in the area up until yesterday. I’d put it an hour into the foothills when we reached the base of the mountain.

While not exactly smooth or straight up, it wasn’t going to be an easy climb. Rocks were various shades of red and little grays, I chalked them up as real in my mind. Amount of boulders strewn about the place this mountain took a lot of shaking some time in it’s past. One thing I was certain of, I hadn’t been a geologist, because I didn’t no shit about these formations, or the rocks.

Big George seemed to know what he was doing, and I followed him. We were traveling up the rifts between the slides, and swinging to the left, or what I called west. By the time we got to the top we should be about in the middle of the valley below us, right about where the creatures had come from. Besides my huffing and puffing we climbed in silence. My muscles sure felt real, and out of shape.

George stopped at the top of a slide, about a thousand feet above the valley floor. Now being on a decent flat area I looked back the way we came, and saw most of the valley. But both sides of the jungle disappeared into the cloudbank.

“What do you think?” George pointed behind us, then farther up the mountain. “Want to camp down here, or somewhere up there?”

Tugging at my ear I stared at the slide. It was going to be a bit tougher than what we already went through, but not impossible. “Probably better off up higher, in case there might be something out here, assuming we find someplace up higher.”

“Should only take us an hour to get up high enough to see if the cloud will be obstructing our view. If it does, wouldn’t be smart trying to climb in it.” George gazed directly above us, watching the shifting grays. “As thick as it is, the fog or whatever, might not even be breathable.”

“Lead on.”

With that George started climbing up. It wasn’t bad, just more of the same, and I made sure to pay attention, not sightsee. He stopped at a flat spot in a deep rift. Staring up, he shook his head. “Cloud ain’t going nowhere, and this is the best we’re going to get.”

I put us a hundred feet below the cloud, but it was straight up from here, no rift to be found. More silver than gray I saw a rippling movement in the cloud. “Guess so. Might get hurt trying to make it up that. Do folks get hurt here?”

George hung his head, then gave a slight nod. “Scrapes and cuts aren’t too bad, but those taking a good spill don’t last long. We don’t have any real doctor, and no medicines, but seems like some oughta make it. Best guess, they last about an hour, then fade away.”

“Hm-m, sounds kind of weird.” I pointed at the cloud. “Speaking of weird, what do you think of the atmosphere? I mean, you’d think the cloud should get farther away the closer we get?”

“Not necessarily.” George smiled. “Plenty of times I been on high steel when fog banks roll in, and been way above it. Hell, on low cloudy days have even been in them, but ain’t ever looked anything like that.” He snorted. “Yeah, it’s kind of weird, but interesting.”

“Don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but it sure as hell wasn’t this.” I made a clicking noise with my tongue while thinking of the cloud and the mountain. They were certainly real, and not taken from someone’s mind.

Now we were able to see twice as far as from the ground, but it did us little good, being as there wasn’t much to see. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe we were in some great big wilderness area, surrounded by a modern city, like Central Park. Still, could be out there, just obscured by the clouds. Central Park was New York, had I been there? “Does it look metallic to you?”

“Yeah, kinda. Or whatever is in it has metal slivers, chunks… who knows what. And yeah you’re right, I sure as hell wasn’t expecting this. It’s the strangest damn cloud I’ve ever seen. If it’s even a cloud.”

“What makes you say that?”

He gave me a shrug. “How the hell does it stay in one place? You can see it moves, kinda rolling up and down. It should be considerably cooler up here, but isn’t. What do you think?”

I chose to scratch my head, and let out a snort instead of shrugging. “Now that’s the million dollar question. It’s generated inside of a containment field, so I’d say good chance of having static electricity running through it. Handful of sensors in a weather balloon and we’d have all the info in an hour. But, that’s not going to happen.”

“Got some scrub brush up here, so we can have a small fire tonight.” George pointed out. “Don’t see any animal sign, but probably be a good idea to scout out this rift, to see if it’ll be safe enough for the night.”

I couldn’t make out the back wall, and it was about ten-foot wide at this point, but both sides tapered away from each other. I could see two hundred feet above us, where it was completely lost in the cloud the rift was fifty feet wide. “What are the chances it goes completely through the mountain?”

George held his hands up, as if surrendering. “Anything is possible, and it’s doubtless two mountains, ripped apart by long ago quakes, judging by the boulders we crawled up. It might be the only pass between the two, but I bet it isn’t all level, and a bitch to climb.”

I didn’t respond, figuring it’d be what it’d be. With the floor sloping upward we made it about four hundred feet before we hit the first wall, however it was simple to see it flattened out barely thirty feet above us. “What do you think?”

Scratching his head George sighed. “Be a real shame to go all this way, just to let this little thing stop us.”

We scaled it, and two others, before we came to one heading down. The sky was now becoming darker, making the climbing a little tougher, although not impossible. “Looks like the best time to try a little Mr. Wizard experiment. What do you say to rubbing them up some then tossing a spear in and see if we can’t get a zap or two? Might do something in the cloud, but if it grounds out on the mountain should coax a mini-bolt out of it.”

“It’ll come down tip first,” Big George predicted. “I recommend we get on the far side of the wall, and pitch them that way. Just hope to hell they don’t boomerang on our ass.”

Couldn’t argue with that logic, and we did just that. Rift was about sixty feet wide here, and somewhat flat for about two hundred feet. With the cloud less than thirty feet above us it was going to be an easy throw, and we could go in opposite directions if need be. George threw the first, clearly hitting the mountain maybe fifty feet inside the cloud, but produced nothing, and it did return straight down to us.

He looked over at me. “Well, I didn’t see anything. How about you?”

“Might not have seen it, although should’ve heard it. One more time, just not so high.”

We had no better luck the second time. As we went to collect the spears George asked, “Well, that tell us anything?”

I stared up at the silver-gray mass. “Isn’t a solid, which we guessed at. No real proof, but it’s a pretty good bet this isn’t generated by electricity, or it’s somehow shielded, maybe grounded. You know how hard it is to keep static electricity out of carpet, well this should be a thousand times harder. We’re talking about an area of about ten square miles. Despite what it looks like it’s lighter than air, or it’d sink.”

“So, we continue on?”

I gave him a nod. “With my memory problem I can’t be real sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like this.”

“How about your best theory?”

Scratching my ear, I took a deep breath. “If the containment area is what we’re in, rest of the atmosphere is like this. We’re in an inverted bowl that’s keeping all this out. We’re still talking major energy, but it’d be grounded. I never heard of anything creating a static field this large before. As for power, you got me, has to be nothing less than nuclear. You know,” I squinted, “kind of looks like a photovoltaic cell.”

Smiling with a finger George made a circle motion around his ear. “Not a clue.”

“Solar,” chuckling I pointed up, “it’s one big battery, but we’ve a problem, even it’s ten times more powerful than those I knew about I’m not sure it’d be enough to power the shield much less all the other things it does. Might be in connection with other power sources.” I sighed. “Maybe we can find answers north of us.”

George stopped at the edge of the third step down, where we ate more fruit and drank some water. Holding the canister up, he shook it. “Unless there’s a stream up here this is it, til we get back to the valley.”

“Can’t be much farther, but to be safe, how about we give it one more hour, then turn back no matter what?”

George nodded, then looked past me at the wall I was leaning against, and pointed. “Looks like we’ve got tool marks.”

I turned to find there were indeed narrow grooves in the wall, made by a pick, or similar instrument. This particular area the black rock wasn’t too hard and you could see where chunks had been broken away.

With the spear point I popped a couple of clumps off the wall. “I think it’s coal. You know anything about coal mining? I mean, is it normally found on the surface?”

“Only thing I know about coal mining is, when they have an accident, it’s deadly. As for it being on the surface, this wasn’t, until the quake. Hell, don’t even know if that’s what this stuff is for sure.”

Broke off some more chunks, and put them in the pack. “We’ll know soon enough.”

Grinning he nodded, and headed down the drop. Instead of getting darker it was getting lighter, and I didn’t think we had hiked through the night. George noticed it as well, “Must be getting close.”

Within fifty feet there was blue sky overhead, and we were on the other side of the mountain. At this point the rift was barely eight feet wide, and as tall as I could see, a good two thousand feet or better above. The sun seemed to be behind and off to the left, which I took to be the southwest. Looking down the rift I could see open sky at the end of it, maybe five hundred feet away, with it being a good fifty feet wide. We had two drops to descend before we were able to stand overlooking the valley on the other side of the mountain.

In the valley lay the great city I was hoping to find, with no cloud cover, as far as the eye could see. Trouble was, most of it had been destroyed, long ago by the looks of the ruins. This grand city had been made of steel and concrete, with some buildings thirty to forty stories tall. Now there were no trees, no grass, just rotted-out shells of buildings on red barren ground. Only possible vegetation was in shades of browns and purples, probably lichen. It was a good two thousand feet away, so identifying it from here would be impossible. A great river flowed through the middle, but it too was long dead.

I searched the area for the rusted husks of automobiles, or something, I’d recognize as to what era this might’ve been. Had been some type of monorail system of transportation running throughout the city. Rubbed my temples as if trying to force the memories out of my head. I don’t think there was anything like this in the States, but I believe Europe had similar systems.

Shaking my head I mumbled, “My god, what the hell happened here?”

“Probably nuclear war,” George theorized. “Bound to happen sooner or later. Can’t let a bunch of egomaniacs control weapons so powerful.”

“No they improved the destructive powers of the nukes you remember so well, not even a stick would be standing.” I looked down at the straight five hundred foot drop. “Never going to find out either, because there’s no way down from here, unless you got a shitload of rope in your little pack. No, that’ll be one nasty climb, maybe if we show up here again we can bring the egghead T.C. out here.” I spit over the edge, and watched it bounce off the wall.

“Better question might be when did this happen?”

Just for effect I spit again, this time farther away from the cliff. “Hell, things don’t turn to shit like that down there, in years. Those could be one hundred year old ruins or better.”

“Which puts us in the twenty-second century, right?”

I went back to rubbing my temples, but this time trying to ease the throb. “At least, probably the twenty-third or later. They might have teleporting technology by then. Hell, I just don’t know.”

“Still, this could be the afterlife, hell on this side, and heaven on the other–”

I chuckled, and tilted my head a tad. ”You a religious man, George?”

Stroking his chin George thought it over. “I’d tend to characterize myself as being a spiritual person. However, not affiliated with any religious order. As for my ancestor’s religion I’m third generation Jersey, in my family the old ways were lost long ago. Even so, I like to think I’ve an affinity to the world as a whole.”

“Good description, and I think it applies to me as well. No, that mess down there was probably wrought by the hand of man and time, just not nuclear, or just not nuclear in the immediate area. Looks pretty windswept, so they get weather, but not much rain it appears. My guess is they screwed up the atmosphere. Hell, they were warned it was coming.”

I turned back to take a look at the gray cloud, and what an impressive thing it was. A huge cloud a thousand feet tall, six times as wide, and probably twenty times that long, a glistening gold color with streaks of red and orange running through it. I figured it must be the sun reflecting to create all those pretty colors. “My numbers were way off this thing is enormous, we’re talking a mile, maybe two wide and twenty long. Forty square miles would take a lot of power. If it were electricity we’d hear the hum.”

“So, what are you thinking?”

Stood there shaking my head, trying to think. “I don’t know, still leaning towards solar, as crazy as that sounds.” Try as I could I wasn’t about to pull something out of my head to explain this. “Whatever this is, it wasn’t built in my time. Were theories of setting up a shield, but it was more of a missile shield, with sensors placed in strategic areas. This is probably something suspended above us.”

George puckered up his face, and his eyes were nearly crossed.

I bent down and drew a line in the dirt, then two arches above it with a gap between them. “We have two fronts to deal with, what we perceive as the under side of this bowl, and what we can now see as the outside of it. Most effective way to do both would be have the machines in the middle of both–”

“Assuming they’re machines.”

“Oh, they’re machines.” Grinning I nodded. “Ship probably only has one, that’s why everything is about the same distance–”

“Holy smokes! That’d mean they’re a bunch of them.”

I kept nodding, while erasing the drawing with my foot. “Oh yeah, hundreds of them. You could probably supply an entire city with the power it takes to generate this force field.”

“Man, this is all science fiction in my time.”

“Yes, so was a Moon and Mars landing. We had machines producing EMP’s, electro-magnetic-pulses, which fries equipment. This could be something similar. I don’t know, just know that’s a big tent and would take a lot of power. As usual this doesn’t answer questions, just dredges up more.”

Twenty-foot from the cliff George started a fire. The mineral was indeed coal, letting us eat our dinner by a nice fire.

Had been a long day, and I tossed the rest of the coal on the fire before lying down. “You think we should take turns standing guard?”

“Didn’t see anything to worry about, and I’m a light sleeper.” George grinned. “Something else I picked up in Germany.”

Was good enough for me. If you figure up and down the mountain, along with the backtracking, we hiked twenty miles roughly. What a walk, and what did we find out, there was no proof the pterodactyls existed. If they could create two of the creatures in the minutes it took for me to think them up, why not two more, or two every day? My guess would be it was a power issue. It’d be why the ship was inactive, recharging it’s batteries so to speak. That’d certainly explain the doors and machines not working on the ship. But, if power was limited how could they produce everything on land. Oh that throb started, so I quit thinking and fell asleep.

06-29-2007, 08:44 PM
yet another great chapter...thanks

06-29-2007, 11:08 PM
thank you kindly, for the compliment

07-02-2007, 02:57 PM
Just WOW

07-02-2007, 05:15 PM
Thanks Hawk- a man of few words I like that- ain't me- started this as a short story -5,000 words- didn't happen- thought novella after 40,000 words that ship sailed- so I'm going for 3 novellas, but they'll probably turn into 3 novels

07-02-2007, 05:17 PM
Warning: This story is not sexually explicit, just a story

* * *

Swear I barely got to sleep when I woke up still tired, flat on my back in the dirt, feeling a bit disoriented and hotter than hell. Didn’t take long for the thought to come in my head, must’ve put too much coal on the fire. I rolled over away from the flames, and immediately became cooler. I recalled what I had seen last night. “I am James Jamison, and I have no damn idea where the hell I am.”

No gray room around me this morning, and George lay in the shadows by the wall of a mountain. Yes, we camped in the mountain pass, and a ruined city lay below us. Scratched myself, thinking I needed to take a piss, then remembered, the function was no longer needed here. Hm-m, if we had no need to excrete waste, why did sexual functions work? As Mira said, ‘all we do is eat and fuck around here,’ the more pleasant aspects of our life. Or at least for most that would be the case, but what about unpleasant bodily functions, or illness?

Since I didn’t wake up with the usual questions racing through my head, might have something to do with the ship? What did I dream last night? Not a clue, and I thought perhaps I dreamt we found the city. Staying in the shadows I went out to the edge and shielding my eyes from the bright sun looked down to find the ruined city was indeed real, as remembered.

Never remembered the sun being so bright and looked up, finding two suns. To my left one halfway to its zenith, to the right another coming over the horizon. Must’ve been a different spectrum of light, or something, because the separate areas of effect were easy to distinguish. The second’s rays crept up on my feet, and I immediately got hot. Stepped back into the shadows, and I quickly cooled off. I yelled at George, “Get up, we got to get the fuck out of here, fast.”

“What on Earth are you screaming about?” A bleary-eyed George grabbed for his spear. So much for someone being a light sleeper.

“We aren’t on Earth,” I replied, “and if we don’t get back to that cloud cover we’re going to be cooked alive.”

Still in the shadows he got up shaking his head, looking around trying to get rid of his sleep and confusion. “What? Not Earth?”

“Well, check this out,” I instructed, pointing, “when did you ever set eyes on two sunrises? That’s why the place never gets dark around here, and the second one is hotter than hell. We got to go now, and fast.”

He stepped out of the shadows, and woke up real quick. He snatched up his gear, and I ran out to grab my spear, but the weapon had already been in the sun too long. I was trying to kick it into the shade when George said, ““Forget the spear, we’ll be dead long before the damn thing cools off enough to take. We got maybe five minutes before this entire rift is exposed, and two rises to climb.”

I grabbed my pack, and left hot on his heels. We kept tight to the right wall, and were nearly up the second rocky incline when the sun overtook my legs. The heat zapped my strength, I couldn’t climb, and started to lose my footing when George reached down, snatched me up, dragging my ass up the last three feet. We hauled ass for the shade of the weird cloud, and ten feet in we both dropped to the ground panting. From that little exposure my legs were red hot.

“Hell,” George gasped, “must be two hundred-fifty degrees or better.” He took a long drink of water, then handed me the canister.

“Probably highs of three hundred.” I finished the last two swallows of our water. “Guess, was a good thing we couldn’t get into the city last night.”

“Damn right, with no water wouldn’t last an hour, even in the shade. So something happened to their second sun?”

I shook my head, and tried to rub the sting out of my legs. “More than likely they destroyed their protective atmosphere, and the air got worse and worse until it was gone.”

“And them with the atmosphere,” George finished my reasoning.

“At least most of them. In my time, same thing is happening on Earth, may well be our world in a couple hundred years.”

“Speaking of worlds, where does this put us?”

“Hell, I don’t have a clue.” Wasn’t hard of a run, but I was still panting a bit. “Theory was, no habitable planets would be able to exist in a binary star system. Something about massive gravity shifts and tremendous quakes, among other things. And with their latest scientific equipment scientists couldn’t find a habitable planet within a hundred light years of Earth.”

Big George frowned, and gave a little snort before looking up at the cloud.

“Well,” I laughed, shaking my head, “at least one of those theories has been shot all to hell. Bet, old brother Gregor is going to be pissed.”

“And then some,” George chuckled, “but the crazy-assed zealot ain’t gonna believe us. Hell, he wouldn’t believe it, even if he witnessed it personally. Far as he’s concerned we’re blasphemy spewing anarchists.”

“And his raping is in the name of God,” I muttered.

“Oh yeah, most definitely.” He squeezed the bridge of his nose, then with the end of the spear batted a rock. “So, where does this put us?”

“I recall theories of possible wormholes taking man these kind of distances. Others say we won’t be able to take the trip, or at least survive it. But, for all I know they could’ve been stories.” I sat down, and dug the last of our food out of my pack. I split everything in half, and passed George his share. “One thing for sure, shoots down most everything the people on the boat believe in. What are the chances this is the world of those others you ran into?”

“Hell, after what I witnessed, anything is possible.” George shook his head, and spit out a cherry pit. “Still, my gut says no. You need to check out how they live, ain’t nothing like the city back there. Man, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this cloud being created by machines. I really can’t say what I believed in, but wasn’t this.”

To observe what might happen I rolled a cherry out in the sun, while we ate our breakfast. By the time we were through, cherry was nothing more than the pit.

With a snort I spat in the general direction of my experiment. “Now that’s plain old dumb luck.”

George looked at me strange, then at the fried cherry.

“Back at the cliff,” I laughed, “fall asleep a foot closer to the wall we don’t make it past the first incline.”

Busy devouring the last peach Big George nodded. He finished, and grinned. “So, are you leaning towards us being real?”

“Christ, I don’t see how we can be, but don’t see how we can’t be. What do you think would happen if nobody returned to the boat?”

His eyes got real big, and he let out a low whistle. Man, you’re talking about gumming up the works. I don’t think you’ll get everyone to agree on such a wild notion. This is a crazy existence, but at least it’s something. We play by the rules, and we keep coming back. Who knows what would happen if we didn’t?”

“Yeah, who knows what?”

My legs weren’t blistered, although red, and made the climb a bit uncomfortable, as did the fact our water was gone. Only took a couple hours to get down off the mountain, and another hour to get to the stream we ate lunch at yesterday. Instead of stopping we filled the water canister and pushed on to the orchard, where we ate a late lunch, and I cooled off my legs in the pond. Apparently our work party had come and gone out here.

Looking up at the cloud George laughed. “After all these expeditions I was beginning to dislike that ugly gray sky, but have changed my mind.”

“No doubt.”

“You think there’s a chance this is man-made? I mean from Earth?”

“Don’t understand how,” I shrugged, “even the nearest star system is four light years away, and our technology was nowhere close to covering such distances. Still, for all I know the real time for Earth might be a thousand years from my time, and our technology is like horse and buggy shit compared to the new stuff. Even so, I’d say no.”

“Kind of what I was thinking.” He held up a half eaten peach. “Would make most of this not real?”

“I’m not sure of all our experiences, but the fruit and vegetables are real. Goes for the coal too, since neither of us really could identify it. Chances are whoever is behind all this has been to Earth a time or two. Pigs are real too, but I can’t explain our other newly departed friends out in the valley.”

“Yeah, kind of what I was thinking too.”

Didn’t take us long to get back to camp, and most took our news rather well. Even Gregor didn’t have much to say, although he didn’t stay around as others asked questions. However, I’m not sure if that was because of me, or the new information. We answered them the best we could, but didn’t have any factual answers, or even any solid theories ourselves.

Following a quick poll of the people I found no one here who had any background in space oriented science, no matter what year it might’ve been. Despite what George and I talked about, my best theory was none of this could be real, just all in our mind, but my legs said no way.

Skye brought over something, and started smearing it on my legs, which eased the pain some. “What’s that?” I asked, thinking there were no medicines on board.

“Pig fat.” I pulled away from her, and she giggled. “Is not a cure, but will keep the skin from drying out.” I figured what the hell, couldn’t hurt, and seeing as it did feel better I let her smear the rest on me.

I already ate plenty, and passed on stew, opting to go to my cabin. Skye had a bowl of food in her hand. “James, do you want company?” She looked back at Henrietta.

“Sure.” I motioned to Henrietta. “You want to come along, kiddo?”

All smiles she grabbed a bowl, came running over and took Skye’s hand. “I’ll go next door when you two want to be alone.”

“Well,” I mussed up her hair, “I’m dog tired, and might be a comfy fit, but you can spend the night with us if you want.”

The dinner gong rang before we made the dock, and everyone passing us greeted us warmly. Henrietta was excited, earlier Hector instructed Skye on picnics, and they fixed one up for us to go on tomorrow.

With me in the middle the three of us were sitting on the bed, and Skye fed me a piece of peach. “Sorry, no fireworks, but we shall be at the swimming hole.”

“Um-m,” I wiped the juice off, which was dribbling down my chin, “after the last couple days I’ve had plenty of excitement. I think a quiet picnic will be fun.”

“Do not worry,” Henrietta snickered, “you can still make-out with Skye.”

Skye blushed, giving Henrietta a playful swat. “Stop.”

“Like I said,” I wiggled my eyebrows, “think it’ll be fun, a lot of fun.” Gave Henrietta a little hip bump. “And can’t wait to go swimming.”

After they ate I laid out on the bed, against the wall, her back to me Skye snuggled up in my arms, and Henrietta in hers. Leaned over to kiss Henrietta on the top of her head, getting her giggling, then I kissed Skye. “Good night, ladies.” They were both squirming around and giggling. I don’t recall the last gong, as I fell asleep almost immediately.

* * *

A gong sounded, and I woke with a start knowing it was a call to breakfast. Skye and Henrietta were gone, and this morning I didn’t have to concentrate on what had been happening to me. Didn’t remember anything new from my past, but able to recall everything I learned since arriving here. So much for my theory about the ship erasing my memory.

Gazing into the mirror I wished for a bit of water to splash on my face. Wasn’t as if I needed to wash up, just a pleasant habit.

Skye found me as soon as I stepped out on the deck. “Didn’t think you’d ever get up.”

“You could’ve woke me.”

“No, I couldn’t,” she giggled, “and I tried. Granted, not too hard since you were obviously tired. Henrietta has been pestering me to go swimming at the orchard, you interested in tagging along?”

“Of course, love to go on an early picnic, unless there’s something else I have to do.”

“Not today,” Skye grinned, “this expedition is over.”

“And the best anyone can remember, not a single loss,” Hector triumphantly added. “Far as anyone can recall something never happening before, even Gunnar has no complaints, another rare feat indeed.”

“Doubt, I had much to do with either. My understanding was, this is the best place anyone’s been to. So, I’d chalk this one up to being lucky.” I shook my head, and gave him a shrug. “Thinking about taking some plant specimens along with us. Think they’ll stay on deck, or disappear like our old clothes?”

“Can’t say, no one ever tried taking something aboard.” Hector scratched his head, and looked around. “Never been no reason to, the boat supplies everything we need. What do you want them for?”

“I’m not sure exactly, but thinking of re-seeding other areas we stop at in the future.” Hector gave me a raised eyebrow, and I gave him a shrug. “Like I said, don’t understand why, but seems to be important.”

After a breakfast of stew and fruit we headed to the pond, accompanied by fifty or so people on our picnic. To be safe, and so we didn’t ruin the new record, we kept a pair of guards posted. Hector came over to quietly report, “Gregor and his bunch took some of those critters’ bones.”

“Figures.” I spit. “Well, got to be taking them on board, hell, they can get their hands on spears and knives out here if they wanted to.” I gave our group the once over. “We got any familiar with bone weapons?”

“Yeah, couple of them blacks,” Hector looked around, “got some savages too, but reckon they’re collecting more vegetables yonder.”

“Well,” I cleared my throat, “maybe you can get someone to relieve them, then put them all on weapon duty. See if we can get other volunteers, oh Hector,” I held up a finger, “find out if they recognize what bones were taken, and what they might make.”

He nodded, and I went over to where Skye sat. “Anything wrong?”

“No,” I smiled, “but I don’t want Henrietta or you going off by yourselves.”

Big George was seated nearby with an Asian lady. “I’ll keep an eye on them James, and get some others too. This is Little Flower, my date.”

“Little Flower, pleasure meeting you.” I gave George a head bob, and he followed me to about ten feet away from the ladies. “Gregor stole some pterodactyl bones, we’re getting people making weapons now. Ah, this is a little late, but can you get ladies pregnant? I mean, men in general?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” he scratched his upper lip, “none to term anyway. Is it important?”

“Hell, I’m not sure.” I rubbed the back of my neck. “Quite aware we both function fine sexually, just seems someone took care of the problem things. They get rid of waste, no childbirth, yet we sweat, lose our breath, burn, and take our time dying. I don’t know, it’s fucking weird, and doesn’t make sense.”

George grinned. “It is what it is.”

We went back and joined the ladies, in the shade of a tree. Well, would’ve been shade if a sun or two were overhead. A teacher, Little Flower was Korean, and lived in the early nineteen hundreds. She didn’t speak any English, and had been George’s lady friend for maybe a hundred expeditions. A lot of couples paired up, and most of the ladies probably did so for protection.

Bad Bob arrived with the containers, and by putting six inches of dirt in them I used ten as greenhouses, planting seeds from the fruits and vegetables. I also filled ten water containers, before enjoying our picnic lunch, and the swimming hole.

As we dried off I asked Skye, “Suspect you heard of the United States long before I came along?”

“So,” she batted her eyes, and snickered, “my little fib has been bugging you all this time? The reason is quite simple, sometimes when you repeat what you recall it reveals more of what you used to know. Unfortunately, did not work for you. Are you mad at me?”

“No,” I laughed, “clearing up some loose ends is all.”

Hector put Tegor, a fourteenth century African in charge of weapon-making, even crafting arrowheads. He gave me a toothy grin. “Ought done early.”

“Reckon you’re right.” I made a circle motion. “Any of this wood good for bows.”

He made a face, and pointed towards the vegetable patch. “Much good. Make bow on ship.”

Gunnar came up with those five big fellows he traveled with. “What are you doing? Little late for making weapons, ain’t it?”

“This expedition, yes.” I shrugged. “Next, could come in handy. Tell me, hunting the pigs, I’m aware you found hoof prints, what about pig shit?”

“Aye, old and fresh dung. Already heard about Gregor.” He took a deep breath, and narrowed his eyes. “Lets assume these weapons manage to survive the night aboard ship, who is to be in control of them?”

“Well, you seem to agree with your shipmates having basic freedoms,” I smiled, “how about you pick them, and be in charge of them? Any objections, Hector, or anyone else?”

“Me?” Hector patted his chest. “I think it’s a wise move.”

No one else said anything, and Gunnar nodded. “Aye, done.”

“Okay,” I patted his rock like bicep, “coordinate with Tegor and his crew making the weapons. We should start running patrols in the halls and on the decks, let these people know there’s going to be some order now.”

“Done,” is all the big fellow said.

“Friend, Og thump Gregor now?” He smacked his fist into his palm. “Og, no let Gregor hurt Henny.”

“Not too worry big guy, he won’t.” I gave him a thumb jerk over my shoulder. “Why don’t you go get more peaches with Henrietta?”

Og lumbered off with the young girl, and Vydal let out a little whistle. “And I can say we knew him as a newbie.” He chuckled. “Never seen so many people working together on any expedition. Are you aware your old friend the wizard is at the far end of the orchard? Been skulking about the last hour or so.”

“Alright, keep an eye on these folks for me,” I sighed, “I’ll go talk to the crazy bastard.”

Vydal gave me a slight nod, and I made a wide circle, cutting the wizard off from heading back to camp. He caught on, and started wandering away. “Hey Pomaxia, or whatever else you’re calling yourself, hold up, just want to talk.”

“Fuck you, shit-fucking-head!”

“Hey, why the hard-on? All I want to do is get back to wherever, just like you. Come on, we proved we’re not on Earth, and fighting the same enemy. I’ve already helped you, maybe you can help me.”

“How do I know you ain’t one of them fucking shadows? You do not know piss about yourself, shit-fucking-head, or is it just an act? You learn how to be solid, and think you can worm your way past–”

“Pomaxia, calm down,” I cut his raving off, “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I’m one of who? What is a shadow?”

He tilted his head, to eyeball me. “Fucking shadows, they slink about out of the corner of your eye, and disappear into the shadows. But, they are there, I, Pomaxia, can feel them, get glimpses, lurking, studying us, trying to become us. Is what you are doing, gonna take our souls. Cannot fool me, shit-fucking-head.”

“Can’t even guess what I am, but I’m no shadow.” I sat against a tree. “You get glimpses of them do you? All the time, on board the ship?”

“No, not when sailing, but yes, docked, they come aboard.” He came a little closer, tilting his head back and forth. “Why do you not know shit? Why the hell did you not start in the fucking hold? What the hell did you do to these people? It is some spell I cannot recognize, but I–”

“Calm down, old man.” I shrugged. “I don’t know, any of those answers. Only thing I gave these people was hope for a better life, or whatever this is. I can tell you this, we stand a better chance figuring this out together than we do on our own, or fighting each other too. Now, how do you glimpse these shadows?”

Pomaxia stared at me a bit, then hunched his shoulders a bit more. “Can not say, just get glimpses. Got something to do with my eye, and they gotta be off to the side like. Hell, they got a powerful magic, and I ain’t got much to work with here.”

“It’s not magic, Pomaxia, this is done by science.” I wagged my finger. “Wearing their clothes or being a younger self isn’t going to hurt you, fact is, you’ll be more useful to us.” I waggled my hand. “Which means, you’ll be more harmful to them if you use their technology against them. The fruit, vegetables, and some of the animals are real. As for us, I don’t know, but it’s some sort of science.” I chuckled. “Come on, what the hell do you have to lose, already admitted your spells haven’t worked.”

Swinging his head back and forth he looked me over. “Fine, I shall do it your way, if you survive.” I raised an eyebrow, and he gave me a head bob. “They be laying in wait for you, Gregor and his lot.”

Old wizard didn’t say any more, just shuffled off. I sat back down, and George asked, “Learn anything?”

“Yeah, Brother Gregor and some of his bunch are waiting for me.”

“Figures.” George scanned the valley. “My money is on them hitting prior to us getting to camp, seeing as we stay close to the trees on the left. Hector can keep the people more towards the middle, and we should be able to parallel them, staying in the treeline. Either get behind them, or if they charge we can catch them in a crossfire.”

Bad Bob offered, “I’ll go with you.”

“You?” I raised an eyebrow. “Thought volunteering wasn’t in your nature?”

“Ain’t,” he grinned, “but reckon I owe you one.”

“Alright,” I made a circle motion, “but I want you helping out Og and protect these folks. They’ll either charge you, or we’ll flush them your way.”

“Try not to kill them,” George added. I raised an eyebrow, and he shrugged. “Kill them, and they’re back on the ship. It’s time to get rid of them, for damn good.”

Five of us left early, heading towards the mountain, before circling back to the vegetable patch. We were in position before Hector had the main group move out, and they were a hundred yards in front of us when we moved out. About halfway back to camp George signaled they were in the treeline, at least ten of them. Each of us were carrying two spears, and chances are they only had time to fashion clubs out of the stolen bones.

With George in the lead we slipped deeper in the woods and came up behind them. We had them cold, and Gunnar shouted, “It be over Gregor, you be gonna face the boat.”

Two of them made a move towards us and were promptly skewered, getting the rest to head for the valley. Those taking the spears blinked twice, then up and vanished, leaving the spear and their weapons behind. We raced after them, but they where met by a dozen spears from the main party.

Including Brother Gregor most dropped their weapons, but two got stupid and ran for the camp, which was Gunnar’s direction. If they had headed for the mountain, I would have probably let them go, but Gunnar wasn’t so charitable. The pair died like the other two, blinking then vanishing.

“This ain’t over you blasphemous dog,” Gregor was spitting and kicking dirt my way, “we have a right to protect our ways from your heathen ass.”

“Aye,” Gunnar jabbed a spear at him, “you gots the right to address the boat before we decides if we are gonna maroon your asses here. Reckon you knows how that be turning out, pig.”

“Up yours, another heathen bastard!” Gregor was now spitting Gunnar’s direction. “Some of us got an immortal soul to worry about, idol worshipping prick. Hear me, follow them and you risk your very soul! You shall burn in an eternal flame if you do not leave them staked to a cross.”

“Best shut up,” Hector suggested, “you’re digging yourself a deeper hole.”

With a growl Gunnar stuck him a bit, and Gregor was smart enough to be quiet. The other five men never said a word, and I don’t think any of them were religious zealots, just rapists. Our prisoners were tied to the poles, and put to good use hauling the containers, which just got Gregor whining.

When we returned to camp I went out on the dock and tried another experiment, collecting water. Big George helped out, and when we pulled up the half full water canister he took the first peek. “I’ll be damned, it’s water. This what you expected?”

“Kinda. Whatever is creating this field, it’s a bubble.” I dipped out a handful of water, and took a sip. “I’m not sure if it’s as salty as Earth’s oceans, but I think it’s salty.”

George took a taste, and spit. “Salty, but nothing close to the Atlantic, and there’s nothing wrong with my memory.”

Peering over my shoulder Hector asked, “What’s it mean?”

“Means we need to find some way of making nets or lines to catch fish, or–”

“Come on James, you said this isn’t Earth, how can there be fish?” Hector asked.

“True enough,” I smiled, and gave him a wink, “but might be something else. Could be interesting to see what we find, and might give us another food when the jungles aren’t so cooperative. We have any fishermen on board? Shouldn’t take us long to collect bark or fronds to make rope with.”

Skye tugged on my arm. “Your bandage did not disappear, perhaps we can do something with the extra garments.”

Was a splendid idea, and we spent the rest of the time collecting materials for rope making, to make fishing nets. About twenty of our crewmates were adept at this task, and we’d have a capable net for our next expedition, assuming all wouldn’t disappear during the night.

The previous ride hadn’t been rough, nor had it been in the past I was told, still to be safe I lashed the containers to the deck’s railing. I used some of the shredded outfits for cord, and they worked out fine. Most didn’t think the plants would be here in the morning either, but I was confident and could’ve sworn I saw it all in my dreams.

Meal bell rang out, and Gunnar hollered out, “After we eat we decide their fate.”

Nothing more than a simple formality, and Gunnar listened to Gregor rant a bit before gagging him so a vote could be taken. The six men were going to be marooned, extra food and some gear would be left, but no one knew if any of it would stay.

Following the vote, with torch in hand I went out and carved into the dock a message. When I was through Skye asked, “What does it say?”

“Aye, what does it say?” Gunnar requested.

I was a bit surprised they had no idea, since we had no problem understanding each other. Obviously they couldn’t read English, or perhaps not even read at all. Except if this wasn’t real, why would this fact be overlooked. If everyone spoke the same language why not read it? If all this wasn’t real why not blue skies and seas?

“Well, be it a damn secret?” Gunnar asked.

“No, says, ‘mountain pass to ruined city, two days travel. Fruit and vegetables, two hours.’ Along with an arrow pointing the way,” I said loud and clear. “This one here says, ‘Not on Earth, two suns, dangerous outside of cloud.’ And I signed both, ‘Ark 1.’ Chances are good someone will be able to read English, and we should be able to get our message out. Plus if we return here, we’ll know, and if others take their cue from us they might leave something.”

“Good idea,” Hector commended. “Should’ve been doing this before.”

“Aye,” Gunnar gruffly concurred. But, I wasn’t sure if he agreed to the message being a good idea, or they should’ve been doing it sooner.

Of course, this was assuming this was real, if not I was just wasting time. I chuckled to myself at my little joke, seeing as all I had now was time. Big George raised an eyebrow. “You’re assuming this shithead we’re leaving here doesn’t rub it out.”

“I can help with that.” Voice came from a slim man walking down the dock, dressed in a black outfit and cape. “A simple druidic rune, shall put a pox on any disturbing your writing.”

“Yeah,” Hector stroked his chin, “and who might you be stranger?”

“Hello Pomaxia,” I grinned, “you’re looking good.” His leg was straight, and just his right hand a bit gnarled. He now had a full head of dark hair, peppered gray and was clean-shaven.

“My thanks.” He gave me a bow. “I, Pomaxia the druid, am at your service James.”

“Good to have you with us Pomaxia.” I returned his bow. “Will this hurt others writing on the dock?”

“No, I shall mark those six accordingly, aligning them with the rune.”

It was done, and like last night Skye and Henrietta roomed with me.

* * *

“Look at it,” Henrietta was shaking me awake, and pointing, “a new door, and bed is bigger.”

Thought she was talking about the regular door, but once I got away from the wall, I noticed the bed was wider, by about half a foot. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I glanced where Henrietta was pointing, and there was indeed a second door, connecting Skye and my quarter’s.

“Everything clear, James?” Skye asked.

“Reasonably,” I rubbed the back of my neck, “think I remember everything I’m suppose to, so far. Well, let’s see what else is new, shall we?” I opened the side door, and found a bunk bed in it, with a young lad sitting on the lower one. “Oh, I’m sorry, had no idea you were here.”

He looked up at me. “I didn’t either.”

His contraction gave him away. “You’re an American, have a name son?”

“Ah, Fred, Freddy, but I don’t know anything else.” Dark hair, eyes, but light complexion and I put his age at twelve. “Do you know where I am?”

“You’ll be fine Freddy. I’m James, this is Skye and Henrietta,” there was no other door in this room, “looks like I’m going to be taken care of you for a time.” I turned to the ladies. “Want you two to go out in the hall, and enter your rooms separately, Henrietta first, then return here.”

They left, and Fred scrunched up his face. “Are you my dad, cause I don’t remember you?”

“No Freddy, I’m not your dad, but I’m going to take care of you and try to find your folks.”

“James,” Henrietta was behind me scratching her head, “I showed up here.”

“Yeah, thought you might.” I mussed her hair. “Looks like you got the top bunk, sweetheart.” She was one big smile. “Want to explain to Freddy about the clothes?”

She dashed passed me and was no surprise to find Skye in the room. “What does this mean?”

“Well,” I chuckled, “looks like I’ve a wife, and we’ve a family.”

“You, me?” She was wiggling her finger at the two of us. “Me, you, us?”

“Only door leading in,” I shrugged, “unless you don’t want to be–”

Skye cut me off by jumping in my arms, and kissing me. “Do not even try and finish such blasphemy. God, how did this happen?”

“Apparently,” I again shrugged, “we both wanted this. Better tell Henrietta and Freddy.”

“We know.” Standing in the adjoining doorway Henrietta had Freddy by the hand. “I could not be happier, and Freddy will be soon.” Her outfit was a light pink, and his now blue. He stood a few inches taller than her, and had the dazed look on his face.

“Ah,” I clapped my hands, “lets get something to eat, and see if the plants are still here. Freddy, your memories are going to come back to you soon, and I’ll try to answer all your questions. I want you to know this, you’ll be safe with us, and we’re here to help you, alright?”


Plants were right where we left them, but boat was still at the dock. Pomaxia was at the rail, and while Skye took the kids to the food line I went over to him. “Morning, any glimpses?”

“Nope, not yet.” He gave a head bob towards the tower. “First horn ain’t even sounded.”

Told him of our new arrangements, new guest, then asked his opinion. “Might not be a shadow, or shit-fucking-head,” he grinned, “but they seem to want to make you happy.”

“On the other hand,” I held up both hands, “I’m just trying to make others happy.” Pomaxia arched an eyebrow, and I shrugged. “Well, more comfortable.”

“Heard you got a new lad,” Hector slapped me on the back, “tad early, first horn ain’t even sounded. Wonder if it’s cause we killed one of them assholes, and if the other three are going to be replaced?”

As usual I didn’t have the answer, and I caught back up with Skye. Henrietta tugged on my arm. “Can we take Freddy swimming?”

“Ah,” I looked over at George, “we have enough time?”

“Head back as soon as the second horn,” George nodded, “should be plenty of time. We’ll tag-along, if you don’t mind.”

I waved them on, and we grabbed spears on the way out of camp. Gregor was tied and gagged, along with the other five, and when we passed them Freddy asked, “What did they do?”

“Broke the law,” is all I said. “You happen to remember where you’re from.”

“San Diego,” he scrunched up his face, “I think.”

“Um-m,” I tapped my chest, “me too I’m from California.”

“You’re from San Diego? What part?”

“Ah-h,” I shook my head, “don’t know what city, just know I’m from California.”

That opened the floodgate on questions, and I think he was relieved he wasn’t the only one who didn’t know about his own life. Skye assured him he would remember it all soon enough, which just brought up more questions on my condition.

While the ladies and kids swam I took George off to the side. “Pomaxia has glimpsed what he calls shadows, creatures who come on board ship when docked. He never gets a good look at them, and they just fade into the… Well, shadows. Ever hear anyone talk about them?”

“Explains a lot. No, never.” George snorted. “Old boy probably told a few folks, and they told him he was crazy. So, that’s what he meant spouting off you were a soul stealer.”

“Yeah, since I didn’t arrive like the rest, he thought I was one, and they were using magic.” I scratched my chin. “They never did anything to harm us, far as he knows, but this doesn’t explain the pterodactyls. Hell,” I grunted, “doesn’t explain jack-shit.”

“So,” George let out a deep sigh, “these shadows are those who built the cities, and these machines? Why didn’t they protect their cities with them?”

“Good question.” I tugged on my ear. “Maybe, they saw the cities as the problem, and wanted a fresh start, or it’d take too much power. City we saw stretched a long ways, half again this valley wide, and who knows how far it went north.”

Kids were hollering for us to come in, so we swam til the first horn went off. We were back on board before the warning gong sounded, loud and clear. Pomaxia shook his head. “Thought I caught a flash, but ain’t sure.”

“Alright,” I laughed, “not like we could’ve caught it anyway.”

Hector announced, “Everyone’s on board, only three of those assholes showed, they’re all in the hold. We got new replacements for the rest four women and two men.”

Before I could reply Gregor screamed, “Up yours, infidel!”

He was running around on the shore, and Hector sighed. “Told Gunnar not to give the prick that knife, shoulda just left his ass gagged and trussed.”

“You hear me, asshole,” Gregor shrieked, “this is not over. I shall cut your heart out, and feast on it, you unholy abomination. Listen up, I shall not tolerate your blasphemy, and you need your soul cleansed.”

“Damn,” George chuckled, “he’s pissed.”

Gunnar growled, “Oughta killed them.” He took the new bow off his back and nocked an arrow. “By Odin’s beard, still can.”

“We’re on ship,” I patted his arm, “could mean the hold, and he’s not worth it.”

George grunted, “Better to let the next boatload of people do it, when he attacks them.”

The ship pulled away from the pier, with Gregor spewing curses. We stood at the rail and watched them get farther away. “Proves one point,” I wagged a finger at the marooned men, “they’re staying there, not blinking and disappearing. We can colonize the next decent area.”

“Too bad,” Hector spit over the rail, “that woulda been a decent site. You two didn’t happen to see any tobacco while traipsing about?”

“No, not that I recognized.” With a finger I made a circle motion in the air. “Next time we need to scout out the entire area, only did a third here. Let those on the other decks know, half of us go out every time.”

“Might get a stink going,” Hector grimaced, “been this way for a time.”

“Yeah, and didn’t work well, did it?” I tapped the rail. “George, me, Gunnar, and his men, we go out all the time, armed, we need the experienced men out there. Work crews will alternate either on work parties or in camps. Boat will be safer now so all around it will be easier work.”

“Well,” Hector nodded, “that might go over okay.”

I went to my cabin to put on clean clothes. Skye and the kids had already changed their clothes. In fact the children were catching a nap. She waited until I pulled of my outfit, before pulling me down to the bed. “You have had a busy day, time for you to relax.”

“True, so true.” I gave her a kiss. “You know the best way to relax?” Skye giggled, as I had her titty in my mouth. “Um-m, I’m doing it right now.”

“This is nice,” Skye rubbed my head, “but it is even better we do not have to worry about those rapists.” She was cooing while I took her outfit off, then with both hands on my head she guided me down to her pussy. “Um-huh, love the way you relax.”

Flicking her clit with my tongue I had her close, then popped up, and looked around. “James,” Skye ran her hand through my hair, “anything wrong?”

“What if we’re being put in these positions for their benefit, not ours?” I slid up next to her. “Did you wish for a family or boy?”

“Ah, I do not think so.” She stroked my cheek. “I wanted a true lover, a friend, someone who wanted me, and I wanted to take care of Henrietta. But, all this, I never even dreamt this could be. What about you?”

“Me?” I chuckled. “Don’t know who I even am, and might be dreaming all this before it’s erased every morning.” I kissed her. “Do remember wanting you from the moment I laid eyes on you, something made me feel so good. I wanted to take care of Henrietta too, and might have wished she had other children to play with. But, I had no idea this was possible with the rooms and all.” I scratched my head, and sighed. “Maybe they got the impression because the three of us were sleeping here, and we don’t know what Henrietta wanted, right? Means, they’re watching us.”

“Um-m,” Skye squirmed against me, “it is what it is.”

“Oh sorry,” I gave her a kiss, “guess I left you hanging. I’ll take care of–”

“No,” she pulled me to her, “lets take care of both of us.”

Holding me Skye wrapped her legs around me, and we gave the cameras a pretty good show. Nibbling here and there I put her outfit back on, getting her giggling and squirming. “Never thought I could ever be treated so good, shall be hard to get used to it.”

“Huh, better,” I tickled her, “cause it’s going to happen a lot, always.”

“James,” Skye pulled me into her, “do you think this is eternity?”

“I don’t know, baby girl.” I snorted. “Nothing makes sense, not completely, but lets hope so.”

“Yes,” she kissed me passionately, “I do hope so, with all my heart.”

Kids were playing ‘guess what color is in the drawer’ when we got them after the dinner gong rang. Freddy had remembered his family, besides his parents, a brother and sister, and while heading for the dining hall he went over everything.

A little early, but a crowd was gathered around the door. Hector waved for me to stop. “So, did you come to see them?”

I looked around, more than a little confused. “See what?”

“Bathrooms,” Big George happily remarked. Him being here didn’t clear up my confusion, seeing as he was supposed to be on the second deck. “Apparently, I’ve been promoted, along with these new facilities you wanted.”

Smiling as if half mad Hector patted me on the back. “Well done, laddie boy. Seems the surviving rapists are in the hold, in lockdown. You don’t got to worry about them on the boat no more.” He quietly added. “However, I’d watch your back on the next expedition or two.”

I acknowledged his warning with a grunt, before grinning. “A bathroom, you say?”

George opened the door. “Two of them.”

Taking a peek I found, sure enough, a toilet, sink and shower. No tub, but was better than it had been. “Nice,” I responded, thinking what other weird thing could I expect.

Didn’t take long to get my answer as I went to get my meal. The bowl with my gray goo was the same size, but full, not two-thirds like usual. The one with the water was a lot larger, four times bigger than any other. Normally, we’re talking less than half-quart containers, but this thing was half a gallon at least.

I looked around confused, thinking the machine had to be on the blink.

Hector came over, and gave me another pat on the back. “Your reward for a job well done. Doesn’t happen much, but has happened in the past. You’ll be getting the same at every meal until the next expedition.”

“Well, don’t believe I did anything special and think everyone did their part. In the true spirit of the ship’s camaraderie, anyone who would like a little extra feel free to help yourself.” I received a round of applause for my offer. “To celebrate properly, guess I should’ve thought of vintage champagne, instead of black coffee.” My joke got a big laugh, and most everyone came around my table to celebrate with me.

“Never seen anyone accepted so fast,” Mira observed. “Maybe Skye is right, and you’ll do us some good after all.”

“Definitely changed our expeditions,” Vydal concurred. “I for one was getting tired of the same old thing, getting killed every third or fourth expedition–”

“You’ve been killed before?” I came close to spitting out my mouthful of coffee, but instead it just dribbled out some. “But, how the hell did you wind up back here?”

“Guess the same way I got here the first time.” He shrugged. “Everyone here has been killed more times than they can count, and most show back up after the expedition. That is why Gunnar thinks nothing of attacking anything–”

“You said most, where do the others go?” I was still trying to wipe away the stain on the front of my outfit.

This got another shrug from Vydal. “Who knows, for sure. Some instances it probably has been another ship, but might be a higher plane.”

“Or lower one,” Mira added. “Most of us have been on other ships, even Vydal and I have been on four or five others.”


“All but once,” Mira answered.

Like everything else around here this didn’t make any sense. I was still mulling it over when we went up on deck to check the containers. Gunnar and two of his men were patrolling the deck, and everything was where we had left it. Pomaxia was out here, and I asked, “Glimpses?”

“Nope.” He waggled his gnarled right hand. “Reckon I ain’t apt to see them now, until next expedition. Might be I need to not use the mag- ah, science.”

“Well, lets go on the assumption it doesn’t make a difference.” I patted his shoulder. “You look good the way you are. If we don’t have any luck on the next expedition, than we can make changes. You ever see anyone on board change?”

“Nope, just reckon that be the next step for them.” He tilted his head up a tad to look me in the eye. “You think some of them are some of us?”

“Not sure,” I shrugged, “but think they’re watching us, closely. You being a druid, you need herbs and such for your magic?”

“Aye, but ain’t seen much before.”

“Yeah,” I smiled, “probably because you’re too busy trying to survive. Next expedition we’re going to do a lot more exploring, try and find others on board who know what to look for, and we’ll see if we have better luck this time.”

He gave me a nod, and Gunnar came walking past. “You did good, our ship’s lucky charm.”

Gave him a nod, and I returned to my cabin running through the questions, but the only thing I came up with was, this couldn’t be real. Everything had gone right for me, had to be a dream. I still wasn’t sure of a lot of things, however I knew I wasn’t the luckiest man on Earth, and now wherever. Why would they be penalized for their rapes now? How did whoever learn about them? And why not do something earlier? God damn questions, with no answers. Maybe these shadows had no idea what we were like, but after a few thousand expeditions that was silly.

Skye was sitting on the bed with the children, glanced at me and took my hand. “Trouble?”

“No,” I yawned, “just questions. How you doing Freddy?”

“Good,” he grimaced, “kinda scared. We’re really not on Earth, so where are we?”

“I don’t know, fact is,” I shrugged, “we don’t know much at all. You remember your birthday?”

“October second, nineteen eighty-two.” Freddy bit his lower lip. “You want to know about my death?” I gave him a nod, and he took a deep breath. “I drowned surfing, or the hit on my head did it. So, this is like a science fiction story?”

“Yeah, you could say that,” I chuckled, “were you any good figuring out the stories?”

“Ah,” he scrunched up his face, “don’t think so.”

“Come on,” Skye herded the two towards the door, “almost time for bed. Freddy, do not push yourself the memories will come, and enjoy your dreams.”

Henrietta gave me a kiss, then was jabbering away to Freddy what could be done in their dreams. Skye came back in, and I was stretched out on the bed. “Um-m, how long do we have between expeditions?”

“Like the expedition they vary.” Skye slid up beside me. “In the morning it shall be over the door,” she kissed me, “but it is always at least two days, and we can relax.”

“You liked that did you?” She giggled, and cupping her titty I kissed her. “Um-m, me too.” Rubbing in little circles I ran my hand down to her pussy, and she let out the most delightful sigh. “Baby, do you ever get strange dreams? Mean those you totally can’t figure out?”

“No,” she was rocking her hips back and forth putting pressure on her sex, “um-m, maybe at the beginning when I did not know how to control my dreams. I used to think about good times others told me about, or the things you heard happening to high-class ladies in my time. Now I can re-live what you do me, and how good it feels, but my real life is better than my dreams.”

“Goes for me to,” I chuckled, “even though I can’t really recall my dreams. Remember anything?”

“Um-m,” Skye closed her eyes and put her hand over mine, then squeezed, “like that. I do not know they were weird, a lot of death and dying like I was in hell, which I thought I was for the longest time. People like Brother Gregor did not help, nor my former profession or me stealing from my patrons.” She took her hand off mine, and half sat up. “You know what I remember most, the feeling I had a second chance, and it could be different, if I helped them, they would help me.”

“Who were them?”

“Ah,” her brow furrowed, and she slightly shook her head, “I do not recall, I think it was the others here on ship, I mean that would make sense, right?”

“Of course,” I gave her a half chuckle, “but making sense is pretty rare around here.”

“I am sorry James,” she gave me a kiss, “I am trying, this time it is no trick.”

“It’s alright, Baby.” I gave her a longer more passionate kiss. “After all Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I can’t expect this to be any easier.”

She backed away a bit and wrinkled her nose. “You helped build Rome?”

“No,” I laughed, and kissed the tip of her nose, “it’s just a saying honey. I meant, if this was going to be so easy, someone would have solved it long ago, and it’s going to take me some time.” I gently pushed her back on to the bed. “Now how about I get back to relaxing.”

“Um-m,” Skye giggled, “you can take your time with that I shall not care.”

“Yeah,” I pulled her outfit off a shoulder, and kissed her bare skin, “I can do that.”

“See,” she helped me by wiggling out of her outfit, “now I think I’m in heaven.”

* * *
Light was still dim when I awoke slightly disoriented, not from my memories, or lack thereof. No I remembered all, or at least all that I had known of since yesterday. No, this time my disorientation stemmed from the fact I couldn’t remember my dreams clearly. Despite enjoying the afterglow of our coupling I thought for sure I was concentrating on the problems we were having, but nothing. And if not those why did I not dream of Skye and the children, but nothing there either.

Everyone I had talked to agreed dreams aboard ship were the best part of whatever this was we were stuck in, and they recalled them quite vividly. To say mine were vague was a vast understatement. I knew they were about people here in this reality, never of those in my past, but that was it. Still, for some reason, I also felt there were dreams of people I had never met, or at least not yet.

Skye stirred, and stroking my chin kissed me. “James, I know it will come to you, but you really need to get more rest.”

“Was I tossing and turning?”

“Ah, I do not know,” Skye shrugged, “I only I was dreaming, but not the weird ones.” We talked a bit on this perplexing subject. She had no problem describing her dreams to me in detail, but I had nothing. We talked until the breakfast gong rang, and the children came out.

After eating I went up on deck, half expecting the containers to be gone. I was a little surprised to see the containers were still on board, tied by the cord. Even more surprising, the nets and ropes hadn’t vanished in the night, and oddly the strips were the same colors of the original garments. However the biggest shock was finding seedlings growing out of the dirt. Sure they weren’t too big, but should’ve been just containers full of dirt. Skye couldn’t see the problem, and thought this news was great, as did everyone else on the boat.

Shaking my head I pointed out. “With these weather conditions we’re talking maybe ten days worth of growth, not one.”

“What about just being fast growing varieties?” Skye shrugged, “Or the cloud.”

I looked at the cloud thinking, couldn’t be that beneficial. “Nothing grows this fast,” I assured her. “No, more likely we’ve been out for a week to ten days.”

That cute nose of hers wrinkled, getting me to smile. Still frowning she shook her head. “How?”

“Beats the hell out of me, but it’d certainly explain the reason for having no clocks around.”

A thought came to me, and I looked at my arm, the wound was near healed. I took a peek at my legs, and found them all one color. My sunburn should’ve been bad enough to peel, or still be red for two or three days at least. “Everything points to more than eight hours passing during a sleep period. How much is just a guess, but I’d bet it’s measured in days.”

“So, every time we sleep ten days pass?” She asked, shaking her head.

“Just aboard ship, if so much time passed on expeditions the food would spoil. I’ve a lot of clues here, but nothing adds up.”

Skye gave me a kiss. “Well, I’m sure you’ll come up with the answers eventually.”

Henrietta and Freddy joined us, and we stood at the rail staring out at the cloud, I was thinking some of this had to be real. Still, that was even more astounding than everything just being a dream. This ship had a finite space, yet a pair of bathrooms added without taking away from what had already been here. How was that possible and why, if they weren’t needed. Other than trying to bite my head off there was no sign the pterodactyls even existed, but plenty of hoof prints from the herd of pigs.

Thinking hard I tried to remember if I’d been thinking of sweet potatoes when we came across the clearing. I didn’t think so, being at the time I wasn’t concerned about food, and had no idea what to expect. But, unless they were real it had to be me, since no one else knew anything about them. And if Henrietta wished for the fruit, why did all the different types appear? Why not just peaches? And why not any apricots? Her other favorite fruit. No, this had to be a mix of the real and imagined.

Looking up at the boat’s top story I knew the answer was there, or at least the next step would be. But, I had no idea how to get into the damn place. For some odd reason I thought of a dream I had, breaking into the place. However, it passed in a flash and I couldn’t recall anything specific.

“Are you remembering things?” Skye asked quietly.

“No,” I replied truthfully, “something’s there, except I don’t know what, or even if it’s important.”

“Look what Job made me,” Henrietta said, as she came running over, waving a small ball, “from one of the outfits. Want to play catch with Freddy and me?”

“Sure, love to.” Played catch with Skye, Freddy, and Henrietta while pondering these nagging problems. Ball was a bit lop-sided, but served its function as a toy.

After a while I was back at the rail, this time staring down at the water, wondering what that mixture might really be. Judging by the looks, had to tie in with the shielding tent above us, but why? If this was Earth the seas might be close to boiling and still not harm a ship.

Slipping her arm around my waist Skye asked, “More troublesome questions?”

“Hm-m, if that happens to the water, why not on land?”

“Could be filtered water,” Henrietta chimed in. “I visited a filtration plant to turn sea water to tap water with my dad.”

“Yes, consuming more power. Looks like everything boils down to power. Now we need to find out what, or where that is?”

Skye had nothing to say, and neither did I. Far as I was concerned I had only been here around a week, and this mystery was going to take a lot longer than that to solve. For now there was not much I could do, except continue the voyage. Like George and Skye both told me, ‘Around here it is what it is, and you better get used to it, because there is nothing you can do about it.’

The End (For now)

Actually working on Time Stream II now-


07-02-2007, 08:04 PM
Thanks for the new chapter

07-03-2007, 05:42 PM
Welcome, I think it might be a completed product, but I'm sure next time I pick it up I'll add another twist or two,

07-03-2007, 08:15 PM
You're welcome, dudette

07-05-2007, 04:31 PM
Very good chapters, kinda sad there isn't much sex in it, but they are still good

07-05-2007, 04:37 PM
I'm trying to sell it main stream, and added some twists so I had to concentrate on them- I write in layers, adding this or that, re-write adding more here or there, but it would be easy enough to re-write as xxx-rated- and who knows what I'll wind up doing, I don't-