Sunday, May 29, 2005


      Douglas followed the signs blindly. Lights winked around him, glass crunched under his weight. An occasional tremor stole his balance and he would have to stand, begin again. Though dreaming of a turn which might take him somewhere far from here - back somewhere he belonged - he only turned when he had to. Fearful now, he approached the doorway of the Engine Room and listened.
      Laughter. Wait - laughter? 1 and Josef were laughing! This took Douglas so by surprise that it took him a few sincere efforts to achieve the right false smile.
      "Hey, everybody!"
      "You popped the bubble!" laughed Josef.
      "Popped the bubble!" roared 1.
      "We're stranded on a doomed ship!"
      "Doomed doom doom doom."
      "At least you're not mad!" Douglas laughed along.
      "No, there's a nitrous oxide leak!" squeaked Josef, "It's making us silly!"
      "I've fixed it now," chuckled 1.
      "We are actually quite angry," said Josef, suddenly very serious.
      "Oh," frowned Douglas.
      "I found it!" yelled Isis, racing into the room, "The Captain's journal!" She held a holodisk in her hand, and switched it on.
      The Engine Room lights flickered a little, then dimmed. A tall, furry cone appeared in blue light above a panel near Douglas. The cone wore a small hat, and a hole opened about halfway down its body.
      "...she is welcome to read whenever she wants to," came from the hole, "but I found her hiding in the closet again. I don't know why she -"
      "Sorry," interrupted Isis, and pressed another button. The image cut out and returned.
      "We're under attack!" screamed the conical Captain. Isis smiled. "If anyone finds this, you should immediately..." He paused. "Right away you need to... uh..." Stripes started to show on his front. "Oh, this is so insensitive of me." He turned. "What is that thing you guys do with your legs?"
      "Dance?" guessed someone in the background.
      "Play croquet?" answered someone else.
      "No, no, Llorrac. With your legs. When you're in a hurry."
      "Great quantities of honey!" Llorrac tried again.
      "Scurry or scamper?" asked the first voice, "Scuttle, maybe?"
      "Scuttle!" announced the Captain, "Well, maybe. No - Not quite the right word."
      An explosion in the recording drowned out the discussion. Pale blue sparks rained down.
      "Run!" shouted a new voice.
      "Ah yes, finally," grinned the Captain, "Run. Kind of a funny word. I wonder if it always sounds like what it means. You know, in most languages? Anyway, as I was saying..." He turned forward again. "Run! Run away! A horrible gigantic bug has destroyed our ship! O horrible! It may come back!"
      The holodisk clicked off, and the lights flickered on. The room was silent for a moment.
      "My name," said someone from the doorway, "is Ryan." Everyone turned to see who Ryan was, and, perhaps, whether or not he was a horrible gigantic bug. Everyone, of course, except for Ryan. Ryan already knew that he was a horrible gigantic bug.
      "He really is insensitive," said Ryan.