Part Three of the Project Chain Reaction story written by Eric at Wisps of Smoke. If you don’t already follow, you should really consider doing so. Aside from joining me on this fun venture he has a lot of great original work that’s sure to entertain!
Up, Up, Up
To say I had been dreading this meeting would be only half the story. I was also anxiously excited, though I wasn’t willing to admit that to myself. So I set out from my mother’s around 6 p.m. on a surprisingly cloudless Saturday evening and headed towards the harbour. One little known fact about me is that I’m deathly afraid of the water. So I haven’t been to the harbour since my grade eight class trip to the Maritime Museum. As soon as I saw the grey waters lapping against the cement moorings my breakfast threatened to evacuate its newfound home in my gullet.
The “Lighthouse,” with its gaudy neon-lit lighthouse-shaped sign, was ten storefronts down from the street sign I found myself standing under. Hands in the pockets of my jeans, I trudged warily to the door of the run-down establishment. The door was standing open so I just walked in. The bar room was empty. It smelled of spilled liquor and fry grease. And something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Something industrial. The bartender came through a swinging door, like something from those old Westerns you sometimes see on TV.
“What’ll it be lad?” his cheeks puffed up in what I imagine was his attempt at a smile. “I’m meeting someone.”
“Ah, that’ll be the Cap’n then,” the rotund barkeep reached beneath the bar and I could hear a faint buzz somewhere from the back. “Ye must be his son then.” It was more statement than question, so I didn’t respond. The barkeep washed down the nicked bar top with a dirty rag and I stared into the mirror on the opposite wall wondering what I was doing in such a dive.
“Ah, Cap’n’ll see ye now.” I followed him to the end of the bar and he motioned me to follow him through the swinging doors. The kitchen was not at all as I expected. By the look of the main room I expected rust and dirt but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It glimmered in the fluorescent lighting. Bright stainless steel counters and appliances lined the spotless white walls.
He led me to a steel hatch, which I assumed to be designed after the hatch of a naval ship with its spinning lock and heavy duty handle. He turned the lock and a metallic clomp indicated that the door was unlocked. The door opened inward. I expected to see another hallway, or an office, or something. Rather there was another door. Seamless and painted white. There were no handles on this one. The bartender stepped forward and pressed a hand against a panel half-hidden behind the hinges of the big metal door. There was a soft beep and the door slid open with a breathywhoosh.
My eyes had to have been the size of saucers. The sight that greeted me inside that futuristic door was astounding. A long hallway, painted the same bright white as the door with a royal blue pinstripe halfway between ceiling and gleaming black floor. “Welcome to Moira’s Avarice,” an unfamiliar voice said, tugging my attention away from admiring my surroundings.
The voice’s owner was a handsome man of about forty-five with thick, dark hair and an equally thick, but well-groomed beard and mustache. He was dressed in black pants with a pinstripe on both legs the same hue of blue as that on the wall and a white shirt, the top three buttons undone and a bandolier across his right shoulder. A large pistol hung at his hip. I took all of this in and was left even more flabbergasted than before.
“Hello son,” the man said. I know my mouth was hanging open in disbelief, but there was nothing I could do to close it. How could it be that my father looked like the lead in a sci-fi movie? Was this some elaborate hoax? “Come, there is much to discuss.” I followed my father through what could only have been the corridors of a space ship.
He led me to a large open room with chairs positioned orderly around a viewing screen, like a cinema screen, that covered the entire front wall. He took the seat in the center of the room and motioned for me to take the seat to his right. I sat as bidden, still unable to form coherent thoughts. In moments other people started filing in, all dressed similarly to my father. The seats filled up rather quickly and as one the people, young men and women both, turned to gaze at him. “Ready Captain?” a rather attractive young woman sitting directly in front of the monitor asked, smiling at me in turn.
“Let’s get underway, Mia.” The woman, Mia, tapped away at a keyboard that had slid from beneath the screen. The screen flickered and came to life. All I could see at first was the grey-brown of the adjacent building’s brick and mortar. Until the room lurched and began to rise. Up, up, up until I could see for miles ahead.
My father turned to me then and said, “Would you like to see where your father works?” I squeaked something unintelligible and fought the rising bile in my throat as the ship (what else could it be?) tilted and rocketed into the darkening sky.