To celebrate, Patricia has asked a load of us to write around 500 words as a story involving abduction by aliens. It just so happened that I was trying to help myself remember something I am toying with for a future book. So please meet – Alex Alensi….
You can’t get the staff (SSERS #0.5)
The emergency beacon blared out its message.
‘Help! Stranded, no power. Sector 2a 240 050 061’
Alex crawled out of her sleeping tube and cut the sound. How far was it to the co-ordinates? Where was she anyway?
‘Coffee.’ she groaned.
As the hissing started in the galley, she relaxed. She reached for the beaker as the hatchway opened, and took a sip. Then a draught. Ahh. That was more like it. ‘Toast and marmalade!’ she ordered. A minute later a square of something smelling vaguely of oranges and butter emerged from the hatchway. She bit into the resistant surface and tore off a mouthful. She chewed. And chewed.
It must be downtime soon, surely? Real toast made of real bread? On a planet?
‘Okay, speak, Clive!’ she ordered.
‘The emergency is two lightyears away. Course options, eta two days via the Padrogi wormhole or seven months direct. If you must.’ The AI added with a sniff.
It was impossible for AIs to sniff, but hers did.
‘What sort of vessel?’
‘What species classification?’
‘You want me to go through the Padrogi wormhole, when we don’t even know what we’re going to?’
‘It matches what you call a fun adventure.’
Alex wondered why she’d chosen Clive’s AI personality.
She smiled, remembering. ‘Okay. Make for the Padrogi wormhole.’
‘Yeah. Engage, darn you.’
Three hours after the excruciating spaghettification of the Padrogi wormhole she dragged herself to the console to absorb the incoming data.
‘What sort of craft has no id marks, no registration signal, and not even a manufacturer’s sign?’
‘That was not a rhetorical question, dumbass. Start eliminating suspects for me.’
‘I have eliminated all known manufacturers, planets, and species known to have interstellar capacity.’
‘How about interplanetary capacity?’
‘Vanishingly small probablility.’
‘You know what they say about improbabilities.’ Alex sighed. ‘Not a pirate, are you sure?’
Alex frowned. If Clive used terminology like ‘affirmative’ it meant it was working hard on the problem. ‘When do we get a look at it?’
‘Capturing spatial data… displayed.’
‘Huh. Medium size ship… average weaponry… funny drive configuration… zero lifesigns?’
‘It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.’
‘Pardon?’ Clive never used humour. ‘You mean it’s a robot ship.’
‘No AI that you understand.’
‘Understand? What the hell are you on about? Visual range yet?’
‘Do you like it?’
‘What do you mean, do I like it? What’s wrong with you?’
‘Nothing you can do can take me away from my guy.’
‘Open comms with this object. If it wants my help, we’d better see what’s wrong.’
‘The hills are alive. Comms open.’
‘Greetings, unidentified ship. This is the Second Sector Emergency and Repair Service. How can we help you today? Do you need assistance?’
‘I’ve got you deep in the heart of me.’
‘Repeat, do you need assistance?’
‘Yess, my preciousss.’
‘Oh, come on, Clive, let’s leave. There are other ships that need our help.’
‘Run, rabbit, run.’
‘Clive?’…. ‘Clive?’ The AI didn’t respond.
Three minutes later, Alex discovered her AI had engaged course for the Beta Quadrant, at warp 14, supposedly twice her top speed.
Clive seemed to have been abducted.
© J M Pett 2020
See other alien abduction short stories at Patricia’s call for participants here!