So now to the story:
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Teddy Bear in Space-second and last part
As you may or may not know this was written five to seven years ago for the 100th anniversary of the Teddy Bear. I revised it-I made quite a few changes in when I revised it: deleted sentences as well as words, added descriptions and dialogue, changed other sentences and a couple of paragraphs. I would have made more changes if I rewrote it from scratch but I think it's a good read as is. Evidently a few people agree with me--thanks all who plussed it, made comments.
For those who come to this but missed the first part it's here
So now to the story:
The cabin was a box just like her room back home, but it was smaller, a lot smaller. It smelled slightly of industrial strength cleaner too. The walls were metal gray. Ugly, she thought. There was some decorations; either painted onto the wall, or set in it. In that way they would be permanent: the occupant would not have to worry about the decorations falling off the walls if the gravity failed, or the ship had to maneuver too suddenly.
There were places were she could attach four posters or paintings of her own. She put up three posters and a large picture of some of her friends. There was a bed, she thought smaller then hers, but yet somehow it looked big enough for her. A dresser was built into one wall and as her dad had warned her it was a lot smaller then hers. It had no mirror even though there was one in her small bathroom, or head as she should learn to call it, somehow painted onto a wall.
She settled in, unpacking and then joining her parents for a light meal just before the ship left orbit. She wanted to watch that from one of the blisters she had seen, but her parents won’t sure how she would react. They finally gave in to her, and her mom took her to an observation blister.
The ship started to move, quickly picking up speed. The earth receded fast-in five minutes it was so small she could hardly see it. Two hours later, out of the range of any planetary gravity wells, the passenger liner shifted to hyper speed. From that point on it would take five months to reach their destination. They would spend two months there taking care of the business her mother and dad had, then head back. If every thing went as planned they could spend the last two weeks of that two months as a vacation.
Brittany, her parents, and the rest of the passengers, soon settled into a shipboard routine. Brittany's mother, with some help from her dad, taught her from lesson books they had brought along on a tablet. Even though she didn’t like it she accepted that her parents thought the trip would take too long for her to skip her education doing the duration of the trip. She liked some subjects and was glad she would be able to keep up her studies in them, but she didn't like the idea of having to spend a certain amount of every day in "school”.
Brittany had bought along some books on her tablet to read during her spare time. However she ended up in one of the observation blisters every day, when she wasn't studying. She took her tablet and listened to some of the 300 songs she took with her. The personal field let her enjoy her music without anyone near her hearing it. She took turns going to the various Observation balloons, as they were called.
She enjoyed watching the stars go by at such speeds, and she used the computer monitors that were located in the blisters to learn about the various systems they passed. The distances between the stars were so great that even at the ship’s speed she could keep a set of lights in sight for hours. The systems were usually just pinpoints of light, but she could see something was there, and the monitors reported what systems they were. Twice they were close enough to almost make out a planet the size of half of one her fingernails.
Half way into the out way journey Brittany and others in the blister she was in that day, saw a strange ship approaching. They had seen other ships past by: it was a tradition for liners to come within visual range of a passing space vessel. Usually they were freighters, even though two others had been liners, and one toward the beginning, had been a warship. They passed close enough for her to see four weapons turrets, flat web like sensor arrays and round circles that hid more weapons and missile tubes. Of course "within visual range” was subjective, therefore most of the few ships seen were no larger then a human finger. She had needed help to visually find most of them. At one point the ship had slowed significantly, as they passed a busy space station. The captain had rolled the ship to allow the passengers in observation blisters on the other side to get a good look.
Now though Brittany was so intent on finding a certain star that had two colonies in its system that she didn’t notice a new ship until it was close, closer then any other vessel had been. One of the adults saw it and called the other passengers’ attention to it. It came in close, but then zoomed away. When she asked it the liner's computer did not know what type of ship it was. It looked kinda of oval shape with a concave line along the top. It had a set of globes along both sides toward the end. She studied it for the very short duration that it buzzed them but the globes didn’t seem to have any connection to the ship. Yet they stayed in the same location.
A day later a mysterious force grabbed hold of the ship, forcing it out of hyper speed, than to a complete stop. Brittany felt the sudden change in speed even as she fell forward. Somehow she reached out and grabbed an emergency handle. Her arm felt pulled too long but she stayed upright even as she watched two other passengers fall. She realized that the internal gravity kept them from being squashed, but some kinetic force still sent many of the passengers and crew flying, or tumbling.
Teddy flew from her hand and as soon as she was able she picked him up, and started running to find her parents, for she had been in a companion way on her way to her favorite blister. Within seconds alarms began to sound. After a few steps she heard, and felt a clang that reverberated though the hull. It sounded like something had landed on the liner's outer surface. Less then thirty-seconds after the clang, another alarm joined the others: a higher-pitched double-beep. She knew, from the drill every one was given before leaving Earth's orbit, that the new alarm was a warning that the liner was being boarded.
It was an old alarm that hadn't been needed for years since a pirate problem had been taken care of. There were still pirates here and there, but they were very rare and there had been no reports of any marauders in this area of space. Before they decided to take her on the journey, Brittany's parents had made sure of that. But a new set of pirates must have formed and moved to this area.
Hearing the sound she almost panicked, but held Teddy closer instead. Increasing her speed, Brittany ran toward the lifts. Once there she found that the lifts were down because of the emergency. Panic ran through her heart, but she hugged Teddy and remembered something. She turned, found an open doorway, ran up a three flights of emergency stairs to get to the deck her parents would be on.
Teddy didn’t know what was going on but, I enjoyed that squeeze after that fall. It made her stronger and braver which is what I was made to do. That hug was the hardest she had ever squeezed me but I wanted to shout “yes” if I could. I did my job and got her up those stairs.
As she hurried down the passageway she found herself floating as the artificial gravity failed. Brittany pushed with one just when the familiar pull stopped. With a squeal she jumped toward the ceiling. Just before she reached the ceiling the gravity came back on, but at a lower level causing her to drift downward, instead of falling. The gravity again increased slightly, allowing her to run again, this time in looping strides. The air started to smell funny too, like it was effected by the low pull.
She hugged Teddy closer, but moved him down off of her mouth. Yecch his fur wasn’t good. She reached the final corridor and headed down it. She knew she was close. However as she caught sight of her parents waiting for her near their cabin, a group of four figures appeared in a side passageway.
The side corridor was between her and her parents. At the same moment she saw a steward, by his clothes, doing something to a panel on the wall two feet above the floor. She was supposed to follow the liner’s employees if something bad happened. But he was busy and there were her parents yelling for her to run.
When she looked back at the newcomers, she noticed that they were taller then anyone she knew, with strange rounded backs. The figures had what looked like thin crests of hair on the top of skinny heads. Brittany thought there was something strange about their faces. As she neared them, though, she made out that they woe some type of masks. Masks that resembled the breathing masks, that were kept in every cabin on the ship, to be used in case of a sudden lose of air. They had to be pirates.
She screamed and her dad yelled for her to hurry. With a burst of speed she ran toward him, almost running into the wall, as she tried to keep as far away from the unfamiliar people, as
she could. Her dad started to run toward her, but it was obvious that the strange looking people would get to her first.
As she ran, Brittany heard a strange peeping coming from one of the four people. It seemed to be coming from a device, he was holding in his hand.
She increased her speed with another burst she didn’t know she had in her. Brittany started to cross the side passageway they were now coming out of, when the gravity shifted again. Teddy moved in her arm, slipped from her fingers and started to float toward the figures. She reached for him, but the bear spun and she missed. But how she wanted to stare at him because she shouldn’t have missed, but she didn’t have time. She started to turn to go after him, but her body went the wrong way because of the very low gravity.
Once she had herself under control, Brittany started after the Bear. She saw one of the strangers point the hand held device at the teddy bear, and it beeped louder. A new scent grew, she didn’t like. Out of nowhere a hand grabbed her arm. She turned expecting the steward but her father’s face was above the arm that held her. He pulled her back the way he had come.
She screamed, “I have to get Teddy.”
The being with the device, made a motion with his hand and
one of the other four launched forward and grabbed Teddy.
Brittany screamed, "Let go of him,” she paused then said,
"Daddy, I need to go get him.”
Just then a bulkhead slide down, between them and the side passageway, it landed with a muffled thud on the carpet. It now separated the two groups. The steward stood up. Brittany relaxed, she wanted to pound on the bulkhead but knew it wouldn’t do any good.
The steward said, "Finally, I got that emergency bulkhead to close. I had to wait until everyone was this side of it. Now, everyone to the nearest lifeboat! One of those alarms going off is the abandon ship signal. Those beings seem to be every where aboard the ship.”
Since it was useless, Brittany stopped struggling and allowed herself to be led toward the lifeboats. On the way she noticed that her mother had been able to grab their carry on bags, she still had her tablet in its carrying case.
By the time they were half way down the passageway they joined a throng of other passengers hurrying toward the lifeboats. The first lifeboat entrance was full of passengers trying to get into that it, so her parents passed it by. And the next two. They hurried to one further down whose entrance was empty.
Brittany had seen pictures of the lifeboats, during the periodical drills. She knew that the lifeboats were basically the same as those on most ships used by the public: long teardrop shaped pods with three small drives on the smaller end. The pods were painted a bright white to help them be seen. She could not see them bit Brittany knew that each of the small craft had stubby wings, two on each side, sticking out of the middle. The wings were for atmospheric flight in case there was a need to make planet fall.
Brittany and her parents were among the first to reach this one. Once inside Brittany saw that the inside colors were pastel pinks, peach, and light blues. Calming colors designed to help the survivors feel less like panicking. The seats were lined up against the walls on three sides, looking almost like the seats on rides at amusement parks in groups of four, with food lockers and other compartments separating them.
Her parents found seats and helped her with the straps. Each seat had a series of straps which were designed to be adjusted for all sizes and ages of humans. Once her and her parents were strapped in she looked around. Brittany saw that her initial observations had been correct. There was a large open space in the middle, with there was an enclosed head at one end and a separate pilot niche in front. The center section was clear, to allow the passengers space to stand and even to do light exercises.
After a few more passengers had scrambled in and were in the process of being strapped in, the steward, who as it turned out was the same one who had lowered the bulkhead joined them. He quickly seated himself in the pilot's seat. After making sure the power was on and all lights were green he turned and explained that they had to wait for the pod to fill up. Three or four people mumbled something that sounded like they should go now or they hoped it didn’t take long but no one spoke up.
Once the lifeboat was full, he again spoke, explaining that they would have to wait a few more seconds. The engineer had been ordered to set his hyper speed engines to flare at a specific time. The flare, would cause an energy burst that would do two things. It would be able to be seen by sensors for light years around. Any ship that spotted it would either come to investigate or send a signal to the navy who would send a ship out immediately. The huge flare should also disrupt the sensors of the boarder's ship. Hopefully this would allow the lifeboats to escape. He still didn’t know what they wanted but they seem to be going after the passengers. The old defenses that were once used against pirates were interfering with that though.
A light pulsed and a radio voice spoke even though Brittany couldn’t understand it. Evidently the right moment finally arrived, and the steward, shouted, “Go!” and hit the launch button. The lifeboat exploded out of the side of the liner like a seed from a pod, or someone spitting out a watermelon seed, sShe thought from the videos she had seen All of the escaping lifeboats where on the side of the liner opposite of the vessel that had landed on the ship. The lifeboats shot out in many directions, but three managed to stay together. The launch was a little rough for it pushed Brittany back into her cushion but no harm done.
Brittany, her parents and their follow travelers were in the three lifeboats for a week. At first Brittany cried, over the lost of her teddy bear. She couldn't understand how she had lost him.
She said, “Its as if he twisted out of my grasp, but he
couldn’t do that. Could he?”
He dad said, “It looked like he moved but maybe it was that las shift of gravity made it seem that way. Or mMaybe he knew that danger to you and gave himself to save you. So you didn’t lose him, he voluntarily went.”
She noticed her mother give him a look that she didn’t believe him but Brittany decided to. No one could explain why the aliens grabbed it though.
The steward said, “From the way that small device, that one alien carried, beeped when you came running up the passageway, it was probably a life detector, or other type of hand held sensor. When that one aimed the device at the teddy bear, I heard the beeping increase, indicting the bear was alive. That was why they grabbed him instead of Brittany.”
Her mother said, “But how could that could be? It wasn’t alive.”
Her dad said, "Perhaps after all the years of Brittany hugging Teddy, he absorbed enough body heat and sweat from her to trigger their device. And his fur had been once been part of a living animal, maybe the combination had been enough to trick their life detector. It was obviously an alien mechanism, we don't how it detects life.”
The steward added, "The device might have been actually aimed at Brittany, through the teddy bear, so it was her life signs it detected.”
No one could say for sure.
Brittany didn't cry for long. She had almost outgrown him anyway and this end was more fitting, better than to be thrown out, or to sit in a closet rotting away.
During the rest of the time in the lifeboat she read some of the books on her tablet as well as doing some school
work. Her mother had managed to grab her laptop. It was a bit embarrassing to have learn in front of the other passengers but she managed. She and one other person passed around their tablets so others could read. The lifepod’s computer continued some books, games and movies too. There was enough emergency food and water to last them a month so no one worried about starving. The steward couldn’t say how long they would be in the boat, so they all decided to keep their rations down, to make sure the food would last.
A warship found them at the end of seven days and picked them up. Brittany managed to watch the ship’s arrival, all of its weapons were out of their hatches and it looked ready for a fight, but a moment later the Steward told every one to get seated and to buckle up the pick up would be rough. A large hatch opened in section of the destroyer. The steward explained that the ship would use its loading tractor beam to bring in the lifepod for safety. The captain of the destroyer, had news that eight other lifeboats had been picked up already, but that there was as many as twelve more still out there. More warships were out searching though. As far as they could tell, miraculously, no passengers, or crew members had been taken, or killed by the aliens. The quick action of the liner's captain and her crew, using the old pirate defenses allowed everyone to escape. Those that had actually seen the aliens thought they had been more interested in capturing the humans, perhaps for study, then in killing people. On the warship everyone who had seen the aliens were questioned about what they saw.
After all the life boats were found, Brittany and her parents were taken to the closest human colony: one of the two colonies in the system Brittany had been studying when the aliens first showed up. They were all questioned by the local media before they were able to get a ship to take them to the planet her family had been heading to. Once there the whole family had to go through more media interviews. Both of her parents insisted they would be able to stay with Brittany during all interviews. She didn’t like the number of times she had to say the same thing over again but and Brittany did not like all of this attention she just wanted to mourn the lose of Teddy for a few weeks. However her parents were able to finish their business and they went home after a week long vacation.
In another system light years from the nearest human colony, an officer of that planet’s authority was talking to a friend.
"We were the only ship sent to capture some of these new people. We want to know who and what they are. We found one of their larger ships and buzzed it to gauge the reaction of those inside. They did nothing. So came back around and pulled it out of hyper speed, docked with it and boarding it. The air they breath isn’t one hundred percent like ours so we had to wear breathing masks, very uncomfortable. We spent a long time on the ship but every effort to get a person was stymied. Some of them fought and bulkheads kept closing separating us from them. A gas was released too. It did us no harm but made it hard to see and confused our hand sensors.
“All we got was this fake being. My assistant’s life detector was fooled somehow into thinking it was alive. I gave it to my daughter, she is of the age that such things hold an attraction. Now though she is so attached to it that other children she knows, want one. My son wants to make some and sell them. He figures he can for one medium circle and half a small circle. I don’t know about that but I don’t think anyone would buy it for a larger circle even if their offspring desires one.”
I’m glad I wasn’t destroyed, like I thought I would be. He snuggled in deeper into the arms of the being who held him. The arms of this girl are longer then I’m used to and her body is different then the one my previous owner had, but it feels good to be hugged. Her skin is harder and it takes longer for her warmth to get to me but it feels right. I will miss my previous owner, though. How I managed to twist out of her hands, I don’t know. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, not just physically, but emotionally also. I needed to do it through, I couldn’t let my owner be hurt. I’m glad I was able to save her, but at the same time she had been out growing him, and this new owner will need me for a long time.
I will be getting company soon, for I overheard her parents making plans to make copies of me. My new owner's friends want their own Teddies. That will be good, for these people have nothing like me. They needed me and my type. I have been able to comfort my new owner already, make her sleep better, and that was very fulfilling-it was what I was made for, after all.