[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 16
June shrugged. “I’m guessing you know the rest of the story. I didn’t find any bodies. I found that weird machine. I walked up to the machine and pressed the button. Like an idiot, I got inside the tube and pressed the other button. Next thing I know I’m looking at tall, dark, and smugly here.”
Joey closed his mouth. He hadn’t even taken a sip from the beer Vic had offered him. He’d been completely dumbfounded.
“You actually thought that Elsa was a killer?”
“When two people disappear, it does look suspicious. Of course now I know the truth.”
Joey thought for a moment. “If you two are here, where’s Hector? Your father, Vic?”
“I never found him. When I got here it was just me,” Vic said.
Joey almost took a drink from his beer but instead asked June, “So this was in the eighties some time? When you went into the machine?”
“October Eighty-three. Five years ago.”
“Wait, five years ago? Eighty-three wasn’t five years ago. It was over twenty years ago!”
“What?” Vic nearly shot out of his seat. “Twenty years? You mean I’ve been out here in space, nearly thirty years!”
“Wow, I hadn’t thought of that. How long did you think had gone by?”
“Hell, I’ve only been out here for seven or eight years. So thirty years has gone by on Earth?”
“I guess so.”
“How’s my mom? Is she doing alright? Man, she must be old by now.”
“She seemed really depressed. She misses you and your dad. I think if she could just talk to either one of you and know that you’re alright she’d be happy.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen, kid.” Vic’s face slackened and he ran his hand through his hair.
“Why?” Joey asked.
June pulled Vic back into his seat and changed the topic. “So, Joey, you’re from the new millennium?”
“So what’s it like? Are there flying cars and stuff?”
Vic jumped in too. “Yeah, kid, has man finally made contact with aliens?”
“Well, no and no. Wouldn’t you know those things? Haven’t you two even tried to go back to earth? I mean, you are in a spaceship and all. Can’t you just jump back there whenever you want to?”
The light in Vic’s eyes went out. The same thing happened to June. It was as if a dream had suddenly been shattered.
“Kid, I’m going to level with you, but not until you finish a beer or two.” Vic took a long drink off his.
Joey decided it may be in his best interest to drink the beer. Vic looked like he was about to explain how he’d run over the family dog or something. Joey drank. It was bitter and nasty, but he couldn’t think of anything he’d rather be drinking. And drank. Vic wasn’t such a bad guy. Perhaps with time they could become good friends, even if Vic was old enough to be his grandfather. And then drank another. June could be his mother! The silence was so heavy that everyone jumped when a top was popped on a fresh can of beer. Vic filled that silence.
“My story, kid, is a little more complicated than June’s here. Now I showed up and there were no friendly faces to help me out of a jam. Man, I had nothing here to help me out but myself.”
Suddenly a lot of growling and barking came over the central con system.
“Argmon detected a ship jumping to hyperspace just a half a light year behind us. My guess is that police cruiser did follow us.
“Thanks Argmon. Keep us adrift for about another thirty minutes just in case they double back in an attempt to trick us.”
“Eep. Eep Eep.”
The noise caused Joey’s head to swivel and see something odd standing in the doorway. If he hadn’t been drinking he would have screamed in shock and disbelief. As it was, he felt mellow and relaxed.
The odd something was about two and a half feet tall with green, scaly skin. It had three arms that each ended in three fingers as well as three feet with three toes each. The three eyes on its head just above a green pig snout were a little disconcerting and Joey had to blink several times to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. When it came into the room Joey saw it also had a tail with three spikes on it.
“Hey Dexter, come in and meet Joey. He’s new on the ship. Joey, this is Dexter. He’s a tri-ped from the planet Trifecta.”
“Eep. Eep Eep.”
“That’s about all you’ll get out of him kid. Like I said before, don’t underestimate him. Dexter has helped us out of more than our share of jams before.”
“Um, hi Dexter.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
Dexter’s eyes didn’t all blink in unison. Joey was certain it was the beer, but continued to stare. His head lolled to the side and he could feel the dull ache in his side return.
“Hey kid, what time was it when you left? I mean about?”
“I don’t know. Eight. Maybe nine? Couldn’t have been that late. I had just crashed my bike in front of your mom’s house. Broke a vintage Iron Butterfly album too.”
“Man that sucks.”
“Tell me about it. I didn’t even get to listen to it.”
“Well kid, I tell you what. You need to get some sleep. I want to tell you everything that’s going on here, but you’re in no condition. I thought the beer would just relax you, not put you to sleep. June’s going to put you to bed, I’ll get this ship to a port, and then we’ll all talk about this when we’ve all had time to rest. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds pretty good.”
“June, you don’t mind, do you, babe?”
June sighed. “I guess not. Come on Joey. The beds are close.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep,” Dexter added.
“If you want to keep on eye on the new guy, you’re more than welcome,” Vic said and he left and went back to the cockpit.
Joey struggled to his feet. He was about to sleep on a spaceship. He’d had beer and now was about to go to sleep. How cool was that? He was going to wake up and be millions of miles away from home.
“Wait a minute! I need to let me folks know I won’t be home. They’re going to worry.”
Joey felt the pangs of panic grip his chest. What would they think? They would think he ran away. No! They’d find his bike and think he was killed or kidnapped or worse. Well, what could be worse? He had to let them know that everything was alright. He just had to.
“Joey, you can’t.” June put a hand on his chest before he could rush from the room.
“Why not? We’re on a spaceship. We can do anything can’t we?”
“No. And now you need to get some sleep.”
“Suddenly I’m not tired. I need to call my folks. I need to talk to them.”
“It’s not happening, Joey. I can’t tell you why because Vic hasn’t told you why. Now just get into the bunk room and go to bed.”
“No! I want to know what’s going on.”
“And you’ll have to wait for Vic to tell you. Now get in there or I’ll have Dexter put you in there.”
“Eep. Eep Eep.”
“He doesn’t scare me.”
Dexter moved. Joey didn’t even know what hit him.
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