For My Next Trick

Ellen is a fantastic cook, like five star Michelin gourmet good. She made us a feast composed of the most mundane ingredients. It turns out she was a chemist and enjoyed synthesizing spices that weren’t available in the ship’s stores per se.

While Ellen was working her magic on the stove, Janice and I decided we needed a break from reading fine print on a tablet. So, Janice got out her flute and played us a musical appetizer while I set the table.

When dinner was ready, Janice surprised both of us with a bottle of wine that she had been saving. We ate and drank and talked like we were in an apartment back on Earth. It was relaxing. It helped prepare us for the work we had ahead.

As I finished cleaning up after dinner, the intercom chimed. Janice activated it and said, “Yes? What can I do for you?”

It was the captain and he said, “May I come in?” Janice opened the hatch and the captain entered. She closed and sealed the hatch when he was inside. “I just wanted to check to make sure that you were both alright.”

“We are more than alright, Ellen made us a wonderful dinner, Janice serenaded us with her flute. It’s been a very enjoyable evening.” I said.

“I’m glad to hear it. The XO says he’s sure that whatever punctured Cartography came from the planet below. We’re not sure how it reached escape velocity, much less the velocity at which it hit the ship.” the captain said. Janice started to say something but before she could get a word out, she just disappeared. We all stood there staring at where she had been standing just a second before. We were so shocked that no one said anything for a moment. Finally the captain said, “Where did she go?”

I shook my head baffled. “I don’t know. She was here and then she wasn’t.”

The captain pressed the broadcast button on the intercom. “Janice Fletcher, report to your quarters. If anyone sees Janice, report it to me. That is all.” He turned to Ellen and me and said, “Stay here. I’m going back to the bridge. Report at once if you find her.”

“Aye, sir. We will.” I said. He left for the bridge and I turned to Ellen. “Do you have any ideas where she went? What did you see?”

“The same thing you saw, she was there and then she was gone. Something tells me Janice may be making first contact.”

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.