Author : Grant Bergland
“Computer, I am not the captain, I am a fifth midshipman.”
“Incorrect. According to Navy regulations you are captain. The captain and first mate were atomized with the science officer and chief engineer. Point seven seconds later, the chaplain, sanitation engineer, and…”
“Stop. Computer, how many others were ahead of me in rank?”
“Thirty nine, Captain.”
“And how much of the crew is still alive?”
Lars gulped. “What is life pod functionality?”
“Life pods are disabled.”
“Computer, create escape scenarios.”
“Just a moment ….”
Surprised to be kept waiting, Lars looked helplessly around his quarters. Since he didn’t have any weapons, Lars pulled a leg off his metal cot and tested its weight.
The computer spoke rapidly. “I apologize for the delay, the Vorpan occupies many of my processors.”
“She also has full access to my sensors and is advancing on your quarters.”
“How can I escape?”
“Get inside an engine, orient the engine towards earth with thrusters, then purge the core.”
“Computer, I need..”
“I am a liability to you. I will incapacitate myself with a feedback loop.”
“Wait, you have to…Computer?…Computer?”
Lars tightened his fist around the metal strut and jogged down to engineering. The hallways were empty, Lars reasoned between gasping breaths that others were hiding or ashes.
Suddenly the deck turned bright purple and glowed. Lars squinted his eyes shut, assuming he was atomized. When he cracked open his eyes seconds later, he blinked in disbelief.
Somehow he was on the shore of a purple ocean. On the beach were thousands of fat walruses. Behind him, Lars saw the Vorpan. The walruses blinked and grunted to each other.
A man in a U.S. Navy jumpsuit appeared by the walruses and walked to Lars. The man’s face melted and sprouted long ears and a rabbit nose.
“You humans have an odd method of communication.” The rabbit/man’s nose wriggled and its mouth chewed.
Behind Lars, the Vorpan closed in.
“You use your eating apparatus to make noises that are not the thoughts themselves, but rather representations of the ideas.”
“Who are you?” Lars said.
“Our name is Legion, we are many.” The rabbit/man waved his hand behind him. “We are a consciousness in space. A human representation of us is walruses on the shore.”
Lars looked over his shoulder at the Vorpan and ran.
“We’ve perused your memories.” Lars hit a wall hidden by the impossible beach and felt the ship in front of him. The Vorpan fired her gun and Lars hit the deck barely missing the shot. “We very much enjoy your bunnies.”
The rabbit/man hopped over and got down on his haunches in front of Lars.
“Is something wrong?”
“The Vorpan.” Lars yelled.
The gun melted in the Vorpan’s hand and the monster shrieked.
Lars got to his feet.
“Wait, we would like you to explain bunnies to us.”
Faster than Lars thought possible, the Vorpan tackled him and drew a knife. The rabbit/man, still on his haunches, blinked his eyes.
“Is there a problem?”
The Vorpan plunged the knife down. “It’s trying to kill me.”
The rabbit/man twitched his nose. “What do you mean…‘kill’?”
The knife sliced into the side of Lars’ neck.
“Oh, that.” The rabbit/man said.
The Vorpan vanished.
“We’re sorry. Our people do not have an equivalent to your ‘kill’ or ‘die’.”
“You killed it?” Lars said, pressing his hand to his throat.
“Yes, utterly, completely.” The rabbit/man clasped his hands together and rubbed them with excitement. “Now, please…Lars, tell us of bunnies.”
“Um…they like carrots.”
“Yes, yes, carrots…..”