Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The Captain stood just inside the doorway of the hut, regarding with amusement the figure sitting in the lotus position in the middle of the room.

“It’s over Thomas, we’ve come to take you back.” The Captain scuffed his boot on the unusual surface of the floor, glass-like but with a sandy grit embedded. “You must be ready to leave all this,” he gestured at the bare walls of a similar smooth surface devoid of any window or adornment, “all this vacancy behind.”

Thomas remained seated, legs crossed, palms upwards resting on his knees. He didn’t open his eyes, and when he spoke the Captain had to strain to hear him. “It is over, it pleases me to hear you acknowledge this so readily Captain…,” he left the word hanging as a question.

“Dennison.” The answer a reflex. “We have a cruiser on the beach waiting to take us back to the carrier, and there are a number of people very anxious to speak with you there.”

Thomas stretched his arms out to either side, palms still facing up. Beside the Captain the two soldiers that accompanied him raised their weapons to the ready, but Dennison waved them off impatiently.They relaxed only slightly as he began pacing around the perimeter of the room, fascinated by the apparently seamless surface from floor through wall to ceiling overhead.

“You’ve been a very difficult man to find, and given that virtually everything about who you are and what you’ve been up to is classified at the highest level, I must say you’ve been a severe pain in my ass for far too long.” He stopped behind Thomas, still studying the shadowy shapes buried deep in the walls. “So if you don’t mind, how about you get up off your yoga mat and start moving to the exit. Yes?”

Thomas, eyes still closed, smiled. Dennison couldn’t see from his vantage point, but the expression unnerved the soldiers, fingers hovering over triggers. Thomas turned his hands, still outstretched, palms down and from each a tiny object dropped onto the floor just outside the perimeter of the mat on which he sat, and appeared to melt into the floor.

“Nano-tech,” Thomas spoke, “specifically highly adaptable smart materials.”

“What?” Dennison turned, unaware that anything had happened.

“Sir, the prisoner…” One of the soldiers started to speak, but the floor at that moment rippled outwards from the point where Thomas sat, and the three men found themselves without stable footing. One of the soldiers fired in alarm, bullets ripped into the ceiling, the material now more the consistency of ballistic gel, shells penetrating perhaps a foot before stopping completely.

Dennison stumbled and put his hands down to break his fall only to sink to his elbows in the now viscous flooring.

“What the hell?” He struggled, but only managed to sink deeper. By the door, one soldier had fallen backwards, head and shoulders embedded in the wall where he twitched feebly while the other lay with his entire right side submerged in the near liquid floor, weapon sinking slowly out of reach.

“Very specialized smart materials Captain.” Thomas folded his hands in his lap. “For my entire career I was the consumable. Now, I meditate, and engineer, and when those who seek me are unfortunate enough to find me, they, like you become the consumable. There will always be more Captains searching for answers above their pay grade.”

Gravity slowly liberated the shells buried in the ceiling, and they fell to the floor to join the three soldiers as they slowly slipped beneath the surface. In a matter of minutes the floor had returned to its solid state once more.

On the beach outside only the waves made any sound, and they too seemed reluctant to venture too far inland.

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