Author : Morrow Brady

It wasn’t unusual that Captain Boscobel wanted the Priest Hole built on his flight deck. What was unique was that he wanted it directly connected to a portal.

Portals offered instantaneous escape to a predetermined destination, but like most emerging technologies they were prone to failure. Sub-cellular collapse was the worst. It always reminded me of blood soaked Coco Pops.

“Brother, hide my Priest well!” Spat Boscobel, as his enormous shape disappeared into the Captain’s quarters, the sliding door guillotining the smoke trail of his cigar.

Priest Holes are desired mainly by Captains expecting trouble such as debts, the Law or taking a shortcut through bad space. When locked in a titanium shell adrift in cold vacuum with the bad guy opening you up like a can of sardines, escape options are a precious commodity.

Nano-crafting Priest Holes in spaceships was a silent skill set. Like the Priest Holes discretely handcrafted 900 years earlier in stately English Manors, their success hinged on nobody knowing they were there. The trick was unseeing the seen and threading space where space didn’t seem to exist.

My nano-bots got underway, guided by my design. The waffle iron finish to the Captain’s chair blurred red under bot activity. The seat and backrest disintegrated and was gradually remade to match the original. Phase one – Door – complete. The armrest touchscreen was still warm from bot activity when I activated the open sequence. Linguini thin louvres in the seat and backrest shivered open and slid aside revealing the Captain sized portal. Through the seat, the portal collar blurred bright white with writhing iridescent blue stub tentacles telling me that advanced nano-tech circuitry was under construction.

I was thumbing through the touchscreen, testing the Priest’s integration with the ship’s system when I heard the swish of the Captain’s door.

“Hah! The chair? You put it in my chair! Outstanding!” He bowled over, casting his bulbous head over the chair arm. As the white and blue cauldron of light reflected off his sensor implants and veined face, we were both momentarily transfixed by the bots finalising their commissioning.

“Do you want me to set the Portal’s destination?” I asked as I punched final commands into the seat arm touchscreen.

“No! Just finish the Priest, I’ll do the rest” He pulled his head back, launching a cigar butt into the bot pit then disappeared again. The cigar’s brown stub violently oscillated as the furious ant nest of bots swarmed to deconstruct the tightly wrapped Cuban tobacco.

Gradually the icy glow faded as the bots neared completion. Another Priest Hole complete. Another satisfied customer.

I packed my meagre toolkit while Boscobel tested the Priest. The slow strobing startup sequence ceased at the formation of a black sphere within the portal. The darkness inside solar flared through the shell like miniature fountains of night. Boscobel launched a stained wooden cigar box into the circle and we both watched mesmerised as it slowed mid-air as if sinking into quicksand. I blinked through the sandy static sounds that emanated from the Portal and then it was gone. He dead stared, momentarily communicating off ship to confirm the box made it through to it’s intended destination.

“Good work” The Captain nodded.

These were the last words I heard and as soon as the bee hive screaming in my head and the full body pinprick sensation of being remade finished, it was the first thing I remembered.

Boscobel had force portalled me and wherever I was, it was dark.


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