Saturday, March 4, 2017

Voyage to Saga: Right in Front (Part VII)

The first thing that Vearden could feel was the pain. His head felt like someone had cut an ever-delicate slit over the tip, and then pulled the two halves apart just a little. He tried to reach up and massage it, but could not. They were trapped behind his back. Even lifting his chin had painful consequences, but still he did. Across the room was a woman who was tied up too. There was no one else, not even a guard, in this small dungeon-like room. It was all metal, with two metal hatches on either side of them. It was very clearly a ship. It didn’t feel like they were on the water, though. All he could hear was creaking. The most important things to figure out now was why they were tied up, and how they were going to get out of it.
“You’re awake. How are you feeling?”
“Pretty terrible, actually,” Vearden replied. “Where are we?”
“In an abandoned something or other. Though, I suppose everything’s been abandoned these days. With what religion did you identify?”
“What? My religion? That’s the first thing you ask? Not my name?”
“What’s your name?”
“Vearden Haywood.”
“Imelda. I was a deist.”
“I’ve never believed in God, but I never gave it much thought either.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. If you were an atheist, you would have been sent to hell.” Then she got a little excited. “Unless you were sent to hell, and then you escaped. Are you part of the resistance? Is that why they captured you?”
“What? No! How dare you say I belong in hell. Where I come from, we respect each other’s beliefs.”
“Oh, I do. It’s’re completely unaware of what’s going on, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, let’s just say that I’m not from around here.”
“I hope it’s nicer there than it is here. Maybe you could take me there...someday. Maybe.”
“Imelda, explain to me what’s happened. Why were you so confident that I should be in hell?” More creaking from the walls.
“That’s just the way it is now. All atheists were sent to hell...all at once. Over half of people were sent to heaven, and the rest of us stayed here. We call it the rapture.”
“So, the Christians were right.”
“They weren’t, no. They were wrong. We were all so very wrong. And now the demons have taken over. It is my position that we were all in such a hurry that we hastened our own demise. We should have been more patient.”
Vearden struggled to get out of his restraints, but not even his chair would move. It was bolted to the floor. Hers wasn’t, however. “Hey, I can’t move, but you can scoot over to that twisted metal conduit over there. Use the sharp edge to cut through your ropes.”
“No need, we will both survive this.”
“What? Imelda, we have to go. I don’t know what happens when whoever took us comes back.”
“They will try to kill us.”
“Then we definitely have to leave. Come on, please! It’ll just take a second.” Each time he got a little worked up, the creaking would intensify.
“I wish not to waste my energy.”
“If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for me. Please!” he begged.
“You just need more patience.”
“No, what I need is to survive, so I can go save my friend.”
“I have faith that you will find her in time.”
“I never said she was a girl.”
“Hm,” was her only reply.
“Imelda. I’m asking you nicely, and slowly...with patience, to please help me get out of my ropes.”
“Just wait.”
They waited for a few moments before hearing muffled voices from the other side of one of the two hatches. Vearden couldn’t really hear exactly what they were saying, especially with the creaking, but they were clearly angry with each other, and he did catch something about gold.
“No, you little imp—!” was the last thing one of them said, fairly clearly, before the gun went off. Then they heard a body drop.
“Is actual imp? As in the demon.”
“Well...” Imelda answered vaguely. “No.”
The person—or demon, as it were—left standing tried to open the hatch. They could hear the latch jiggle a few times. Then they could hear what sounded like little beeps. Then bang, bang, bang! Then creak, creak, creak.
“I guess the guy he killed never gave him the code.”
“God...DAMMIT!” cried the demon. He just went berserk, kicking and banging on the hatch over and over again, while screaming profanities, and sometimes just nonsense. He would not let up. He wanted to be in the room, and nothing was going to stop him, not even the creaks.
“Okay,” Vearden said, trying to take that patience thing a bit more seriously. “That hatch is not going to hold him forever, so if you could just try this. Just try it. If it’s too hard, you can give up, and I won’t be mad. Please try.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Don’t worry about it?” Vearden repeated, angry in his own right. “Don’t worry about it!? This is life and death! Maybe in your world, people can just come back from the afterlife, but for me, dead is dead!”
“All will work out in the end.”
“Now, you listen to me.” He stopped himself once Imelda casually pulled her arms to her front and massaged her wrists.
“What. The. Hell?”
Imelda reached down behind her chair and lifted something up, saying, “thank you” into her palms
Vearden squinted through the darkness and was able to see that she was holding a little mouse. “He’s mine, I brought him here.” It was the mouse he had incidentally picked up from the island with the plane crash in the previous reality.
“Then I thank you as well.”
He let out a heavy sigh. “That’s why you didn’t bother getting yourself free. My mouse was chewing through your ropes. You coulda said something.”
“You would have seen eventually. We could all do with a little more...”
Vearden rolled his eyes and recited the word “patience” at the same time as her. She was a broken record.
“Yes,” she said on her own, happy that her wisdom might be reaching him afterall.
He took another deep breath, trying to call himself down, despite the constant ruckus from just outside...and the creaks. “I know you’re all about patience, but if you don’t get up right now, you’re going to die.”
“Death is no end.”
“And I told you that it is for me. Now that you’re free, you can stand up and untie my ropes as well.”
“We are better off with you there.”
“What are you talking about? Is this a test? Are you actually the one who knocked me on the head? I never did see who did it. Is this some elaborate interrogation plan?”
“There is no plan but God’s.”
“Oh, Jesus,” he said, rolling his eyes again.
“He’s not very involved this time.”
Just then, the banging stopped. But Vearden knew that this was no good sign. The demon was probably just taking a break. A few minutes later, he realized he was right. They could hear the sound of metal dragging on metal. “I have you now!” the demon yelled to them through the door. The banging started back up again, but this time, he had a tool.
“Okay, now we have to go. I can see the door move. He’ll break it sooner rather than later.”
“Stop saying that! My legs are killing me, I shouldn’t have to sit like this anymore.” He stretched his legs away from the chair as much as he could, to relieve some of the pain.
With Vearden’s last word, the door broke free. It swung open a little bit on its own. They could hear the demon more clearly now. “Ha!” it said through heavy panting. It pushed itself through and immediately ran for Imelda who was standing patiently in the opposite corner, petting Vearden’s mouse. The demon had to pass in front of Vearden first, and didn’t notice Vearden’s legs. It tripped right over them and felt on its face. It fell hard, and then it stopped moving.
“Ho-oly shit,” was all Vearden could say.
“No, it was quite unholy,” Imelda disagreed. “It was the embodiment of impatience.” Ooooohhh, it wasn’t an imp. It was impatient. Haha, that’s dumb.
Just then, they could hear footsteps headed for them from down the hallway. “Can we go now?” Vearden asked.
“Of that he’s finally opened the door for us. If he had just been patient, backup would have arrived with keys.”
They slunk out of the door and separated into rooms on either side of the hallway, peeking around the corner to watch as black-clothed figures ran past them, and into the hostage room.
“Where did they go?” one asked.
“They couldn’t have gone through this door. We would have seen them,” added another.
“Open that one,” a third one ordered.
As he did so, the creaking came to a head and moved the entire structure. Vearden stepped out of his hiding place due to curiosity as the entire hostage room broke away from the rest of the structure, and tumbled into the abyss below, sending all the pursuers to their deaths.
“You knew that would happen.”
“They shouldn’t have opened that other door. It was the only thing keeping the pressure balanced.”
“What are you?”
“I’m God,” she said, and she wasn’t joking. “But enough about that. We ought to be going. The rest of the ship could fall at any moment.”
They ran down the hallways. She looked like she knew where she was going the whole time, like she had been there before. Finally, they made it to that ramp that people use to get on and off. It didn’t look or feel stable, but they had to risk it.
Just as they were reaching the bottom, a group of people nonthreatingly ran up to them. One of them asked, “Imelda Angelo?”
“I am,” she said kindly.
“My name is Dana. I know this may sound strange, but—”
“Yes, yes, yes. We’re hypostates, and we’re trying to save the world. Got it. We should leave.”
“I was told that you would be—”
“Patient?” Imelda asked. I am, which means I know when it’s time to act.” She turned to Vearden. “Oh, before you go, here’s your mouse.”
“No, you keep it. Her name is Monica.”
“Monica Mouse, I like it.”
Then it was over.

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