Epic Wardrobe Fail
A knock at the door distracted me from my perusal. I stepped from the bathroom, and then shoved the USB into my tote bag. What was I meant to do with it? I felt a tinge of guilt having read what was also Gunter’s business in the dirty laundry department. Imagine, him stealing Fox’s identity. Imagine if old Fox ever found out. I knew by now the real Fox rarely, if ever, had ventured into space, despite his expert knowledge of physics.
The intercom buzzed. ‘Enter!’ I sang out while I pulled on my t-shirt over my head and straightened it over my chest.
Shusk! The door slid open and he stepped into the room. His tailored navy-blue jacket and pressed trousers with perfect creases spelt authority. The only one on this Little Sister Ship who didn’t have to wear the compulsory boiler suit.
On automatic in the presence of a superior, I saluted, tipping my hand to forehead, ‘Yes, sir!’ I looked at his face, sapphire-blue eyes peering at me. And minus the facial hair, his features were unmistakable. I dropped my hand. My whole body burned as if caught on fire; the fire of shame and epic stuff-up. This was Minna’s husband. It was him! ‘Gunter?’
I vaulted towards him. ‘Remember me? Holly Mueller?’
He stood motionless, hands behind his back and legs parted regulation half-a- metre apart; the picture of Teutonic authority. Although the man-bun tucked at the back of his scalp, amused me. Was this his subtle way of thumbing his rather large nose at the ISF authority concerning regulation haircuts? Or had the ISF relaxed the short-back-and-sides rule since the ‘90’s when I last stepped onto the Mother Ship? The only movement, his frown defining his high yet currently creased forehead.
He raised a hand, motioning me to stop. ‘Sir, to you. I’m the Captain.’ He cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple rising up and dipping down. ‘Captain Fahrer. And you, Ensign Mueller, understand?’
‘Sorry, Sir.’ I bent my head and stepped backwards. I could feel my cheeks flush with heat, my palms damp and sweaty. ‘Just that, I thought—um —the other night. What with the beard—I didn’t realise, I mean recognise—you.’
He glared at me as if I was “koo koo”, ‘Unacceptable Mueller.’
‘I am sorry, sir, my mistake. But, sir, you weren’t in uniform.’ I didn’t know where to look. I mean he looked like a local, a greenie then, back in Strahan. I glanced at him sideways, noting in the mirror as the corner of my rosy lips curled into a smile. ‘I must say, that colour—the uniform, I mean Wow! It suits you—you look—um…’ Attractive came to mind. I bit my tongue and watched him roll his eyes while the rest of him stood like I imagined a statue in Munich’s central square. Not that I’d been to Munich. Not a fan of Germany coming from Switzerland. Okay, a statue in St. Gallen, then. My heart did a back flip and lodged in my throat, ‘great.’ I croaked. ‘I mean, sir, if I may be honest, if you wore that uniform the other night, I’d have known exactly who you were, and I wouldn’t have rejected you.’
His thin lips darted downwards into a pout. ‘Irrelevant, Miss Mueller.’
I felt like a bucket of hot water had been dumped on my head and at that moment cascaded down my body. ‘I was just saying, that’s all.’ I twisted the hem of my tee-shirt in my hands, restraining the tremor. What’s wrong with him? Why’s he being so mean? I mean he seemed a pretty keen greenie back there in Strahan. Three times—I stress, three times he tried to hit on me. He did, I’m sure, he did.
‘You are assigned to work with me.’ Fahrer’s gaze wandered over the cabin, avoiding eye-contact. ‘Where’s your manual, Ensign?’
‘Find it! Read it—Section Six. Relationships. No fraternizing, understand?’
‘Aye, Sir.’ I sighed. ‘I’ll look forward to working with you, Captain.’ My knees went weak. I’m working with him! The Captain. Despite his current aloofness, he possessed an aura, powerful, magnetic, and I had to admit, Teutonic. There’s hope. I’ll convert him. Bring out the fun-loving relaxed side of him. There is a fun, relaxed side of him, surely. All this Captain stuff, this serious German thing is an act, surely.
‘Ready Ensign? It’s time.’ Fahrer glanced down at my legs.
‘I’m ready, Sir.’ I stepped towards him, my legs wobbling. ‘I’m all yours.’ Probably not the best choice of words, but then, I’m not known for my choice of words.
‘No, you are not.’ He looked me up and down. ‘Not appropriately. Section Five of your manual—read.’
‘What’s wrong with this?’ I looked down.
Have you ever had one of those embarrassing moments when you’ve just felt like shrinking into the nearest black hole? Yes, well, I had one of those moments. Sure, I had my tee-shirt, but my shorts had not turned up for duty.
The Captain stared at my pink hipster underpants which, thank God, I was wearing. Still, I felt like shrinking away and hiding under the nearest invisibility blanket. ‘You call yourself ready?’ He stated the obvious.
‘Yes, Sir, I mean, no Sir.’ I snatched up my black baggy sports shorts and scrambled into them. ‘I’m ready now Sir.’ This was getting worse by the second. And I didn’t want to end up back on Earth. Anywhere on the planet is not safe with Johann around. A parallel universe will do. Sure Fox could arrange that being an astrophysicist working on the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Sure he could make one big enough for me to jump through to a parallel universe. Although, Fahrer could arrange that, too, he’s a genius, a master of astrophysics, engineering, mathematics…even music, so I’ve heard. Johann, oh, of course, that’s why Gunter was in disguise. Johann is Gunter’s brother. Oh, and that explains why Gunter’s so grumpy having a brother like Johann.
‘Negative, Fraulein Mueller.’ I sensed his unspoken words. I hope you’re not going to make a habit of this. ‘Boiler suit.’
‘A boiler suit, again!’ I protested. He’s joking, has to be. ‘Must I, Sir?’
‘Boiler suit.’ He nodded at the wall where the silver overalls hung on a hook.
‘But permission to ask, sir. Why sir?’
Really? ‘If you say so, Sir.’
‘Wear it! That’s an order, Fraulein.’ Fahrer’s tenor of voice remained calm and even, but insistent.
‘Then, excuse me, Sir.’ I shut the door in his face and donned the dowdy boiler suit. I also checked my hair and make-up. When I opened the door to go to the training, the Captain was still there, standing as though he were a statue. ‘Okay, I’m ready, Sir.’
‘It’s O-seven hundred hours.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘We have a schedule Ensign.’
‘Yes, Sir!’ I said, but under my breath: Must adjust the hair and make up to compensate for the bad-taste boiler suit.
‘Get used to it, Fraulein.’ Fahrer marched ahead. ‘And keep your thoughts to yourself.’
‘You can read my thoughts, sir? Amazing! I thought I could only do that.’
‘Yes, Sir.’ I chewed my lip while rambling on in my head. Certainly has changed since he was with Minna. Where’s his sense of humour? Did it die with Minna?
‘Stop head-babbling!’ he snapped.
‘Yes, sir, but, I can’t help it. I was only…’
‘Stop! Now, get on with it.’
‘It, Sir? What is “it” I’m meant to get on with, Sir?’
He chopped the air. ‘Your job, Ensign. This is not a holiday cruise ship.’
‘But I need to know what you want me to do, Sir.’
Eyes to the ceiling and then narrowed on me. ‘Well, what do you think your job is?’
I took a deep breath. Was this a trick question? Minna had warned me that Gunter could be difficult, but I hadn’t believed her. I believed her at this time on the Little Sister Ship with the Captain of it staring at me waiting for an answer. ‘I’m, um, the counsellor, but with…’
‘Just what I need!’ exclaimed in a manner that implied he’d avoid my help, even if I were the last person left with him on some abandoned planet. He locked eyes with me. ‘No poking around in my head, understand?’
‘Got it, Sir.’
‘What? What have you got?’
‘Nothing, I meant…’
Fahrer whipped around, his face flushed crimson. ‘Silence!’
I raised my hands in surrender. ‘Okay! But I think you misunderstand me. I’m the ship’s counsellor…’
‘Stop babbling!’ He rested his hands on his hips. ‘Be professional, Ensign. My personal life is none of your concern.’
‘Sorry, Sir! I didn’t mean to.’ A lump rose in my throat. ‘You know about the USB, then?’
‘Minna’s diary.’ I swung around. ‘Hold on, I’ll just get it for you.’ I shuffled a few steps back to my quarters.
‘Mueller!’ His voice rumbled in a low growl like a dog. ‘Talk of Minna Thumm is forbidden. Understand?’
‘But you read my thoughts. How can I stop my thoughts? You got rules in the manual about what kind of thoughts to have?’
Now that statement got his attention and he trembled glaring at me.
‘Sorry, Sir’. I felt as small as an atom. ‘When I get nervous, they come out a bit.’ I stared at the grey floor.
His eyes fixed on mine. ‘Control them, Ensign.’ He swung around, hands clasped behind his back.
‘Yes, Sir, I’ll do my best, but um…’
He took a few paces and twisted his head to look at me. ‘And no…’ he waved his hand around his head, ‘No probing.’
‘Aye, Sir.’ No harm me doing that, he keeps his mind under lock and key. What’s he hiding? ‘I only go in with permission or when it’s the enemy, Sir. As I’ve been trained, Sir.’ My heart fluttered as I spoke. I like a good mystery. A thin reedy thought worked its way into my consciousness. What if he’s the enemy? I shoved that idea back into the unknown depths of my subconscious. He’s the Fahrer. He’s a hero. Where did that insane moment come from?
‘Very well.’ His eyes dipped to my chest making me self-conscious of my well-formed breasts shielded yet heaving. ‘To the Bridge.’
‘Yes, Sir,’ I said and marched in step behind him. ‘But what is it I have to do?’
The Captain shook his head and continued marching.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Statues in St Gallen, Switzerland © L.M. Kling 2014
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