Where is IT?
On the bridge, Captain Fahrer hunched over his laptop. As soon as I approached in the seat beside him, he snapped his screen to some ancient generic Windows picture of rolling green hills and blue sky. He twisted his body sideways in the harness and wrinkled up his face like a prune. ‘Where is it?’ His fingers slid around the base of the laptop.
‘You know, Holly.’ He flung his hands around his head. Obviously, he thinks I can read his mind, the same mind he won’t let me in to read. ‘You must’ve seen it somewhere.’
‘But what is IT?’ I hovered above my seat. ‘If I knew what IT was, maybe I could help you.’ Cool drops of sweat gathered on my forehead ready for a panic party. Stay calm, Holly. Stay calm. It’s just another one of Fahrer’s anxiety attacks.
‘IT!’ Fahrer shaped his index finger and thumb in the shape of a ‘C’, ‘What goes into the computer—the Eight Gigabyte—um—memory—thing.’
So, he’s missing his USB. Hope not the one I smashed the other night.
My face grew hot. My voice cracked as I asked, ‘Have you checked your pockets?’ Where was that thing? Where had I put it after I mistook it for a cockroach and crushed it?
The Captain patted his top pocket then stopped. His eyes narrowed. ‘Oh, shut up! I don’t want your advice! I know you’ve hidden it.’
‘Me?’ I pointed at my chest hiding my heart hammering inside. Me, the innocent, being proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. I suppose I better come clean, get it over with. Show my trump card, then he can’t deny my value. Or should I chuck in a red-herring? Distract him from USB-hunting.
I breathed in…and then out… trying to still the beating heart and regain control of my rampant emotions. ‘I’ll just go and get it, then.’ I paddled back to the door and turned. Okay, red-herring time! ‘You know, Gunter, you really need to be more careful, and not leave your stuff lying about the place like under the bed. Could be embarrassing for you.’
‘What are you on about?’ Fahrer’s face turned bright red and his bared teeth appeared whiter and fiercer in contrast. ‘Get back here!’ He pointed at the seat. ‘And don’t you dare call me Gunter! I’m Captain Fahrer to you. You address me as Sir.’
‘Don’t you want your USB—Sir?’
‘Are you saying you took it back to your apartment, without permission?’ He pulled out several slotted drawers, one after another. ‘I left it stuck right here this morning. I was using it then.’
‘Oh.’ I drifted back to my seat and hovered above it. ‘I thought you meant the one I found in Strahan. In the cabin.’
‘I told you,’ Fahrer hit the back of my head rest making my stomach lurch. ‘I was using the thing this morning.’
I clutched the arm of my seat and stared at the soft white leather padding. ‘So it…’
‘Well, it wasn’t me!’ Whomp! He made another dent in my seat’s padding. Glad I wasn’t sitting there while I floated around the bridge looking for the missing USB. Fahrer growled. ‘Whoever you were with, it wasn’t me. Not my problem.’
‘Oh, you mean…Yes, Sir, I know it wasn’t you. The man I was with in Strahan, was much nicer.’ My cheeks numbed as blood drained from them, my mind faded with dizziness of shock. ‘So, I’m puzzled how Minna’s report of her first mission ended up under the bed in my holiday apartment back there in Strahan.’
‘Minna’s report? What do you mean?’
‘The USB had Minna’s report.’ I trained my voice to maintain a semblance of sanity while the rest of my being and soul trembled. My red-herring could go either way. I slipped into my seat.
The comment had triggered Fahrer, though. ‘You don’t think I’d risk my career or the mission,’ he cleared his throat, ‘to break into your apartment and drop a USB with such information under your bed? Give me some credit! I’m the Captain!’ then in a tone of sarcasm. ‘Or do you really think that I somehow morphed into Fox to have my way with you?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous. I know Fox and he wasn’t you. You do realise Fox was my old boyfriend before I left Earth in 1995. And just so you know, he’s a Doctor of Physics. And aren’t you an expert in Physics also?’ Glancing away, I dug around behind me, for the harness caught there. ‘Well, anyway, surely you know about String theory, and the dozens of parallel universes—could that explain Minna’s USB and report on it, that you so passionately deny existing?’ I yanked the strap and a thumbnail sized blob catapulted into zero gravity.
Fahrer continued to sermonize. ‘You must’ve confused me for someone else. I never denied its existence. I just deny having put it there. Do you think I am that stupid? Let’s face it, you’re not that bright—what are you? The ship’s counsellor? All looks and nothing in that pretty head of yours. Do they think I am impressed?’ His voice droned on like a cranky old school master. Yada, yada, yada.
‘Well, perhaps it was Boris, then.’ I floated after the glob and reaching out, snatched it in my hand.
My worst offence, and, I must admit, weakness was my habit of losing things. I tend to put items of importance anywhere convenient, or if I am tidying up, cram stuff in the nearest available corner. At home half the fun of my life was hunting for and discovering lost things; sometimes finding buried treasures months or years later in the most peculiar places. I had to train myself not to lose things to be a part of this War against Boris. In space, everything has its place, its location documented on the computer, and the back of every cabin door in the Ship. However, I still had my Holly moments. So, in the end, when Fahrer would be in a frenzy about lost stuff, I would tell the others not to worry, just blame me, or Boris and get on with life.
‘Mein gott! Now what are you doing?’ Fahrer ranted. ‘I hope you’re not going to do some dance. You’re meant to be navigating, you know. No, I suppose you don’t.’
I lowered myself behind his seat. ‘Are you looking for this?’
His head with man-bun rotated, his eyes rolled and then switched into slits glaring at me.
Then gaze fixed on the USB, he pounced on the device, plucked it from my fingers, and then plugged it into his computer.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Under the Bed, Mole Creek Hotel, actually © L.M. Kling 2011