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Episode 10 Part 22

By:  Lenady

There was no shaking, save for that of her own body, but there was darkness. Too much darkness.

            She stared up at the ceiling of her room, gasping, for a minute before rolling over and burying her face into the pillow. The movement caused her head to spin and her stomach to lurch. She felt sick all over, although to a lesser degree than during the dream, and the chill still clung to her. Tilly reached back and pulled the blanket over her shoulders. Although it did little to chase away the prickly cold that seemed to be enveloping her, all she wanted to do was to make a cocoon out of the bedclothes, to curl into them and her stuffed animals and never come out. The only problem was that the cocoon was dark as well.

“Toren?” she asked, her voice shaky and muffled by the pillow and blanket which she had pulled over her head. A jolt ran through Tilly. What if the computer didn’t answer at all?

“You rang?”

 “Actually no”, she said, feeling a little more at ease. “Unless I’ve turned into a bell. Could you turn a light on?”

 “Aren’t I normally fighting to wake you up?’

“Yeah, well, special circumstances. You’ll be back to the same old fight in the morning.” Tilly pulled the blanket back a little, noting that the room was sufficiently light enough to see without hurting her eyes.

“Circumstances?”

Tilly pulled the blanket back up over her head and mentally cursed herself. “Let’s not touch that, please”, she mumbled. The tremors that shook her body every so often had just begun to die down, and discussing things wouldn’t help. To her surprise, Toren said nothing.

The silence was almost as bad as an interrogation. Either way, she felt like the dream was pulling her back. Tilly rubbed her hand fiercely on the mattress and curled herself tighter.  “Toren”, she asked, “would it be okay if I watched some tv?”

“Why even ask? It’s not like there’s a toll or something.

“Erm.” Tilly paused a minute, feeling a little ridiculous. “I don’t really know how to work it.”

“Is that all? I’ll show you!”

“So it’s okay?” Tilly asked, peeking her head out from under the blankets again.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?”

Tilly shrugged. She stood up, pulling the comforter with her, draping it over her head and pulling it around her like an oversized cloak. She walked to the doorway when she felt steady on her feet, listening to the back of the blanket drag the floor behind her.

There was only a small amount of light in the common room, just enough to see the outline of the couch. She stood in the doorway for a minute, shying away from the darkness which seemed to be reaching out to surround her, then darted over to the orange sofa and jumped onto it, pulling her legs up with her and tightening her grip on the blanket.

     “So how do you work this thing?” she asked quickly. To her dismay, the shake in her voice had returned.

       “Too easy! I have a wide selection of channels from multiple sources throughout space, including Earth, you might be happy to know. I also have access to media files on a multitude of networks. Just ask me for something. I bet ya you won’t be able to stump me. Unless you ask for the elegy of Grimgouse Shozy or something like that. Though why you’d want that horrible piece of… wait, no, I have that too!”

     The computer continued, not waiting for Tilly respond. “It would probably be best though if you told me what you had in mind. You could just flip through with the remote, but with the selection that I can tap into, it would be forever ‘til you surfed though all of the channels. Aren’t I amazing?”

      “Yes Toren, you’re incredible,” she said, smiling despite (no, perhaps because of) the ship’s obvious need for compliments.

       “Just tell me some search parameters to go on. Think of it like a vocal search engine. Incidentally, that’s also how you work with my version of the internet. Just tell me something, anything, and I can look it up. Try me!”

     “Okay, something funny would be good. Nothing serious. And short. Maybe a sitcom or something? And something in English? But my eyes kind of hurt, so subtitles are probably out.” She paused for a moment, shifting her position on the couch. “Is that too much?”

     “If anything, it’s not enough. I think I should feel insulted. This isn’t Earth where you have something like 20 channels. I am a supercomputer, after all.”

    “Well, we have more than 20 channels,” Tilly grumbled, “but I see your point.” She thought for a moment, but failed to come up with any more details she could request. “Surprises are nice sometimes. Could you just pick something for me?”

      “Can do! How’s this?”

The area around the couch was suddenly much brighter as the TV turned on. Tilly felt a knot begin to grow in her stomach when she recognized the characters in the black and white scene.

    “Ah, you’re speechless. Awed by my wonderful tastes! Actually, Sanrook likes this one a lot, so I thought you might too.”

“Yeah I know,” Tilly said as she shifted a little and pulled the blanket tighter around herself. “Uh, this one’s fine Toren. Thanks. Lucy’s always a good choice.”

     ‘Except, of course, when it reminds you of the person you’re currently fighting with’ she thought to herself.

     Tilly watched through the opening song, then looked down, her eyes being drawn to the white line still on the floor. Things weren’t going to get much easier than they already were, she realized, but the argument was starting to wear at her system. The fact that she felt wound up like a spring was evidence of that.

     She wasn’t even certain about why the fight happened in the first place. It certainly went beyond early morning wake-up calls and a lack of utensils, went beyond even Sanrook’s nosiness. The tension she had felt between them for the past week was undoubtedly at fault, but she was uncertain of what was the root of that tension. The laugh track from show started, seemingly mocking her and her ignorance. Tilly glared at the television for a second, then stared down at the patterns of the blanket she was wrapped in. If she had any clue as to what the issue was, then she wouldn’t be sitting in the common room trying to rid herself of a nightmare. She shifted again, uncomfortably.

     “Toren?” she said, slightly above the volume of the television.

      “Yeah?”

     “Back on that planet…” She scratched her head, trying to come up with the right question. “Is Sanrook always that reckless?”

     “I would think you’d know the answer to that.”

     “Well, yeah. She’s always been, um… impetuous? But, how often has she nearly gotten herself killed?”

     “Depends on what you consider to be ‘nearly’. You mean, like getting her head on a chopping block or having to actually be sewn back together?”

     “Sewn back?” Tilly asked, a little louder than she would have liked.

     “Exaggeration, of course,” Toren supplied quickly, and then added “Kinda.”

     “Ah.” Tilly fiddled with the seams on the edge of the blanket. They were fraying slightly in a few spots, but its well-used appearance was a comfort.

     “Why do you ask?”

     “No reason,” Tilly replied, although she had a feeling Toren knew the reason before she even asked why.

     After that Tilly tried to focus on the hijinks playing themselves out in front of her. It was a familiar episode, one she had watched several times. Thankfully, at least, this did more to relax her, rather than cause boredom. Unfortunately, the last time she had watched it was with Sanrook, and she had discovered that the show was really better when watched with someone else. Tilly leaned her head against the back of the couch and sighed. She was going to jinx herself. Every time she thought about talking things out with her friend, the situation had only gotten worse. She knew, however, that the longer they stewed, the worse things would probably get. They were both probably acting like idiots anyway.

     ‘Besides,’ she thought, ‘if Lucy and Ethel always managed to make up, then me and Sanrook can surely do the same.’

     Tilly scooted down into the cushions and rested her head against the armrest, settling in to watch the rest of the episode and praying she was actually right this time.

 

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