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Episode 4 Part 1

By:  Lenady

“Morning, Cupcake!”

“Huh?” a rather dazed, slightly confused, and still thoroughly exhausted Tilly mumbled from underneath a pile of stuffed animals and blankets. She poked her head out an inch or so from beneath the large mound and was met by the abundance of light that suddenly filled the once blissfully dark room.

“Wakey, Wakey! It’s another beautiful day. Uh, wait. Scratch that… we’re in space”.

“Ugh, leave me alone.” Tilly retreated back into the safety and darkness of her blankets, putting the pillow over her head to drown out the loud voice that had suddenly invaded and driven her out of the warm sanctuary called sleep. Her eyes widened in a sudden horror as she realized what exactly her head was against, now that it wasn’t on top of the pillow. An unusual, seemingly organic, material was pressed firmly against her cheek. She quickly sat up; the lack of sleep was still evident in eyes that were no longer threatening to close. The pillow, had it been alive, would have been suffocated by the grip that Tilly held it in.

She sighed as she loosened her hold. An unusual wake up call for an unusual place; it seemed rather fitting. She looked down at the red mattress that seemed to be peaking out from under the piles of blankets, as if screaming for her attention, saying “I’m here, I’m weird, and I’m comfy. Love me.” She didn’t know how she felt about this unusual specimen of bedding. Tilly couldn’t quite understand it, but the thoughts of touching the mattress made her feel a little uncomfortable to say the least. Sanrook had said something the previous night about having to water it, but she still had no clue as to what the material was really made out of. Yet, despite her overwhelming curiosity, she knew better than to ask. Knowing Sanrook, she’d probably say that it was alive or something.

“What time is it?” she asked, not bothering to look up, considering there was no face to equate with the voice that she was conversing with.

“It’s six o’clock. Get up!”

A few things were simply not registering in Tilly’s mind that morning. The first question that came to mind was why a computer had to call her ‘cupcake’ at six o’clock in the morning. The second was why in the world said computer had to have such a high, energetic, squeaky voice at six o’clock in the morning. The third was why she was up at six o’clock in the morning, period. Tilly looked up slowly, suspicious of the whole matter. Some things weren’t quite adding up.

“Wait a minute. It’s six o’clock on a Saturday morning, and I’m being woken up by a computer programmed by Sanrook. Meaning Sanrook is awake, the same Sanrook who normally can’t be dragged out of bed before noon?”

“That’s only on earth. She actually gets up at this time on the ship. And now you will too!”

“Why?” Tilly asked in annoyance as she did her best to re-bury herself in and under the pile of softness on the bed. Trying to hide as well as she could from the verbal alarm clock that had no visible snooze button, she couldn’t help but wonder why the high-pitched voice wasn’t echoing, considering the walls were made of metal.

“She’s working on mechanics. Even now she’s … oh, you’ll hear it in a minute.”

Pieces of blue and brown hair stuck out at insane angles from underneath the quilt, victims of Tilly’s attempted retreat. She breathed in and out deeply, wondering what sort of mess she had gotten herself into. After all of the incidences back at college with Sanrook why did the red head still surprise her so often? She sat up, pulling the blankets into her lap. When something involved Sanrook it was best to face the world and be prepared for whatever was supposed to happen, or in this case whatever she was suppose to hear. Just her luck it would be loud and involve an explosion of some sort.

“What mechanics?” Tilly asked as she attempted to fix one section of her hair that seemed to insist on staying in her eyes.

“ME of course. Aren’t I great? Aren’t I lovely?”

Smooching sounds filled the air around Tilly. She cringed as she pictured a giant set of lips, similar to those in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, on a computer screen. She shook her head to try to clear her mind of the disgusting ruby red visual, but only succeeded in making herself feel slightly dizzy.

She looked up, glancing around the walls in search of a camera lens or something to that extent, “I guess I can always unpack”. Her search was fruitless and left her curious as to how exactly Toren ‘saw’ anything on the ship if not through cameras.

“I’ll watch!” the computer exclaimed with what can only compare to the enthusiasm of an excited five year old.

“Uh, that’s okay. I bet there’s lots more interesting things to do than watch me unpack”, Tilly said, smiling, hopeful that the ship would get the hint and leave her alone for a while. After the last few days, and especially after her lack of sleep last night, she needed a bit of time by herself.

“Nope, I have infinite memory, well almost infinite. Might as well be.”

Tilly could feel something in her crumble. Maybe it was just the sensation of her shoulders slumping, at least that’s what she told herself anyways. She managed to keep the smile on her face, though it was a strained gesture. She didn’t know if you could hurt a computer’s feelings, and she doubted that they had any at all; but she didn’t want to risk it.

She stood up, in slight disbelief that a computer could find her unpacking so incredibly interesting and looked at the piles of bags and boxes that were piled on the floor. It really wasn’t that much, but Sanrook certainly had done quite a bit of complaining; especially after learning what it was that she had carried. Tilly sighed. The piles weren’t that big, not in comparison to what they could have been since she had attempted to pack up her entire life, but the task before her seemed horribly daunting. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep. It made sense that she would have difficulty falling asleep; she had expected that. She hadn’t, however, expected the nightmares. She couldn’t remember ever having so many in one night.

Tilly ran her hands through her hair and tried to get rid of some of the tangles. She glared at the sheet, which was partially responsible for one particular dream about a python, and threw the bedding onto the floor. At least she knew that the nightmares weren’t real. She was now flying through space at who knew what speed away from earth, the only place she could recall calling home. That fact couldn’t be so easily dismissed. Her life, over the past year had just seemed to flip flop, over and over again, one thing after another happening without explanation. She normally tried not to think about that too much. Introspection was a good thing, but only in small amounts. Bad things happened when she started thinking too much.

Tilly cleared a spot out on the floor between her suitcase and book bag, pushing the quilt out of her way, and rummaged through the two, pulling out items at random. Examining a bag of colorful wristbands she picked one with a rainbow, inspired by her pajamas, and pulled it onto her left wrist. That band in particular made her smile. It always kind of reminded her of Rainbow Bright. She used to have one of the dolls when she was a small, although she could never remember what happened to it.

Setting the bag down she began to rummage through her suitcase in an attempt to find something comfortable enough to be worn at that early hour. The reason why Sanrook had woken her up so early this morning was still eluding her. After all, the past two days had been rather trying. She sighed as she pulled her right hand through her hair. She grimaced. If only her hair had stayed a normal brown, had she not met Sanrook… the thoughts that crossed her mind attempted to find a more pleasant alternative, but really what was the use? She was there on a ship hurtling through space at God only knew, or rather God and Sanrook and the ship only knew, what speed. There was no way to change things now, so she was better off making sure that her mind stayed focused on the present, not on what-ifs that she had no control over. Then again, she didn’t seem to have much control over the present situation either. She looked up, glancing back and forth between the ceiling and walls of her room. She couldn’t feel anyone staring at her, but she knew she was being looked at all the same. Tilly didn’t know how long she could remain sane with that knowledge; to know that someone can always see you, that you’re never really alone, even if that someone was a glorified Pentium, was rather unsettling.

Maybe the recent events had been the cause of the large number of nightmares the previous night. She had been pretty tense when she finally got to bed. Hand to umbrella combat, creepy government agents, and flying on a space ship for the first time would do that to a person. Tilly blinked, realizing that she had once again paused and began to pull items out of the bag before she could drift off into her thoughts again.

Tilly smiled as she lifted a blue plastic shopping bag out of the satchel; this bag held one specific treasure, chocolate. If she was going to have to leave earth she figured she could at least take along her favorite treat. She hadn’t known when she would be able to buy more of it so she had decided to take as much as possible. Her only fear was that it might have melted during the trek back and forth from her car. She had made sure to take this bag on the first trip to the ship for that reason, but she still reached into the bag and pulled out a piece to check. Tilly’s smile widened, it probably wasn’t a good idea to eat candy this early in the morning, but this was an emergency and melted chocolate simply wouldn’t do. Discarding the crackling wrapper, she popped the small candy bar in her mouth and laughed a little as she let it melt. The world might have been going insane, her privacy might have been invaded by a giant talking computer, but at least she had her chocolate, her sugary, brown happiness. The room was silent as she let herself slide into the warm taste and soft, smooth texture. A relaxed sensation poured into her system, but only lasted momentarily, fading along with the candy as a tingling sensation pulled her out of that glorious state of being and brought her back to reality. She moved her foot back and forth a little as she sighed, reaching back into the satchel and pulling out a stack of t-shirts. Her hand brushed against leather. She hadn’t put anything leather in that bag. She reached down further into the bag and pulled out a rather large hardcover, leather bound book. She didn’t recognize it, and she certainly didn’t recognize the writing on the front cover. It was in an odd script, written in a gold color.

Tilly held the foreign book in her hand for a moment, alarm spreading across her face. Hesitantly she sat the book in her lap and looked at the front cover again. A forest scene was pressed into the leather. It was a beautiful picture, surreal, like an illustration from a fairy tale. Tilly smiled, the shock at finding the book wearing off as she realized how beautifully made the book really was. She hadn’t seen too many leather bound books in her lifetime. The hardcover novels she had read had mostly been bound in cloth. Tilly traced the trees on the front cover as she wondered what the book was about. She opened it, expecting to see the same strange print filling the pages, and was met by some pages of English along with the other script.

As she was turning the pages something aside from the odd symbols caught her eye. There was a tiny band-aid shaped thing stuck between some of the first pages of the book. It was paper thin, thus the reason she hadn’t immediately noticed it; the small object made no change to the appearance of the book whatsoever. She noticed that it resembled plastic and was see-through; tiny bits of electronics could be seen through the outside covering and a red dot was in the center. It was actually stuck to one of the pages, a fact observed as Tilly attempted to pick it up to examine it more closely. For some reason she just couldn’t get over the fact that it looked like a Band-Aid. Maybe it was a band-aid, after all, she didn’t know much about this strange new world she had found herself in. Maybe Band-Aids in space had little electronic thingies in them that healed your wounds faster. Tilly’s nose crinkled and she concluded that it had to be something else, just because of the creepiness factor that came along with that possibility. Tilly sighed as she replaced the band-aid thing and closed the book. Her search for clothes was going to have to wait.

 

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