Out of the Blue

“What was that?”

“What was what?” Jason, spoke around the screws he was holding in his teeth, didn’t even look up. Tally had been twitchy since they’d cleared the Ort Cloud.

“That sound,” Natalia’s head tilted sideways, as though listening more intently could actually allow her to hear a sound that couldn’t exist in the empty vacuum of space all around them.

Jase carefully screwed the cover panel back over the sensor array access and slid the screwdriver into its pocket in the front of his blue coveralls. Tally’s eyes were too round and she was carefully concealing an all over sort of trembling that looked like perhaps their climate controlled compartment had suddenly gotten cold. Maybe she was getting sick. It wouldn’t be the first time one of them came down with some inexplicable illness out here on the edge of known space. He should probably go wake one of the team docs and he was trying to remember if Desta or Hai had more sleep to go on at the moment and was about to head to the crew quarters when Natalia yelped.

He slid away from the panel over to where she was hovering by the small window, staring out into the strangely bright dark. He reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder, but she whipped around and shoved off from the wall to get away from him. They all joked about space dementia, but Captain Ross was starting to find it less and less funny. They lost Kolya back just after Pluto to some strange bout of madness and fever, then Buzz (because of course the Aldrin descendent had to go by Buzz out here) when they’d approached the Barrier. And Tally had been worrying him for days, jumping at every noise, eating poorly, and getting increasingly paranoid. It was actually why he’d relieved Marsh to work on the array problem. As the commander, he wanted eyes on struggling crew.

“Tal, what is it?” She shook her head and closed her eyes tight. “Natalia?”

“It’s the screaming, Jason. I know you can’t hear it. When Nikolai told me I thought it was delirium.” She shook her head and gave a little hopeless sigh. He started toward her again, but she put up her hand. “No, Jase, don’t. Maybe it won’t get you; maybe you won’t hear it.”

“Natalia, I’m responsible for this ship and everything on it. Tell me, so I can help.”

She sunk slowly to the floor, as though she’d found a tiny pocket of gravity that only effected her. She spoke, but there was a quality to her voice that made Jason’s blood run cold. “When you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you.”

Instinctively, Jason was using his hands on the console to make his way toward the hatch dividing this room from the command console. Wanting to keep her talking, he ventured, “What’s the screaming? What do you keep hearing?”

Her head came up; her smile was sharp and perfect. “It’s Natalia’s. She doesn’t like us inside.”

Jason to a slow breath. It had never been this bad, gotten this scary with Buzz or Kolya. He was about to thumb the catch and leave to get help when the eyes that had once belonged to Natalia Ross, his sweetheart since grad school, opened and bored into his. They were liquid black and in them he could see distant invisible stars. She rose and glided toward him, free from her own gravity once again. She pressed her body against his and looked into his soft azure eyes and was gratified to see the instant shift in color and his hands rising toward his ears to block out the sound.

“You always wanted to be the one to make contact, Captain Ross. How do you like it?”

It wasn’t long before the pair walked heavily down the hall to introduce the rest of the crew to life in the Black.

The Velvet Dark

Here’s the opening to a little trifle I started a while ago. No sparkles, I promise. Just a little darkness, easy to dispel. ~ J


The dark pressed in around her from all sides. It felt as though the darkness was, itself, a physical thing, enveloping her like a blanket. And truly, it may as well have been. Her back pressed firmly against the pillow-like softness beneath her, and she could only move a few inches to either side. She could not even move enough to shift her position and lessen the prickly sensation in her limbs that she knew would, after a time, become pain, and then numbness. In front of her, she could just raise her hands to touch the satin lining of the lid to the box that held her here in the blackness. They felt sticky, yet dry, and she couldn’t imagine why that would be. When she awoke, it had come slowly, through a haze. She could not remember where she had been or what she had been doing. Her first coherent thought was that maybe she’d had too much to drink at the club. That was so easy to do, to just drink and lose yourself in the sensations of the place. It would not have been the first time that Nightingales had made her forget herself and take things a little too far. More than once in the last few months her roommate had helped her make it back to her room to sleep it off.  “Keep this up, Vicki, and I’ll start to think you’re really one of us,” Mere had said. She tried to roll over to get out of bed, but found that she could not even get all the way onto her side. She tried moving the other way, thinking dimly that she, in a fitful sleep, had tangled herself in her blankets. This time she felt her shoulder contact something very firm, but soft. Undeterred, she attempted stubbornly to sit up and quickly smacked her forehead on the same firm, soft surface that held her shoulder back. As she became more truly awake, she began to feel the closeness around her. It felt as though she was enshrouded in an endless smooth blanket. Her heart began to beat faster. Thump, thump, thump; a quick staccato beat in her ears. She began to struggle against her newly discovered bonds, thrashing first one way and then another. The atmosphere in her prison grew hot and close and she realized finally that she was in a very tight space. Conceivably, she could be wasting a limited supply of air. Her exertions and the accompanying surge of adrenaline had awakened her fully.

Now, regaining her wits, she tried to assess her situation. The blackness was total, as if the sun ceased to exist, or more truly, as if she were in a world that had no sun. The thought felt utterly melodramatic, but at the same time completely true. She tried to slowly move her hands and felt the firm silken softness on all sides. Her arms and hands ached inexplicably. She knew she was lying on her back because her weight rested there, rather than on her feet.  Her senses told her that she was in a box of some sort, comfortably lined with cushions and soft folds of fabric. Her pulse began to race again. Her predicament, this box, no, if she were honest, this coffin, meant that only one person could be responsible for it. And she began to remember why this was so. She tried to push against the lid with her hands, to force it open, but found that she did not have enough room to gain advantage against it. Then, she tried to bend her legs to kick at it, but neither could she get purchase with her feet. She was becoming as much frustrated as afraid. She knew that it had always been about keeping this on her terms. Despite her rising panic, she realized that if it were a simple matter of pushing against this lid to regain the light, he never would have left her here. No, he would have been sure to see that her captivity was total, and that only he could free her. He would want to return for her at his leisure. She felt a cool breeze disturb her hair. Air was making its way into her little cell somehow. Apparently he intended for her to be alive when he returned. Of course he did. The moment was still hers. She still had options open to her.

Remembering how she had caused the aching in her hands, she ran her fingers down the silken lid. She laughed, just a bit at first, and then with increasing hysteria. It had all seemed like such an amusing game when they met. The way he dressed, the way he played his part at Nightingales, the way he’d used her name, and her nickname for him. It seemed like they had known each other forever, on the first night they’d ever met. It seemed, in fact, that he knew her and her intentions better than she did herself. As such, she never would have expected him to intervene in her life in this way. He had brought her here for a reason, left her in this softly luxurious tomb. In a way, how he had left her here was too perfect. Left her; locked away in this soft lush place, waiting for The Velvet Dark.