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Artemis 9: Part 4

Smell the flowers

By Arthur ArmstrongPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
3
Artemis 9: Part 4
Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

Sirens blared as I jolted awake and quickly tried to decipher my surroundings.

Not sirens. Just the alarm clock.

I expected to awaken at the hospital I’d checked into the night before last, but no.

I looked around to find I was in the grey room. The room in the mountain with black and blue stripes on the walls, bright lights, and a VERY itchy blanket.

So, it wasn’t a bad psychotic episode?

No.

“Yeah, I’m not sure if I should be relieved or not,” I say aloud.

I get up from the bed and walk around to the trunk. It was metal and definitely first used towards the middle of the last century. When I opened it I found three black shirts, each embroidered with a small, bright blue “A9” on the front.

I guess I don’t have a real name anymore. Not that the one I had before was doing me any good…

The rest of the trunk was filled with simple things, nothing that was name brand or extravagant: Black pants, socks, underwear, several hotel sized toiletries labeled simply “hair”, “skin”, and “teeth”, and two pairs of black, leather jump boots.

Good to know I’ve got the best available to me…

I grabbed the toiletries and walked to the blue stripe. The stripe immediately disappeared into the ceiling revealing a surprisingly large, yet bare, bathroom.

As intricate as all the fancy gadgets in the laboratory were, my accommodations were just as simple.

A large, metal shower head protruded from the ceiling over a drain in the concrete floor about 6 feet from a metal toilet.

Across from the toilet, a metal sink and an incredibly old mirror sat lower on the wall than expected, forcing me to hunch slightly in order to see my face in the mirror.

My hair drooped sadly down the side of my face. Its usual radiant color was choked by the harsh fluorescence while my eyes appeared dark and tired.

Gods, I look terrible.

I turned on the shower and waited for it to heat up.

At least this place has decent hot water.

I bathed quickly but stayed under the water for a bit. The rhythmic “patter” of the steamy water began to relax my shoulders and back.

As I felt the aches in my muscles start to melt away with the gentle massage of the water, my mind began to wander.

I came to a slow realization of just how long it had been since I’d had sex. I went through a rough divorce a couple years ago and shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with…well.., so I didn’t have much willpower to be intimate.

I find it strange that, after being practically numb emotionally for two years, I could feel something…Something for someone with the most incredible grey eyes—

And then I remembered that I wasn’t alone in my head and quickly got out of the shower.

Learning to block people out is gonna be the first thing I gotta do.

What’s wrong? Have you something to hide?

I paused for a moment as “resistance is futile” played on repeat in my head.

“Okay, fine. I’ll say it,” I said aloud and naked, “I admit it. I am very attracted to you and I am having a difficult time coping with the fact that you can hear everything I think. Especially considering that I, apparently, can’t help but think of you in that… way.”

*Silence*

“Good talk,” I said and dressed myself.

The morning briefing is down the hall. I can take you.

“Oh good. That shouldn’t be awkward at all,” I mumbled as I left my room and stepped into the hallway.

Astaria walked out of their room to greet me, “It’s alright. You don’t need to feel awkward. I am quite frequently reminded of how attractive I am.”

“I’m sure you are. Where’s the briefing?” I asked, desperately trying to change the subject.

“Just through this door and down a hallway,” they said, their soft hair fluttering as the door rose into the ceiling and they hurried down the hallway.

“Wait up, Seabiscuit! My legs aren’t that damn long!” I called after them.

They stopped in the next hallway and turned around, “Did you just refer to me as ‘Seabiscuit’?”

“Yeah, Seabiscuit was a really famous racehorse and you were walking so fast-“ I was interrupted by a sharp alarm sounding off as the lighting in the hallway suddenly changed from “snow blindness” white to “the enemy can’t see it in the dark and neither can you” red.

What do we do?

Follow me.

Astaria grabbed my hand and we rushed back out the door we had come in and through another door across the hall.

They pulled me down a new hallway as several armed soldiers ran past us and disappeared around a corner.

Can you tell me what’s happening?

I don’t know. But that particular alarm has only one protocol for us.

And that is…?

Astaria lead me to a door with another biometric entry system but this one apparently needed a blood sample.

Astaria placed their thumb over a hole in the panel and it clicked. “Ah!” Astaria exclaimed sharply.

She said she’d fixed that!

The door opened and they jerked my arm to pull me inside.

As soon as the door closed, the alarm could no longer be heard. The room was completely dark save for a single light on the wall that said, “EJECT”.

Astaria hit the button and walked away.

I fell to the floor when I felt the force of it.

As we rose out of the mountain, the room flooded with daylight and I saw that the room wasn’t really a room at all, it was the seat of some sort of aircraft.

Windows that stretched from floor to ceiling showed the vast desert below as we continued to rise into the sky.

Astaria sat in a metal chair in the middle of the craft looking puzzled.

“I’m keeping an ear out for our next instructions,” Astaria said as they moved their fingers across a sensor pad on the arm of their chair.

“Is there anything I can do?” I asked, feeling useless.

“As I understand it, the facility was breached and that means I had to get you out of there. We’re going to the secondary destination now,” Astaria said as their fingers danced across a seemingly invisible control panel.

“Where’s that?” I asked, hoping to finally find out where the hell I am going.

“Well I’ll let you find out for yourself,” Astaria smirked.

I looked out the window again and noticed I couldn’t really tell where we were because we were moving so fast!

“How are we moving? After we got out of the mountain, I stopped feeling any movement but we’re clearly moving at an incredible speed,” I asked, intrigued by the science.

“We are using earth’s magnetic fields to glide across the sky. When we were lifted out of the mountain, it was because the magnetic field repelled the ship upward,” they said, still using their fingers on the sensor to apparently drive the ship.

“Ingenious!” I proclaimed, “Does that mean that the ship itself is made of a magnetic material? Or is there just a really big magnet under us?”

“Actually there are a great many ‘magnets’, I think would be the closest word you may understand, that the ship uses as the fields themselves shift,” Astaria said as they slowed the ship over a large body of water.

“Did Earth humans make this ship? Or..”

“Yes. That’s why some of the Operating systems use such primitive security. They gathered the intelligence to create it from a ship that crash landed on Earth decades ago.”

“So we’ve had the technology for fast, environmentally safe travel and we haven’t considered using it publicly? Why am I not surprised?” I said sarcastically.

“Earth’s politics are… complicated,” Astaria said, “Prepare for descent.”

“Excuse m-“ I started to say but just then the ship began to fall rapidly toward the water’s surface.

The water seemed to open, as if to swallow us completely. We descended for what felt like an entire minute before we stopped suddenly, the force of which brought me to my knees, “Gods, they couldn’t work out the landing?”

“Yeah well not every human is an Einstein,” Astaria said with a smile as they stood and turned toward me, “Come, Artemis 9, your training must begin now.”

“You make a lot of Earth references for being from so far away. How long have you been here?” I asked.

“You ask a LOT of questions, don’t you?” Astaria laughed as they walked toward the door and opened it, “Come on. We have to meet someone.”

“Well can you blame me? My entire world has been flipped on its head and it’s only my first day,” I said, frustrated but I followed after them.

This facility was far more open than the previous one. It appeared to be some kind of ancient temple beneath the water; how we were perfectly dry and breathing oxygen, I did not know.

“Where are we?” I asked as we approached an enormous, ornate door of what appeared to be a heavy, pale marble.

“I believe this place is commonly known in your popular culture as ‘Atlantis’,” they said, grinning widely as the door swung open.

I was in awe at the beauty of it.

Just beyond the door appeared to be a garden. Marble pillars of unique design sprang from a landscape of rosemary, lavender, mint, and jasmine.

The air is intoxicating.

You should see the bathroom.

“Ha!” I guffawed at Astaria’s joke. I think it was the first they’ve made since we met. “So where are the Atlanteans?”

“Well Atlantis is quite large so we’ll have a jaunt before we get to where we’re going,” Astaria said with a smirk, “This way.”

We followed a colorful, stone path through the expansive garden of flora while bees buzzed happily around us.

“This is incredible, you know. How are there bees under water? How is there an ‘Atlantis’? And how are we even seeing anything if there is no sunlight?” I asked, overwhelmed with questions.

Astaria stopped walking and turned to face me, “Artemis 9, how old are you?”

Confused, I answered, “I’m 28. Why?”

“Hm. Interesting. Perhaps someone more suited to answer your questions should be the one to enlighten you,” they said playfully and turned to walk again.

“Hey, if you didn’t know any of this existed a day ago, you’d probably have some questions too,” I said defensively, “This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!”

“You have so much more to see,” Astaria said with a sly smirk. They stopped walking over a circular pattern in the stones and stomped their foot twice.

Suddenly the circle of stones on which we stood, began to descend slowly and silently into the ground.

FantasySci FiSeries
3

About the Creator

Arthur Armstrong

A being of duality, poetic irreverence, and maddening nonsense.

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