Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daily Story 175: Ad Astra Sans Nous

The blast doors slammed together, severing one of the tentacles and allowing the tip to drop squirming to the floor like a fence lizard's tail - if the lizard in question was eight feet long and covered in slime. Zack Barringer took a deep breath and struck a pose (one he mentally referred to as 'the victorious'), smiling for the benefit of the poor, fragile women in front of him. Already he was calculating his odds of seducing them and thanking some non-specific god that he was wearing his space suit and had therefore not so much 'peed his pants' as 'used the built-in waste disposal system'.

"There's nothing to fear, ladies," he proclaimed with his cleft chin thrust forward, "I'll get you all home safely. Just leave the squid-thing to me." Zack had been hoping for some smiles, possibly even some mild swooning, but the three women just sighed. One rolled her eyes.
"What's wrong, gorgeous?" he asked, strutting over to the tallest of the three. Her lip curled up in disgust - probably at the still-squirming tentacle, Zack decided.
"What's wrong is that we can see the security cameras from here."
Oh. "Even the one in the transporter room?" he asked cautiously.
"Even that one, yeah."

"This whole situation must seem confusing to you. I imagine you're scared, and uncertain. Whatever you think you might have seen, it... wasn't that." He winced at the weak finish, but felt sure an extra wink would cover it. How bad would the surveillance tapes look? Zack tried to remember the exact scene - one of those science officers had been talking about something boring, and then there had been this big tentacled thing on the screen, and he said something about it being something or doing something. Zack couldn't recall the details; he prided himself on being a man of action rather than words. Still, he had tried to use science, hadn't he? After all, the teleporter had to count as science.

"You beamed that thing onto the ship, when everyone was telling you not to." That was the short chick, Zack noted. He had seen her around the ship before, or at least someone with a similar height-to-bust ratio.
"No, no." he corrected her. His cover story of 'nope' felt as thin as the air in space, he thought, which was pretty thin indeed if he remembered correctly. Something more would be needed. "I saw that it was trying to teleport onboard using its strange, alien slime-thing technology. I was just jamming its signal, and it would have worked if that science guy hadn't slowed me down."
The short one opened her mouth again. Two strikes, Zack thought, and moved her on his mental list from 'feisty' to 'uppity'.
"That 'science guy' was the chief science officer, and you weren't jamming anything. You said 'here, watch me pluck it's eyeball out with the teleporter-thingy, this will be funny'."

Zack frowned. Clearly, the uppity one had discovered that the security cameras had audio. That was unfortunate. Still, he thought, if he could find a way to defeat the monstrosity without actually risking any physical harm he could still be the hero - any women who spoke out against him could be dismissed as being overwhelmed by the excitement. Of course, the last time one of the government investigators had been a woman and he had been demoted...
"Oh no!" the tall one yelled suddenly, "That thing has us almost surrounded! The only hallway clear is that one," she pointed clearly, while making direct eye contact with Zack, "and it leads to the escape pods but there's only room for one more! We can't reach the other escape pods unless someone can kill this thing!"

Zack knew what he had to do. "Don't worry ladies, I'll go around and clear a path for you. Just... stay here and wait for my signal." He rushed out the door, regretting slightly that he would have to leave them behind - some romantic company in the escape pod never hurts. Confused, he stopped and looked at the pulsating mass of spine-tipped tentacles in front of him. Behind him he heard the door slam and lock, and he cursed the women under his breath. Clearly, the flighty broads had pointed him at the wrong door by mistake.