A Sackful of Woe
A Wormhole Way Station
Somyan, long known for his clever writing style, found himself in a run as he closed the door to his room. The medical bay, if he remembered correctly, should be a few floors down and near the Dining Area.
“I am sure I can make it and once I get there the Medical here is top-notch. We stop at the way station before our first wormhole and I already have a strange lady in my room fighting for her life. Why did I leave Lai! Everything has turned into a nightmare.”
Three months passed since Somyan boarded the Vanitch and left the Lai Space Station. At first, he was pleased to note the Ships Maintenance Officer turned out to be Senator Kolpa. Kolpa’s change of title did not phase Somyan as he unpacked his bags and settled into his room for the voyage to Tetchki.
First, Somyan noticed that Kolpa hardly left his quarters. The AI of Vanitch handed out instructions for a daily routine every morning and Somyan checked and double-checked maintenance logs from one end of the vessel to the other. He did not see Kolpa once.
Wormhole travel is regulated by the Galactic Alliance and only travelers who pass a series of inspections are allowed intergalactic travel. Way stations located at each wormhole housed travelers while they waited for a green light. All the way stations boasted of high-end dining, shopping, and entertainment.
“There is a woman dying in my room!” Somyan screamed at the attendant behind the desk.
“Slow down, Sir. Please repeat clearly the situation and sign these few documents.”
“Ok…ok…I am staying in Room 152 and after being out all night exploring the way station….anyways there is a strange woman on my bed who is struggling to breathe and may die. Please send someone quickly.”
“Do not panic, Sir, help has already arrived in Room 152.” The receptionist pushed a series of buttons on a console in front of her. “Please have a seat in the waiting area while we proceed.”
Somyan walked out into the waiting room as Kolpa stumbled through the door.
“We must go,” Kolpa whispered as he grabbed Somyan’s arm.
“What is all this about? What is going on?”
“The Vanitch has the green light. We must go now!”
Both Somyan and Kolpa left the medical bay and hurried towards the Vanitch.
“How could this be happening…Mother of Tonkay sent such a storm! This is a disgrace!” Somyan yelled towards Kolpa as they ran. “You are drunk. You have been to the bars. We stop at our first way station and you drink and leave a dying woman in our room!”
“Just shut up and get on the Vanitch!”
“You are nothing but a dangerous drunkard!”
Kolpa strapped in and sat in front of the Vanitch’s control panel as the AI started the launch sequence. Somyan muttered under his breath as he also strapped in for take-off.
Somyan tried to find answers to all the new problems constantly presenting themselves. Therefore a mechanical babbling of nonsense were the only words coming from his mouth.
He remembered that his sorrows began when they arrived at the way station. Kolpa appeared from the depths of the Vanitch and asked him for money. He gave him money and as soon as the money touched Kolpa’s hand he disappeared onto the way station. At first, he considered his desolate room a blessing. A place where he could catch up on his writing.
Now his thoughts centered on the waxy complexion of the woman who struggled to breathe on Kolpa’s bed. Her face seemed drawn out, severe, and serious in her struggle to live.
“You are a fool Kolpa!” Somyan wept tears from vexation and grief as he added his code to the launch sequence. He reflected on how quickly things happen in this universe. One day he is writing on the Lai Space Station, the next tasked with saving the Tetchkin race, and now struggles to survive a drunken murderer.
Woe had come upon the Vanitch suddenly and he could not recover his composure. This shiftless drunk Kolpa tormented Somyan. This time aboard the way station seemed in conflict with nature itself.
Somyan remembered Terra as the Vanitch entered the wormhole. He remembered her forty years ago, young and pretty before she was soured by her husband’s death.
White streams of thick cloud-like matter began to cover the Vanitch as it reached the singularity. Somyan heard a loud tap, tap, tap as the ship began to shake. The pressure from the wormhole caused physical strain on the ships hull.
“Where am I going?” Somyan tried to scream yet his lips seemed frozen and his mind stopped obeying him. He closed his eyes while he felt his body go numb as if frozen.
His mind filled with a detailed vision.
Terra started to walk and an unknown bearded man followed as the landscape changed from a small flower garden to a field of poppies, and then to an ancient pine forest. He kept his pace while she walked quickly in front of him. Soon they came to a small cabin located on the outskirts of a green pasture. She walked up to the door and waited. The door opened and inside another strange bearded man worked in an ancient makeshift kitchen with a wood-burning stove. “Do you want some food before your journey?”
The vision vanished and Somyan opened his eyes to Kolpa hunched over and vomiting.
“How quickly things change in this universe.” Somyan unlatched his seatbelt and began a post wormhole travel inspection of the Vanitch.
Medical personnel walked away from a patient at a wormhole way station three months from the planet Lai. A woman they had been trying to save died.
The way station authorities were contacted and an immediate investigation began.
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