Up There so High

What do you get when you have a space fanatic, a runaway princess and a bunch of miscreants? Well, you get the three E's; Explosions, Expletives and Enemies.
You may not laugh along with this story but you may sing (because the main space man is very much fond of that).

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33. The Socialising Exercise

 

~The Socialising Exercise~

~Everett~

 

Everett’s homesickness and ponderings were quickly abated by a sudden sensation. He had only felt it once before at NASA so he recognised the beginning signs. First his stomach gave way like a wasp in hurried flight. He knew he was floating. That was what happened. But he couldn’t register it just yet.

His body was sending his brain mixed and horrible signals. Sweat beaded on his skin, he could feel it. The balance of his inner ear had gone but it was still there, because he could still hear somewhat. Even though hearing was just about useless, it was a constant buzz. A buzz of panic, Everett reckoned. His bones, no longer needed in this state, calcified and dissolved in his arms and legs. That was what it felt like. His back was aching because of the elongation of his spine, well it wasn’t really elongated but he felt taller and stretched compared to what he was used to. Inside his stomach his guts were floating, helplessly shifting inside of him, and his fluid level had changed drastically, so much so that he felt a desperate need to go to the toilet. He wondered where the toilets even were on this place.

This was zero gravity and he was floating, floating in mid-air about two feet from where he had stood before. His eyes had screwed shut, they always did when this feeling came over him. The first time he had experienced it at NASA he had been sick afterwards. They called it Space Sickness and it usually passed after the third or fourth go at zero gravity. Everett fought to keep everything in and he forced his eyes open.

Reese was staring at her feet in awe. She was near the ceiling and upside down but she looked pleased about it. Skylar was in a crouch position, as if she went to hug her knees in comfort, when they started to float. Even she was opening her eyes and crowing at the sight of being in the air. Slowly both she and Reese started to rotate on their own, Skylar started to do a roly-poly in the air and she laughed as she brought her hands up in victory. Reese was slowly turning, moving her feet as though she was dancing in the air. Everett felt the courage to adopt a simple superman pose, lifting his arm and one leg. Deciding that his guts rolled too much even for that, he quickly went straight as a board. Then his knees slowly bent and he wanted to be back on the ground.

He needed to be back on the ground, the ground was a lovely place to be. Then it was like a switch had flipped and the sudden sensation came again, this time slamming them all towards the ground. He was prepared for it so he landed somewhat on his feet, stumbling off for two steps to gain his footing properly. The girls both landed on their asses and they groaned at the pain.

Everett still placed a hand over his mouth, just in case his stomach kept flip flopping and he went off in search for Fitz. He was the only reason why the zero gravity would have flipped so violently.

“Sorry folks,” the voice of Fitz made itself known as Everett made his way towards him. But it was on a loudspeaker as well, coming from the walls from speakers no less. “I accidently knocked off the Zero Gravity Avoider while I was fixing the ship.” Fitz’s voice came again and Everett was able to us it to finally locate him.

He was in the engine room, located two hatches down from the cockpit and his sleeves had been rolled up even further than they had been at the garage. Oil coated his forearms up to the elbows and his hands gripped tools which tinkered with the machinery.

“What did you do to wreck the ship?” Everett asked, moving his hand away from his mouth and to his stomach instead. It felt like he had to hold everything in otherwise he would be liquidised onto the floor.

Fitz didn’t even look up from what he was doing as he replied to Everett’s question, “It’s not a ship she’s named Aglaia.”

Finally, a weirdish name that could be contributed to the alien life forms on a foreign planet. Everett was not going crazy.

“But Aglaia is known for being a Champion at Drag Races,” Fitz continued and that was not the answer that Everett was expecting.

They had drag races on Zeld?

He must have said the question aloud, his curious resolve breaking at the revelation, because Fitz was even answering that, “Yes Drag Races, they mostly happen on the tracks in Zaro, well the neighbouring surroundings mostly. But they sometimes happen out of space, the next one was so I was fixing Aglaia up after her last bust up and getting her ready for interstellar racing.”

Everett’s mind was utterly blown. Fitz was not just an engineer.

In the cold dark of Space Fitz had turned on the lights of the engine room, a series of three flashlight style neon lights in the roof. It made the Spaceship look more futuristic than it actually did.

“How long will it take to fix the – Aglaia?” Everett tripped over his words, fighting with the name of the ship. Fitz’s orange-ish eyes appeared beady in his face, not even shielded by protective glasses as he tinkered with the mechanics.

“Soon,” the answer was vague and Everett didn’t want to pry but the awkward silence was too stifling.

“How soon is soon?” the question was blurted out and Fitz glared at him. It was the sort of glare that was deserved, after all Everett and his friends had sort of forced Fitz to come with them. Fixing the ship for space travel was not needed, at least not Fitz, and he was only fixing things from the good of his heart. Well at least Everett thought it was that way.

“Give me twenty minutes,” Fitz went back to blow torching something together. Everett didn’t ask what he was doing, that would be going too far. “Explore, just don’t bang the ship up,” Fitz sighed, "You've already stolen my ship you don't need to wreck it further."

"You could have stopped us if you wanted to Gerald," Everett said and he allowed the other engineer to finish the job.

Back at the cockpit Reese was running her hands across the walls and Skylar was taking a better look at the controls. “Do you have things like this back on Earth Everett?” Skylar asked, poised on one of the chairs.

“Eh,” Everett struggled to sum up modern mechanics to a runaway princess, “Sort of, we have robots, not nearly as functioning emotionally as on Zeld.”

Skylar frowned, a wrinkled brow which made her look younger than she was. How old was she? Everett was thinking that she was similar in age to himself but you never knew with aliens.

“That’s weird,” Reese decided, “I’m bored, there has to be something on this ship to entertain us.” She was adamant on this and beckoned the pair to follow her.

“Gerald says the ship will be fixed in twenty minutes,” he said just to alert them.

“Cool,” Skylar motioned and fumbled with her fingers. She herself looked torn on whether she should touch the walls or not. Everett thought that it was a Zeldian trait, after all they hadn’t been surrounded in anything this metal in a while. Skylar would have just been surrounded by trees for more time than Everett himself could bear.

They all went through the hatch that stretched into bedrooms and other rooms. Neon lights flickered now and again splintering the darkness with blue light. Back here Aglaia was a patchwork of patterns and styles, built from different metals and materials. Something about it made Everett think that Aglaia was not just the product of Fitz’s genius but of multiple people.

He would have to ask about it when they docked at where ever they were going.

In one room, what looked like a sort of lounge, there was a stereo. “It’s a Forty 1000,” Reese seemed to squeal and even Skylar looked excited by it.

“What’s a Forty 1000?” Everett asked puzzled. Reese was next to it, playing with the dials. On closer inspection it looked like a hybrid of a record player and stereo system. It had speakers and only one vinyl. “Why only one vinyl?” Everett muttered to himself and now even Skylar looked puzzled at his words.

“Because it’s all digital,” she said as if it was clear to understand. To Everett it clearly wasn’t. “You upload the songs you want, or the radio passages you want to it and then you play it. You don’t have this on Earth?” She explained.

“We have a version of it but not…” Everett couldn’t put into words what Earth had. He didn’t even know exactly.

Reese didn’t even look over at him as she turned the needle onto the vinyl. She pushed a button and sounds erupted from the speakers. Surprisingly it wasn’t the computerised sounds that modern day music on Earth offered, it had actual instruments. The current song burst out what sounded like quick, electric beats of a violin over a female voice. Then what sounded like a guitar solo and a brief interlude of drums. They had a different sound to what Everett was used to, something a bit lower and faster.

“Have you heard this song before?” Reese asked Skylar and the question was already answered by the way Skylar was swaying. “That will be yes then.”

Everett watched in awe as both girls danced with one another, twirling around each other and swaying. Skylar looked delicate for once, going on her tiptoes to make the twirls.

Everett felt like he was intruding on some private moment. He shouldn’t have been there. Reese held out a hand beckoning for him to join. He didn’t want to refuse her, especially since they both looked so happy to just be there with the music.

“Come and join us,” Reese laughed, her tone light, somewhere in Everett’s mind told him to stop worrying and so he was throwing himself in between the pair. He didn’t really know what he was doing, Earth had all of these dance moves but none as delicate as what was taught on Zeld. He stuck to just swaying and feeling the music. He would only embarrass himself if he tried to do the Macarena half way through the song.

The song switched to something slower, a piano humming in the background of a slow set of lyrics. It reminded Everett of Adele, well if Adele was an Alien on the planet of Zeld. “Dance with me,” Skylar said quietly in his ear and curtsied in front of him. His bow was stiff as he was reminded on masquerade dances, all prim and proper. He wasn’t fit for prim and proper. Her hands went to his shoulders and his were forced around her waist. They weren’t super close to each other, but they were close. Everett had to let Skylar lead, because the pentagonal pattern they were moving in was unfamiliar to him. On Earth the dances hadn’t been this light and proper. He didn’t think Skylar would appreciate it if he suddenly starting grinding on her.

“You’re uncomfortable aren’t you?” Skylar laughed as she saw the aborted eye movement towards his feet. He was really out of his depth here, which was funny because he could deal with aliens and other planets but not dancing with a girl properly.

“We don’t dance like this on Earth,” Everett swallowed and tried again not to look at his feet. It felt like worms lived under his skin and he wanted to crawl out of his clothes just to avoid the discomfort.

“How are dances like on Earth then? I can deal with it.” Skylar asked her lips quirked in a grin. Everett switched the weight he had on her waist and started on the normal box pattern of a waltz. Skylar’s eyes lit up but they never left his eyes.

Everett chose a waltz because at least it fit in with the sort of delicate nature of the dances. The song was rising to a crescendo, the singer belting out their lyrics with unrestrained effort. He twirled her and she went happily. He hadn’t danced with another girl like this since his secondary school prom and even then it was more casual swaying then waltzing.

He twirled them around Reese who was busy twirling herself and smiling. From the corner of his eye he could see Fitz enter and Reese demanded him to dance with her. He tried to make an excuse of his oil stained arms but Reese clearly wasn’t worried about some mess.

Finally Everett gained the courage to dip Skylar, watching as she bent easily backwards. Skylar took note of Everett’s shock and replied in earnest, “I’m a princess, I’ve been taught how to dance properly since I was small.”

Fair enough Everett decided and they went back to swaying. The song was ending and the singer trailed off leaving thirty seconds of instrumental to close the song.

When the song ended Everett and Skylar were standing close to one another and smiling. Reese and Fitz meanwhile were still dancing, Reese begging the other man to not be so stiff.

Everett laughed at that and Skylar was still left smiling.

~

 

 

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