Welcome to The Vague Ship
This is my first real novella, it resides in the world of ContradictionLand, although, Captain Gina and Bren have escaped in a Vague Ship. This is a tale of laughter in spite of everything, where two perspectives vie to survive the unknown.
You’ll need two things
A copy of your guidebook, ContraDictation
Which would be greatly appreciated in the comments below!
Into The Vague We Go
This ship, it’s not just any Vague craft.
Welcome to the Vague Ship.
The only of its kind in known ContradictionLand. To survive this adventure, this experience, you’re going to need to know a few things. The Laws of Contradiction -may- not apply as heavily outside of this world. A copy of the guidebook ContraDictation is provided for references. Two unlikely people find themselves in the flight of their lifetime.
Some stories are told by accidents.
Chapter 1: The Beginning
“Captain?” His voice was pleasant, and it seemed to resonate well, it sounded full, not too far off, it was good.
“Yes?” So was hers, maybe even more so.
“Where are we going?” He asked.
It was a good question, “That way.” She gestured in front of the ship.
The pilot accepted the answer, not that he had much of a choice, he didn’t have a better one. They made off ‘that way’. Really though, they just ambled through space, not really going fast – or slow- just the lukewarm speed they usually mucked around in. “Captain. What are we looking for?”
“I dunno, something.” She said grandly.
Bren, the pilot, shrugged. They laughed, short and sharp, it didn’t go far, they were in a pretty small ship. Not too small, but small enough to feel like it wasn’t big. There was room to walk, sound could be heard well, not so small where you could easily hear someone chewing across the room. Only every now and then, and that was only if they chewed particularly loud. They had left ContradictionLand behind long ago. Some time ago, well, it was best to remain vague, so it’s known that at some point, they left. Either way, they were, where they were.
The world outside of the world was something else. Neither of them had really talked about it, but it was there. They had been traveling through it for weeks now. The ship was a marvel. Straight out of someone’s imagination. Not his, not Bren’s. Maybe the Captain’s, she was really ambiguous about where and how all of this came about. He had a suspicion she didn’t know either. That was fine.
“Ahhhhrrrruuutggggghhhpppfhhhh!!!” Bren shouted loudly, in the relatively small ship it seemed even louder and startled Captain Ralety.
She jumped, one of those hair-raising leaps that happens only when someone is really scared, but quickly tries to pretend they weren’t scared at all. She had been, “What are you doing?”
“I’m MakingNoise Captain.”
“Well, yes, I can see that.” She laughed a little before continuing, “But…Why?”
“Oh, I thought you knew. It’s one of my jobs. Every now and then I must create some variation of noise, then broadcast it ahead of us into the Vague. ‘MakingNoise’.” Bren looked around his seat, the manual was somewhere around, he pushed aside random stacks of paper, he wasn’t exactly sure where they had come from or why they would be sitting there.
“Interesting.” Gena said, she sounded like she meant it.
“Yes.” Bren answered, he kept looking, though with less enthusiasm, the captain seemed to understand as he stopped.
“Why?” She asked him after a pause.
“I’m not really sure.” Which was a fine answer.
“Ah, I see.” The Captain agreed.
It was one of those moments that really sticks with a person. Bren imagined a sudden shout bounding through all the Vague ahead of them, picturing his voice being the first thing to explore it, besides the Vague. Although it was possible that their ship moved faster than the resounding sound. He pressed the ‘SEND’ button, and off it went.
“What was that?” Captain Gina asked, poking at a screen that suddenly flashed yellow and red, a static mumbling seemed to echo through their radio.
“That was the ‘Noise’.”
“How often are you going to be doing that?” She asked him.
Bren wondered, he hadn’t really put any thought into that, “I’m not really sure Captain.”
Their days had begun this way for a little bit now. Both unsure of what to do. They were fairly sure they were doing whatever it was they were supposed to be doing. Bren knew he needed to MakeNoise, that and steer the ship wherever Captain Gina pointed. They were heading in the right general direction -RGD. Which was away from Contra, and into the Vague.
“Yeah?” Captain Ralety asked.
“Never mind.” Bren said.
Suddenly. Everything started to flash red. Furious blinking and wailing. Naturally, Bren didn’t do anything. He waited, Captain Ralety didn’t do anything either, which was proper. The alarms still cried on, as if there was a message the ship was fervently trying to say.
“You’d think they would have taught this thing how to talk.” Bren observed giving it a good thwack.
“I just try not to worry about it. Works pretty well for me.” Captain Gina twirled a bit of her hair between her fingertips while she said this. She was very good at that, deftly twirling and weaving a bit of her waving hair together and untogether in a glorious repetition. Captain Gina expertly twirled and seemed fantastically thoughtless. Bren was too, aside from the hair twirling, he’d tried, firstly he didn’t have long enough hair, and secondly, he concluded he couldn’t do it. The alarms continued.
“Captain?” Bren offered, a little worry clipped his word.
“Oh it’s fine. Does this all the time.”
“Does it? I hadn’t noticed.” The Laws of Contradiction slipped by Bren, maybe they were moving too fast, or maybe it was supposed to find Gina and missed both of them.
“Interesting. I saw it before we took off. There was a video that ran endlessly in the waiting room. The one we had to sit in between filling out our applications. You know, right before boarding.” She poked her screen a little.
“Ooooh. Yes.” He couldn’t remember but didn’t want to say so, the flashing and blaring continued on. “Should we be doing anything?” Captain Ralety was wondering the same thing. Abruptly it stopped, everything did, their ship was doused in darkness. “Gina?”
The ship was small, Bren could very easily and reasonably hear his own question, so did Gina. “Yeah Bren?”
“Oh good, just making sure everything was still here.” One never knew what happens in the dark where you can’t see.
Everything flicked back on, the lights, the power, wailing and whirring filled their small ship again. Bren looked to his captain, wondering what they should be doing. The damn thing seemed to be trying to tell them something, but whenever Bren had trained for this, his thoughts had gotten wrapped up in the litany of colors and sounds and he’d found himself quite mesmerized. Immediately forgetting what he was supposed to be learning. He had done better than most. Some folks, well, they hadn’t made it to the Vague Ship.
There was a crash, or a bump or something, it really jostled the ship around. Two throats filled with lurching hearts. Lights wailed, sirens flashed, buttons were pressed -then pounded, Bren was sure he heard Captain Gina yelling something, but he reverted to his training and completely blanked out. The next thing he knew he was being yelled at, the flashing lights had stopped, and their ship seemed to be getting pulled, quite quickly toward something.
“Bren!” Yeah, she was definitely yelling.
“Yes Captain?” He answered.
“Oh thank god!”
“Thank who?” He asked.
“Never mind.” That was something not worth getting into right now.
It was then that Bren noticed something, it looked a lot like the way heat causes air to waver. It shimmered and shifted. He gestured toward it. “Captain, there’s a…thing.”
“Would you look at that! It’s been there for a while now, I’ve been telling you for most of that time, however I am glad to see you remembered your training.” He couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or not.
Their ship stopped working again, a copy of ContraDictation floated by (the fabled ‘handbook’ of ContradictionLand). Bren watched it, he’d never read any of it, maybe that was a good thing, maybe not. He supposed it would have depended on the bits that he would have read. He did however study the Vague Ship Driver’s Guide quiet extensively. It was a laborious volume full of controversial ideas and filled out five full pages. Most of what Bren got out of it was that he should MakeNoise every so often and do his best to guide the ship in the direction of the Captain’s orders. Pay was pretty good too.
“YEAAARGGGGG!” Bren shouted, loudly, thinking of MakingNoise seemed a good enough reason to.
“Eeee Gads man.” Gina muttered, she seemed startled and had one hand rested on the console in front of her.
“It’s Bren, Captain Ralety.” Sometimes he had to remind her.
She shook her head and he was forced to remind her again. It was a good thing he was persistent and patient. It was probably his best attributes, he could wait through what seemed an eternity, for nothing at all, he had been commended many times on it during his training and interviewing process. It was one of the most natural things for him, to sit and stare, thoughtless, he didn’t really understand how others couldn’t do it. Of course, he didn’t think about it long. Captain Gina had said something else and he could see her gesturing toward something. He turned the ship toward where her hand seemed to point. Perfect execution.
“Bren?” Gina said as if she had been asking it already.
“That’s me Captain.” He focused on his steering, they drifted toward the wavering spot, he wondered if he had blanked out again, he had, but due to the blank out, he couldn’t remember, so, he assumed he did.
“We seem to be approaching an anomaly. This is a moment we have been preparing for, all this endless training, and flying, and you know, just staring at each other is going to pay off. Up ahead,” She pointed at the spot, he adjusted his direction -to which she had to point again so he could continue in the original direction. “- is our first real test. It could be the end for us. This…thing…seemed to respond to your message. I couldn’t tell how it felt about it. Here I’ll play the response.” He stared, wondering how long he’d just blanked out, Captain Gina played the response – “YWaggleedeeeffeeeeeeeee.” It was short and sweet.
The Captain waited for a little bit, it looked like she was waiting for something. “Cool story Captain.” Now, he was sure he had blanked out.
He had to give it to her, she looked absolutely aghast. He’d never seen someone look that way. He was about to tell her when another great rumbling shook their ship. It seemed to literally shake the ship. The wavering space grew closer, it felt like they were jumping to it, as if they skipped bits of space, or rolled over it, the way a boat does over the surf. He had the sudden feeling of being upside down, which was particularly odd, being they were in the Vague, it was known there was no ‘upside down’ out here. Just what was down, and what was up, and that changed constantly, he was good at making sure their ship rotated, that way they wouldn’t forget. It was one reason it was so noticeable. Also, he plummeted from his seat to the ceiling of the ship.
Gina hadn’t moved. She was strapped into the captain’s bowl, a comfortable and cushioned seat that was also a reliable source of safety. She was watching him with an odd look, he was sure it was amusement, but it was hard to see since he was upside down, unless of course she was the one who was upside down. “Captain, we seem to have found something that acts a lot like gravity.”
She shook her head. He didn’t know how better to put it, so after a few times of repeating it in various tones, one of which he decided to use for MakingNoise. Sometimes, he really wondered about the Captain. Having to repeat things until he thoroughly believed the message was passed, sometimes took far longer than he liked. It was however, incredibly important to him to feel like he was understood. The gravity anomaly shifted, or the ship did, and he was slowly tumbled around the ship as it was turned over. His training kicked in and after a blanking out he found himself back in his seat buckled up.
There was another bout of MakingNoise, he managed to capture a bit of their conversation in the recording too. Bren didn’t think there would be any issue in the kind of noise he used. He pressed the ‘send’ button again.
“Bren! What are you doing!?”
“MakingNoise?” He was sure he had already told her about it.
She motioned for him to ‘get on with it’ (As she put it). He did. Their ship was still screeching alarms, he thought he heard something, like a long creaking or almost a squeal that was just beyond the edge of hearing, it was that nearly painful kind. Maybe it was painful, he cringed -that was certain. The Captain did too. It lingered, it stretched out, scoring their hearing, burning itself into memory. Bren was sure he’d remember it for the rest of his life. He was also fairly sure that was about to end; a groaning, screeching and grinding ship, ought not to last too long. It was an odd moment. He kept expecting his death, over and over and each time it abated. “Captain?”
“Is it taking forever for this to happen to you too?” He wondered, the words even felt like he dragged them out, slow.
“No, Bren. I feel like every moment is flying by me. Honestly, I’m wondering how we are still talking.” She seemed to find the last bit amusing, back on Contra, he was sure they both would have WinkedOut by now, he didn’t worry about it, he was amazed too, they could contradict themselves.
He felt the pull of gravity again, this time he was strapped in nicely and was only pulled a foot or two off the seat. He hung awkwardly, but he could still steer the ship in its constant twirl. It was very surreal, and he was further amazed when he didn’t revert immediately to his training -as he was supposed to- and blank out. Instead he felt each small crunch that would wrap itself around their ship, and with every moment seeming like forever, it was something else.
“So, we just sit here?” He asked, it seemed like a decent enough question to him, he bounced around, every time he rotated the ship he had to climb back into his seat.
“I think so.” She looked curious as well. “You know, I don’t really know. I suppose if you want you could MakeNoise, I think I’m going to just try to slow down.”
“Slow down?” The idea seemed ludicrous, he was sure time was moving the way ice flows, although, MakingNoise seemed like a great idea. He never heard her answer. He had the most severe blank out of his career. Although looking back it could have only been a second, he never knew, and the captain refused to repeat herself when he asked.
Next Chapter: Like Paper
Coming Soon To An Ebook Near You
© 2018 Adam West
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.