#30 Earth is the Place You Visit When You’re Awake

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We have no idea where Dr. Sophia went but we still need to find Shadow before heading back down to the Biolab. Impossible questions are raging through my head as we check the rooms on the way back to the elevator. What a mind-bogglingly insane predicament I’ve found myself in. If this is all real I’ve somehow been transported into the future in the most bizarre way possible. If I’m dead then the afterlife is one fucked up place. And no matter how you slice it the gods must be crazy. One thing is for sure. Whoever is driving this bus is way ahead of us and knows what’s going to happen before we do. How is that possible? They would have to be able to see the entirety of our lives in the blink of an eye to plan this. Maybe I’m just being paranoid but it’s starting to feel like we are puppets dancing on someone else’s string.

What I saw when I looked into the little girl’s room made my blood run cold. The careening apple cart of chaos had been quietly picking up steam while I was deep in thought. Shadow was up on the bed and straddling the little girl’s body, he is three times the size he was yesterday, and he is clearly pissed off and growling loudly. Floating next to the little girl’s bed are three softball-sized glowing spheres filled with blue liquid that contain creepy looking squid creatures. A fourth sphere is broken on the floor next to the bed. A squid creature is laying motionless on the floor surrounded in blue liquid.

“Oh dear. They’ve killed Bill,” said one of the squids in a nasal deadpan tone.

“We must have come at the wrong time,” squealed another as they turned to look at each other.

A small line descended out of one of the spheres and hooked itself around the body of the squid on the floor which it began slowly reeling up. The spheres then turned and flew through the side of the spaceship like it wasn’t even there. When they did this the blue liquid on the floor and broken sphere also vanished. Shadow hopped off the bed and began inspecting the floor. He looks more like a bobcat than a kitten at this point. I turned to yell at Cole and Dr. Sophia and when I turned back he was back to his slightly larger than normal kitten size. What in the hell? There wasn’t much time to think about it because Cole and Dr. Sophia came rushing through the door to check on us. The little girl appeared to be fine and was still sleeping thanks to the sedatives. We were able to check the room camera and the only squid sphere that was visible was the one Shadow seemingly knocked out of thin air.

“I wonder what would have happened if Shadow hadn’t been in the room?” asked Dr. Sophia as she picked up Shadow and began scratching him behind the ears. He let out another bird-like squawk as if to answer her.

“Let’s hope that whatever those things were, that they didn’t follow us up here from the recently incinerated beach. The last thing we need is one more thing to worry about. How do you protect yourself from invisible squid creatures if you don’t have a magic cat? I think I’m going to need more of whatever Zap-Zap is putting in the coffee,” I replied still completely stunned.

“Are you feeling OK? You’ve been getting a lot of extra activity and you are looking a little pale.”

“I’m OK. Just a lot to process and way too much running. Think I’ll sleep in the lounge tonight and skip the trip through the Biolab. Easier for Shadow to keep an eye on things up here also.”

“We’ll set up motion alarms around both patients and then get as far away from Trevia 7 as possible. Nothing left for us down there. Someone made sure of that. We need to figure who sent those fighters,” replied Cole who was doing his best to not look worried.

“Let’s go someplace with a space bank so I can cash in Lord Kularcan’s golden windfall. I’m going to get lost in that oversized couch in the lounge and hope someone programmed Zap-Zap to roll a fat one because this whole thing is getting way out of control.”

Shadow followed me down the hallway staying as close as possible to me as we walked. What a strange day in a series of strange days. It feels like we’ve done this all before. None of this seems to be an accident. I could swear the two of us have already made this trip down the hallway. But how could that be? Why does everything seem so damn familiar? From what I can remember of my old life there weren’t any spaceships that normal people got to ride on, and yet here we are. Anton is going to be around the next corner drinking something. I could feel it and that is exactly what happened. He was standing there drinking something bright orange with grayish blue chunks floating in it. It’s hard to put the surreality of finding a gray alien in the hallway into words.

He looked me up and down, smiling, and said in his best grandpa voice, “Earth is the place you visit when you’re awake. I do not have this problem.”

“Wait, what?”

Anton tapped himself on the temple and then pointed to the ceiling while nodding. He then took a large gulp of whatever the hell he was drinking and wandered off down the hallway humming to himself. I looked down at Shadow and gave him the universal sign for what the fuck and he squawked back at me three times in what sounded like a comment on the situation. Why is it that this universal translator thing they gave me doesn’t work on him? At this point, I’m willing to accept it’s because they haven’t seen anything like him yet. Still, what kind of future doesn’t have a cat translator? Despite all the troubling thoughts, things seem to be going along exactly as their supposed to. If all this has happened before, I wonder what it meant the last time he said it. Zap-Zap was waiting for us in the lounge and appeared to be passing the time by singing songs about coffee.

“Medicine for the traveler! Extra pain relief just like the doctor ordered!” he sang while whirling around in the curious way that he does.

A cup of coffee came floating towards me only this time it had one of those weird looking electronic cigarettes that Cole had hanging off the side of it. Zap-Zap pressed his metal hands together in what looked like prayer, bowed deeply, and then went racing out of the room like he always does. Best coffee ever but I think Zap-Zap has been getting too much of his own product. I lean back into the gigantic overstuffed purple sofa to drink some coffee and try my new gizmo. Stars start to slide by outside the window and for just a second there is bright flash off in the distance. It feels like a warm blanket is starting to wrap around me. What did Anton mean by earth is the place you visit when you’re awake? Can you fall asleep in a dream? If that’s the case, I hope Nurse Nancy remembered to feed me the green jello.

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