nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’

Mike didn’t know where he was. All was dark, and black… but it wasn’t really frightening. He wasn’t in water, or anti-gravity, as he could still feel his feet firmly on a floor…even if he couldn’t really SEE a floor. His arms and legs felt unnaturally light, though, even for his skinny frame. Who knows, he thought, maybe this is what it feels like when all the blood’s pulled out of you.
He tried to take stock of his surroundings, but it was odd to walk in such a light body. More times than others he tripped and fell… but it didn’t hurt. He had touched a ground, or a floor, or carpet or something, but he just picked himself up and kept walking. After a cursory examination, he realized he was indeed in a small room. There were limits, walls, if you will, but is featureless, it hardly stands to figure.
For the moment, all of the excitement of the past hours had faded from Mike,  and he couldn’t think of why. The Khitomer Conference, the terrorist plot, the Catalina, the warp drive, Humak, Cynthia, Mom, Dad, all of it… why wasn’t it important anymore. For some odd reason, it all seemed so far away and long ago. The warm, velvety surface that was all around him was like a drug. It soothed him, relaxed him, but still… he didn’t want to forget…
It was at that moment that Mike heard a sound. It wasn’t much of a sound, but in this place where there was almost an absence of sound, it was as clear as the shriek of a Anglyvian Avios. The sound continued, a low hum of activity that was almost a godsend in what had become a rather comfortable, but boring place. As Mike continued to listen, he tried to meter his breathing… until he realized he didn’t technically have to breathe. Still the sounds grew, and Mike began to detect distinct sounds. Instead of a low hum, the tone of it went up and down. Rather than being nearly constant, he began to pick up breaks and inflections. As Mike had spent so much time studying languages, he could tell the basic whispers of speech, no matter how unintelligible. Most importantly, though, was that the sound was getting louder.  Eventually, he thought he could make out words, or sentences, but the room suffocated and muffled all, as if he was trying to listen to Humak with a pillow tied around his ears. Mike was busy contemplating how effective such a strategy would be with Humak that it finally took him by complete surprise when he did start recognizing words, close words, loud words.
“I know, I know, I know I’m late. You’d think I’d be better at planning things down here, but I still fall behind. Oh, well, better get ready to do this right.”
Suddenly, the far wall erupted in a small shaft of light, and a slim figure walked through what appeared to be a recently opened door. Though Mike had been able to see himself through some strange sort of bio-luminescence, he had been unable to distinguish or understand any other shape or form up til now, when what looked like a skinny man had just opened a door that, presumably, contained the core of the sun on the other side, for how bright it was.
“Good God!” Mike found himself spitting out the words despite himself, “Could you close that, please?!”
“Oh!” the voice said, clearly now, “Sorry. I guess you’re not used to the light after being in here so long. Sorry about that, too, by the way.”
Once again, the two were left in complete blackness. Mike tried his best to rub spots away that danced in his eyes, blurring his vision. He knew he was talking to another man, or at least another human man by the sound of his voice. Sure, it could have been a Klingon, or an Andorrian, but the accent wasn’t quite right. The way this man spoke was very colloquial, but still far away. He ventured a guess to say the American East Coast due to the his nasal drawl on the words “being in here” with the last word sounding more like “heah.” Mike fumbled around in the darkness, but the blurriness quickly melted away as a warm, golden light began to shine from where the door had so recently pierced his corneas. Blinking heavily, he took stock.
The man was indeed skinny, wearing an old-fashioned Terran suit that was impeccably kept, but hung in the way an off-the-rack model would, not a custom tailored job. He had a black necktie and deep red shirt, which glowed in the golden light that was given off by the simple tallow candle he held in long, deft fingers.
“Mike Smith!” the man said with a genuine smile, “Or, should I say… Seamus Q. Pyke? I’m a big fan of your work, pal, I gotta say. The bit with the spacesuit and the rockets? Simply fantastic. I’m not afraid to say you got more guts than I ever had. You jumped out of that airlock like a man, I was curled up in a ball on a dirty Boston sidewalk.”
His hair was a brassy shade of red, but not bright. It did not have the smooth appeal of auburn or the arresting notes of scarlet. It fell very disappointingly in the middle, which was ironic as he also parted his hair there.
“Yes, sir,” the man continued, walking around Mike as if he were a heifer at market, “Although I don’t much care for your outfit. Is this really what they’re wearing in the future? I was never a fan of purple, and the one-piece look? No, thanks.”
“Um…” Mike spoke finally, his voice seemingly quiet within the infinite black confines, “can I ask a question?”
“No,” the man replied, grinning, “You must ask more than one. Everyone else does.”
“Okay, then…” Mike began feel a little more comfortable, “Where am I?”
“Oh, you are everywhere and nowhere and inbetween where here and there share the air!”
The skinny man made a twiddling motion with his fingers. Mike looked unimpressed.
“No, but seriously,” the man in the suit continued, putting his hands in his pockets, “you’re not technically anywhere.”
“You said this is how we dress in the future,” Mike looked down at the uniform he himself disliked, “Have I traveled in time?”
“Not exactly.”
“Are you going to give a substantial answer to anything I ask?”
“Then who are you, then, keeping all the answers?”
“Ah!” the man in the suit laughed then, “Now that’s a question I can answer! Technically, I’m Satan.”
“Excuse me?”
“Well, more like my title is Satan. It’s a long story. I used to be a person just like you… although without the crippling alien disease… nasty stuff.”
“So should I be asking who were you?”
“Nah,” the man waved the question off, “I’m still me, just with more…stuff.”
He turned and shook Mike’s hand enthusiastically, looking him square in the eye, brown to blue.
“My name’s Steve Waterhouse, Mike, and like I said… I’m a big fan!”

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