In The Deepest Space - Chapter 9: Hovercraft For Two, Please

Chapter 9 - Hovercraft For Two, Please


gnyuck gnyuck - an admonishment like "now now"
Sa-ahn - sorry
Ahhh-ghizhhhhhhh - a calming sound, to sooth
Zhah-wuut - hold still
Shahn - NO!
Mexxsssssh - Shit
Di-dhyme - (Dee-hi-may)

Bella’s POV ~

The area that the pod is parked in is kind of like a garage, but with a glass wall that looks into the rest of the dwelling.  Through the glass windows, I can see all types of furniture in varying colors.  Bright colors adorn sofas, chairs, and tables, almost all of them kidney bean shaped.  What the fuck is their fascination with kidney beans?

I shake my head, chuckling, as Edwaird nudges me gently with his arm.  I smile at him and simply shake my head to let him know that nothing is wrong.  The rest of the family files out of the pod as Edwaird leads us over to the glass window.  He waves his hand over a sensor I don’t even notice, and part of the glass wall slides up, allowing us entry into their home.  I follow him in with the rest of the clan trailing me.  Ah-lisss and Jassspeer say nothing, but immediately take off running down a hall.  I can hear Ah-lissss giggling, and yeah, I know exactly what is going to go on with them.

Roe-salie stands to my left and fixes a curl on my head that has fallen out of one of the pins.  The curl rests behind my ear, and I notice that she is quick to fix it, leaving the skin behind my ear exposed.  With her quick fix, I suddenly realize that they want to showcase my difference, my alienness compared to them.  On the ride here, I’d contemplated that maybe they had done my hair and make-up to resemble them.  Now I realize, they want to make sure that the rest of their kind see that I am different, and that it’s okay.

My tummy rolls in nervousness, but I’m not allowed to dwell on it for long because Emmeet, comes to stand in front of me.  He lifts his right arm up in front of his face with his palm facing his body.  He holds his arm at an angle, makes a fist and stares at me, waiting for me to do something.  I look up at Edwaird, and he mimics Emmeet’s gesture, then nods at me.  

I follow both of their leads and put my arm up just as they have.  Emmeet then leans in slightly, and moves his arm so that both of our arms touch on the outside make an “X” shape.  He smiles then, nods at me, and drops his arm.  Roe-salie grabs his hand, and they walk down the same hall that Ah-lisss and Jasssspeer just disappeared down.  I’m totally confused by what all this means.

I turn to ask Edwaird what it’s all about, but I hear Emmeet shout out to me, “BERRRP!”  He chuckles, then they are out of sight.  

“What was that about?” I ask, the confusion plain in my voice.

“Emmeet isss filled with happinessssss that you are of our clan.  That we are mated.  That issss hisss disssplay of accceptanccce,” Edwaird explains as he grabs my hand, pulling me behind him down a different corridor of the house.


Edwaird pulls me through the remainder of the house quickly.  It is fairly large, and like he has told me, much different than their first home.  Where that house is all old stone and vines, this house is abstract cutouts in random walls, brightly painted rooms and light fixtures that weirdly resemble squid.  Oh, and don’t let me forget the fucking kidney bean furniture, no, that would be blasphemous.

Edwaird pulls me out a side door of the house, and we step outside into the late afternoon.  The sun sits above the horizon, but it won’t stay up for much longer.  Esssme has advised Edwaird that I need to see and experience their life and culture as much as possible before this evening when I will meet their queen.

We walk down a small hill and towards the part of the city that seems to be bustling.  After walking only a few hundred feet, Edwaird stops us at a little shop of some sort.  There is a sign above the door that, of course, I can’t read.  

“Our pacccce issss too ssslow, we mussst travel with ssspeed, ssso you may sssee more, Bell-a,” Edwaird explains, pulling me behind him and into the little shop.  There is an elderly gentleman that stands behind a counter and wears gauzy strips of material around his head.  As we walk in, he looks at Edwaird and smiles until he notices me.

The smile leaves his face, and he looks back to Edwaird, saying, “Eessssst truthhhh.”  The look on his face is one of total shock, and he turns around, grabbing something from the shelf behind him before coming around the counter to stand in front of Edwaird and me.  He cocks his head to the side, and I realize he is looking for my flain -- the holes that I don’t have -- and I self-consciously raise my hand up to cover my ear and neck.

“Gnyuck gnyuck,” he admonishes me, for covering myself.  I look up to Edwaird, and he is looking at the old man with a hint of panic written across his face.  The old man takes Edwaird’s hand and places something inside of it.  Edwaird then reaches to grab something from some kind of pocket, but the old man holds up his hand, stopping Edwaird.

“Sssshow the female what there isss to sssee.  Make her cherisssh it assss we do.”  With that, the old man walks around the counter again, but disappears through a small doorway with more of the same strips of cloth he had wrapped around his head, hanging from it.

I look up at Edwaird again, and he has an unreadable expression on his face.  He changes it quickly as we emerge into the sun once again.  He leads us to the side of the small building where there is a row of some type of hovercraft.  He pushes something on the odd key that the old man gave him inside, and one of the craft hums to life.  The color changes from a dull grey to a vibrant red as Edwaird walks over to it.  I follow him, and he takes my hand, helping me sit down on it.  It kind of looks like a motorcycle, but after Edwaird sits down and pushes another button, the craft rises off of the ground slightly, and we begin hovering.  Another button, and suddenly, a glass-like shield encloses us on the hovercraft.  Awesome.  Now, no matter how fast we go, I don’t have to worry about the wind ruining the work that Roe-salie and Ah-lissss did to my hair.

Edwaird flies us around on the hovercraft, and mostly, we look at all of the people just below us.  There is a large market area that I am quite fascinated with, so we spend a lot of time looking there.  Edwaird also wants to show me the rest of the city, the buildings, and of course, the Queen’s domain.  It is dark and covered with sharp angles.  I get a weird feeling looking at it, maybe a bit foreboding, but I don’t tell Edwaird about that.  I don’t want to worry him anymore than he already is.

We don’t get off of the hovercraft for the entire city tour, which takes a while, until we come to the very end of it, as Edwaird says.  We actually return the hovercraft to the shop we first stopped at near Edwaird’s home, but then walk further down the hill.  We venture to the west of town by what I would call a few “city blocks” until we come to another shop.  While the shop that offered the hovercraft rental reminded me a bit of a gypsy’s trading post, this is anything but.  The doorway to this shop is decorated with tiny crystals of every color.  The door is painted a green that pales in comparison to the color of Edwaird’s eyes, but the entire facade itself is quite impressive.  

Edwaird opens the door and gestures for me to go inside.  I wait for him to follow me in, but he doesn’t.  He simply shakes his head at me and closes the door, leaving to fend for myself in this random store.  I realize he must be doing this for some reason, but a little warning would have been nice.

I step further into the small shop and find that there are all kinds of jewelry that line the walls, locked in cabinets and sitting upon shelves behind the counter.  There is no one standing in the front, and as I wait, I begin to look around.  There are jewels of all sizes, types:  some that hold precious looking stones, and some that are simply metal.  There is one that catches my eye, that has two “S” looking characters on it.  I know that that they are not “S’s” because their alphabet isn’t even close to resembling mine, but I still like it.

I hear a shuffling noise behind me and turn around quickly, seeing a thin woman with ancient looking eyes and black raven’s hair that falls far past her waist.  She walks behind the counter without looking at me, but when she finally does, her eyes grow wide.  

She offers me a coy smile, saying, “You have come, ccchild.  It isss the will.  Make your choicccce.”  She nods her head, gesturing to her store.

“You want me to pick something?” I clarify.

Her smile grows wider, and she nods her head again.

“But I don’t have any money.  Payment?”  I hold out my empty hands to show her I have nothing.

“Gnyuck gnyuck.  Peeeek,” she says, waving me off with her hand.

I look over my shoulder, behind me, where the piece with the double “S” caught my eye, but I make myself look around further.  I continue wandering for a few minutes and hear her chuckle.  I turn around to look at her, seeing her shoulders shake gently with laughter.

“Why do you laugh?” I ask.

“Loff?” she questions.  Fuck these language barriers.

“Oh.  Um.  Huhn huhn,” I explain.

Her eyes light with recognition of her language and what I’m asking, and she nods at me once more, then gestures to the piece that I keep eyeing.

“The pieccccce pickssss you, ccchild.  You musssst not deny it.”

I walk over and stand in front of the small case that holds the piece that I like so much.  Without so much as pointing to the piece, the woman takes it out of the case, then walks back around the counter and motions for me to turn my back to her.  She reaches around me, placing the pendant against my skin and hooking it at the back of my neck.

The second the pendant touches the skin at my throat, something inside of me changes.  It’s the oddest sensation, and my body flushes involuntarily.  It feels like my blood grows warmer inside of my skin, and I’m hyper-aware of the way it thrums in my veins.  I feel slightly panicky but am brought out of it by the touch of the woman’s hand on my bare forearm.

“Caaalm, ccchild.  Thisss isss your pieccce.”

I nod at her and focus on her eyes.  They seem to dart to my neck, eyeing the necklace, than back up to my face.  I realize that she is nervous, although I have no idea why.

Bell-a, you may retrieve Edwaird,” she tells me, and I want to ask her how the hell she knows my name, but I keep my mouth shut and go to get Edwaird.  As soon as I open the door, he eyes the piece that I’m wearing, and I swear, his eyes bulge a little too.  I watch his Adam’s apple bob as he swallows hard and goes over to stand in front of the woman.

“Sssshe chossse that pieccce of her own forccce, Di-dhyme?”  Edwaird asks her, not me.

This woman, Di-dhyme, looks Edwaird directly in the eyes and nods, not breaking eye contact.  There is silence for a few moments, and I worry that I’ve chosen a piece that is too expensive.  I move to take it off but they both yell, “Shahn,” at me.  I drop my hands to my sides, feeling panic bubble up in my throat.

Edwaird grabs my hand then, pulling me toward the door, and Di-dhyme stares after me, looking sad and confused all of a sudden.

What the fuck is going on?

We walk through the door and back outside.  It is full dark now. and we immediately start heading back toward home.  Edwaird holds my hand securely, saying nothing, and I worry that I’ve angered him somehow with my jewelry choice.  It’s his fault for not going in with me in the first place.  And Di-dhyme said that the piece would pick me, so I once again wonder.  What the fuck?

Anger boils just under the surface of my skin, and I can feel the heat of my blood through my skin.  I know it’s ridiculous, but it feels like something about this necklace makes me more attuned to my body or something.  Finally when we are about twenty feet from the door, I refuse to go into that house angry at Edwaird.  I don’t want to be angry, I’m already nervous enough as it is about meeting the queen tonight.  I stop abruptly, and Edwaird does not notice, so my hand slips from his.  

He stops and turns back to face me.  “Bell-a?” he asks.

“Why are you angry with me?  What have I done?  I’m sorry if you don’t like my choice, but you made me go in there alone.  She said that the piece would pick me.  How can that be my fault, Edwaird?”  The words fall out of my mouth in hurt and anger at him for acting this way with me.  

How is he acting, Bella?

Ugh.  I don’t know how he’s acting.  Hurried, worried, distant.  It’s driving me crazy, and I don’t want him to be mad at me without a valid reason.

“Angerrr?  I do not feel angerrr toward you, my Bell-a.”  In the light of the moons, I see his hand reach out like he is going to touch my necklace, but then his hand balls to a fist.  Instead, he gently brushes his knuckles along my jaw.  I lean my face in toward his palm.

“Come,” he says, grabbing onto my hand once again and pulling me the rest of the way to the house.  I guess that’s all the explanation I’m getting for now.


Once again, it is all of us women getting ready for the concert, and my introduction to the Queen.
Ah-lisss flits around her bedroom like a madwoman, pulling out several gowns that are absolutely remarkable.  I worry that perhaps none of Ah-lissss’ gowns will fit me; she is so much smaller than I am, but I find out that all three woman hold their gowns in this one closet because it has a high ceiling which allows the gowns to hang without wrinkling.

The other three already know what gowns they will be wearing, but in front of me, they have several laid out in varying colors.  The only color that is not displayed is red.

“Why no red?  I noticed that there are no red dresses.  Do you not have red here?” I question.  They all look at me in confusion, so I walk into the closet, searching for something in red.  I retrieve a shirt from a compartment that is all red and bring it back out.


“Sssihh.  Raaaid,” Ah-lissss says.  

“Queen Ssssulpicccia will adorn a cloak of sssihh for the concccciato.  No other may adorn it,” Esssme explains to me.

I nod and walk over to the various dresses that have been set out for me.  I point to the emerald green one, deciding the color will look good with my complexion.

After I strip out of my clothes and pull the dress on, I need help getting buttoned up in the back.  Esssme moves my hair away from the buttons, then touches the clasp on my necklace.

“Edwaird hasss taken you to visssit Di-dhyme?” she asks.  I nod my head yes in answer.

“What pieccce sssspoke to you, my ccchild?”  Essssme finishes buttoning up my gown and spins me around so that she can see.  Her eyes fall on my necklace, and she stares at it for an uncomfortable amount of time.

I clear my throat lightly to get her attention, and she quickly snaps her head up to look me in the eyes.  She blinks several times, but continues looking at me like she’s studying me or seeing me in an entirely different light.  Then, just like that, she snaps out of it and flits off to finish getting ready.  

I walk back over to the other women and notice Ah-lissss and Roe-salie quickly eye my necklace.  However, their eyes seem to stay away from it altogether after that.

Seriously, did I pick a necklace that used to belong to a dead girl or something?  What the fuck?


As is custom here, the men have left early to go and secure our places at the concert.  We are guaranteed our seating due to my expected meeting with the Queen, but since it is custom, they go early anyway.  We arrive when all the other females are arriving, so we blend in quite well.  Esssme stands to my right side, and I grip her hand tightly.

Woman shuffle by on either side of us in all kinds of colors.  Some colors, I’ve never seen in my life, but none of them are red.  Roe-salie sidles up on my left and points to a woman up in front of us a ways.  Her dress is kind of like a burnt orange color that skirts the boundaries of red.

Roe-salie leans into me, whispering, “Sssshe will pay a priccce for disssplaying ssssuch a color.”

We file into a large hall, searching out the men.  Ah-lisss spots Carlisss on the far right side of the room, and we all make our way over to them.  As soon as Edwaird sees me, he rushes to my side, squeezing me to him.  He leans down toward me, growling slightly, and it is all I can do to not attack him in the room full of people.  He nibbles at my neck a little but straightens up when some kind of music begins to play.

The entire room falls quiet, everyone’s attention focusing on the center of the room.  Where there was once just a sea of people, there are now two separate groups as a long isle is formed down the center of the room.  Several people begin to walk in until finally, the music stops completely.  The room is totally silent, and finally, a female -- who I assume is the queen -- wearing a blood red gown, is escorted into the room.  She makes it almost the entire way up to the front of the room when suddenly, she stops.  I look at Edwaird and he appears just as confused as I am.  Then I see Roe-salie stare at me, then nod towards the front of the room.

The queen continues her path to the front.  Behind her trails the girl with the almost red dress.  This can’t be good.  I look at Edwaird again, and he has a worried look on his face.  Now I know this won’t be good.

“Maaaiden!  What issssss the tone of your garmaaaant?” The queen questions her.  Her voice is powerful, demands attention, and is utterly frightening.

The girl doesn’t answer.  “Why doesn’t she answer?” I whisper to Edwaird.

“The Queen doessss not desssire the ansswer.  The female isss not worthy of making her voiccce known to the Queen,” he replies.

I look forward again, in time to see a guard hand the queen a pair of shears.  The queen bends down, starting at the bottom of the beautiful gown, and begins to slice upward.  She gets to the girls thigh area, continuing to slice it away, and I have to close my eyes.  If this is how she is just because of a dress, what the fuck is she going to do to me?

I open my eyes in time to see a guard escorting the woman from the large room in only her undergarments.  When the commotion is over, Esssme leads us the area closer to the Queen’s table, and we sit at our designated area.  My hands shake a little, still upset by the display I’ve just witnessed, and Edwaird grabs my hand under the table, doing his best to calm my nerves.  

Our evening meal is simply exquisite.  I have no idea what it is that we’re actually eating, but I’m pretty sure I eat both mine and Edwaird’s helping of a few of the dishes.  Emmeet eats about four helpings of everything and is quite bashful about it.  Before long, our plates are cleared, and there us an announcement saying that soon the lights will go down in the house.

We chat for a few moments until a male, who appears to be one of the Queen’s guard, approaches our table.  He bends down and speaks with Essssme, who nods her head minimally in my direction.  Edwaird grabs onto my hand again and squeezes it gently.  Essssme then stands up, along with Edwaird beside me, and I rise up along with him.

This is it.  Moment of truth.

The brute of a guard shoves people out of the way as we make our way toward the queen.  Edwaird has me wrapped up tightly in his arm and tucked into his side as we walk.  People watch us from everywhere in the room, and I can feel their eyes zeroing into the back of my head...and ears.

We finally reach the area that the queen is sitting, and she, too, has just finished eating.  She was the first to be served and the last to finish.  She must be a slow eater, or need a lot to wash her food down with.  She glances up from her plate when she notices us standing before her.  Edwaird and Esssme lower themselves to one knee before her, and I follow suit, unsure of what I should do.

“Risssse,” she says.  Her voice is slightly high pitched, but a little on the hoarse side.  Still, it holds a great deal of authority.  The three of us stand back up and wait for her to speak to us again.

“You are what isssss called a huuuman wohhhman, yessss?” she inquires.

I look up, then back down, unsure if I should make eye contact with her.  I finally look back up and nod my head slightly.  “Yes ma’am, or Queen Sssulpicia, or...I’m sorry, I’m unsure of how you prefer to be addressed,” I admit.

Her eyes narrow slightly, resting on my collarbone, and I swallow in anxiety.  Actually, I’m terrified.  “You may refer to me asssss your Queen.  Assss it issss my underssstanding, you will be unable to return to your planet.  Yessss.  It isss only natural that you now bow down to me.”

“Yes, my Queen.  Thank you.”

Beside me, Edwaird quietly lets out a stream of air, and if I understand him, he is relieved.  The Queen speaks to someone in her group, and I quickly chance a peek at Esssme, who looks pale, ill.  I look back to the queen and see her whispering to someone while looking at me.  The look on her face has gone from almost pleasant looking to furious.  Who the fuck pissed on her shoe?

She raises her hand and flicks it at us.  Edwaird quickly grabs one hand while Esssme grabs the other, and we quickly make our way back toward our table.  My heart pounds in my chest, and I suck in large gulps of air, trying to calm myself.  That wasn’t so bad after all.

The lights begin to go down before we are even back to our table, and so when we do get there, we have no time to answer any questions.  The music is about to start.

Now, I’d like to say that it’s some blue woman that comes out and sings the Diva Song a la The Fifth Element, but that doesn’t happen at all.  There are a few different performances that we sit through before an upcoming intermission.  My favorite out of the first three is a drum group that consists of all females.  Their costumes resemble a more primitive age, and their hair is worn long and wild, twisting into dreads with feathers and ribbons woven throughout it.  Each of them beat the drums in sync to the actions of the others, and it is simply mezmerizing.  

Various times throughout the first part of the concert, I feel eyes on me.  I’m being watched, scrutinized, like I’m a Christmas display that could potentially fall apart or explode.  As nonchalantly as I can, I sneak peeks around the room and of course, it is always the Queen staring at me.  The first time I catch her doing it, I smile at her.  She stares daggers through me, and I turn my head quickly back to the performance.  I do my best to focus on the performers but several more times, I feel her eyes burning my skin.  I don’t chance another glance when I feel her looking at me, but wait until the feeling is gone and then peer in her direction.  The Queen whispers into the ear of one of her guards, and he watches me with a disgusted look on his face. 

Edwaird nudges me then, and I turn my attention back to the performance and attempt to swallow down the dread that has unexpectedly shown up.

The performer before the intermission seems to not want to give up the stage, because he just keeps singing.  Just when I think that he is going to be done, the song continues, and my bladder begins to protest all the wine I’ve drunk.  When intermission finally arrives, Ah-lisss jumps up from her chair at the same time I do.  We look at each other, laughing, then Ah-lisss grabs my hand and pulls me behind her.  I hear the rest of our party’s chairs scraping on the floor as they too rise, so they can use the restrooms during the break.  Ah-lisss must have to go even worse than I do, because she pulls me quickly over to the bathroom area.  When we are in, she locks the door behind us.  

Each toilet is enclosed in its own little separate bathroom.  There’is a door and four walls, and it even has its own ventilation system.

“Be right back,” I tell Ah-lisss before walking into the small room.


Ah-lissss’ POV ~

I move into the private room to make a releasssse.  It issss mossst impossssible to think about anything other than Bell-a’ssss meeting with Queen Ssssulpicccia.  We need detailsss, ssso that we may interpret the entire ssscenario.

Bell-a, I am mossst curiousss asssss to how your introduction with Queen Sssulpicccia went,” I ssspeak to her through the division.

“It was weird Ah-lisss, I mean.  Not at all what I expected.  I’ll tell you when we’re out of the bathroom,” Bell-a repliessss.

I finisssh and move out of the cubicle over to the fresssshening counter.  After sssteaming my handssss, Bell-a issss ssstill not out, ssso I give her ssseveral more momentssss to finissssh.

After a few more momentsss, I can wait no longer assss there are otherssss making a raucoussss noissse againssst the door in an attempt to enter.  

Bell-a, we musssst go.”  Ssshe givesss no ressssponse.  

“Are you unwell, Bell-a?” I inquire, beginning to worry for her health.

Ssshe ssstill doesss not anssswer, and finally, I move to the door of her cubicle.

knock knockBell-a?”  knock knock  “Bell-a?”  knock knock Bell-a?”

Bell-a doesss not return my call.  I attempt to open the door to her cubicle, but it doessss not open.  I pull a pin from my hair and tamper with the latch on the door for ssssseveral momentsssss.  The noissses from outssside grow louder, making me nervousss, but I am finally able to get the door open.

I gasssp at what I see, before I run from the room.  More realissstically, I gasssp at what I do not sssee.  There issss no Bell-a, only the hanging vent that ssshe wassss taken through.

I fall through the door and pusssh mysssself through many angry sssouls, finally reaching Edwaird, falling into hisss armssss and sssobbing hard.

“Ah-lisss, where isss my Bell-a?” Edwaird asssskss, ssssounding worrisssome and angry.

I sssob loudly, flinging my ssshell into hisss armsss and tell him, “Vanissshed!” 
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