13 Transfer

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Stephen Whiteside
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13 Transfer

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:54 am

13 Transfer

© Stephen Whiteside 28.12.2011

Hocus knew they would be comfortable here, in the acclimatisation quarters. The colonists would be awoken from cryo a month before expected arrival. It was here that they would spend those final days on board ship, adjusting once more to human life, with its myriad of complex interactions.

It was luxurious. Opulent, even. The many rooms were painted in a variety of pastel colours. Some of them had densely carpeted floors, others polished floor boards with exotic rugs. Hocus loved visiting this part of the ship. Unfortunately, he wasn’t required to do so often, but Curmudgeon was keen that it be maintained to ensure the acclimatisation ran as smoothly as possible.

It was the wall hangings that most attracted Hocus. Most of them were from the Second Renaissance of the 24th century, but a number stretched back even further than that. Guernica by Pablo Picasso, from the 20th century. Images from Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel from the 16th century. The Mona Lisa, and other drawings by Leonardo da Vinci from the 15th century. There were even some prehistoric cave paintings.

Then there were the beds. Endless numbers, it seemed, of soft, luxurious beds. In truth, there were about 500, arranged in various ways - singles, doubles, larger rooms and dormitories, depending on the seniority and social circumstances of the personnel who would be sleeping in them.

Yes, Hocus was confident that Pocus and his tourists would be comfortable here.

The question of food caused Hocus to think twice. But then he thought, ‘What the hell, it’s not as though nobody else has stolen any of the food. Besides, there’s plenty of it. It’s not as though the colonists are going to starve.”

And so he prepared a hot, nutritious meal of rice and various vegetables. Of course, the eating of meat had long since been abandoned.

Horatio stood close to the wall in one of the large living areas, the one he had chosen to receive the party. They arrived like clockwork, at precisely the time and place he had pre-ordained.

They weren’t a happy bunch of campers, though; huddled close together in inadequate clothing for their conditions, cold, confused, frightened. Even Pocus did not look a lot better.

Stunned into silence by the utter extraordinariness of their situation, explanations were not sought. Neither were they given. Besides, they were pampered into silence. Hocus ushered his guests into bathrooms - separate for male and female, of course - and handed out towels and bathrobes. The use of baths and showers was explained, all run a little differently on a space ship. New clothes were laid out, including insulating garments and wet weather gear. There was plenty to go around. Then came food. Then came sleep. True, it was not ideal for them all to sleep on such full stomachs, but they were on a tight schedule. Pocus explained the need to be back on Earth at sunup if they were to rendezvous successfully with the people mover at Copperbung by sundown.

Hocus had the group ready and in position for return to Earth the following morning. Again, co-ordinates had all been set in advance. It had been decided to return to exactly the same location, to avoid confusion. This time, at least, they would be surrounded by sunlight, they would be warm, reasonably well rested, well clothed, and with pockets stuffed with food.

The matter transfer proceeded once more without a hitch. At the last moment, much to his own and Pocus’ surprise, Hocus found himself bounding across the room to join the party.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer
http://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au

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