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Space Zombie Holiday

By trisha herlihy All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Horror

One

Terminal 13 of the London Interstellar Space-port is empty.

'Welcome to Outpost Earth, we hope you enjoy a quiet and relaxing time here, please take the next available queuebot and you will be processed soon...'

Jansson glances around, there are no queues and all the automated queuebots are still lined up patiently in their turnstiles, several hundred feet before the fleet of auto check-out desks. There is no one in sight, only the automated tannoy message, breaking the silence every three minutes.

He glances at the time, he had been told he would be met at the space-port. But it is a cavernous, glass and marble, pristine, empty space.

'Welcome to Outpost Earth, we hope you enjoy a quiet and relaxing time here, please take the next available queuebot and you will be processed soon...'

Far off in the distance he can hear the clicking sound of heels over the white marble floor, long before the blurred shape of a person appears. The shape pulls into focus and a minute or so later he hears his name being called. 'Captain Jansson! Captain Jansson!'

He waves in response as the person draws near. To his disappointment it is an autorep robot.

'Captain Jansson, so happy to welcome you to Outpost Earth. Please follow me and we will proceed to your holiday destination.'

'But I haven't checked out yet.'

'No need' The autorep smiles, as she conducts a full body scan with her eyes, 'You are our only holiday maker on Outpost Earth today and we are delighted to welcome you! Follow me.'

She quickly walks away back across the tiled floor and Jansson grabs his flightpack and jogs to keep up with her.

'From your booking I see you have requested the full-on tranquillity destination, Fairlogie, in the Cairngorm Snow-Ski Resort, where the sunshine and snow will help you relax completely. It will take approximately ten minutes to transfer from terminal 13 to your destination, on arrival you must show this pass to your holiday co-ordinator who will be waiting to explore the beautiful resort with you. It also entitles you to one free drink at Sil's Bar. Your shuttlepod is number 00042687533.010 and can be accessed at the end of the moving travelator. Please make sure you leave no bags unattended in the space-port. For your safety you are urged not to walk on the travelator. Have a very pleasant stay Captain Jansson.'

Jansson takes the credit card sized passcard from the autorep as she stops in front of a row of travelators stretching out into the blank vastness of the terminal. The central one is lit with green flashing arrows down the sides and he steps cautiously onto it. As soon as he transfers his weight onto the walkway it starts to speed up and, within seconds, he is travelling at a fast run through the terminal, towards a network of tunnels leading to various transport shuttles. After a minute the terminal is just a blur behind him and the walkway slows to a halt in front of a docking hatchway. As he steps off the walkway, the door in front hisses open to reveal the interior of a shuttlepod. It is rudimentary in the extreme. Moulded plastic seats and no windows. The air-con blasts coldly. A sign blinks above the seats announcing this is the fastpod 00042687533.010 to the Cairngorms. Jansson takes a seat and grips the handrail as the fastpod screams off on its monorail. Above his head the sign counts down the minutes to its arrival as Jansson reflects on the events that had bought him here on holiday.

The war, now in its fourth year, was not going well for the Allied Galactic Forces. When the first sporadic raids had been reported at the very edge of the galaxy, no one could have predicted the full-scale onslaught that would follow. The scale and rapacity of the enemy was, at times, overwhelming and the AGF was stretched to its operating limits. The galaxy was being both bankrupted of money, resources and man-power as, inexorably, solar system after solar system fell before the advancing foe.

In those three full years of war, Jansson had seen more fighting than in all his previous twenty in the AGF. He had lost more good men and women than he cared to count and now, as a Captain of the one of the elite Galactic Special Force Squads, he had spearheaded more covert reconnaissance ops into enemy space than any person had a right to. He had fought in all the major battles of the war, The Victorious Battle of Gamma Twelve, Orion's Ridge, Nebula Massacre, the list went on. But the last GSF mission had gone terribly wrong and his entire squad had been wiped out, lured into an enemy trap with false information. Jansson had barely escaped with his life. Three months in an AGF hospital ship and two internal inquiries later and Jansson found himself receiving the Highest Order of Galactic Merit and on extended official leave. Unofficially, he was burnt out.

Above his head the countdown in the shuttle pod is at three minutes.

Jansson returned to his space-port quarters after the medal ceremony to find there was nothing there for him. The AGF doctors advised on a holiday and he took the advice, taking the first timeflight available to the furthest point away from it all. Outpost Earth.

As the screen above reaches 0.00, the shuttlepod shudders to a halt. Jansson sighs and shoulders his flightpack and waits for the door to open. There is a the soft release of air as the hatch releases and the door slides back to reveal the Fairlogie Cairngorm SnowSki Resort.

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