Winds of Aerathiea

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Chapter 22: Mess Hall Meeting

Rebekah walked up the flight of stairs and into the makeshift mess hall. She was late. She had just come from the sickbay to check and see if the Captain had been brought back, but she found it completely empty. No Captain, no Gus, no doctor. As odd as that was, she couldn’t help thinking she was overlooking something else. Carol saw her and started to make her favorite sandwich as she approached.

“I’m afraid we are out of wheat bread,” said Carol as Rebekah approached the counter.

“It’s okay, I’ll take anything- I’m famished! Whatever happened has made me a little queasy too. I’m not sure how much I’ll actually be able to keep down.”

“I know exactly how you feel. If I hadn’t known better when I woke up, I would have thought I had morning sickness again. I promise you that is not something you ever want to go through if you can help it. Here, take an apple and some veggies too. We used Doc Weaver’s recipe to make up some of that nasty tasting electrolyte balancer. Make sure you get some.”

“Thanks, Megan already forced some on me when I woke up. I never thought I would actually miss power drinks. That stuff is nasty.”

Carol asked, “But it made you feel better, right?”

“Now that you mention it, I suppose so.” Rebekah obtained a cup and poured herself another glass of the concoction.

“I guess that accounts for her absence. Anyone know where she moved the Captain?”

Carol gestured to the open doors to the front. A lot of people had already gathered. “I have no idea. Ask Trish. Hurry or you will miss the speeches!”

Rebekah replied, “I can hardly wait.”

“Wait for what?” Marcus startled Beka as he came up behind her. Redirecting his attention to Carol, “Two for me please, and your phone number.”

“Marcus, when you find me a working phone, I will be happy to give you the number to it. In the meanwhile, just take your food before…”

“Aww, you know you love me.” Marcus gathered up his extra helpings. “Come on kiddo, let’s go see what all the fuss is about.” They headed across the room to the observation lounge.

There was significant murmuring through the crew. It was starting to get a little crowded as ninety people jammed into the end of the lounge. It was designed for many more but rarely did anyone see that many people in once place since the Empress of the Sky’s maiden voyage.

Just then, Kyton Davis, Jake Cramer, and Sydney Blankenship entered from a side door. The murmuring increased. “OK folks, let’s settle down. We probably have a lot of questions and a lot to cover,” said Sydney.

“Bottom line...” Kyton paused visibly. “We have no idea what happened. We will, of course, share everything with you as we figure things out. Feel free to add your conjectures, no matter how bizarre. I assure you, it’s probably not as bizarre as some of the things we have come up with.” Kyton stopped when an insistent hand would not stop raising. “Yes, Marcus?”

Marcus asked, “Where is the captain?”

“Last time I saw him, right before everything went crazy, he was resting comfortably in his bed. He still suffered from a hairline fracture and a concussion. Doctor Weaver has him under sedation.”

Rebekah was generally outspoken and even today in the face of the bizarre events, she did not hesitate. “Mr. Davis, I just came from his room- he isn’t there.”

“Of course he is. I’m sorry about your dad, by the way. He was a very good man.”

“What do you mean he was a good man?” she shot back.

Kyton replied “I’m sorry, I misspoke. IS a good man. We have begun searching the ship. We don’t believe He, Liam, Zak, Ethan, Mark, and Daniel made it back before we arrived here, wherever here is. We will, of course, continue looking for them, but I fear the worst.”

Rebekah audibly gasped and choked back her feelings, “I’m telling you that Captain Grumm is not in his cabin. I also tried the medical bay. He isn’t there, either!” There were more murmurings in the crowded lounge.

Kyton and Sydney exchanged whispers and Sydney abruptly exited out the side door. Kyton addressed the crowd, “I just sent Sydney to go check. If the Captain is indeed missing, rest assured we will find him.”

Marcus moved to support Rebekah as she slumped. She had of course known this news already, but it was much different to hear it vocalized by someone in authority.

Kyton got withering looks from most of the female crew. He continued, “We’ll keep looking. I’m not giving up hope that they are out there, drifting somewhere. We came through this so there is no reason why they couldn’t as well. Don’t give up yet, Miss Peck.”

Thank you, Kyton, mouthed Carol Weathers who had cleaned up and had come up behind Rebekah, wrapping her arm around her shoulders for support. Rebekah instinctively leaned into the older woman’s embrace, seeking the small amount of comfort there.

“They will turn up Beka. All of them are extremely resourceful and we would have never gotten this far without them. Just keep up the hope.”

“Thanks,” Rebekah whispered back. “I was in Captain Grumm’s cabin immediately after I woke up. I was looking to see if anyone needed help and his door was open.”

At that point, Doctor Weaver almost bowled over a couple people standing near the door in her haste to get in. Everyone moved back to give her room.

Catching her breath. “I just came from the Captain’s quarters. The captain’s missing!”

Kyton took a long breath. “Yes, Trish. We were just informed.”

Sydney had come back with her and motioned to two other mates to start a search party. Doctor Weaver still hadn’t completely gotten her breath yet, but she started to go with them. “Trish! Hold up. They’ll come get you if they find him. Take a breather. Gus can go with them.” Trish nodded, dropping her head to her knees. She must have run the whole way from his cabin. Kyton turned back to the rest of the crowd. “He probably woke up from sedation with the rest of us. We’ll start a ship-wide search. If anyone sees him, no matter what the captain says, he needs rest. Please either get him back to sickbay or come get one of us.”

“So, does anyone have any ideas where we are?”

Carol responded, “Any theory I have would sound totally off the wall. Another dimension? Maybe we are all still asleep and this is a hallucination? Maybe we are in Wonderland… or Pellucidar?”

“What did you say, Carol?” Kyton perked up.

“Another dimension?”

“No, that other word.”

“Pellucidar?” Trish replied for her. “Didn’t you ever read science fiction as a kid?”

“No, I’m afraid my parents were rather strict that way. I mostly read engineering manuals,” Kyton replied in a curious tone.

Trish continued, “Pellucidar was the fictional land that Edgar Rice Burrows created. He had a whole series of books about lands inside the Earth. He called his land Pellucidar and wrote quite a few books about it, starting with Journey to the Center of the Earth.

“Very interesting, Doctor. Very interesting indeed. What leads you to this conclusion, Carol?”

She responded, “Isn’t it obvious? We fell through a hole and ended up in another place. Almost like Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy and Oz. There are hundreds of books with similar plots.”

“I take it you did read a lot as a kid.”

“I still do, when I get the chance. It’s just been a little harder for the last year or so.”

“You can say that again.”

Duncan and Marcus had been on the balcony part of the observation lounge with a pair of binoculars and had quickly lost interest in the conversation. They were trading the glasses back and forth and getting more and more excited. “Uh, guys… I think you are going to want to see this!” Marcus said to Aaron as he approached.

Marcus offered the glasses and Aaron looked down where Marcus was pointing.

“Well, I’ll be damned... I know where we are,” he stammered. “We’ve landed right in the middle of god-damned Jurassic Park!”

Other crew members, including Rebekah, came rushing up to see. Fortunately, like everything on the ship, the balcony was made of the same material and was totally encased in a transparent bubble, so there was no danger of falling off as the crowd pressed to the edge. Someone found some extra pairs of binoculars and for the next few minutes, people were busy passing the glasses back and forth, murmuring and exclaiming as one or another prehistoric scene came into view and drifted past. Below them stretched mile after mile of unspoiled forests intermixed with clearings of grass. There were herds of herbivores and some allosaurus-like predators lurking in the tree lines. It wasn’t until the clouds that had been covering the sun overhead parted that anyone bothered to look up and see the unusual moon hanging very low and large in the sky.

Marcus said to Trish Weaver, “Okay Doc, if we are somehow inside the earth, how do you explain that, as he raised a finger to the moon in the sky.”

Trish looked up overhead and was transfixed. “I have no idea Marcus, none whatsoever, but look closer- that is not our moon!”

Kyton looked nervously at the sky, “Okay people. We’ve established that we are definitely no longer in Missouri. We have no real idea where we are, but we appear to be safe at the moment. We still have to find the captain and our other missing crew members. We will also have to start looking for some basic supplies soon. We need to also clean up the debris, make sure the ship hasn’t suffered any real damage and work toward getting power restored. I’m counting on all of you to continue doing the excellent job you always do. We will get through this. I think you all know the duty rotations?” Kyton turned to Marcus, “Get someone down in the lower observation deck with a portable camera to record all of this until we get the ship and Jules back online.”

“Certainly sir,” said Marcus unquestioningly. He was off to carry out the order.

The sun began to appear again from behind the clouds as Kyton finished what for him was a big speech. Knowing there would be more, the ninety odd people began murmuring as they dispersed. Hoping for answers, there were now only more questions. Rebekah looked up startled just in time to see a sparkle of bright lights, like a string of diamonds near the sun. They were beautiful, but they dimmed as the sunlight became stronger. Motioning to Markus to follow, she exited through one of the side doors. Markus caught up with her in the hallway.

“What gives Peck?”

“Find the others and meet me in our favorite place,” Rebekah said. “Fifteen minutes. I’ll be right there, but I have something to do first.” Rebekah was going to need some help and she knew just where to find it.

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