THE LAST FLIGHT OF ACE ARCHER, SPACE PIONEER!, Part 23

Last time on Ace Archer: Ace put a key into the spaceship sculpture Lara Termigant made and everyone vanished. And now the story really begins.

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Chapter One

It was a spaceship, no doubt about it.

Beyond that, though…

Caryn Alexander had a very clear idea of the kind of thing Ace Archer piloted through the galaxy; it was sleek and art-deco and had chrome handrails and flashing lights and levers. Lots and lots of levers.

This ship was not that.

Music that Caryn was familiar with–but quiet enough that she couldn’t place it–played in the background. The air smelled a bit of vanilla and a bit of ozone.

It was darker than Caryn would have expected, but then, an entire half of the cockpit they found themselves in was made of glass–or at least something serving the same purpose. Jutting out into the emptiness of space, a walkway extended to a round platform where a pair of big comfortable recliners were embedded with complicated remotes in their arms. Hanging in the air in front of the rightmost recliner was a large steering wheel that looked like it had been pulled out of a 1950 Chevrolet Fleetline. In front of the other was what Caryn was embarassedly certain was a SimRaceway PC controller, the top-line racing accessory for playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted on your laptop. Between the two, floating in the air about a foot higher was an oversized rear-view mirror with a pair of fuzzy polyhedral dice hanging from it.

The other, less transparent half of the cockpit, was lined on one side with several computer monitors of varying sizes. All of them currently showed images of empty space except for a small one at the bottom right that was for some reason displaying an episode of Desperate Housewives. The volume was down, but Caryn could still identify the dreamy Doug Savant. There were two computer systems apparently connected to the bank of monitors; one was a threatening black mainframe with green lights and a hissing fan that seemed unnecessary when the vacuum of space was there to vent your motherboard heat, but what did Caryn know about spacecraft design?

Maybe more than she knew; the other computer was her laptop, the familiar Bad Batzmaru decal covering the company logo and the TARDIS USB hub sticking out of the side. It was sitting on a wooden desktop about the size of her own at home, but instead of covered with books, papers, envelopes, snack wrappers, chibi figures, empty Diet Coke cans and a cat, it was tidy.

Opposite the massive computer banks (and mini-workstation for Caryn), there was a kitchenette and several bays of unmatching wooden bookshelves. Perusing the books on it, Caryn was both surprised and unsurprised to see that several books from her own library were included amongst the eclectic selection of tomes. A full set of Ace Archer paperbacks was present. If, as Caryn suspected, the bookshelves contained selections from the personal collections of each of the four of them, she worried about who the Ayn Rand books came from.

The kitchenette had a refrigerator with a big dry erase board on it. Someone (okay, obviously Lara) had drawn in big Kirby-letters “WELCOME TO THE SYZYGY!” in a variety of colors. There was a sink and an oven and an overhead microwave. There was not a food replicator, Caryn noted with disappointment. There was a mini-bar, though.

At the tail end of the cockpit was a door surrounded by movie posters… This Island Earth, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Amazon Women on the Moon, John Carter, even the iconic lips poster for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That was when the music clicked in Caryn’s head: it was a string quartet version of Science Fiction Double Feature.

Caryn didn’t have to ponder long to understand what had happened here. Lara Termigant had built a spaceship out of her visions and her imagination and her pop culture references and somehow Ace Archer had made it real.

And now the nonagenarian space pioneer had dragged her, Jeremy, and Lara along with him on one final unexpected space adventure.

Caryn couldn’t decide whether to be terrified or thrilled, so she settled on quietly awed.

“What the hell kind of space ship is this supposed to be?” Ace Archer demanded. “I smell air freshener!”

Jeremy Roth looked down at the phone in his hand. He had two bars of reception. The last message on it was still visible on the screen: “RETRIEVAL TEAM ON WAY. KEEP TARGET AT CURRENT POSITION.” He cleared the screen and pocketed his iPhone.

“It’s just as I imagined it!” Lara Termigant said. Her face beamed like a mother who had given birth to a unicorn.

“Where… are we?” Jeremy asked.

Ace looked at Caryn’s beau like he was a meatball.

“Space,” he said. “We’re in space.”

To be continued…

© 2014 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.

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