Introducing Phota and Lin
Have you ever wondered what all this stuff in life is for? Of course you have. I do not. I know what it is all for. I wonder what the spaces … the numb, empty, cold static is for. And who gives them their power.
The huge window in the bridge was white. The floor was white. The walls were white. The ceiling was white. The airlock was white. The doors were white. The control panel was white. All its buttons, knobs, levers, lights, screens and switches were white. The fake plants were white. The shadows were white. Chance was sick of white. It makes his brain tingle in the most unpleasant way, unpleasant because it was unfamiliar. He was tired because the white crawled into his ears and eyes and would not let him sleep. He even tried to make himself pass out. The white won every time. Chance hated the white. The white destroyed the hate. He wanted Fredrica to wake up. He wondered if she was even really asleep at all and, if she was not, what he should call it, that she was. The white destroyed the wonder. He knew that the white had great power, but the knowledge meant nothing. He did not know how long he had stood there staring at nothing and everything. He could not remember the last time he had breathed. The white destroyed the need to do so. He had forgotten what breathing felt like. Chance was white.
He moved into what would have been Fredrica's usual room if not for the huge hole in the ship. Nothing had changed since the last time he was there. Physics here were not following their own rules. Where there should have been massive decompression was the suffocating stillness. The white was here too, but seemed as though it was more sheepish. As if it was nervous, or afraid of something. The missing wall and the continuance of color made the modest size room seem massive or not like a room at all. Like it was contained by nothing at all, not even gravity. The air, or perhaps a lack thereof, gave the opposite affect. The atmosphere was stuffy, dank, and heavy like a small ancient space in the unknown places deep under the earth. Fredrica stood out in stark contrast to everything else. She had color. She had defeated the white, but lost herself and was not able to save anyone else. It was not sad. The white destroyed all emotion. Fredrica faced away from the door which was toward the hole in the hull and floated just over the floor or may be was miles above it. It was impossible to tell. Nothing moved. Movement did not move but was not still. She stared at everything without blinking. The stillness was able to steal the momentum of time itself, making her stop. She was not breathing. Chance wondered if she was dead. The white destroyed the wonder.
Chance started to cry. He did not know why. He did not feel sad but he knew he should. He could not feel sad. The white would not let him. His tears disappeared when they touched the floor as if they were never there.
"Fredrica!" he sobbed, "What is happening? What should I do?" He looked up at her as if he actually expected an answer besides silence and a blank expression. He waited like that for a long while. Then when he finally realized there was no answer to come, he started to cry again. He curled up on floor, fully involved in the act. He continued like that for a while. Time continued to stand still. Chance continued like that for a long while. His memories faded. He began to think that he had not done anything but cry before, that there was no "before." What he thought was before was all in his head. What had he thought was before? What does before even mean?
Chance woke up in his bed in his private cabin. His sheets were cold. He did not remember falling asleep. Because of the white, he did not think he could have in the first place.
"Was it all just a dream? A really really weird creepy dream? It would have to be really really weird creepy nightmare then." He noticed the white attempting to creep in the window, something unseen seemed to be holding it back. Chance groaned, "No, that would be too good to be true would not it?"
"Oh good, you are awake," the voice came from just over his shoulder. He rolled over to look at a fairy (or tiny winged person) sitting on his nightstand. "Do not get up. You have been through a lot," she said. She could not have been more than six inches tall, but proportionally she was a perfectly formed young woman. Her skin was ivory pale almost matching her plain white sundress. She wore her silver shoulder length hair in pigtails. Two pairs of elegant and soft powder-blue wings seemed to glow and shimmer when they moved. Her eyes matched her wings in every way. She was undoubtedly pretty but utterly plain. All her prettiness came from her perfect suppleness and elegance that she wore so well. The smile she gave Chance was warm and comforting. "Now, how are you feeling?"
"All right," he answered, "I have a massive headache, though."
"Have a drink." Amazingly for her size the fairy lifted a full glass from the nightstand and carried it to Chance.
"Wow, you are pretty strong." He looked at the glass suspiciously. "But what is it?"
"Do not worry it is just water. You could really use some right now." Chance took a sip. It tasted fine and she was right; he really was thirsty. He drank the rest of it in large gulps. "Now I should, introduce myself. My name is Phota. I am friend of Fredrica's, well, more or less. It does not matter." She let out a tiny laugh. "It is nice to meet you."
"Hi, my name is Chance. I am Fredrica's fiancée, but you probably already knew that." She confirmed it with a nod. "Ummm, it is nice to meet you too. Do you know if she is okay? Do you know what is happening?"
"I thought you might ask that, so I went and checked just a moment ago. Fredrica is fine, so do not fret about her, okay?"
"Just 'fine? do not fret?' that does not sound to good to me." He jumped up and moved to the door. "She is still in her room isn't she?"
"Wait, Chance! You do not want to go out there. She is fine. You do not need to go check." She tried in vain to stop him from opening the door. The instant the seal was broken the white engulfed the room. Chance fell face first into the hall way. The sudden exposure made him sick. He lay on the floor motionless in shock till he was able to adjust again. As he slowly stumbled to his feet he came to the realization that Phota was trying to talk to him.
"... do not even know what you are dealing with," she was saying, "please Chance ... Are you even listening to me? Are you even hearing me? Chance!" He slowly turned to face her and looked at her blankly. "Chance?" Her skin and other features, which had looked so pale earlier, seemed bright and warm compared to the new background.
"What are ... Are you a hallucination?" he finally spoke up. Phota sighed, partially with relief and partially with frustration.
"No, I am not a hallucination. I am real. Now, will you please listen to me?" Chance started slowly walking to Fredrica's cabin.
"Suzanne says never to italicize when you speak," he mumbled distantly and automatically, "She says it makes you sound gay when you do that..." he stared ahead at nothing as he spoke concentrating on continuing to move forward.
"What? why are you talking about Suzanne and sounding gay at a time like this? You sound gay." She shook her head to clear her mind. "Chance, this is dire. Why can't you get that? You are Fredrica's fiancée aren't you?"
"Yes, I am her fiancée." Good, at least he is listening, she thought, now if I can just make sure that he does not zone out again I might have a chance of convincing him to turn back.
"Then you should be smart enough to understand what is going on, at least enough to know you are in danger. You did not force her into your relationship did you, huh?" For a moment, so short you could miss it even if you did not blink, Chance looked worried and concerned. Yes! thought Phota, I got a reaction. It was only for a second but it was there!
"No, I did not. She asked me out at first." Yes, keep asking questions.
"Ah ha! So you like dominant women then?" What? Come on Phota. "Do you like dominant women?" That is lame even if it is a question. Chance did not respond or even acknowledge the question. He just continued moving toward his goal. Darn it! Phota, you are floundering here! Ummm ... what should I say? WHAT SHOULD I SAY?! "I will tell you what Chance. Let us make a deal. I will go and check on Fredrica and make sure everything is all right and tell her that you are worried about her and such while you go back to your cabin where it is safe. That is what Fredrica would want you to do isn't it?"
"I do not know." Stupid why did you word that last sentence as a question? why? "I can not do that though… Thank you for the offer." No! I was so close too. Chance had reached the door to Fredrica's quarters by then. He looked at it as if he had never seen a door before. Phota decided to take advantage of his confusion.
"Did you forget what you were doing? It is okay. It happens, even to the best of us. We were heading back to your room, remember?" Chance shook his head and opened the door. Phota, sighing at her failure, followed him into the room. Now Fredrica faced the door. The expression on her face had changed from one of indifference to one of pain. Instead of looking distantly at nothing she stared directly into Chance's eyes. She looked like she was dripping. A drop of herself hung from her toes. Like water drips from the end of an icicle but she was not melting. She was still completely whole.
"Fredrica? Honey?" Chance's voice had a note of pleading. Tears threatened to spill over once again. "See?" he said to Phota, "you call that okay? That is not 'okay.'" Phota just looked sadly down at the floor and it did not answer.
"The past is no more." It was Fredrica's voice Chance looked up at her hopefully and ran to her. Phota hesitantly followed. "The future is at an end." It was still Fredrica's voice but her lips did not move. "The present has no meaning." Her voice seemed to come from every direction at once. "In this moment a new age is born," It sounded close by, "The Age of His Glory," like she was whispering in your ear, "born to destroy The Old Age," but had the sound of being so far away, "The age of the wicked is fighting." like a phone call from the other side of the world.
"Wait!" Chance called out, "Fredrica, I do not understand."
"Shhh! She is explaining it. She is explaining everything. Pay close attention," Phota reprimanded him.
"It is frightening without a hope of winning," Fredrica continued, "It is the time when the ages overlap," her voice began to rise, "When there is no evil or good." as if it was rising toward a coming climax. "a time of confusion." Her voice reached its peak. "That time is now." The drip around her feet that had been still until that point began to ripple and grow.
"All right, it is time to go now," Phota pulled Chance toward the door.
"But you said …" Chance feebly protested.
"Forget what I said. She is done now. We need to leave. Hurry." Chance followed obediently not knowing what else to do. They ran back to Chance's quarters driven by a sense of unfounded urgency. When they had arrived and caught their breaths, Phota began to sing of beautiful song without any words that made Chance's eyes drop and his head spin. As she sang the white began to drain out of the room. Chance came to realize that the white had been filling the very air. It now swirled around like a mist of fine white paint magically suspended like dust in the air. It seeped away through the walls, floor and ceiling and struggled to the very end when the faintest wisp was banished. Phota sighed in relief and exhaustion. The strain from the act showed from her pained face to her quivering wings and fingers. Chance stared at her in awe and wonder as he slowly regained his bearings. Finally he spoke up.
"Did you really do that?" he asked. Phota nodded her head. "So you were the one who did that before too." She nodded again. "How? just by singing like that? That does not make any sense…"
"Has any of this made any sense so far?" Chance tried to think of something that had, for a moment.
"No, not since Fredrica started screaming at least." He waited for Phota to respond. When she did not, he thought of another question. "So, what ARE you exactly anyway?" She perked up and smiled at him mischievously.
"Are you any good at riddles?" Chance shifted his weight nervously.
"Well, uh … not really …" Phota cut him off.
"I can fill any space by myself but I do not take up any of it. I am all that you see but you can not look at me." The phrase seemed much rehearsed.
"… but I am looking at you."
"I am talking about my natural form, silly. What I really am 'exactly,'" she smiled with amusement.
"Ummm …" Chance tried to think. "Are you air?"
"Nope!" she giggled playfully. Chance thought some more.
"I knew it! You are a hallucination aren't you?" Chance exclaimed victoriously. Phota flew up to him and bit the tip of his nose hard enough to draw blood. He batted at her like one would a horse fly but she dodged his clumsy movements easily.
"Owww!" he yelled, "what the hell was that for?!"
"To prove to you that I am not a hallucination," she replied sharply.
"Okay, okay, I believe you," He held his nose to stop the bleeding. "But did you really have to bite me? And that hard?"
"Yes, I did have to." She gave him a flirtatious wink and smile. Chance squirmed uncomfortably again. What is with this … I guess 'girl?' he thought, isn't she supposed to be a friend of Fredrica's? … Fredrica … He looked solemnly down at his toes. "What now? Did you give up already?"
"Yes, I give up. I am no good at riddles. Can't you just tell me now?"
"No, that defeats the purpose of a riddle now doesn't it?" Chance sighed.
"Yeah, I guess it does." He continued staring at his toes.
"Awww, Chance, what is the matter? You seem very down all of a sudden." She stood in between his feet so she could look him in the eyes.
"What? You can not figure it out? Come on, Fredrica is my entire life. I am worried sick about her. I miss her terribly. I am lonely. I am bored out of my mind. I am stranded. And I am being annoyed by an obnoxious fairy who asks riddles."
"I only asked one." She crossed her arms in protest. "Hey! You think I am annoying and obnoxious? Do you really think that?"
"Well, riddles are pretty annoying…" He sighed again. "I guess I am just not in the greatest of moods."
"That is to be expected under the circumstances. It will all be okay. I promise." She hugged his leg tight. Chance barely smothered a laugh. Phota smiled and played along. "What are you laughing at mister?"
"You! You are so small. It is adorable."
"You think I do not know that? I will have you know, mister smarty pants, I am rather tall for a fairy."
"Oh really?" She nodded. "Well, okay then, just do me a favor."
"Try to stay off the floor so you do not get stepped on or … eaten by a cat or something like that." Phota giggled.
"Thanks for the advice. I will try to remember that."
"What do you think you are doing, you slut?" said a female voice of neither a woman nor a girl that sounded vaguely familiar to Chance. They turned to look at the speaker standing in the still closed door way. She was a little on the short side, probably about five feet three inches. She was utterly thin, almost skeletal. She had jet black oriental hair that just passed her knees and strait short bangs that just touched matching black eye brows. Her wrinkled parchment like skin was as pale as Phota's but looked paler in contrast to her dark hair and dark blood red dress. The dress was velvet in the Renaissance style and was worn thin and its edges torn so that it looked like it might be that old. She wore a thin silver crown identical to Fredrica's but she did not wear it nearly as well. Her red eyes seemed both wise and innocent. Her thin lips pursed with rebellion and showed the weariness of ages. Her posture was lively and optimistic yet bent under an invisible burden and lack of hope. Time had shown her no mercy even took out a special aggression on her yet she was still able to retain her youth in its full. She was quite the paradox to look upon. Her dress cut off just above her ankle so that one could see that her ankles connected perfectly to her legs then faded away to nothing like dusk fades to night. However, she was still able to defy gravity and anatomy and stood as if she had a perfectly normal pair of feet attached since her birth. "Stop flirting so we can get going."
"My Lin," Phota replied, "I know you just woke up and all but a little effort not to be rude on your part would do wonders for you."
"Stop dawdling. You know we have a lot of work to do."
"Yes, I do," Phota turned back to Chance. "I simply must be going. You understand. You should probably go check on Fredrica now. Take care."
"Good bye…" Phota was gone. Lin took a moment to glare at him before she filtered through the door, presumably the same way she had entered.
"I must be truly crazy now," Chance thought out loud, "but I guess it would not hurt to go check on Fredrica now." He stood up and walked out of the room.