Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 23

(Continued from part twenty-two)

As it happened, the “shuttle bay” was the one thing our sci-fi shows right, or close enough to it. There was a big door, lights and alarms warning of upcoming depressurization, and the ship did look like a Star Trek shuttle, or perhaps the Runabout. (It was also made of the white/pink metal.)

I saw Jens into the ship and went back upstairs (the shuttle bay was one level below), then watched him leave through the window, which I had time to un-dim.

But once he left my field of view (in the down direction, which was odd), I dimmed the window again. I wanted to plan my time, because Jens was right, looking out that window would grab and consume my attention.

I sat at the table and took stock of myself,, and the first thing I realized was that a fair amount of sleepiness was bleeding through my excitement. And so I decided to get my body ready before I did anything else. I opened the window just a little, went to the bathroom, poured some water, found a blanket in a closet Jens showed me and turned the lights off. I lay myself down, with the galaxy as my night-light. I had to turn away from it to sleep – not because of the light, but because of the ecstasy I felt looking at it – and slept for several hours at least.

* * * * *

I woke up slowly, feeling a need to pull the pillow out from under my head and to lay fully flat on my back. And laying there I began to feel my joints relax. This was a surprise. When Jens mentioned relaxing, I thought of my muscles, not my joints.

My knees were first, with an instant surge of a surprising and even troubling intensity. I’m not sure how to describe it, but I felt a sort of burning or electrified ring around and through my knee joint. It was the type of thing that at a lower level might be almost pleasant – and in no way did it feel harmful – but it was intense to the point of discomfort, albeit a type of discomfort I couldn’t define.

The most precise comparison I have is to an electric shock from a DC power source, rather than our usual AC power. The pain of a DC electrification was absent, but the feel of the continuous (non-alternating) power was similar. I’m not sure this description will help many readers, but those who have worked with old-style DC motors should gain some understanding from it.

The effect on my knees was intense enough that I squirmed in response, after which it stopped. I worried that I had stopped it prematurely and tried to summon it back, but unsuccessfully. And so I lay there for a few minutes, first forgiving myself then glancing at my galactic night-light to cleanse my psyche a bit.

Then I felt it in my hip joints. To be precise, I was feeling the extreme top of my femurs, where they joined my hip. This I felt longer, but at less intensity. And I should add that I felt it to the ultimate, deepest portions of those joints. (While writing this I’m feeling it again, though not as strongly.)

As Jens said, this was unexpected. As yet I’m unsure what it signifies or why it was the first thing to strike me.

* * * * *

I remained in bed for some time after my joints relaxed (or whatever it was that they did), trying to relax the rest of me as best I could. I have some relaxation techniques I’ve developed over the years, and this seemed like a good time to employ them. Seldom do I have time enough in my normal life.

I relaxed more deeply than I would have expected, but the impression I got was that this environment would allow me to unfold gently and slowly. Perhaps, then, what I felt in my biggest joints was the first creaking open of the whole.

In any case I was out of bed about an hour after waking up. I showered, cleaned my teeth with something akin to a water-pick, and made some of the coffee drink. I undimmed the window about half way and decided that I should eat something before giving it my full attention.

I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a meal pack that Jens said was close to bacon and eggs. I heated it and ate it with my back to the window. And there I planned my few days on this ship. A wrote my plan on the notepad I used previously, wondering if my plan would survive its first engagement with the window, but it hardly mattered at this point. I was here, I was stable, and I would be back home in a few days. I finished my food, went to the bathroom, re-cleaned my teeth and came back to the main room.

Before I opened the window all the way, I pulled up the schematics Jens had shown me (on a flat plasma screen very much like ours), pulled up my pillow and mattress and dragged them to the window (both had been held in place with the smooth Velcro), then walked back to the console, keeping my back to the window. I rechecked my body, seeing if it needed anything (it didn’t), then opened the window and turned off the light. All that remained was the low illumination of some buttons on the console.

I sat on my mattress with my eyes closed. (The chairs were bolted/riveted to the floor and I didn’t want to spend time figuring out how to release them.) I took several deep breaths to even myself out, and then opened my eyes.

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