Love and Starships: Chapter 5

Francis turned back and forth in the narrow bed, trying to fall asleep. The embarrassment from the dining hall still rolled around in her mind, although her roommate didn’t seem to have changed his demeanor since the incident.

“Hey Skee.” She spoke up, hoping to catch the alien awake.

“Yes, Francis?” Skee called out in the dark, not an ounce of tiredness is his voice. She could hear his covers rustle as if he was turning over to look at her.

Francis pondered her words, not having thought of what to say after having woke him. “Is that, like, your real, full name? Skee?”

“You are not the first person to be interested in my full name.”

“It just seems kind of abrupt, doesn’t it?” Francis said, her mind wandering.

“You call your female friend ‘Trish’ when her full name is Trisha, is that not correct?”

“Yeah, Skee must be a nickname. Short for something.”

“Skeepx’ugemae, if I try to force it into phonemes familiar to you.”

Francis sat up and attempted to mouth out the name. One, two, three, four, five, six, syllables, she though to herself, tapping her fingers together with each sound.

“You must understand it doesn’t fit well into the alphabet you call ‘latin’ that is used as the de-facto written word aboard the ship.”

“No, of course not.” Francis shook her head, attempting to fudge the spelling in her mind.  “I must say; I am interested in how you might call the members of your family. Like, do you have brothers and sisters?”

Francis’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud, sudden buzzing through the ship. The yellow emergency lights came on under the paneling of the room. Skee shot up from his bed and attempted to walk across the room while Francis kicked at her shoes to get them out from under the bed.

“It is an emergency drill, Crewman Arnold!” Skee somehow exclaimed with his voice at an even pitch.

“Obviously!” Francis returned, finally having the boots around her feet, untied. “I read the reminder in the briefing it would happen some time, but it totally slipped my mind.”

Skee bumped into Francis, his hands moving up and down her arms. “Crewman Arnold, I cannot see anything. Something is wrong, we must remove ourselves from the room.”

Francis felt herself being pushed back into the edge of the bed as the alien continued to fumble against her. Francis gave him a shove, and the sudden disconnect into the middle of the room left Skee disoriented. Francis finally found a comfortable footing into her boots. “It’s just a drill, Skee.” She said, finally able to grasp onto his flailing wrists.

“I am unable to see.”

“It’s a code yellow, and not even real at that.”

Skee turned his strong hands over and placed his fingers around Francis’s wrist for support. “Code… yellow.”

Francis backed up, the two still attached at the wrist. She bumped the door controls with her elbow, allowing them to step out into the hall. The long corridor was lit a similar shade of yellow, and was beginning to fill with others who had been sleeping comfortably in their own rooms.

“Francis!” Someone called out her name over the low sound of people chatting among each other in the hall.

Francis looked down the hall to see Rundle pushing through the center of a group of people, Jundle just behind him. Francis turned to look up at Skee who was still holding tightly to her, his eyes blinking rapidly.

“Good thing you’re up,” Rundle called out loudly. “I know you’re a heavy sleeper.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Jundle stepped around and felt at Skee’s hand atop Francis’s wrist.

“I don’t know.” Francis shook her head, looking between the twins.

“Code yellow!” Skee repeated again, more loudly than before. He shook his hands up and down, jostling Francis. “I get it!”

“Huh?” Francis puzzled.

Skee slowly released his grasp on her. His head scanned back and forth down the hallway. “The yellow light interrupted my low-light vision. It seems it is returning now.”

Francis stepped back and felt at the wrinkled sleeves of her pajamas. “You okay, babe?” Rundle spoke up, his arms folded across his chest.

“Mhm.” Francis grunted.

Skee slowly looked around and turned to examine the door to their room. The siren in the background began to die out. The alien slowly returned to face Francis again. “I commend you on pulling me out of the room during a dangerous situation where I was incapacitated.”

“Like I said, it’s a drill.” Francis insisted and looked away from the alien.

“Well, we got to meet your roommate.” Jundle spoke up.

Francis sighed and looked over at the twins. “Did the sirens get you up properly?”

Rundle stretched his arms and let out a loud yawn. “Our beds are designed to vibrate to wake up us as an alarm. No problems here.”

“Well, whatever works.” Francis said. She took a breath that felt like the first one in minutes and allowed herself to relax. Skee had wandered off and began to talk to the other crewmen nearby, assuring them that everything was going to be alright.

The yellow lights faded all of a sudden, and the regular white glow of the hallway returned. Jundle peered out from behind her brother at Skee, who was finishing his tour around the hall. “He really doesn’t seem that bad, Francis. Nothing like how you described him.”

“Yeah.” Francis sighed, the only thought in her mind wanting to head back to bed. “I guess he’s pretty dependable.”

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