Things Aren't What They Seem

by Jerry Wilson © 2001

The captain of the spaceship "The Viking" breathed a sigh of relief.

"Is everyone okay?" He called out to his crew.

Seconds before, the ship's twin engines had malfunctioned, forcing them to abandon their pre-programmed route to perform an emergency landing on....

"Where are we?" Captain Jenkins asked his co-pilot. Lazio made a big show of checking his navigational systems.

"Erm...ah-hum...well sir, I have no idea where we are exactly, but according to the charts," which he then proceeded to rustle about madly, "we should have landed somewhere on Earth."

There was a collective chorus of horrified "Ohs" from the crew, with the exception of a "Hot Dang!" from their odd cook.

"Earth eh," Jenkins mused. "is the atmosphere suitable for us?" He questioned Lazio. The co-pilot looked flustered as he dashed around the ship.

"According t-to my, ah, instruments, er, yes." As soon as this crazy trip was over, he would give Lazio two weeks vacation. The poor fellow looked as though he needed it.

"Alright, if the air is suitable, let's get out and have a look-see then." He motioned to his crew to move back the roof of the ship. They didn't have one of those new-fangled ramps that would make boarding or unboarding the ship easier. Especially for the old and infirm.

His crew were apprehensive, but they were loyal, or stupid, and they followed their captain outside.

"Well." said Jenkins when everyone had climbed out after him and looked around.

"Well, it appears we have landed upon a vast plain." He said unnecessarily, as though his crew were blind.

"A vast, dry, barren place steeped in desolation." He added with surprising verbosity. His crew nodded unitedly. Their captain was never wrong.

From the outside, "The Viking" resembled a giant potato crisp. This unusual design was to enable it to fly at highest speeds possible, while sustaining the least damage. It had worked, for a while. The crew set about checking and repairing the engines.

The air was hot, but not humid. All perspiration was quickly evaporated. The ground underfoot was hard and brown and stayed that way as far as the eye could see. The environment that they had the misfortune to land in was of course, a tabletop.

Lazio noticed it first, being the most highly strung out of everyone else.

"Did you feel that?" He asked Jenkins.

"Feel what?" There was a short pause, and then Lazio felt it again.

"That!" That, was a slight tremor of the ground they were standing on. Even as he spoke, the tremors became stronger, coming at more regular intervals.

"Cap'n! Something's happ'nin!" one of the repairmen shouted from under the ship. They could all feel it by now, the ground was shaking.

"Everyone back into the ship! We might be in danger!" Jenkins yelled before he realized that everyone had already clambered back into the ship in record time. Hastily, he did so too, and they shifted the roof back. Then they sat back in fear to await what would happen.

What happened was that they felt their ship being lifted off the ground by a powerful unseen force. (They did see that some of their windows were covered by something slightly pinkish and damp, but were too terrified at that moment to give it much notice.) They were lifted and propelled towards, as they could see through the transparent roof, a large gaping black hole.

"Good God! We're being sucked into a black hole!" Jenkins still retained his ability to state the obvious.

There was nothing they could do, the engines had not been repaired in time. They could only helplessly watch as they neared the hole with increasing speed. Closer, closer...when suddenly an agonizingly loud screech interrupted their journey towards their doom.

"ARTIE! How many times have I told you not to pick up food right off the table! You don't know what might have been on it!" Artie's mother screamed at him, exasperated by his unhygienic behaviour.

"But Maw, I just wanted ta' eat the pataeta chip!" Artie bawled, causing considerable pain to the ears of The Viking's crew.

"Give that to me!" Artie's mother snatched at the ship indelicately, no doubt causing irreparable damage to its fragile hull. They would be lucky to make it home now. She peered at it closely, then said, "Eeew, look Artie, it even has weevils on it!" She exclaimed in disgust, and threw it into the fire.

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