Short Story: Don’t Fence Me In

This was meant to be book-length, but let’s face it: I am not going to ever develop this as much as I hope I one day think I might become interested in wanting to develop…

Also, fuck hometowns.

With the fourth swing of the axe, the last of the locks gave way, and the door swung open. And I saw the stars.

The stars were rotating quickly around my field of view. I gaped in astonishment and curiosity, but soon felt nauseated and had to look away and close my eyes for a moment.

When I looked back, the stars were still rotating quickly. It took my mind a little while to catch up to my eyes and figure out why this was so weird.

The stars were not overhead. The stars were directly in front of me. It was as if I had opened a door to the universe.

As my eyes adjusted to the strange lighting, I took in more of the surroundings through this, the last locked door down corridor 18. And without hearing him approach, suddenly Steve was at my elbow.

“You alright, Andrew?” I nodded, still utterly bewildered, and he continued: “Hey, you aren’t supposed to be down here, you know. None of the cargo are supposed to figure out the crew exit. I have to turn you around right now.”

The steam in the dark and noisy corridor blasted my face, and then was sucked into the roof vent – if indeed that was the roof. I was beginning to feel detached from the three dimensions I had come to know and love.

“What’s happening down here, Steve?” I lobbed the question at him with as much weight as I could. Things were not right, and I was worried. And he was my friend. But he wasn’t going to budge. “Let’s just get back to town and we’ll talk about it later” he said kindly but dismissively, and suited action to the words by leading me by my shoulder back toward the other cramped corridor we had sprung out of. But I made him stop.

“No. No, I need you to tell me what’s happening. Why are the stars moving like that? Is it a video screen? Why is this right here behind an ordinary door?” I was perplexed, and disoriented, and I needed more information before I could even figure out what my questions were.

But he didn’t answer me. He tried to pull me along by my shoulder a little further, but when he found he couldn’t, he simply gave up his little pretence that everything was still okey-dokey, and looked me full in the eye.

“I’d better take you to see the captain.”

“Captain?…” Nothing made sense.

“Listen, mate, this town isn’t what you think. If you start to bust out and we can’t keep you in anymore, I am allowed to tell you a little bit so that you’ll calm down. We’re on a generational ship.” I had no idea what he meant. Our town was landlocked, with no ocean for thousands and thousands of miles in any direction. The ocean was so far away I had never even seen it. I would need to ride a horse for weeks to see it. Why would ships or boats or their captains have anything to do with this bizarre doorway to a starfield in the middle of town?

“Just…trust me. I’ll take you to the Cap and he’ll tell you everything you need to know. Come on, now.”

Steve is my friend, and I trusted him. I shut my mouth and walked with him out of the corridors and back to our town, glancing back at the rotating starfield as we left. It just kept on spinning at its constant speed around its fixed point. 

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