In the past couple months, I’ve started writing a novel. I’ve been chipping away at it in my spare time and am about nine chapters in so far. In the interest of motivating myself to continue, I’ll be releasing a couple teaser chapters here on this blog. These will be rough, unedited, first drafts, so I welcome any feedback you may have!
Gatwick was running late. In fact, Gatwick was running very late. Actually, Gatwick was running so very late that he shouldn’t have bothered trying to get to the meeting at all.
Gatwick reclined in his chair, thinking about this. He thought about how he could be reclining in a much more comfortable chair, perhaps one upholstered in rich Cosshrin leather. The beasts raised for Cosshrin leather undergo a strict skin care regimen. In fact, Cosshrin stables look more like spas, complete with moisturizing and exfoliating stations along with the standard tanning rooms. The result is supple, breathable leather that is softer than satin to the touch. Gatwick had a beautiful armchair made of that leather in his summer home on Altraia. He had been sitting in it, enjoying a cocktail and watching Handelin Handball, when he got the call to attend this emergency meeting.
Now he was sitting in an unyielding plastic chair, most unlike satin to the touch, hurtling through the inky void of space. He looked sadly at the ship’s display screen, which showed the vessel’s external surroundings. As it was currently traveling at HHS (Hyper-hyperspeed) through a particularly dull patch of spacetime, there wasn’t much to see. It was certainly less exciting than the Handelin Handball finals Gatwick had been called away from.
Gatwick’s gaze drifted from the display screen to his right hand. He sighed. It was still depressingly devoid of a cocktail glass. He checked his left, finding equally disappointing results. He sighed again, letting his head fall backwards against the top of his uncomfortable chair. This rendered him even more uncomfortable, but at least the ship’s ceiling had some stippling to look at.
At that moment, the ship’s autoalert system came on over the loud speakers. It preceded each alert with a shrill tone, liken to the sound of a referee’s whistle, given that the referee blowing it was standing right beside you. This tone startled Gatwick each and every time it sounded, and this time was no exception. As Gatwick fought to still his racing heart, the message began:
“Navigational update!” The computer’s stimulated voice delivered every statement as if it were punctuated with an exclamation point. “You will reach your destination in approximately fifteen Tularean minutes! Please prepare for descent!” The message closed with another whistle. Gatwick jumped again and swore under his breath.
Approximately fifteen minutes later, Gatwick exited his ship and stepped aboard Sector 17 of the Intergalactic Council for Civic Cooperation Space Station. The station was generally referred to by its acronym ICCCSS (pronounced “icks”), except when those referring to it wanted to use its heinous length to their advantage. For instance, when arguing with his wife, the Secretary of the subcommittee for Social Innovation and Public Engagement liked to say something to the effect of, “We don’t just play around at the Intergalactic Council for Civic Cooperation Space Station! No ma’am! I mean, I’m the Secretary of the subcommittee for Social Innovation and Public Engagement. I have a lot on my plate. The least you can do is cut me some slack about how I act toward your mother when she visits.” Luckily, the Secretary’s wife never heard this last part, because she’d walk away before he got through the first sentence.
Gatwick personally held the exhausting title of Head Chair of the Committee for Logistical Planning and Preparatory Thoroughness. Basically, when the council passed an act of legislation, he made sure that it was made logical sense within the context of other laws and could actually be implemented. He had long suggested that his committee start this planning process before the legislation passed, but the council far preferred to be audited over doing things right the first time. They found this saved them a lot of thinking, which was good because they found thinking a really dull activity. Gatwick was one of few on the council who felt there might be some value in it.
All Gatwick was thinking about now, though, was how far Sector 17 of the ICCCSS was from his Altraian summer home. Additionally, he was thinking about how far Sector 17 was from where the Council’s meeting was being held. It was clear on the other side of the station, in Sector 2. Gatwick growled to himself and broke into an awkward run. When his ship’s HHS drive had failed on Altraia, he thought he’d get to prolong his stay in paradise and avoid this blasted meeting. Unfortunately, the ICCC houses a number of spare ships aboard the station and were quick to send one his way. However, without his logistic planning skills, they had programmed said ship to land in the hangar farthest from the meeting, rather than the one next door in Sector 3. Now he was sprinting through the ICCCSS, straining against a stitch in his side, and longing more than ever for his glorious armchair and a stiff drink.
At long last, he made it to Sector 2. He realized he didn’t know what room the meeting was in, but he found it soon enough. There was a handwritten sign taped to the door that read, “Emergency Meeting – Very Important Matters at hand!” (The ICCC was always trying convince someone, or perhaps themselves, that what they were doing was of actual consequence.) Gatwick mentally prepared before going inside. He took a deep breath, straightened his clothes, ran his fingers through his hair, and jumped up and down a couple times for good measure. He settled for a moment, took in another breath, and entered the room.
A thousand pairs of eyes swung around and fixated on Gatwick. Granted, a large proportion of those belonged to Sandrima Garontol, who was Relatorian and therefore had five hundred eyes all by herself. Gatwick didn’t meet Sandrima’s gaze or the gaze of any other council member. He looked over the long table the head council members were sat around. He looked past the rows and rows of subordinate council members sat behind them. He looked straight back to the enormous presentation screen mounted on the back wall. At first it appeared to be completely blank, just a black screen. At its very center, though, there was a small circle. A very, very small circle, filled in with blue and green shapes. An animated arrow floated next to it, indicating its existence.
Gatwick threw up his hands and let out a cry of frustration. He appealed to the crowd, “THIS again? How is THIS an emergency? Don’t we have more important things to talk about?”
Silence fell, leaving Gatwick’s agitated breathing as the only sound in the large room. Then the President of the ICCC, Yool Kinsley, stood up from his seat at the end of the table. Every eye turned from Gatwick to him. Gatwick glared at him imploringly. The President stared back somberly.
“Surprisingly enough,” he said, responding to Gatwick’s question, “we don’t.”
He pointed a remote at the presentation screen, causing the image to zoom in on the little blue-green orb. It zoomed in quickly and steadily before coming to a stop on a still image.
The room erupted in gasps. Sandrima Garontol’s fifty eyes rolled back in her head and she fainted dead away. Gatwick’s jaw dropped.
He despaired in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be returning to his Altraian summer home anytime soon.