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Clam (Maura's Gate, Book 1)

Chapter 5 (End)

Author: FionaR Total hits: 1875 User hits: 2 Date: 07-31-2014

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The group went through the long hallway and arrived at the elevators. Within seconds, one of the elevators opened its door. They walked in, turned around to face the door, and waited. Time was flying but nothing happened. A few minutes later the door remained open.

“Hmm, are there no buttons?” Kenton examined the cell, still holding his stack of books. “Guess who’s going to fix it if one of the elevators breaks?” he said with self-mockery. Then he must have decided to take a look at the outside. As soon as he stepped out of the elevator, however, the door shut behind him and the elevator began moving.

The rest of them burst into laughter. They had no idea where the elevator was taking them, but somehow they were not worried anymore. After the movement had stopped and before the door opened, a line of text flashed on the door.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. William Shakespeare.

“Wow, she does like literature!” Roland exclaimed as they stepped out onto an outdoor parking lot where a few ships occupied the vast space. It was bright outside, since Clam was now fully immersed in sunshine. Colorful light beams danced inside the silicon layer. She was happy, Devin could tell that. A life with self-consciousness should not be spent in illiteracy.

“That’s our ship!” Mina pointed at one of the ships parked not far from them. As they walked over to Belief-II, Devin surveyed the other vessels. They were large and magnificent, apparently designed to accommodate a large number of people for short space travels, but now were forever deserted.

The three of them boarded their ship and waited. Fifteen minutes later Kenton showed up, head-drooped and empty-handed. They took off their spacesuits and collapsed into their chairs. Nobody felt like talking or eating as the ship left the ground and headed out toward the outer space, although they should all be hungry by now.

“How could I have forgotten about this?” Kenton suddenly came to his feet and moved over to a metal cabinet. He took out a camera from a drawer and walked over to the back window.

“Mr. Clifton!” Roland sounded serious. “That’s not a good idea.”


Devin left his station and stopped at Kenton’s side. Nothing was happening outside, except that the bouncing lights had disappeared from the silicon layer.


Lights appeared again, but this time they were purely white lights, straight and steady. More and more lines were emerging throughout the upper valve and converging at the center.

“That’s absolutely a bad idea,” said Mina.

Devin ran to the navigation unit and sat in the chair. The ship jerked as he initiated a sudden acceleration. “Everybody buckle up!” he shouted but didn’t have time to check on his colleagues. They had to reach the edge of the lower valve before Clam fired. Then he would veer the ship downward and hide it under the valve. He pushed the manual speed control to its maximum and glanced back. The center of the upper valve was so bright that he had to avert his gaze.

Now Kenton had also grasped the situation and seated himself with the others. The ship began vibrating, and a warning signal appeared on the screen in front of Devin: GRADUAL ACCELERATION RECOMMENDED. He checked the electronic map that showed their current location. The edge was ahead but they were not there yet.

“How much time do we need?” Mina asked.

“Eighteen seconds …” Devin knew that was too long. He knew it without having to look back. The whole ship was turned into white and blazing. He closed his eyes but couldn’t escape from the brightness. Everything was penetrated, mind and body. He was dissolving into a pool of atoms together with the rest of the ship …

* * *

“Dad,” Devin said as he pointed his little fingers at the night sky. “Are there aliens living among those stars?”

“I think so.” The wind was becoming cooler, but his father’s voice remained warm.

Devin stared at those stars. For a moment he felt he were no longer bound by Earth’s gravity. “Then wouldn’t it be sad if we never get to know them?”

“Yes, but it would be sadder if we never get to know ourselves.”

* * *

Devin had no idea how long it had been before the whiteness finally subsided. The ship was left in complete darkness, and the hums of the machines had stopped. The only sound he could hear was his fellows’ heavy breathing. The oxygen level must be low.

Then he heard a mechanical voice saying, “Emergency backup system triggered.” Lights flashed on inside the bridge and the machines woke up one after another. Devin supported himself up from his chair and looked around. For a while he had a drunken feeling—he saw and heard things, but the signals all came from remote sensors and barely registered in his mind.

Kenton was sitting on the floor with his camera. He pressed a few buttons on the camera, sighed, and threw the camera to a corner of the room. Mina remained in her chair holding her eyeglass frame, her shirt sprinkled with shattered glass. Seeing the ironic smile on her face and remembering the way she had browsed through the diary, Devin suddenly realized that it wasn’t really a pair of glasses. It must have been some kind of camera.

He wobbled to the back window. The blue planet had dwindled into a basketball, and Clam was barely distinguishable at its side. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. She was indeed a nice lady. She could’ve killed them all. He smiled. What did Kenton say, twenty years? She could finally enjoy some peace, and hopefully the information he had brought over helped abate her loneliness.

Then a question arose in his mind: were they going to lose their memories this time?

He turned around and saw Kenton leaping up from the floor and dashing to a computer. The same thought must have occurred to Kenton as well. “Where should I start?” he murmured as his fingers typed on the keyboard rapidly. “So Planet Mullos 17 b used to have intelligence, but their whole race was destroyed in the war against one of their moons, which looks like … like a …”

He stopped typing. His hand scratched his head and pulled the gray hair. Then he turned to seek help from the others. “I know this sounds stupid, but what does the moon look like?”

Mina made no response, still holding her frame. Roland was making coffee for himself. He took his time adding sugar and creamer before he looked back at Kenton and suggested, “A lobster, maybe?”

Devin tried to keep a straight face. Roland’s answer indicated he hadn’t lost his memory. Nor had Devin. At least not yet at the moment.

But he was not going to tell anybody.
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