The Queer Planet Series Book 1
By Gregory A. Kompes
© 2022 Gregory A. Kompes. All Rights Reserved.
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Ship One is a work of fiction. All resemblances to people, living or dead, is a coincidence.
Sebastian Cole opened his eyes.
A hum, very slight.
“Hello?” he squeaked out through a parched throat.
His voice reverberated. Plastic. Like being in a bubble or a helmet. He’d once worn a diving helmet on a cruise excursion. He’d loved exploring the colors of the fish and reef. He’d hated the feeling of confinement the helmet imposed.
He tried to move his arm, to reach and feel around his head and face.
He attempted to move his legs.
He realized he was tied down, well, not tied, it didn’t feel like rope around his limbs. No. It was as if his whole body were encased. As if he’d been buried alive.
His heart rate spiked; sweat filmed his body.
He. Couldn’t. Catch. His. Breath.
“Please breath normally,” a metallic voice intoned. “Please relax and breath normally.”
“Who are you?” he whispered through his gasps.
The voice didn’t respond.
Sebastian Cole breathed in short bursts, attempting to get himself under control. In his mind he traveled backward. What was the last thing you remember? A blur of memory. His mind groggy…foggy. Like the morning after dancing on drugs. Of coming out of anesthetic. He’d had surgery twice. Once he remembered nothing, not until he awoke in the recovery room. The second time, he’d woken up while being wheeled from an unknown place, recovery, surgery. The pain then, so intense. He’d cried out. Begged for help.
This: nothing like those. No pain. Only fear. Only being enclosed. And, not remembering…no…he remembered nothing. Like an empty blackboard. And, yet, he knew who he was.
Sebastian Cole. A middle manager in a bank in New York City. The drawers had balanced that night. Fast and easy. He’d said good night to the girls. Two nice, much younger women who often brought him food because they thought him too thin. Homemade baked goods mostly. Things from cheap box mixes. He’d thank them, and then when no one was looking, he’d trash the stuff.
The drawers had balanced. He’d said good night. The girls had left. He’d locked the doors. He’d gone back to his office to log the final reports for June twenty-seventh. Computer. Keyboard. Mouse click…
The memory timeline stopped there. A mouse click…
He’d had a date with a new guy that night. Had he gone?
No. The last thing he remembered doing was clicking his mouse to close the digital log.
Sebastian’s breathing had returned to something more normal, but he could still feel his heart pounding. Total darkness. His body’s mummified encasement. Buried alive…
What about his dog?
“Parker?” he called out, knowing before he spoke that his dog wasn’t there. He was alone. He felt alone.
His eyes adjusted a bit to the darkness. Before him plastic shimmered. A shadowed, watery thing a few inches before his face. Somewhere, a hint of green light. Very faint.
Once more he panicked and couldn’t catch his breath.
“Please breath normally,” the metallic voice intoned. “Please relax and breath normally.”
With effort and thought and intention Sebastian got his breathing under control. As he breathed deeper with longer exhales, he seemed to be aware more of his body. A wave of…what was it? It felt like nausea, but how could nausea pass through his whole body. A wave of…evacuation? That’s what it was. Like a great emptying of his bowels after a spicy meal gone bad…only without the pain at the ring of his sphincter. No burning, just a clean woosh of evacuation.
He breathed in deeply, expecting smells of shit and urine, but the air tasted devoid of scent or flavor. Not antiseptic like a hospital. Not foul like a latrine. Not even sweat or body odor. He exhaled and breathed in again with focus on smelling. The air, the environment in his bubble devoid of odor or scent or smell.
“You will feel a light prick on your right arm,” warned the metallic voice.
And, as it finished the words, there was a poke. Obviously something being injected into his system. There was nothing he could do about it. And no lollipop for the effort after.
Following the pinprick there appeared a bit of green light. Like a haze, but the haze effect might be the plastic before his face. Now, with more light, the plastic appeared opaque, not clear, not like those diver helmets at all.
“You will feel a light prick on your right arm,” warned the metallic voice again.
This hint of pain was actually pleasant. If there had been any question of whether Sebastian Cole were alive or not, the shots and his sensations proved him alive.
More light now, like blinds being raised.
Why had he been kidnapped? To what ends?
Frankly, he had nothing, or close to nothing. A small, rented New York City apartment. A bike he rode sometimes, not often enough. A few books. A TV. A small, basic wardrobe with well-worn, cheap, off-the-rack suits. A few other basic items. He wondered how he could call himself gay with no fashion sense or decorating sense. He had some money in the bank. Nothing three or four months out of work wouldn’t wipe out. He did have a nice 401k through the bank, but he couldn’t touch that for another decade; if congress had their way, it would be longer. And, he had his dog, Parker. He’d pay a ransom for the dog, but there was no one to pay a ransom to. Was there?
The humming increased. The air grew colder. Not unpleasantly so. He couldn’t tell if the change in temperature were outward in, or inward out. He suspected a bit of both.
The shots—he surmised it to be the shots—were having an effect on his body. He felt more solid, more…for lack of a better word, normal. And he now felt cold. Not to the point of shivering, but…ah yes, he was naked in this enclosure. He would like clothes…or a blanket…or some fabric of some sort. For, now he could feel the plastic that enclosed his body, like a suit of plastic with a bit of room around the head, well, around the face….
An image from childhood of an alien movie flashed into his brain. The tightfitting suits worn by the aliens intrigued him; he’d looked for their bumps and projections around their crotches and admired their flat stomachs and broad chests. Their heads were contained in helmets that were close on the backside and rounded protrusions of solid green on the front. It wasn’t that the aliens were green, but their suits and helmets.
More green light engulfed the space, but the hood remained opaque.
“Prepare for entry,” intoned the metallic voice, not male nor female. Not intended to fool you like the bank’s call center voice. “Press 5 for more options.”
The enclosure shifted and rolled forward, turning into a chair, a recliner. The plastic that engulfed him opened, separated, and released Sebastian from confinement. And yet, he still felt confined, sitting upright in the chair that formed perfectly to his legs, ass, and back. His arms, previously even with his body, now rested on armrests. His head swam as the blood drained from it.
He heard that metallic voice, but couldn’t understand it. It sounded far away.
Sebastian’s head turned and spun and swam. He feared he might vomit. The thought that it might happen fueled the sensations that caused the thought in the first place. He hated the idea. He’d structured much of his consumption of food and especially alcohol around the plan to never vomit again. That last time, he’d eaten the worm.
He breathed deep and held the breaths. He closed his eyes, but that made it worse. He breathed more and opened his eyes, trying to focus on a point outside of himself.
There, before him, a window. Beyond the window, a landscape. Everything looked very green. Grass and trees and…and a green sky?
Where the hell was he?
“Breath in…” the metallic voice said. And, after a few beats, chimed, “breathe out.”
Without even trying, Sebastian began breathing to the metallic voice’s prompts. And he felt better. His head cleared. His body came to feel solid. The nausea subsided.
While he breathed with the prompts from Metallica, he raised and flexed his arms. He clenched and opened his fists. He stretched his arms out before him, above him. He raised and stretched his legs. Curled his toes. Scratched his bearded face and chest and stomach and scrotum.
Sebastian Cole existed, and the circulation of blood felt good.
Despite not knowing where he was or what was going on, his body felt energized, and he felt rested and excited about whatever might come next.
Once, during a bachelor party in Las Vegas, he’d consumed oxygen from one of those bars. That’s what this moment felt like. Almost like the rush from poppers, but without the crash or the headache.
Now he could see better, and he looked around. The room seemed well designed. It reminded him of those tiny houses he’d seen on the home shows. Maybe twelve feet long, eight or nine wide. A couch. A few cabinets. A sleeping loft above. Maybe eight or teen feet high. He craned his neck to find a little sink and counter. A door. He faced forward. This big window he looked out of on one side mirrored another big window on the opposite side.
“You may now stand. Take your time,” said Metallica. “You will find clothes in the cupboard.”
He leaned forward, but didn’t get up right away. He already knew there’d be a loss of blood when he stood. Instead, he took a moment. He stretched and breathed a bit more.
Why didn’t he feel freaked out anymore? Because, face it, this was freaky. Yet, he felt calm and easy. The world—he was in a green world—looked beautiful out beyond the window. Calm and serene. He breathed in and wondered what sort of drug they’d given him. Serenity had never been his go-to emotion. It must be drugs.
He flexed and then bent his knees. He stood, ready to sit again. A bit of swoon, but he breathed through it and felt fine. He didn’t dress immediately. Instead, he went to the door at the narrow end of the…room. Locked.
Panic surfaced once more. He was a captive.
Sebastian went close to the window, looking out and around. From his position, he was alone in this green world. The view seemed similar to home, except for the green sky. Could it be the glass he looked through? Did that have a green hue? It did not appear to.
The chair had two sturdy slices of plastic film. Like silicone, plastic and rubbery.
The cubbies under the couch had boxes in them. Sebastian pulled on one, but it didn’t move. He tried another, also stuck in place.
He tried the cabinet. It opened and inside were clothes folded neatly in divided racks. Not his clothes. But, the correct sizes. Boxers instead of briefs. Comfortable pants with a drawstring waist. A very soft shirt, a cross between a T-shirt and a pullover. Slip on shoes, not loafers, more athletic in style. All of it shades of blues and greys. He looked around, but found no mirror.
He again scratched at his beard. Sebastian never sported a beard. He didn’t care for the current trend—80s scruff held a bit of attraction, but these unkempt men of today turned him off. He’d been living by example with a clean-shaven face that had no effect on the young men at all.
The drawers wouldn’t open. Some of the other small doors wouldn’t open. Up the ladder, a thin futon in a small loft. A blanket folded neatly at the futon foot. A pillow at the head. No sheets.
He found no books. He found no entertainment: no music or television screen or computer or tablet.
He also found no food.
The water spigot didn’t work when he turned the handles at the sink. He found no shower or toilet—not that he needed those at the moment.
The environment, stark but efficient. Better than the prison cells he’d seen in movies, but not much.
He found himself trying to open the door at random times; it remained locked. He’d look out the window. The grass looked a bit different, the blades wider, but what did he know about horticulture? The trees looked like trees, and yet they, too were different somehow.
He tried the water taps again. Nothing flowed. He again tried the door. Locked. He attempted to remove the boxes in the shelves below the couch. They gave just enough for Sebastian to know that they might come out if only he knew the trick. Like a puzzle desk, maybe he needed to pull a tab or push a button somewhere to release the contents.
Time passed. The light shifted outside, grew more intense. The hum of the air-conditioning increased by small increments. He assumed that’s what caused the humming.
“Hello!” he called occasionally. Metallica didn’t respond. No one else responded either.
Finally, he stretched out on the couch, locked his fingers together behind his head, and waited. For what he waited he did not know.