They forgot to put up the detour sign at the Alpha Centauri interchange. That was the first problem. The second was that my star map was written in Slafjklsin. They have five arms on each side, so when they say turn 'right' you have to decide if it's upper right, lower right, lower upper right, upper upper right or middle right.
Yeah. So I got lost. I just hanged a right and kept going, ignoring the increasingly bumpy star lane and what looked like a newly forming nebula off to the right. Lovely scenery, but before long . . . Yeah, we were lost.
My passenger, a very prim-and-proper Kritasian, had been sleeping. It came awake and lifted one head from the pad -- then another and another, all of them looking in different directions at the bubble view around us.
It made several soft, whistling sounds -- never a good thing -- and then all the heads turned my way. "Where the hell are we?" they demanded.
"Not far from Alpha Centauri. I'll have you home in no time," I said with a smile. Never, never show indecision or weakness to a Kritasian. Especially one upset enough to curse.
"This is not the way home!"
"You idiot one-head. Don't you even use the brain you have?"
"Look! Does this match up any map you have? Even I know it doesn't!"
It didn't, but I didn't say so. My hand was hovering near the button that would bring down the shield wall between me and Kri-Kro-Kree, just in case it got out of hand. Bad timing for it to wake up, though. Now I felt like I didn't dare really study the map because that would admit I didn't have a clue where we were.
And I hadn't seen a buoy tick on the computer in a few light years, too. I casually keyed up the last reference and realized it had been fading since I took that turn at AC.
Hell. I was going to have to admit it and turn around. I turned to Kri-Kro-Kree, but before I could speak, it lunged at me.
Yeah, that was helpful. We hit the controls. I panicked. It panicked. Grav went out. Lights went out. I hit my head . . . .
Later I woke up to an odd, three-toned alarm. I couldn't place it. I blinked; on emergency backup. And the alarm was actually the Kritasian wailing. Or maybe singing. It had broken out the farfar supply and apparently drank it all. Well, at least it was calmer.
Which made one of us.
I rubbed at a sore spot on my forehead and then started flicking on controls. The Kritasian stopped wailing.
"It works still?"
"Yes. But don't ever do that again."
"We were lost --"
"We weren't lost. We were just off the regular paths. Now, though --" I wasn't certain I wanted to say anything, but better to get it out in the open. "Now I'm not sure where we are. I need to look for something to get our bearings. We couldn't have gone far."
But nothing looked right. I couldn't even find the new nebula, which was probably too small and faint to pick up on my discount model scanner. I did, however, hear something odd on my commband.
Even Kri-Kro-Kree fell silent at the sound. Jumbled sounds, but clearly voices. Very many voices, all overlapping. It sounded like a Kritasian family gathering times ten.
"I'm going to check this out. Might have a better map," I said.
It didn't argue, looking rather intrigued, in fact.
What I had thought must be a backwater settlement of a few worlds turned out to be one really loud single world with a huge population of Deltas, like me. I tried hailing them on several frequencies but it wasn't until some of their primitive craft tried to shoot us down (Shield wall went into place and two of Kri-Kro-Kree's heads knocked themselves out banging against it) that I realized this was not a known settlement.
And that's how we found Earth. Odd world. Almost ready for star travel, but still a bit rough around the edges, like that penchant for shooting at things they haven't seen before. Kri-Kro-Kree and I are famous for finding the world, in fact. It doesn't mention that I was lost and I don't mention that it attacked me, so we both sound like we were deliberately looking for the fabled lost civilization.
I have a better craft now and a good map. Tourists pay well to see this strange world and risk their primitive weapons. And so far I've only been shot down once. Lucky for me that was with another Delta and not one of the other races. We had quite an adventure on Earth, though. And that's how we found out about the cats.
But that's another story.
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:
And don't miss out on
for more fantastic quick reads!
for more fantastic quick reads!