Stories

A New World

The subdued lighting is still far too bright. My head is somehow managing to both pound and spin at the same time; if my stomach weren’t empty my first impulse would be to throw up.

“Where am I?”

A smooth androgynous voice answers, “You are in Recovery Room A.”

I spot the IV line coming from my arm. “What am I doing here?”

“Recovering.”

“From what?”

“Electrostatic brain shock.”

“So, memory loss. What do I remember?”

“Obviously not the previous 2407 times we had this conversation.”

The last thing I remember is flying. I was flying naked: no, not naked, I was wearing a hardsuit with full environmental control. Which made sense because there was no atmosphere in the Transfer Lock. And I wasn’t really flying, I was plummeting.

Below me was The Ring. It glowed blue, and beyond it was a pit that went fifty kilometers into the Earth. If the Lock failed I would slowly heat up and be crushed by pressure until I splattered like a dropped egg at the bottom of the shaft.

“Since this isn’t the afterlife…”

“You are not dead, Dr. Conners. The transfer was successful, as it was for Doctors Magdala and Trent.”

“So I’m…”

“In Recovery Room A.”

“And what planet is Recovery Room A on?”

“The planet has been designated Apex. It orbits the primary gas giant in the 11 Ursae Minoris system, roughly 400 light-years from Earth. This is consistent with earlier reports from the remote facility.”

“So the Einstein-Rosen Bridge worked! We’re in a totally different star system from Earth!”

“Affirmative.”

“Why are there only three of us? The team was supposed to be six.”

“Doctors Jennings, Armstrong, and Phelps will not be sent until safety of travel can be ascertained.”

“What’s the problem?”

“The first problem is energy shock. All of the first three test subjects experienced electrostatic brain injury on transfer. You are the first to regain long-term memory function.”

“Ouch. How long was I out?”

“Sixty-one hours twelve minutes; within the normal range for defibrillation shock.”

“How are the others?”

“Their conditions are similar to yours, though they have not yet recovered memory function.”

“Wait, you said the first problem. What’s the second problem?”

“The bridge is unstable in the reverse direction. While two-way information transfer is working, there has been limited success returning organic matter.”

“Clarify that please.”

“The mouse exploded on arrival at South Pole Station.”

“So it’s a one-way trip.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“And the planetary population consists of me, the only male, plus Emily Magdala and Karen Trent.”

“Yes Dr. Conners. Dr. Armstrong sent through a package consisting of a bottle of champagne and three glasses, along with a note reading ‘Congratulations’.”

“So it’s me and two alpha females alone on a planet 400 light years from home. I have got to figure out a way to get us back to Earth before we kill each other.”