Martha was walking on top of a cliff face.
The wind in her face and the sun on her back.
In front of her was a long cylindrical spacecraft.
It jutted out from the crash site at the side of the cliff below her.
It was covered with hexagonal glass windows.
The entire shape bubbled out in strange directions - not aerodynamic at all
She made her decent, until landing on the top of the ship
To her right was an entrance: a broken hub of glass.
Some sort of window
Navigating the broken glass she rolled as gently as she could inside the ship
Inside the emergency lights were a steady red.
She had no flashlight.
A long hallway descending deep into the mountain.
Side doors, broken off their hinges covered the floor
She descended into the red
The end of the tunnel was blocked off.
Jammed shut by a door she couldn't move.
To her right was a service hatch.
It was half way down and half her size.
A crawlspace for the electrics
She popped it open and a hiss of air came out
It had an odor to it: stale, damp.
Of dead mold and old things
She crawled in
She was on her hands and knees - struggling to move forward.
The tunnel clearly not meant for her size.
The walls jutted out in strange directions from the crash.
They reminding her of the sliding mechanism for a drawer.
Only much more jagged.
The red lights shown in here too - dimmer than the main passage.
Fading into a dark hole in front of her.
As she grew closer she saw the opening was a narrow spot.
One she just barely fit though.
Beyond was a short circular room the shape of a coin
She tumbled out, hunching over doing a sort of crab walk to continue on
She heard rustling behind her
Turning, she found nothing
To her right was a squeak, she found it - a small rodent
It sat on its hind legs and was a cross between a squirrel and a beaver.
Grey in color with extremely large eyes, wider than she had ever seen.
Those eyes looked at her, reflected her in them
And it scampered off, to the side of the room
There were only two exits.
Stacked on top of each other.
The entrance she tumbled though being the one above.
She heard a noise again, behind her.
Something large moving in one of the tunnels
She fell from the top one, but something was there below
A glistening black form, that hid against the busted lights.
All she could tell was it was moving.
She backed against the opposite side of the room.
The rodent scampered away from her.
It changed direction back towards her as a figure slammed into the threshold.
Clawing at it, trying to get through, though it was too big
She couldn't make it out.
But it had a long row of teeth that she could see.
Reflecting purely the red light.
Its head could not fit through the opening.
And its tiny claw couldn't swipe far enough to reach her
It opened its mouth.
And another set of teeth reached out with an appendage in its mouth
She stared at it, it couldn't reach her and she could only watch
The rodent by her side was terrified
The only way out now was just above the creature - the way she had come
'How was she going to get it out?'
She felt a familiar tinge of nostalgia
She felt herself sliding back - through the metal
She kept falling backwards - further into the mountain
The rock twisted and became sparse.
Purple lightning strikes between the dust particles swirling about in the air
She twisted around to see she was heading towards a barrier
Something like a soap bubble.
The torrent wailed against her until she passed that threshold.
Then all was silence as she slowly fell toward the deck of the ship below.
She angled herself to be standing when she landed.
Memory flooding back into her.
That she was in a dream, that she had been here before.
And before her stood captain Alacira, smiling
'Where had she seen this before?'
She handed Martha a small brass
She took it and did as instructed, remembering the monastery with the monks
A swirling cloud of color poured out of the horn.
And behind her Gerald Whitewater was there to capture that with a jar
He closed the lid - and took the horn from Martha
"First things first, put this in your ear.
Then think of the last place I sent you..."
Taking both carefully while also balancing a clipboard under his arm
"Just in case we forgot something..."
"Same time frame as before - what was it this time?"
The words came to her - remembering that movie
Alacira nodded, moving back to the center of the ship, and Martha followed
"What was the thing in your head posing as this time?"
Gerald stumbled about - shifting the horn and clipboard's place.
He lifted a few pages
It's not what you see, it's just wearing a costume.
Don't make assumptions about what's underneath based on what it wears.
Where to Gerald?"
They reached the elevator at the end of the narrow hall
You'll have a navigator this time, make sure to stay with him - alright?"
Alacira punched in the numbers on the panel
"Grab the railing."
Gerald shuffled the horn between his legs.
He tucked in the clipboard back under his armpit as they ascended.
He placed his hand on the railing.
Martha fell into the side of the elevator.
Gerald reached out for her
She felt her stomach lurch at a sudden weightless sensation.
The clipboard went flying to the ceiling
Gerald grabbed her hand - and placed it on the railing.
She fell into him.
She looked up at the clipboard.
It was barreling back toward her and Gerald caught it
He caught it with his face first, then his free hand
"He's waiting at the entrance."
"What was that?"
"We had to rotate a bit, that's what the railing is for."
The doors opened
Beyond them was a hallway stretching on into the dark like before.
But this one was lined with snow globes: glowing with a faint blue static.
In front of them - to the right, was a man she could have sworn she recognized.
A tall thin man in an overcoat - rubbing the back of his head.
She just couldn't place him
"Do as I say, when I say...
Get used to that...
We don't have time to explain everything to you...
Just what you need to know."
Gerald brushed path both of them
He stopped at a single dark and empty snow globe
He placed the horn on top of it and emptied the jar's contents into the horn
Below the snow globe began to glow.
Looking inside she could see the monastery as it had been just before the fire
"He doesn't speak."
Some of them the last anyone has had."
"Gerald - which number?"
He glanced back at his clipboard
The only lights that flickering blue from the snow globes
It's on our right."
Martha studied the tall man
He looked at her, shrugged, then looked at alacira quizzically
"I swear I know you."
Martha shook her head - still staring at the navigator
It was on the tip of her brain
"I doubt it - unless you know many coma patients?"
Looking at the gold plate inlaid below Martha saw it read 42.
The snow globe lay on the pedestal before her.
It showed a network of twisting interlocking gears
Gerald shook his head
"What am I looking for - another book?"
Gerald gestured toward the navigator who straightened his tie
"This one might be harder to find...
We don't exactly know this time.
This isn't going to be like your last time...
This is far less solid.
It's a dream...
My dream actually...
So out of place things...
Are less out of place there..."
Captain Alacira studied at her pocket watch.
Martha heard a small crash in the distance, like thunder only deeper
"That's why he's going with you."
"That's the first threshold - we can't keep her here much longer."
Gerald took her hand and placed it in the navigator's.
And before Martha could speak - he placed both on the snow globe
"If you get in trouble: Kent here will take you back."
Was the last she heard before a feeling of cold ice permeated her skin
Kent watched the evening's flight unfold.
He had seen what was on Felix's phone.
And he played along - following literally everyone else's lead
Everyone's right eye had twitched and then they donned a blank stare.
When it was his turn he faked the same - he was sure the other's weren't faking
'Why were they all doing the same thing?'
Felix - he learned his name - was an ass.
Doing childish games with the completely docile passengers.
Ordering them about for his amusement.
Kent grew sick at some of the games.
Thankful he was in the back: far away from Felix
'Was this a case of a mass confidence trick?'
He had to pee, he had to sleep.
And yet he could do neither without blowing his cover.
His vision was blurry, and his bladder pressed at him begging for release.
He wished he stopped by the restroom first thing, but
'No - this was something else...'
When Felix wasn't looking in his direction: He did an old army trick
He shifted his leg over the other.
Quietly and carefully he squeezed them together
It barely helped
It was another hour before Felix grew uninterested.
Eventually Felix leaned his chair back to go to sleep.
No one else moved a muscle
When he was sure he was asleep - Kent danced over the still passengers
He moved as quietly as he could without releasing his bladder accidentally
He made his way back to the restroom in the back of the plane
He did not trust the restroom in front next to Felix to be quiet enough
He walked into coach
Before him everyone was unnaturally still
He made his way down the aisle
'Too late for that.'
He opened the door to the bathroom
Unsurprisingly the staff in the back were also completely still
He shuddered and closed the door.
While washing his hands his holster sagged just a little, he had a thought.
He finished drying his hands.
He went out into coach and started looking at the passengers
Really looking at them
'Pretend they are normal - talking with each other.'
He thought, moving slowly across the middle seats
He imagined they would be near the back.
With a good view of everyone else
But frisking everyone so far yielded nothing.
Methodically he made his way towards the front of the plane: looking for-
His right hand felt something solid.
It was underneath the jacket of the man in the window seat about half way up
'Which one are you, damn it?'
He unbuttoned the sky marshal's jacket and took the glock
"Sorry about this..."
Kent awkwardly reached around and felt at the man's ass
There was no wallet
Checking his coat next Kent found a billfold in his inner breast pocket.
He snapped a picture of the license with his phone then placed it back.
He put the gun into his holster.
Then he walked quietly back to first class: desperate to get some sleep
And he realized.
No one had their eyes closed.
Could he afford to sleep right now.
No - no he could not
He sighed, and walked to the back of the plane
He was pretty sure they had coffee.
Or at least the ability to make coffee
"I'll send it back..."
'somewhere in the back of the plane.'
Martha landed in the center of a golden metal gear.
She braced her fall while the navigator slowly floated down to meet her
It came flooding back.
The cop at the precinct - the one who was immune to hooks
'What was he doing here?'
He didn't speak - not with words.
But his hands, his whole body even, were excellent at conveying meaning.
A regular charlie chaplin
The floor below them twisted
All around them were spinning interlocking gears, fading into blackness.
There was no obvious light source.
There was just a faint glow all around that grew dimmer with distance
Martha sat up
She regained her balance.
Kent - or the navigator - just stood there easily keeping his
He walked off to the edge of the gear.
He looked back with an expectant look
"Why are you here?!
Are you following me?"
Then he stepped over the ledge.
He twisted strangely in the air to stand on the edge of the giant gear
He was on the teeth of the gear - perpendicular to Martha
Martha went to the edge of the gear.
The navigator walking slowly back toward where the teeth met - waiting for her
"Where are we going?"
She thought, following Kent's leap over the edge
She felt herself falling forward, not downward
'Here goes nothing...'
And soon she found herself on top of the teeth
She had too much momentum, and then was on the underside of the gear
The Navigator held out his hand over the side.
He helped her slide back onto the teeth
The gear jolted again, backwards toward a set of interlocking teeth
She lost her balance and fell backward.
She landed on the face of the gear
Her leg was longer than the width of the gear's teeth.
Her foot locked behind two meshed gears.
Her leg wasn't crushed, but only just.
She had to wait for the gears to go forward again before pulling her leg out
When the teeth rotated enough she threw herself up with Kent's helping hand.
The Navigator dusted himself off
That backwards slippage was only going to get worse.
A part of Martha was amazed at how well he communicated - without using words
They made their way along the edge
Until they met another gear on the other side.
This one mostly facing to their right
With a skip and a hop The Navigator jumped just so - and landed on that gear's teeth.
With his hand out and some prep time Martha made the jump
'Downward is forward...'
When she landed the Navigator more urgently ran - Martha in tow
A moment later the gears skipped backwards again.
And this time Martha saw a ripple in the other gears around her.
The wavelike effect gave her some warning
'Not so hard this time.'
They made their way through the gears
Each slip getting more jarring.
Each time the gears fell further back
"What's causing that?"
Martha could see stone walls fading in from the void
'He did say - say? mime: mime it would get worse.'
One of the gears to her right flew towards her - twisting in the air.
He jumped at her.
He knocked her to the backside of the gear
Opposite where the one flying at her would hit.
A resounding ringing echoed against her skin.
The metal below her vibrated and all around her gears started twisting.
No they were stationary:
"Where exactly are we?"
The Navigator pulled her to her feet.
They ran across the flat to the nearest connected gear.
Still holding her hand, he grabbed around her back.
He led them to jump for the face of that gear
They landed in an awkward roll, the wind knocked out of Martha.
She looked back to where they had just been only to see darkness.
She heard a loud clattering from below
'Shit - this one was coming loose.'
Which echoed in her right ear, but she was sure that was down at this point
'Okay, that is just great.
why is it slipping like that?'
She was lost - they were generally heading up
The navigator got up, and helped her to her feet - inspecting her for any damage
He ran - looking back as Martha jolted forward to match his pace
She felt something - a dread she remembered from a distant dream.
!A prickling on the back of the neck!
Not wanting to turn around, not wanting to face it she caught up to the Navigator.
He had just jumped onto another gear's teeth
'Or maybe that way is up?'
She jumped and landed where he was
They were running now and Martha noticed the wave of gears slipping
She stopped while the Navigator did not
He fell sideways, falling onto the flat of the gear and kept sliding.
He grabbed the thin metal rod at the center of the gear.
His hand jerked taught be it kept him from going over the edge
He clung to that twisting rod, just taking a moment to breathe
He Looked up at Martha - then down below him.
He started inching his way toward a gear further up that pole
He could drop down, which was sideways to Martha, and he could land on it
"I think it's here."
And Martha stopped in her tracks
She watched him make his way to the safe landing
"I'll come get you!"
Below the Navigator was a dark figure with a tail
It crawled on all fours towards them
She reminded herself
'Oh shit, that thing is right there!'
'Only a mask.'
Well: the second one with how they put people in those nests
The Navigator dropped onto the spinning gold gear with a thud.
He brushed himself off
'A very convincing mask...'
He looked behind him
The thing was only a few gears away
He rushed toward the side.
He Twisted himself onto the teeth
On a path back toward her.
Martha could only watch.
The alien was closing in - he wasn't going to make it.
She saw the ripple of gears around her -
He held onto the gear
The alien was right behind him
The gear flung back and the alien's tail caught in the gears behind it.
It cried out in a shrieking hiss
The metal itself hissed and fumed loudly as the acid ate away
The Navigator got to his feet and ran.
The gears slowly released the alien just as he rushed up to Martha
Carefully the Navigator moved past her - and took the lead again.
The tail of the creature leaked acid.
Smoke rose up each time it dropped onto the gears.
Martha noticed another ripple
"Keep going, it's behind you."
She shouted and they both took cover
'Okay - that one was way faster...'
The alien was thrown off the same way the Navigator had been a moment earlier.
It didn't follow them
'Are they random...'
Instead it started climbing back up the face of this gear.
The Navigator took her hand and they jumped across onto the face of the gear
This one was lit differently, bluer - lighter.
She looked up to see a lack of any more gears to either side.
One above her connected to the same rod in the center of this gear.
All around her were stained glass windows
He took off his jacket - gave it to her.
Then he took off his shirt.
He wrapped it around the rod, then tied it around his wrists.
He sat down with his legs crossed around the pillar and hugged it
'Or is it getting faster?'
Suddenly pulled away from the pole and towards the edge of the gear.
He started climbing
'Pole dancing Kent, navigator of dreams.'
She threw the jacket around the pole.
Then tied it to her wrists
The sleeves just long enough to tie in a knot around her arms
She crossed her legs around the pillar and made her way up
Half way to the top her gravity shifted.
Not waiting for the gravity to change let her close some distance to the navigator
'Follow the leader.'