Laura Banks was seriously disoriented. She lost her balance and fell against the wall.
“Are you all right?” A passing man asked.
“Ah, Yeah I think so, I’m just a little dizzy. I’ll be fine.”
The man went on his way.
Laura looked about her surroundings. Where was she? This looked like a hallway on a space ship. Hadn’t she been outside? Yes, when she started to think about it, she clearly remembered being out in the bush, and it had been dark. How did she get here?
Laura straightened up. The dizziness was probably just a side-effect of having recently come out of cryonic stasis – except that didn’t make any sense because it had been weeks since she’d woken from stasis on the Endeavour. Any yet – she had only just woken up, she was sure of it. She was wandering the corridors exploring the ship because it was something to do. She took a tentative step. Her legs seemed to be working again. That was good.
Looking down, she noticed that she was wearing different clothes than she had been when she was out in the bush – her jeans had been replaced with black slacks, and in place of her blouse was a blue t-shirt. Oddly enough, she was still wearing the necklace that she’d found on the boat. Yes, now she remembered. She had put the necklace around her neck. Just after she’d done that, she must have passed out. Why had she woken up here?
There were plenty of other people wandering the hallways. She wanted to stop them and ask what was happening, perhaps one of them might know how she got here. As much as she wanted to do this, she didn’t. She just kept on walking.
She rounded a corner and saw a large metal double door. It looked as though it divided in the middle and slid sideways to open. Might as well see what’s in there, she though to herself.
She approached with interest and pressed the open button. The doors slid apart and she walk right on in.
Inside, he found a rather large room. It was filled with stasis pods. She had woken in a room just like this one not more than an hour ago. That was right wasn’t it? Of course it was – and yet Laura knew that it wasn’t. She should be on Xinju, in the bush, near the boat, with Neal.
Apparently all of these pods were now empty. The people who had been inside were all awake and were wandering the ship just like her – probably all curious to know if their journey was at an end.
“What are you doing in here?” The voice made Laura jump. She had thought that she was alone. The room was largely empty and very quiet.
“Oh,” she said, letting out an embarrassed chuckle. “I was just looking around.”
“Well, could you please leave this area. There is a lot of expensive equipment in here and we want to keep people away from it.”
“Certainly. Not a problem.”
“The Captain will be making an announcement soon. Please just wait patiently until that happens.”
As Laura turned and walked back out of the room, she wondered to herself why she had spoken with such an odd accent. It certainly wasn’t her usual Australian accent. She had sounded more European than anything.
Laura was agitated and restless. She wanted answers. She wished the Captain would hurry up and make this announcement. Perhaps that would clear things up.
A high-pitched whistle sounded over the communication system. Then a female voice spoke. “Your attention please. The Captain will make an announcement in just a moment. Please locate your nearest view screen.”
Laura looked around and spotted a view screen embedded on the wall just at the end of the corridor she was standing in. She made her way and reached it before anybody else. It didn’t take long for more people to start crowding around her. She waited while more and more people came. This ship seemed to be very crowded. There were so many people huddled around the screen now that many of them wouldn’t be able to see anything.
Suddenly the screen came to life and the face of a middle-aged African man appeared.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. No doubt you are all wondering why you have been awakened all together like this. I would like to inform you that our journey is nearly over – but we won’t actually arrive in orbit of Xinju until about this time tomorrow. The reason you have all been woken from stasis is simple – we passed through an ion storm on the way here and it caused a little damage to the ship. It was nothing serious mind-you, but it did impact our power reserves. The computer determined that in order to give sufficient power to the engines, it had to bring the stasis pods offline. That’s why you are awake.
“I know this ship wasn’t exactly built for passengers – at lease not those who are awake, but we’ll have to make do until tomorrow. There is plenty of food. Meals will be served in stages. You will be called according to surname, so keep an ear out for the announcement.
“It won’t be long now and we’ll all be able to get a glimpse of our new home. Thank you all for your patience. Good day.”
The image of the Captain faded, and was replaced with a ship insignia. Laura looked at the screen with a little panic. The logo consisted of a bird, raising out of a flame. Underneath, were the words SS Phoenix.
People began to disperse as quickly as they had arrived. Laura stood next to the screen watching them go. What could this mean? She was on the Phoenix, and it was just about to arrive at Xinju – but the Phoenix was scheduled to arrive in 2187. That was four and a half centuries ago. The thought chilled Laura, and yet she gave no outward sign of being worried.
If this was real – if she was really here, and not having some crazy hallucination, then it meant that she had travelled into the past.