313 words by Stanley Lieber
Plinth Mold sat and ate his Green Cashew cereal. The ship's percept drive sent barely visible tremors across the surface of his milk.
"Do you ever get sad when you see a girl who is, like, all obsessed with sports and stuff, and you realize that there's no way the two of you could ever be compatible?"
Thomas had somehow gained entrance to Plinth's cabin. What about the elaborate rhetoricalock system Piro had installed? Plinth had been assured, specifically, that Thomas could not penetrate it. Ridiculous.
"You mean some girl you like?"
"Not necessarily. Just, you know, any girl. Just to see her. From a distance, it's almost as if there is some sort of active force that draws you towards her, even as it pushes her away."
"I can't say as I've ever suffered that sort of crisis, Thomas."
"Oh. Well, even though I'm gay, it still sucks. Strictly speaking."
The ship lurched sharply and Plinth figured Piro must be wrangling the percept team to the other side of the deck, making a slight course adjustment.
"Anyway, could you please shut up this incessant chattering? My Green Cashews are getting soggy."
"All right, boss. I'll just head up top and see if anything else needs doing."
Abovedecks, Piro was indeed herding members of the percept team from one side of the ship to the other. Each man or woman planted themselves into their new position and focused their attention acutely, fixating upon a single point along the horizon that had been marked pink in their visors. Slowly, the ship began to change direction.
Piro propped a leg up on the railing. "Forward; That way," he commanded, gesturing in a specific direction for the benefit of the percept team.
Their gaze moved to his hand instead of to the distant point he had meant to indicate.
That was not good for the ship.
To be continued...