The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
"I am." A voice thundered in Samuel's head.
"Yeah. So am I." Samuel spit back, trying not to let his head explode in the process.
Gradually he began to see and feel again with his eyes and body. He found himself lying on something quite comfortable, miraculously comfortable. It felt as if he were...
His eye lids went open all the way and he realized he was not lying on anything at all. Nothing. He looked down and saw a metallic floor of a light orange, copper color with filgreed plating with ornate designs that illustrated every plate. He followed the patterns to another body floating in the air. Jimbo.
"Jimbo." He cried out.
Jimbo groaned and rolled over, his hand dangling in the air as comfortably as if they had been supported by a mattress. His eyes fluttered open and he complained. "Why must it always be when I'm about to have a nice meal?"
"You really need to get out more." Nanny pointed out from her side of the large room they were within.
Samuel was able to sit up, but he still couldn't figure out how he did so. Nothing was supporting his butt, or his legs and feet and yet they felt as if they were compressed against something very gentle, but firm.
Nanny swam into view, like a turtle, using her arms and legs to aim and kick herself into view. She settled before Samuel and grinned at him. "If this wasn't so damned crazy, I'd say we were in outer space like an astronaut, but..."
Jimbo finally sat up, then noticed he wasn't seated on anything. "Holy Crap!" He sputtered, frantically trying to get a grasp on something, but only managing to cause himself to float upside down in a seated position.
"This stinks!" He complained.
Nanny coasted over, and gently tipped him the correct direction.
"You never told me you were an astronaut." Jimbo accused.
"I'm not. And to make things even here, big guy, you never told me we might get abducted by little green men either."
Samuel would have laughed, but his head hurt so much. "Make it stop." He groaned, trying to keep the sides of his head from exploding.
Jimbo gave him a worried look.
"Everything. This place we're inside, the way we were captured...the vibrations. It's all...wrong!"
Samuel took a deep breath, then examined the room they were held within. It was shaped like a box, but with the outer walls curved outwards. They were also copper colored and very reflective. One large section seemed to be some kind of viewing device, for it had a flickering image on it, but nothing visible that was clear.
The ceiling was low, but also very metallic looking.
"I think we're inside the saucer."
"You think?" Jimbo asked drily.
Nanny shook her head. "From the center of the earth to outer space. Sounds like we entered a series of Jules Verne novels."
"Not quite." Came a very British sounding voice.
They turned around slowly to see a man who appeared to be in his early sixties standing in front of a wall, dressed in some kind of odd uniform that was vaguely British looking. He had a very long mustache and beard, and pure white hair, but his skin was unwrinkled and flawless, his eyes a crystal clear blue and his body quite firm and athletic looking.
He smiled at them and then sat down in the air, crossing one leg over another. "I hope you are all feeling rested...and better?"
Samuel almost jumped when the man seemed to flicker for a moment.
"Whoops!" He said. "I'm sorry. He appeared to lean over and adjust something invisible, then his image strengthened. "There. That should stop that nonsense."
He looked at them all again, then gave them a half bow. "My name is Seran Goodwalt. I am the Keeper of the Way."
"You wouldn't happen to have any decent burgers in this joint?" Jimbo asked when his stomach growled loudly.
Seran laughed. "My, my, my. I'm afraid not. We are all vegetarians here."
"My luck continues." Jimbo said with dripping sarcasm.
Seran laughed again. "Oh, your luck is quite good. If not for the two ambassadors you sent ahead of you three, we might have as easily disintegrated you as stunned you."
Jimbo stood up and almost tumbled over. He steadied himself. "I demand to see a lawyer!"
Samuel gestured to Jimbo. "Jimbo, I don't think they have those kinds of things here."
Jimbo growled. "They'd better!"
Seran sighed. "This is precisely why we don't usually let you upper surface people down here. You're so negative!"
Samuel spoke up as Seran looked ready to leave them. "Wait! Can you tell us where we are?"
"Right now. You stand at the gateway." Seran said solemnly. "I have been chosen to decide whether to admit you three, or deport you in a speedily manner."
"Which means what?" Jimbo growled.
"Either alive, or a reasonable fact simile." Seran said, his eyes hardening.
Jimbo shut up.
Samuel was finally able to stand up. He did so gently and a bit at a time. "We're not here to fight you. We came on a mission of peace."
Seran waved a hand and Jimbo's pistol appeared in the air. "Like this peaceful weapon?"
Jimbo felt the inside of his jacket. "Hey!"
Seran waved a hand and the pistol vanished again. "If we choose to allow you to leave peacefully, the weapon will be returned to you."
Jimbo's eyes blazed. "Don't I get any say in the matter?"
Everyone tensed as the old man considered Jimbo's question.
Seran pointed to the apparent viewing screen and it lit up clearly, revealing the flying city. "Our destination. We should be boarding in the next few minutes. "
Samuel smiled. "You intend to allow us to see it, don't you?"
Seran smiled back. "Samuel, your deeds are well known to us who dwell here. As are...your cowboy friends."
"Hey!" Jimbo cried out.
"And we find you amusing." Seran said, then vanished.
The screen remained lit up and the floating city grew closer and closer.
Whatever had been holding them up, vanished. They tumbled to the floor.
Jimbo groaned as he sat up. "No burger. No peace. It just ain't fair."
"Look on the bright side of it, Jimmie." Nanny consoled him.
"What bright side?"
"We could have been free falling atoms."