Planet of Tranquility
One Minute, Gone the Next
Throwing himself to the side and rolling onto the
floor, John saw a flash and heard the noise of a chair behind him
exploding into so many bits of metal and fabric.
The professor kept himself behind the computer consoles, rightly
figuring that the creature was hesitant to fire on him for fear of
hitting the computers. Quickly
sprinting toward the door, John leaped at the Zrilon, somersaulting over
the hard-shelled back and into the corridor.
Springing to his feet, and running down a corridor, he almost ran
into Maureen and Maggie.
Only hesitating for a second, he grabbed her hand and resumed his
flight down the corridor. He
felt his lungs laboring to gather in enough air, reminding him of the
bio-adaptive device and his need to return to the water.
Pushing that thought out of his mind, he concentrated instead on
trying to get out of the installation with Maureen.
“We have to get out of here.
As soon as the detonation program is initiated again, this place
is going to blow. And
unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure how powerful a bomb I made.”
They continued sprinting toward the airlock. As they rounded a corner, a contingent of crab-like aliens
met them, all with weapons ready. John
skidded to a halt, pushed Maureen behind him and raised his hands.
His mind worked furiously, trying to find a way to escape, but
there were too many weapons, and his opponents seemed nervous, their
eyestalks waving furiously, their thoughts jumbles of fear and anxiety.
“Back to the communications room, alien,” the
lead creature clicked, the translator making a quick interpretation.
Sighing, John turned, and placing his arm around
Maureen, escorted her back the way they came.
The flutter-dragons squeaked pensively.
‘Quiet. It wouldn’t take much for them to shoot us right now,’ he
told them. He felt a
momentary dizziness, which passed quickly.
Taking several deep breaths, John managed to pull in enough air
to satisfy the needs of his body.
Maureen looked up at him in concern.
‘John, how long have you
been out of water?’
know, but if we can’t get away soon, it won’t really matter,
When they walked into the communications room,
they saw another Zrilon working on a smaller computer near the floor.
It immediately swung around, its eyestalks waving in fury, its
clacking speech sounding harsh with anger.
“You have invaded the main computer!”
“Yes, I did.
You are irresponsible to cause the mass destruction your device
would create. There are
better ways to mine the breshel compound then by destroying the habitats
of thousands of creatures,” John stated fervently.
“We can go and explain the need for the breshel to the members
of the Homeplace pods. Just
stop the detonation.”
“You think we are naive?” the alien asked.
It motioned to the soldiers behind them.
“I will get great pleasure in leaving you here to feel the
power of the final detonation,” he added.
Several of the soldier’s clawed appendages
grabbed at him and Maureen. “No!”
John shouted, kicking at
the captor holding him. The
Zrilon slid across the floor before stopping itself.
Pivoting, the professor tried to pull another soldier off
Maureen, but several of the aliens grabbed at his legs, dragging him
down to his knees. As the
crab-like creatures tied him up, he struggled, but finally gave up,
collapsing to the deck exhausted.
“Soon the technicians will figure out your
commands and you will be the only firsthand witnesses to a most glorious
you will not be alive to report on it,” the alien clacked in
John’s gaze turned to the computer station to
which Maggie and Silverado had retreated. ‘Can’t
get enough air. Can’t
think.’ His thought
processes seemed mired in molasses.
Then he noticed one of their captors roughly binding Maureen’s
hands and John blurted out, “Let her go....”
don’t,’ Maureen pleaded.
As soon as both humans were tied up, the crab-like
creatures left. The ensuing
silence was only broken by the soft sounds of regenerated air whooshing
through the air vents and the pensive squeaking of the flutter-dragons.
John had never felt so helpless.
He struggled against the cords, but they were too strong for him.
He saw Maureen doing the same thing with hers, with the same
results. ‘Why did she
come back,’ he asked himself.
Frustration raged inside, but he held it in tight rein.
Silverado’s golden eyes bored into his own.
‘We must go. Bomb
will explode soon.’
know,’ John agreed. ‘But I can’t get loose.’
Suddenly the monitor lit up, and figures for the
detonation sequence began marching ominously across the screen.
“I’m sorry,” he told Maureen.
“You should have stayed with the others.”
sorry, too. But we are
together. You will
not be taken from me again. I
love you, John.”
There was a sudden flash from behind the computer
console and then nothing. Cold,
Through the long-range scanners, Murwon watched
the quick flash of an explosive device and then the implosion of the
installation dome. Slowly
and deliberately, with an almost majestic movement, the walls of the
structure fell in on themselves. Murwon
turned to Grilar. ‘Does this precede the detonation of the underground explosive?’
Grilar shook his head and spoke into the
translator in his suit. ‘No, something happened. If
everything had gone as planned, I’m afraid we would be dead by now,
because we aren’t far enough away.
John Robinson said that many miles wouldn’t be far enough
Glancing at her friend’s son, Murreena
commented, her sadness permeating all of her listener’s thoughts, ‘John and Maureen saved the Homeplaces.’
Mom got away, didn’t they?’ Will asked plaintively, fear permeating his thoughts.
Placing his hands on the boy’s shoulder, Don
said, ‘No, Will, I don’t think
hear them,’ Murwon
corroborated, his sadness palpable.
‘I’m sorry, Will Robinson.’
can’t be seen in the ocean, but Klik knew they were there. He swam next to Will and gently rubbed the boy’s chest.
The smell of decayed leaves and rotting logs
greeted Maureen’s slowly returning consciousness.
An insect buzzed in her ear, and various forest creatures
squawked, squeaked and sang around her.
thought in bemusement. Rolling
over and opening her eyes, she looked up through gauzy, blue-green
leaves and saw a violet tinged, blue sky dotted with puffy clouds.
A slight breeze ruffled the leaves.
As she sat up, she was aware of the smell of new blossoms.
Somehow, the place seemed familiar, but she couldn’t figure out
safe, Maureen,’ Maggie’s assurance came drifting through her
thoughts. Maureen turned
her head and looked into the flutter-dragon’s golden eyes.
“But where?” Maureen asked.
A soft wheezing sound at her side caused her to look down.
John lay next to her; his breathing coming in ragged gasps, and
in alarm, she realized he had almost reached the limit of his time out
of water. Jerking off her
swimming glove, Maureen reached over and touched him on the cheek.
He looked so pale, so vulnerable.
They had to find water soon.
look, Maureen,’ Maggie told her, spreading her gossamer wings and
zipping off through the gray-barked trees.
Turning back to John, Maureen grabbed the front of his aqua suit
and pulled him to a sitting position, letting him lean against a tree
trunk. It wasn’t much,
but at least he would be able to breathe a little easier.
She undid and pulled off the headpiece of his aqua suit.
“Oh, John,” she murmured, pushing an errant
lock out of his eyes. He
muttered something, and then returned to total unconsciousness.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Silverado, lying in a
heap near John’s feet, looking more gray than silver. Maureen picked the zanling up and examined him.
He was still alive, but very deeply asleep, so she laid him on
John’s lap. She
wondered what was wrong with him and then remembered that Maggie had
told her about his teleportation to the Jupiter II.
But to teleport them all to this other place was almost beyond
wonder he’s so ashen,’ she thought, still astonished at
Maureen prayed that the little blue lizard would
succeed in her quest. Her thoughts turned to the children and she
wondered if they would know that she and John were alive.
In despair, she felt that they wouldn’t. ‘How can they?’
she thought, bitterly. ‘The installation was blowing up around us.’ The only
thing she could think to do was to wait.
Sitting down next to John, she laid her head lightly on his
shoulder, listening to his labored breathing.
She began feeling the familiar discomfort in her chest, and made
herself breathe as evenly as she could.
Had Silverado brought them from the frying pan to the fire, she
Maggie flew back and landed on her knee.
‘There is a small stream
nearby. It is not much, but
it will help,’ the flutter dragon announced, pointing her tail in
the direction they needed to take.
you, Maggie. Anything will
help. Now we just need to
get there,’ Maureen said.
Turning to John, she shook him gently.
“John, you have to wake up,” she said shaking him a bit more
forcefully. His eyes opened
slowly, finally focusing on her. “John,
Maggie says there is water nearby, but I can’t carry you.
You have to help me.”
He nodded and grasped her hand.
Then his gaze swept over the still form in his lap.
His eyes showed his alarm as he reached down and touched
“He’s alive, dear, only unconscious,” she
told him softly. Maggie
flew over and dropped onto his lap, squeaking softly.
Silverado finally raised his head and blinked sleepily at her,
almost immediately laying his head back down on John’s lap.
He didn’t even chirp when Maureen picked him up and placed him
on her shoulder, where he draped lethargically.
Using Maureen’s outstretched hand, John pulled
himself up. He
leaned against the tree, panting, and then he let Maureen guide him
through the trees, and down a gentle slope.
“Where are we?” he asked, almost inaudibly.
“I don’t know, John, but it sure isn’t
ssHreana, unless there were land areas that Murreena didn’t tell us
about. We’ll find water
soon, and then we can figure that mystery out.”
Their progress was slow, and Maureen agonized at
their snail’s pace. John’s
steps faltered and slowed, and he alternated hanging on to her for
support and hanging on to the numerous trees along their way. “I’m sorry, dear,” he murmured between breaths.
“We’ll get there, just keep walking,” she
said gently, keeping the desperation out of her voice. ‘Maggie!
How close are we?’
close, Maureen, I can hear the sound of water,’ the zanling
“Thank heavens!” she said. “John, Maggie says we are almost there.”
Mo. I’ll follow.’
be asinine, John,’ she snapped. ‘Together.
We go together. Come on. Hang on
Maureen felt the slightest tendril of humor in his
thoughts, but most importantly, he held on to her as she continued
toward the source of their succor.
Soon she heard the gentle murmuring of water ahead of them, and
she accelerated her speed slightly.
Apparently John heard it, too; he quickened his pace to match
hers. The trees
cleared out and they found themselves standing over a crystal clear,
sparkling stream. But
Maggie had been right; it was small.
It would have to suffice, however, until they could find a lake
Gratefully, John stumbled into the stream, which
was no more than a foot deep at its deepest.
Falling to his knees, he let himself collapse face forward, where
he was able to pull the water into his lungs, feeling the rejuvenating
rush of oxygen in his system. Finally
he felt refreshed, and reluctantly pulling himself out of the stream,
sat on a boulder nearby, shaking his head and making the droplets fly. “This damned thing comes off as soon as we return,” he
growled, feeling slightly undignified.
He stared into the stream while Maureen followed his example.
Suddenly John began laughing.
It began softly, a chuckle deep in his throat and then gained in
volume until he was laughing hard enough to wipe the tears from his
Refreshed herself, Maureen looked up at him,
puzzled, but his laughter was contagious and her eyes sparkled in
“Sitting in the middle of a creek with our heads
under water just struck me as being ludicrously funny.
We are in a rather strange predicament, you know,” he said,
still chuckling. Reaching
his hand out to his wife, John helped her out of the stream and put his
hand around her waist. They
both stood watching the deep golden sun shining through the tree limbs
as it traveled toward its rendezvous with the distant hills.