I was floating in a shimmering blue energy field of some kind when I opened my eyes. Looking outside of the cylinder of light that held me, I could see a beautiful woman with long, wavy auburn hair. She was wearing a tight fitting yellow suit of some kind with strange attachments and connections around her waist and arms. She held up her finger to her mouth to instruct me to be silent. Somehow, I knew that was a good idea although I had no idea who she was or where I was. She was manipulating something outside of my vision that must have been some control panel. Shortly, the shimmering blue began to drop as if a curtain was falling to the floor and I fell to the floor with it. She motioned for me to follow her and I did.
We were in some long corridor and I could see a long line of blue shimmering columns. Many had dark unrecognizable shapes in them. On my right the whole wall of the corridor appeared to be made of glass and I could see through it down into a huge room, perhaps the size of several football stadiums. In the room I could see many large strange objects. There was also a few familiar objects, like a Cessna airplane. She led me to a small circular door that opened with a strange fan-like motion. Inside was a small room shaped like a sphere that projected out into the larger room that I had seen along side of the corridor. She went into the room and I reluctantly followed her not knowing what else to do.
After the door closed again with a strange wooshing sound, she turned to me and said “you’ll be safe here for awhile”. Her hazel eyes looked at me intensely and expectantly and I felt like I should know her, but I didn’t. I thought about what she had said for a moment then asked, “where am I and exactly what am I safe from?”. “The others,” she said without elaboration, turning her head to look around as if someone else might be hiding in the room. However, there was nothing else in the room except for a couple of small round black objects, perhaps seats of some sort, and what appeared to be a glassy panel that circled the room. The wall of the room appeared to be spherical and made of the same glass-like material as the corridor wall allowing a wide view of the large room.
“I don’t understand”, I said. She stepped closer to me and looked into my eyes. “There is something about you. I don’t know what it is, but I had to release you.” I had no idea what that meant, so I shook my head yes and said, “uh huh”. I’m a smooth character like that, always ready with a witty response. Okay, not really. I was a little intimidated that she was standing so close to me. There was something strange about her. Yes, she was beautiful and yet she seemed to have a strange shifting glow about her. I felt that if I looked away from her she might fade from my view as if she was only a finely pixelated hologram or projection or something. She didn’t seem quite real to me. I rubbed my eyes as her arms reached out and pulled me close. Okay, now she seemed real enough with her arms tightly around me.
“You may kiss me, if you like” she said. That was not what I was expecting and was certainly not something that had ever happened to me before. So, I was uncertain of how to respond. I thought of saying, “I don’t even know you” as her eyes peered up into mine, but that didn’t seem like an appropriate response. As I hesitated, she pulled me even closer. So, I leaned in and kissed her on her lips. It was a long kiss. It was a good, long kiss. I didn’t remember kissing anyone like that before and after we separated she briefly lay her head on my shoulder and sighed. I was just confused. Well, confused and elated. But, mostly confused.
“I have to go or I’ll be missed”, she said next, completely catching me off guard. She quickly stepped away through the strange door and turned back to look at me, “I’ll be back as soon as I can”. Then she turned and was gone. I stepped up to the door, but it didn’t open and I noticed for the first time that there was no obvious way to operate the door. “Okay, this is not good” I thought to myself. I shook my head, realizing that I didn’t even ask the woman what her name was. After a moment of self ridicule, I turned and surveyed the room I was trapped in. I wondered what purpose it served. “Perhaps it served as an observation platform for the large room?” I surmised based on the location and view.
I went to the strange round chair-like object on the left. The shape was not quite right, like it was not really a chair. I tried to set down in it and it moved and squished around me in a very disquieting fashion. “How odd”, I said aloud. My voice seemed to cause a flash of light to form in the glassy panel in front of the chair. It swirled around and formed strange characters and shapes. Nothing that I could recognize. It didn’t even seem to be any language or symbols that I was familiar with on Earth. On impulse I reached out and touched the panel with my hand and the lights traced around my hand and suddenly the characters and shapes began to shift and change into English and into recognizable buttons. It appeared to be a control panel. I was in sub-control unit 42, whatever that meant. I tried touching one of the buttons and an overlay of four empty spaces appeared with the words “Panel locked. Enter access code”. “That’s interesting”, I said aloud again.
Inside the four empty spaces were four smaller squares, as if I needed to enter four sets of four digits or characters. It looks like a Visa card number, I chuckled to myself. I was about to try some random pattern, knowing the odds against me correctly guessing would be astronomical at best, when I noticed a button in the corner that simply said “Help”. That looked encouraging to me, so I pressed it. Text began rolling past me on the panel at a dizzying rate. It was a useless blur. I could only catch random words here or there. “I wish this could slow down” I said aloud to myself thinking that it was important for me to be able to read the text. A deep voice answered, “adjusting for average human perception rate”. “You understand my voice commands?” I asked the voice. “Obviously,” it answered. That was a stupid question, I admit.
Over the next few minutes I had a long conversation with the voice. The voice was some kind of computer, but more advanced than anything I could have ever dreamed of. It was able to carry on a conversation that was indistinguishable from talking to another human. I found out that I was on a space ship. The operators of the ship were known as “Collectors” and apparently I was part of their collection. It appeared that they traveled the galaxy collecting items of interest which they then sold after returning to their home world. I began to realize that I was in a really serious situation. “We ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto” I said expecting to confuse the voice, but it surprised me by actually recognizing my reference. “You’re not even on Earth, Dorothy”, it responded making me laugh out loud.
The voice was more than extremely helpful. It was almost friendly. It knew everything about Earth, every language and seemed to have a catalog of Earth life forms that included species we still hadn’t discovered yet on our own planet. It quickly became clear to me that the designers of this device had not anticipated anyone other than the operators of the ship interacting with it. The simple help system had access to a vast amount of data beyond my understanding and awesome computational capabilities. Before long, I had the help system running through all possible numbers to unlock the access code for the panel. I was feeling rather confident of myself, although I had no idea of what I would do after I got access.
Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me ask “what are you doing?”. The woman had returned and I was so focused that I hadn’t even heard the door. “Nothing”, I said reflexively, as if all the flashing lights and spinning numbers on the console in front of me were mere unimportant random reflections of light. “Uh huh”, she said repeating what I had said to her earlier. I wondered if that was intentional. She moved to sit down in the other chair and there was a brief sparkle around her. Her face appeared for a moment to look something like a flattened horse’s head with the same long auburn hair. That was a little disturbing sight. As she spoke, her face took it’s original beautiful human form again. “The others are in stasis now. I have to reset the ship’s timer for the jump so that we will have some time.” Odd shapes appeared on the glassy display in front of her and she confidently spun the shapes around with her fingers.
I started to say “uh huh” and then caught myself. “Some time?” I finally asked after a long pause. “Some time for what?” I didn’t really want to ask that. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to know the answer. “Time to get you back to your planet,” she said while turning and smiling back at me. That sounded good, very good. Again, she had surprised me. I wondered who was this woman and why was she helping me? After she seemed satisfied with her work on the timer, she stood up grabbed my hand and pulled me back out into the corridor. “We should hurry”, she said. She led me to the opposite wall and as she approached she waved her other hand and part of the wall appeared to simply evaporate leaving another door. “How many weird doors do they have in this place?”, I remember thinking to myself. She pulled me through the opening and smiled up at me. I looked around wondering what we were doing in a empty closet, when suddenly the floor began to fall. I realized we were in some kind of elevator.
The elevator ride was a little disconcerting and I reached out to her for support. That seemed to please her and she smiled at me again. I remember thinking that her smiles seemed so … natural. I thought that was strange, considering that she almost certainly wasn’t human. As soon as we stepped out at our destination, I could tell we were in the large room. “This way”, she said as she began briskly walking still holding my hand. I noticed a row of what appeared to be about eight foot tall mechanical spiders against the wall. They were glowing with that strange blue shimmering energy that I had originally been trapped in and their legs were folded under their huge bodies. She noticed I was dragging behind looking at them and said, “you don’t want to get close to the spiders. They aren’t dangerous, but if they get activated an alarm will go off.” “Spiders?” I asked puzzled. “Sometimes, we use them to collect specific items, ” she answered and then urged me to continue on by pulling on my hand.