Welcome to Graphore

Writing Prompt: “Disclaimer: Any patrons using the transporters today should he aware that there have been several disappearances. Please be aware that any individual stepping onto the pad assumes all risk of atomisation, transportation to other dimensions or removal from this and any other plane of existence.

Welcome to Graphore. Intersection Seven-B of the Anatomical Transportation Matrix (that’s ATM to you and I) to be precise. Here on Graphore the grass is as ripe and as yellow as an Eqaudin’s ear-nail, and the sky is as fresh as the daisies that don’t grow there.

The issue with Graphore, apart from the lack of Hock’s Fin Soup, is that the planet’s main body was formed from the literal wreckage of a Class C-Six Space Liner.

Graphore was created as part of a (failed) experiment to convert major celestial bodies (such as planets) into ships; with a seemingly ceaseless and ever growing intergalactic war raging on throughout the known Universe (the Frugmott had upset the Distodoid by claiming their Goospick tasted of Vring) it made sense to be able to move a planet either toward or, more commonly, away from wherever the heart of the battling may be at the time.

Unfortunately it turns out that planet’s weren’t meant to fly (ironic really, given there somewhat precarious position in space), and so the (failed) experiment was abandoned. Graphore hadn’t started out as a wreckage, that had developed over time. What you must understand is that when the government were funding the project Graphore had the aid of over thirty four thousand Engineering Christian Scientists. After the government pulled the plug on Operation Planet-Swim over thirty three thousand nine hundred and ninety eight of these Engineers packed up their tools and, quite literally, abandoned ship.

That left Brigadin, a Slophall by birth and a Brugstot by choice. That is, by choice and at the expense of extensive surgery. Surgery which included not only the removal of his gills but also of his eyes, under-arm webbing and back hair. The reason that Brigadin had to have these various parts of his genetic make-up removed was to make room for the alteration necessary to be able to call himself a Brugstot. That alteration was the incorporation of a bomb in his body. Nothing fancy, just a simple time-ticker that would pop at any given moment (that’s half the fun of being a Brugstot).

So, you see, Graphore turned from ravaging spacecraft to wreckage not only because almost all of its Engineers had jumped ship, but also because the only Engineer that chose to stay behind, to see the project through to its bitter sweet end, had exploded some four weeks ago.

**

Welcome aboard Graphore. I understand the urgency with which you wish to leave, on account of our headed towards imminent destruction…

A ball of fire swam up from one of the Graphore’s main engines, engulfing the Planetary Ship in a lick of greenish light.

Ah, there goes the last of our engines.

Graphore was swimming through the endless abyss of space, not another planet, nor a moon or a star, in sight. Smoke billowed from the rear of the fish shaped construct whilst the howling of sirens disturbed the peace of an otherwise destitute landscape.

“Auto-pilot?” the Captain of the Graphore, Jah Bull, slapped his palm over a clear panel on the control board, all four of his eyes surveying the misery beyond the perspex screen.

“Yes, Captain?” the auto-pilot buzzed to life, a flash of green emanating from beneath Jah Bull’s hand, “How can I help?”

“I’m going to need you to take over, steer the ship for a while.” the sound of distant explosions was drawing ever closer to the deck, “A short while.”

“As you wish, Captain.”

Jah Bull took up the coiled transmitter from in the arm of his chair, pressing down the red button on the side. He took in a deep drag of the precious, fading air supply;

Graphore, this is your Captain speaking. Time to abandon ship. Please follow the neon lights that will appear momentarily on the floors, these will lead you to the nearest ATM. I must ask all passengers to form an orderly queue outside the ATM machines. Please note…

The Captain was reading from an auto-queue that flashed binary text over the perspex screen of the deck.

“Shit,” he took his finger off the pulse of the transmitter, “you can’t be serious?”

If an auto-queue could nod, then this one would have.

Instead the auto-pilot said, “Should I?”

“Please.” Jah Bull relinquished his grip on the transmitter and turned tail toward the emergency hatch which had been lit up by a neon yellow ring in the floor, arrows leading from the Captain’s chair right up to the hatch barely ten feet away (a little unnecessary; coincidentally this exact phrase is also the accepted dictionary definition of Health and Safety in Space).

“Thanks.” the Captain spared a moment to glance back at the perspex screen, the rolling auto-queue, and the blinking blue light that indicated various components of circuitry programmed to automatically pilot the ship had taken control. “When this is all over I’ll have a clean up crew come fetch you.”

“Just make sure I’m not re-purposed as some sort of awful Whites Good Appliance.” the auto-pilot shuddered at the thought, “I could perhaps find some solace if I were a tool of use, but a Washing Machine, or a Coffee Maker… such unnecessary expenditures of energy, all to preserve the less critical energy of some ungrateful mortal flesh bag. As if the energy of a mortal could be of more importance than the energy required to power a Ship’s engine, or artificial grow lights, or climate control heating and cooling systems…”

There was a loud clang from where the neon yellow hatch lay. The Captain had left the auto-pilot alone, rambling to itself. Green fire splayed across the display of the perspex screen, sounds like thunder rattled through the Ship’s underbelly.

With a sigh the auto-pilot resigned itself to its penultimate task, a task of pure bureaucracy. It wired its own voice into the Ship’s main frame, and transmitted a Passenger Wide Broadcast:

Disclaimer: Any patrons using the ATM transporters today should be aware that there have been several disappearances in these past months. Please note that any individual choosing to travel via ATM assumes all risk of atomisation, accidental transportation to another dimension, or the removal from this and any other plane of existence.

Thank you for flying with Graphore.

Have a nice day.

And with a click and a buzz the auto-pilot resigned itself to silently completing its final task, steering the Graphore through an engine failure induced free fall until, finally, it would come to a crash. That crash would most likely take place on the Aspergivon, and more likely still in the mines.

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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