Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
By Alan Decker
She slides into bed alone, not that her solitude is a concern or even a negative, slipping her legs underneath the synthi-satin sheets and wrapping herself around a body pillow as her head sinks into a pillow of its own.
Sleep finds her quickly…
…as do the dreams.
“Lisa? Lisa, honey? Where are you?”
Her mother’s voice is distant. Muffled.
“Mom?” she calls back while looking around at her surroundings. A room. Her room but not her room. A house. Her house but not her house.
She walks out into the hallway. Much wider than it should be. Longer. Oddly unfocused walls.
To her it’s perfectly normal, though. Dream reality.
Captain Alexander Rydell is in front her. Standing in the hallway of her house. It’s perfectly normal, though. Dream logic.
“We’re late,” he says.
“We have to go.”
“I need to find Mom.”
“Not now. Go through this door.” He stands aside revealing a closed door. Bright red. Very out of place.
Rydell’s shirt vanishes. “I’ll see you in bed,” he says with a grin, turning and heading down the corridor. He steals a glance back at her, then enters her bedroom. His pants fly out into the hall a moment later, landing on the floor in a heap. They melt, oozing down into the brown carpet and vanishing without a trace.
“Lisa,” Rydell calls.
“Lisa?” her mother’s voice calls.
She moves to follow her mother’s voice, walking to the staircase and heading down it.
She’s outside. The beach. She turns around. Her family beach house is there. There but much larger. Odd additions jutting off in strange directions underneath an overcast and fast moving sky.
The trees sway in the wind, leaves flapping.
There is no sound.
A male figure stands down the beach, waving frantically.
“Run!” the man cries, pointing upward.
The sky is clear suddenly. An object descends toward her at an almost leisurely pace, turning and turning.
She tries to run, but her legs are impossibly slow in the sand. The figure is still so far away.
The asteroid is almost here. Then it slams into the ocean, sending up a huge spray of water. It falls on her like rain.
Waystation. Starfleet Square Mall. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Literally. She steps along the main concourse, looking in each store for some sign of life.
Suddenly, a woman is in front of her, gesturing to a bright red door.
“They’re all at the party,” Mrs. Koppelson says. The presence of her third grade teacher isn’t at all surprising. “You should be there.”
“I should be in ops,” she replies, turning to the nearest turbolift.
“I hope you’ve studied,” Mrs. Koppelson says sternly.
“I’m not in school,” she replies, stepping into the nearest turbolift.
She steps out at the Academy. It seems so much bigger now. Mrs. Koppelson stands at the front of the lecture hall, astrophysics diagrams behind her. Obviously she knows a bit more than Social Studies for kids.
“Please turn in your term papers,” Mrs. Koppelson says. The cadets in the class all pull up the documents on their data terminals and transmit them to the instructor.
She panics. Term paper. She doesn’t have a term paper. When was it assigned? Why was she in this class to begin with?
“Cadet Beck?” Mrs. Koppelson says expectantly.
“I…must have left it.”
“You know the penalty.” Mrs. Koppelson steps aside revealing a bright red door. “Into there.”
How can she say no to her teacher?
Mrs. Koppelson is right behind her. She knows that. She runs faster and faster, turning corners wildly, then into a stairwell.
Down the stairs at an impossible pace, the floors pass by in a blur.
The stairwell puts her out on Waystation again. Wood paneling. Gleaming brass and gold fixtures. The Dillon Enterprises levels.
Mrs. Koppelson is right behind her.
And runs, marveling at her endurance. She should be out of breath by now, but she’s propelled by panic. She has to get away.
Into another stairwell. There are no stairwells on Waystation. This fact does not trouble her as she flees. Down the stairs…and down and down and down. She hits one landing, and immediately flies down the next flight of stairs deck after deck until…
The Vertigo Lounge. She slides out onto the transparent aluminum floor, completely losing her footing and falling to the deck, the stars stretching out below her.
Is that an asteroid in the distance?
Mrs. Koppelson enters through a door that should not exist, then glances down at the tumbling rock approaching from below, not that below is a true concept in space.
“You could leave,” Mrs. Koppelson offers.
She senses the bright red door behind her and turns toward it, her hand reaching for the knob.
Somehow she knows the asteroid is the better choice. It now fills the view below. She closes her dream eyes and waits for the impact that never comes.
Eyes open. Grassy field with the occasional bush and shrub.
“Gotcha!” Lieutenant Sean Russell shouts, pointing a toy phaser rifle at her as he runs by, all decked out in camouflage.
“Zap! Zap zap!” Colonel Martin Lazlo cries, popping from behind a bush. Russell laughs and falls to the ground.
“One…two…three…four…five.” Russell leaps up again, and Lazlo takes off at a sprint.
“Bang! Zap bang!” Russell shouts.
Lazlo falls down dramatically. “One…two…three…”
She walks away, heading toward the building that wasn’t there a moment before. Two story. Brick.
Yeoman Tina Jones is inside. Sitting Indian style, a toy plasma cannon resting in her arms.
“They won’t let me play,” Jones says tears in her eyes. Beside her, a small doll sits holding its own small plasma cannon. “Will you play with me?”
“I have to go,” she replies. “Tell them I said you could play.”
“Lisa?” her mother’s voice calls from down the hallway.
She continues down the hallway, passing blank wooden doors. The doors gradually become metal. The lights dim as she progresses. Vines now cover the walls.
She reaches the back doors and pushes them open.
A phaser blast sears by her, Russell close behind. “Die, you sons of bitches!” His garb is covered in mud, as is his face. Several disruptor bolts lance from the underbrush, nearly hitting him.
Lazlo and Jones, similarly mudcaked, charge in from the opposite direction, sending phaser fire and plasma blasts at their attackers. Explosions flare off in the distance.
She turns around to head back into the building.
Bright red door.
She runs they other way, running out of the jungle in a matter of seconds into a field of wheat. Her head and shoulders just clear the plants that stretch out in all directions.
“Would you like to take a trip?”
Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter emerges into her small clearing. The tuxedo he wears is expertly tailored and spotless.
“Where?” she asks.
“Around the world, of course. Exotic sights. Foreign smells. See the globe,” he replies, extending his hand.
She takes it, and they’re off. Sailing up into the sky.
Land gives way to sea. A hoverliner sails underneath them, skimming over the waves. It strikes something. An island? An iceberg? Both? She cannot focus on it. The hoverliner sinks beneath the water in seconds.
They continue on, unconcerned.
Their feet touch down at night. Beijing? Chinatown in San Francisco? The glowing signs could be Chinese, Japanese, or even Ferengi. She can’t focus enough to tell.
Two Klingons walk by eating cotton candy and laughing.
“Fun town,” Porter says. “Lots to see.”
“Why are we here?”
“I told you. Fun.”
“Lisa?” her mother calls.
“I need to find Mom.”
“Is she fun?”
“She’s gone. I need to find her. She’ll know where Dad is.”
“Lots of doors,” Porter offers, spinning around and gesturing at the entrances surrounding them.
One is bright red.
“What is in there?” she asks, pointing at the red door.
“Not you,” Porter replies. “You’re out here. In there, you’d be lost. Pick another one.”
She does, opening a green door to her right.
Daylight. She stands on vibrant grass. A hill rises up in front of it. Porter is at the top, still dressed in his tux.
“Are you enjoying the tour?”
She doesn’t respond. Something is rising up behind Porter. Giant. Serpentine.
She runs, somehow looking behind herself as she does so. Porter waves for her to come back, completely oblivious to the monster looming over him.
She takes flight, lifting off the ground and soaring forward. Porter and the creature are left far far behind.
Around her, the skies darken ominously. A storm is coming. Or she is coming to the storm. It hardly matters which.
She descends, touching down gently on the street in front of her childhood home. Lightning strikes, incinerating the Lendaks’ house in a fiery blast. The heat does not touch her.
“Coming, Mom,” she says running for her front door as rain begins to fall. Wind buffets her body, slowing her progress to a crawl.
Another lightning strike. The Randolphs’ home next door vaporizes.
She looks to her front porch, grunting with determination to reach her front door.
Her red front door.
“Lisa?” Her mother’s voice is behind her this time. She spins around, yet sees no one. The wind and rain increase.
“Get inside!” Joel Hodges bellows from his own front porch. He is fifteen again. She looks down at her own body finding that of a little girl. “Go!”
“I can’t,” she replies.
“Then come here,” he shouts. The Hodges’ door is red. Bright red.
“I don’t know. I just shouldn’t.”
“So you’d rather die out here?” Joel snaps.
She sits in the middle of the road, ignoring the wind, rain, and lightning. “I can’t.”
The voice calling is different. Still female, but younger. She turns and is inside a bustling concourse.
“We’re going to miss the transport,” Stephanie Hodges says urgently, decked out in casual wear rather than her usual Federation Marine uniform. Stephanie grabs her arm and tugs. She follows, fighting her way through the thick mobs of beings down the seemingly endless corridor. They’re going to Risa. She knows this somehow, and the thought spurs her onward.
Risa. A vacation on Risa.
“Shortcut,” Stephanie calls out from just ahead of her. She sees Stephanie turn down a narrow side corridor. She follows into the dimness. No Stephanie. No transport.
Maintenance crews work around a maze of conduit and circuits.
“That way,” a hulking Tellarite says, pointing down another corridor. She runs, not wanting to miss her trip to Risa. They only have a few minutes until the ship leaves.
The corridor twists and turns, then comes to a junction. She turns left, trying to get back to the main concourse.
More twists. More turns. Darkness. Then light.
Mother or Stephanie? She doesn’t know.
She keeps running, growing desperate. The transport is surely gone by now, and she really wanted to go to Risa.
She runs into Ops, Risa forgotten.
“They’re firing,” Lieutenant Russell reports. He suddenly shakes himself. Lieutenant Commander Porter throws himself over his console onto the floor.
“Return fire,” her first officer, Commander Walter Morales orders.
“Bang! BANG!” Russell shouts.
The turbolift doors open allowing Colonel Lazlo to storm out angrily. “You’re doing it wrong,” he screams at her furiously. “Like this! Zaa-Pow! Zaa-POW!”
“Oooooooh. Ahhhhhhhhh,” Morales, Russell, and Porter gush as Lazlo takes a bow.
She has had quite enough. She turns, heading back toward her office, and steps inside.
Darkness. Something is coming, and it wants her dead.
She runs, heart pounding. She has to escape before it catches her.
“Mom!” she screams.
“Come to me.”
“Come to me.”
“Try the door,” another voice says. It is unfamiliar. Androgynous. Distant.
She is once again at a red door. It almost glows in the darkness as the creature behind her closes it, ready to tear her to shreds.
“If it catches you, you will suffer. Try the door,” the voice says.
“Don’t,” her mother’s voice says.
“You’ve run long enough. Go through the door. It leads to safety,” the voice says.
“I don’t know that,” she says.
“I just told you.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You must. This dream has you trapped. The only way to awaken is to go through the door. If not, you will perish here.”
“Dream?” Her conscious mind stirs.
“Walk through the door. Save yourself.”
Dream reality falls away. Dream logic ceases to function. “I’m dreaming.”
“Yes. Let me help you wake up before it arrives. Step through the door.”
She turns, standing firm against whatever is coming. “I am not afraid of my own dreams.”
“These aren’t your dreams anymore. They have invaded them and are using them against you. The door is safety. Use the door.”
An enraged scream echoes from the darkness in front of her moments before a behemoth emerges into to dim light of the door. It stands at least ten feet tall, leathery skin strains against bulging muscles.
“Run while you can,” the creature bellows, its voice distant. Androgynous.
She does not move.
It strikes, swinging a massive fist at her head.
She does not move.
The fist never arrives.
“This is my dream,” she says firmly.
The creature roars again. “GIVE ME CONTROL!”
“OPEN THE DOOR!!!”
“You are powerless here. Leave,” she says. The creature rages, swinging and kicking impotently before letting out one last cry of fury.
Captain Lisa Beck steps into Ops later that morning after a relaxing breakfast at her favorite restaurant in Starfleet Square Mall. She knows she dreamt something last night, something unusual, but the details are fuzzy.
She was not alone, though. That much she knows. Something wanted her to open a door that would have caused her harm.
She is pleasantly sated now, though, Andorian food digesting nicely in her stomach as she exits the turbolift.
Lieutenant Commander Porter greets her. “Good morning, Captain.”
“Morning, Craig. Busy night?”
“The night shift said that it was quiet. I did notice something unusual in the sensor logs, though.”
“Just a low-level bit of energy. The wave variance was random enough to make me think it was a life-form.”
“Is it gone now?”
Porter nods. “It vanished early this morning. No trace.”
“I wouldn’t open the door.”
She smiles. “Nothing you need to worry about, Craig,” she says, heading toward her office.