Following on from Part 7:
The evening before departure came very quickly, and Adrig was standing beside Edrig, looking out at the tops of the clouds below their tower.
'You've never been on a field trip before, have you Edrig?'
'No, never. First time. I am a bit nervous.'
'That's understandable. You really should have been on the field trip training course, but you know what our Lady Lord is like about all that training and health and safety stuff. She thinks it is all a lot of nonsense, which is just as well really, otherwise you'd never be allowed to go. But I have done it before, on my own previous field
trip, to Sample 424. My one and only previous field trip.'
'And how did that one work out?'
Not so good really,' Adrig admitted. 'I ended up caught in a big bloody
spider's web and spun up in a thick silken cocoon for many hours until I
managed to reach my communicator and get rescued.'
This news from Adrig did not reassure Edrig. Indeed it only made his concerns about the planned adventure intensify. Here he was, totally untrained, about to embark on a field trip with an investigator whose only previous trip had ended in near disaster. But that's the way things worked on this remote outpost world that they were based on, and on which Edrig and Adrig had been born and brought up. Things were very different way across in Galaxy Headquarters, a place Edrig had visited only twice.
worry,' Adrig assured him. 'There are only tiny spiders on 717. We'll be fine on 717, provided we choose a location with no wild
animals... And probably best to avoid Glasgow.'
'You'll see. Later. When we get back and you get to take a longer look at the recordings.'
'So where are we going then?'
'Oh somewhere in the United Kingdom, as they call it, but just not Glasgow. The UK is where that nightclub is.'
'Ah. Good choice.'
Edrig tried to feel more positive about this new endeavour, but it was all a
bit much to consider all at one time. The clothes. The inevitable language
difficulties. The journey. He'd never been through the transporter
technique, although of course he knew all the statistics about how safe
it was. Safer than breeze-bumping, safer than sling-shooting, safer than
planetary pod-propulsion and any other of the more mundane local transportation
systems that he had used, such was the care taken with the most adventurous type of travel. It was hard for him to stop thinking about what might
go wrong though, and how irreversible it could be if it did. He had
heard the reports of others whose consciousnesses had become trapped
forever on sample worlds, but embodied in the bodies of other creatures,
like some of the cats of 717, for example. He shuddered and tried
not to think of it, while nevertheless pondering that some people on 717 must think they've got some
damn strange pussy cats. And the thought drew a smile from him.
And Edrig sat alone for a long time later that evening, wondering what the next day would bring. He was too nervous to find sleep easily. He was more than four times older than the average person of Sample 717, and yet still so young. He was still just a child, really. How do they have time to learn anything on 717, he wondered, as he switched on the virtual display again and watched it on random shuffle with the sound muted.
A football match appeared. About forty thousand people watching two small sets of the central people kicking a ball about on grass. Why? When time was so short. Why? Or perhaps they needed such inane distraction because their time was so short. Hmm... Then he remembered what Adrig had said to the Lady Lord about footballers, and he thought, well at least we know where to go to get her one.
There was a noise behind him and he turned to see Adrig entering the room in his sleeping gown.
'Can't sleep?' Adrig enquired. 'Nervous?'
Edrig nodded and smiled weakly.
'Me too,' added Adrig.
'You're nervous too?'
'Not exactly. I just can't sleep because I keep thinking about that damn spider on my last trip. I wish I hadn't mentioned it to you. It brought everything back.'
'But there are no such monsters at all on 717?'
'Only the people. They can be dangerous. But we'll be fine. We will have our stunners.'
'I've never used a stunner. But tell me how the transport works again. Exactly how it gets us there.'
'Ah, but the truth is, I don't know.'
'But you explained it to me once, about fifty years ago.'
'Oh... I just made that all up lad. It was a story to keep you quiet. I make a lot up. It's one of my faults.'
'So, the giant spiders?'
'Oh no. Giant spiders were real. And the dangerous people on 717. Now get some sleep lad. Get some sleep.'
'You joking? After you getting me wound up like that?'
'Sorry. Another one of my faults... But dancing ladies. Think of the dancing ladies. Imagine if we were able to get chosen by one of them eh?'
'Imagine if we did get chosen by one of them and our Lady Lord found out about it,' Edrig warned Adrig, darkly.
And they both shuddered, again.
Then Adrig wandered out of the room, and Edrig switched the display off and lay down, and tried to think of dancing ladies.
But when he slept he dreamt of spiders, and of an angry Lady Lord clacking her ugly stained teeth at him, and approaching... And the Lady Lord became a spider, and she ate him, and as he seemed to slither down her suddenly wide throat and inside her dark body, he began, in his dream, to scream.