Hello, and welcome back to the website for the next part in my short story series, Sector 43. Sector 43 follows two astronauts named Miles and Melissa. They’re the top of the top in their field and have been tasked with exploring the galaxy. But, in the first part of the story they realized they’re lost. And not just in another galaxy, but lost in an entirely different universe. I hope you enjoy part 2!
“Sector 43, this is Captain Miles Orlando. Do you copy?”
“Loud and clear, Captain. Preparing the portal now.”
“I never get tired of that sound.”
“The sound of disgruntled government workers?”
“Better than hearing aliens saying something like ‘We have your planet under siege. Do not come back or we will kill you as well.’”
“You’re an idiot.”
“And yet, you’re the one laughing.”
Back then, everything was easy for Miles Orlando and Melissa Johnson. Scout a new planet or galaxy, inform Sector 43, and go through that portal to the new planet or galaxy. Sometimes they explored, sometimes they didn’t. Every scrap of information they gathered was processed, studied, and applied back on Earth. In the years since they left Earth, their discoveries had led to improvements in medical research, agriculture, weapons. The government especially liked the weapons.
One day while on an ice-covered planet, Miles and Melissa found a field with fresh vegetation. Their minds ran wild with excitement. They set up camp, lived off the land, and stayed on the planet for nearly a full year. They were trying to decipher how this was possible. How could these plants grow here? And not only grow but thrive? Melissa said she could feel their energy, even amongst the cruel weather. Miles felt the same.
But, eventually they grew tired. And began discussing life.
“You know, we never talk about our personal lives.”
“Not much to talk about on my part. You told me about your husband and kid back home. Anything else I need to know?”
“I guess not. How did all of this happen to you. Why am I on an ice-planet with you and no one else?”
“I really never told you this story?”
Melissa shook her head.
“Well, let’s call it a day. I’ve got all the information I need. Pretty soon, they’ll be growing corn in Antarctica back home.”
Their tent was quite luxurious. The government didn’t skimp one bit on this project. Miles and Melissa were wearing their space suits with nice coats over them. They prepared a fire along with some hot chocolate and enjoyed their night.
“So, you’re an orphan?”
“Yeah. No idea who my parents are. Dropped off on the doorstep of Sector 43’s main base.”
“That’s crazy. I just applied after college. Got a degree in biology. Sector 43 actually sought me out. Thought I could actually make a difference and all that, you know?”
“I feel that. I was raised from birth to do this. Had no choice. No one ever knew either. In training, I scored the highest on all the tests. Remember that?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Everyone used to call me a genius. Used to praise me for my skills and aptitude for science. I remember some local newspaper wrote an article about me. Felt like I was cheating or something. I’m technically a genius, but I’ve never felt like one.”
“No, don’t say that. Miles, you should be some indoctrinated asshole who’s only mission in life is to please the Sector. You shouldn’t have such a good head on your shoulders. How did you break through that?”
“Simple. They taught me the science of everything. Everything except things like race or politics. I grew up sheltered, not stupid. Found out there was such a thing as political science. Trained myself in it. Learned the cruelty of the world through science.”
“Beautiful. Tragic as hell, but beautiful.”
“I guess. I always told myself, during those long nights of studying, that there’s more out there than Sector 43. More for me, more for America, more for humanity. That’s why I’m here. Whether they chose me or not, I would have stolen that trillion-dollar ship to come here, with you.”
“You know I’m married, right?”
“Trust me, I meant that in the most friendly way possible.”
“I value our friendship, Melissa.”
Miles and Melissa are stranded in a different universe. For the first time, a Sector 43 portal has failed.
“What do we do now?”
“I’m scanning this Earth now. Looking for the most advanced city on this planet. Maybe we can meet a few intelligent minds with some answers.”
“Good thinking, Miles. See anything?”
“Weird. I should be seeing some sort of variation, but the only thing showing up is some place called the Pinnacle. Located in what should be Los Angles. Looks as if it’s the epicenter of American business and trade. All the top companies are headquartered there.”
“Sounds like a bad dystopian film.”
“Taking us down now.”
The pair landed and among the Pinnacle, they felt like aliens. Not because of their strange suits or even because they didn’t notice one person of color in the city. The Pinnacle, as it was called, just felt strange to them. Miles felt it, and he was sure that Melissa did as well. It was clean. Too clean almost, and the city was bustling with people moving from one place to the next. The buildings towered over them and cast a somewhat ominous shadow over the city. What light did shine through was that of name brands. The most popular, and profitable, in tech, food, and commerce. All bunched in this one city. Miles felt it. Melissa did as well. This place was alive. Yet at the same time, it was dead.
Soon they were greeted by a man who claimed to be a man of importance. The man claimed to work for an investment firm. He refused to give his name or his firm. Miles and Melissa followed suit by not giving him any information. They lied to the man and said they were cosplayers who were lost. Thought their new convention was at the Pinnacle. The man scoffed, saying that such an idiotic event would never be held here, at the Pinnacle. The pair was back in space minutes later, confused by the encounter.
“I don’t know what the hell just happened.”
“They were looking at us like we were aliens.”
“Well, technically we are.”
“Right. Well, Captain, any more ideas. This planet clearly isn’t civilized enough to help us. I mean look at this solar system. All these planets around them and they haven’t explored a single one?”
“How do you know they haven’t?”
“Do you think they have?”
Hours passed. Miles didn’t know what to do. At first, he calmed himself. The last time he found himself in a compromising position, he lost composure. Couldn’t see things clearly. As he breathed in, he thought of the good times he had experienced with Melissa. Nearly ten years of travel with someone who was more than a co-pilot. She was also more than a friend.
“I still value our friendship.”
“I said I—”
“No, I heard you, but where’s that coming from?”
“I don’t know. Last time we were stuck, I was a jerk. Not going to let that happen this time. You’ll figure out a way out of this soon. I know it.”
“While I appreciate the sentiment, Miles, I’m out of ideas. My first instinct was to build a new portal. Send us back home. But I doubt that Earth has the parts we need.”
“What about these other planets? I see scans of life on the red one, and the one closest to the sun.”
“Maybe. We can go check.”
Miles nodded. But before he grabbed the controls, something hit him. He looked around the ship, but nothing. He looked at Melissa, and her face said it all. She felt it too. There was some sort of energy in the ship. One that was so strong that it was palpable. Miles wanted to laugh because that negative, deathly feeling he had in that city today came up again. Not because he felt it, but because whatever he just felt was the complete opposite. What he just felt wasn’t the lack of passion or knowledge. No, it was the over-abundance of it. An overflow of truth and reason, all wrapped up in something he couldn’t quite understand. It angered him. But then, he closed his eyes and began to see.
He saw the anger and cruelty of the Pinnacle. And he saw that other energy again. The core of it was still truth and reason. That much he could see. But what int the world was outside of it? What was holding this energy together. What made its presence feel so real right here, in this moment? The question circled through his head for what seemed like days. Then, Melissa, her eyes closed as well, attempted to answer the question.
“Love?” she whispered.
Miles didn’t answer. Not out of anger though. Love was right, in a sense. Love is what he felt in his heart right now. Love for his life, love of science, and love of his partner. It swirled around him like a tornado. It encompassed his spirit, giving him clarity about the situation he was in. Sector 43 had failed them. And he still didn’t know if they were going to get home. But, he did know there was a chance that things were going to work. And that chance meant something.
“Hope,” Miles said.
Tears streamed down his face as he opened his eyes. He looked at Melissa and the same was happening to her.
“I don’t know what just happened, but I needed that.”
Miles was pointing out in front of them. Just outside of the ship, something, no, someone was floating. A person, or rather man. A man in a purple suit. A black man in a purple suit. His suit glowed in the sunlight, and it was if they could see his reflection in the sky. It was like a painting. When he realized they saw him, he waved, and gestured to come aboard the ship. They complied.
Seconds later, he was behind them. Miles wanted to feel danger. He wanted to feel fear and feel the need to fight this strange man. But his energy, his mystic energy, was too pure. Too much. He smiled before he began talking.
“Hello,” he said. “My name’s Mystic Man. I think I might be able to help you get back home.”
END Part 2
Can Mystic Man help our heroes? I sure hope so. And what’s the deal with Sector 43? You’ll find that out and more in Part 3 which will be up this Sunday! Thanks again for reading and taking this weird journey with me and these characters. Until next time!