The read out on Leon’s arm told him that the air was breathable, there was no harmful bacteria, and no traces of life. He radioed back to the ship “I’m in, can I de-suit? There’s nothing in here but air.”

“Hold on, will confirm.” Came back the electronic female voice from the ships computer, Leon’s only companion on this expeditionary mission. Leon stood in the air lock looking at the ornately carved titanium door in front of him, he knew it’s titanium because his suit’s material spectrograph told him it was. He’d be lost without the device scanning around him, it’s saved him on numerous occasions. He gazed at the door, a beautiful scene of the sea, rolling waves and clouds, a real work of art for a space craft. Surely this is human he pondered in his thoughts.

“Negative, no scan able to be complete of chamber beyond airlock. ” Came the concise electronic report from his ship. Leon frowned thinking who would build a safe airlock and an unsafe ship? “Okay, if I open the door can I de-suit?” He asked. “After safe scan, yes.” Came the ships reply.

Leon smiled and slid his fingers over a pad to the door’s right hand side, it lit up with a human hand outline affirming his hunch it was the door control and the ship was indeed human. He placed his gloved hand down onto the pad and waited for the door to open, but nothing happened. He looked perturbed as he spoke to the ship again “Hey, I think this will need a human hand not my glove to open, what do you think?” There was a momentary pause before the ship replied “Concur, suggest glove removal and immediate refit on completion of task.” Leon grimaced and shook his head as he twisted the glove and detached it from his suit. He pondered if the company choice of sending out lone expeditions was a good one, after all only one massacre due to space cabin fever had ever happened, but these computers! “Well, I guess one guy going mad at a machine was safer!” He chuckled as he placed his hand onto the cold glass like panel. 

The panel turned from black to a pleasant aqua marine type colour and a low hum filled the chamber. Leon quickly refitted his glove and stood back away form the door as it slowly rolled away to his left revealing a dimly lit interior. Once fully open he saw that his view of the interior was blocked by a type screen. It was like a giant oyster shell, it had a wonderful mother of pearl finish and was simply stunning. “Can you see this?” He asked the computer. “I’ve never seen anything like this on a ship.” He continued. “Affirmative, ship is aesthetically pleasant.” Came the electronic voice in his helmet. “No shit!” Leon said incredulously. “Concur, no faeces or scat detected.” The ship replied. Leon looked blankly at the screen ahead of him and shook his head. “It was a saying, not a statement.” He told the machine. “Please clarify.” Came the programmed response. “Nothing, forget it.” Leon said as he lent forwards to look either side of the door way.

The ships walls went off in curves in both directions, his suit confirmed they were as he thought made of titanium like the door. They also had carvings of a nautical nature with inlays of now also confirmed, mother of pearl. Leon closed his eyes as he always did on entering one of these new spaces he’d discovered and crossed the threshold into the space beyond. He took a moment to settle before moving right and cautiously lent to peer around the screen. As he did the chamber slowly brightened and the blueish light seemed to have a watery dappled pattern to it as if the room were submerged. He was relieved to find it was empty apart from what looked to be a huge double pointed oval bed with creamy pink silk upholstery at the chamber’s centre. 

“This is definitely human.”Leon said confidently to his ship. “Negative, no human matter present, no bacteria present, chamber is environmentally safe.” Came it’s cold technical answer. “So, can I de-suit?” Leon asked hopefully. “Negative, doors on compass points may house harm.” Came her surprising response. Leon hadn’t even noticed the other round doors in amongst the seascape murals of the chamber walls, and as he looked around more he noticed the chamber ceiling too. It was slightly domed and at its centre a huge Ruby like stone that mirrored the bed shape below. Around it were human forms frolicking and copulating, limbs tangled with limbs and scenes of a graphic sexual nature. “I’m telling you this is fucking human!” Leon insisted as his eyes widened at the scene above him. “The room depicts humans fucking, concur. But room is not of human origin, no trace of human detectable.” Came the equally insistent electronic summary. “Then they sterilised it somehow.” Leon said trying to reconcile his own thoughts and doubts. “AS910000OGM sensors pick up human traces even after sterilisation.” Came the electronic final point. “Look, this is human.” Came the human final point.

Leon looked at the three other doors, the door at the head of the bed had an opening like a window, while the other two were solid. So he walked over to that one first and peered through the window. It was a small chamber and like the chamber in which he stood its walls were carved. It also had windows which looked out into the expanse of deep space. Below those windows was a panel with blank screens very much like the one he used to enter the ship. “Navigation?” He pondered out loud. “Concur.” Came his companions response. He took off his glove and opened the door, making sure to get the glove back on before the door rolled aside. As the door settled open Leon poked his head in and with a quick browse didn’t see anything of note. “Something’s gotta be aboard this ship.” He said as he turned back into the main chamber. “Any signs at all?” He asked. “Nothing detected.” Came the expected answer. So with that he went to the door to his left hand side. He again went through the glove routine and waited for the door to open. 

This time the chamber was again small, but its walls were spartan and blank. It was round and had the feeling of being the inside a pipe. It had one light source in the plain domed ceiling that shone down onto a curious piece of furniture. Leon circled it and looked at it intently trying to see how you’d use it. It too was titanium, as was everything else aboard except for the glass, the mother of pearl, and the bed in the main chamber. It was arched and had areas that looked as if a human form could lie on it, but it looked uncomfortable. Leon decided it must be an examination table such as those in hospitals back home. It certainly wasn’t as comfy looking as the bed he surmised confidently as he started to make his way to the other door. “So, anything detected from those two chambers?” He asked as he rounded the bed in the main chamber. “Negative.” Came the again expected response.

Leon stood before that last door that lay opposite the chamber he had just opened. He suddenly felt nervous, this was the last door of a ship that looked in perfect condition. Surely this had something, someone inside. Some piece of evidence for the ships human origin. Something that he could use to taunt his computerised companion with, an ‘I told you so’. He slowly removed his glove and held it for a few seconds before placing his hand on the black glass panel. This time inexplicably he didn’t put it back on, he held it as he heard a different sound to all the other chamber openings. A long hiss and a gurgling sound became evident until the computer in his ear broke in. “Glove Leon! Glove!” Leon broke from the strange trance he’d drifted into and as the noise stopped and the tiniest break in the door’s seal opened an alarm went off in his suit. He clicked the glove on and tapped the read out on his arm that read ‘ORGANIC MATTER DETECTED’. “Shit!” He cursed  as he stepped back and watched as the door slowly rolled aside. “Have I been exposed to anything?” He continued with an element of panic in his voice and as he felt his heart racing in his chest. “Unable to determine at this time.” Came the instant answer he inwardly knew he’d get. Leon stood and waited to see what was in the chamber, he stood and awaited the scan that his suit was doing on him and what he could now see through the open portal, Leon stood frozen and awaited his fate.

©Beast, Beauty Mirrors Beast 2017


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