Burning in the Void – Chapter 24

eye _Sera / Captain

The suited figures pulled Sera down the corridor for several long minutes, occasionally pausing at another circular portal, to move up, or down, or to one side. It wasn’t long before Sera lost track of all the changes in direction. All of the corridors looked alike, with their curving walls and regularly spaced illumination strips stretching away in straight lines as far as Sera could see. They finally passed through a doorway that opened not into another anonymous corridor, but a large chamber that seemed to have only floors and walls, with no ceiling. Looking around the room as they pushed her in, Sera’s stomach lurched as she struggled to make sense of the strange configuration of the space.

The chamber was shaped like a wedge of a circle, with ten meter wide smooth metal walls curving inwards until they met at a single flat wall where the center of the circle might have been. On either side of the curved surfaces the walls were flat expanses of metal, at least that was the structural material underneath the dense accretion of equipment, paper, and clothing attached to the flat surfaces. Much of the equipment in the room was affixed to the curved walls, with no apparent concern for what portion of the curve was up and what was down. About a dozen people were scattered about the room, sitting or standing near clusters of glowing machines, floating up from, or down towards, groups of people or machines. The only way Sera could make sense of the room was to think of the curved wall as the floor, even though a portion of it was currently above her head, and the flat surfaces as the walls.

The suited figures guided Sera around the curve of the room to a cluster of equipment gathered around a heavily padded chair. The machines were all strange to Sera, though some of them bore a passing resemblance to the equipment that she had been hooked to in the healing room of shaft four, with tubes and wires sprouting from large boxes with screens embedded in their faces. Two people stood near the chair, their strangely puffy faces turned towards Sera with expressions of glee. Unlike the figures who had captured Sera and led her to this place these figures were dressed in loose fitting blue jumpsuits patched over with pockets. Both were unusually tall, a feature that contrasted starkly with their pale, overly round faces and flushed cheeks.

One of the figures spoke to Sera’s captors. Her head was shaved and her face had the same bloated look as the others in this place, so Sera only recognized her as a woman by the heavy breasts pressing against the folds of her jumpsuit. Looking around, Sera noticed that nearly everyone in this strange room was bald. Have they all been exposed to radiation, or do they shave their heads for some reason? 

The bald woman looked unhappy. She gestured angrily at Sera’s captors, seeming to demand an explanation for the blood that seeped out of her ears and streaked down her neck.