Read “Duck Blind” by Christina Engela!

“Now just you rest here a while!” Mandy told Charlie once they arrived at what Charlie had thought until then was his cabin on Freedom. He checked the number on the door to confirm – it was the same one. It even clicked, hissed and slid aside in the same disconcerting way. Inside, the cabin looked exactly as he’d left it that morning – couch and throw all messed up – bed still nicely straight, shower towel draped across the top of the closed toilet in the adjacent bathroom. The only differences he noticed were details he’d ostensibly missed that morning – like a silky pink nightgown hung inside the wardrobe, visible through the open wardrobe door with the mirror on the inside – and at the foot of the bed lay a pair of maroon fluffy slippers that looked like a pair of neatly taxidermied matching alien caterpillars. He’d also failed to notice the second toothbrush in the glass by the bathroom mirror earlier.

Everything around him – everywhere on this…ship seemed to be in its place, to belong – except for him!

“This can’t be happening.” Charlie murmured as Mandy assisted him onto the bed like an invalid. “My name’s Charles Branson… people call me Charlie! It’s May 19, 2025 – a Saturday – and I’m a facilitator for Interstellar Vacations LLC – and there’s no such thing as space liners, or time travel!”
“No,” Mandy corrected, leaning over him. “It’s the first of February, 2773 – a Thursday. You’re Andy Niksn, Captain of one of the finest space liners between the Sol System to Quantum Eternica – my boss, and the man I love!” She laid a kiss on his startled lips, and to his surprise, he kissed her back.
“The 28th century?” He asked.
“Only for another 27 years.” Mandy Fringle joked, pulling herself closer.
“Really? What happens then?”
“Then it’ll be the 29th century, silly!” She giggled.
“So if this is really 2773,” He muttered, “I’ve got a shit-load of catching up to do!”
“I’m sure.” She smiled, relaxing. “And you’re off to a very good start!”

Back in Charlie’s world – universe, reality, whatever – Phil Pots had made sure there were plenty of clauses in IV’s HR policy to make fraternization between employees – or even worse – between management and employees, as difficult as possible! In fact, Phil had made sure Charlie’d read them, and signed them TWICE to make sure!

Even he – Charlie Branson, who had quite the self-image as a bit of a Don Juan and cock of the walk – paled at the thought of losing his shares as penalty for dallying with an Interstellar Vacations employee on the clock! IV was after all more than just something he helped start, it was his meal ticket and future! …But, as was becoming increasingly and insistently clear to the boggled former amateur adult movie part-time extra, this was not Charlie’s world anymore…

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2020.

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