GUEST STORY SHARE — Bridger: A Dystopian Serial — Episode 6

Bridger is a dystopian serial story about Charlane, a disgraced career soldier leading a security team at a remote research facility. When Char encounters a humanoid creature who claims to come from another world, she sees a chance to save her career—and the dying earth.

Char, a strong, career-driven woman, is fighting to overcome crippling self-doubt after she lost everything in a military scandal. She’d given so much to that career, including her marriage. Now she is starting over. Char doesn’t know that her value as a person doesn’t change based on what she accomplishes. Can she accept the unconditional love of those who care for her?

Our social media and celebrity culture has placed enormous value on beauty, fitness, and lifestyle. Our work culture pressures women to continually rise up the ranks and press for better jobs. All of these are worthwhile things, but they are not markers of personal value. A person is valuable because of who they are, not what they produce.


Episode 6: Explorer of Worlds

 

episode6Seth set down the comm and glanced at his patient.

Venn opened one eye.

“Ah,” Seth sighed. “You are awake.” He poured a glass of water and carried it over to Venn’s bedside.

Venn gulped down the water. “Your water is good here,” he said, his mouth dripping.

“So there is water in your world?”

“I haven’t yet found a world where it was not,” Venn said, “but in Kaa it tastes like…” he pressed his lips together and squinted into the distance. “There is no word for this. It is a—“ he waved one long hand in the air “—a metallic element that has a strange taste.”

Seth pulled a chair over and straddled it, facing Venn with his arms crossed over the chair back. “You do this a lot, then?”

With a perfectly straight face, Venn nodded. “It’s what I have done since I was young.”

“Why?”

Venn’s face worked for a moment. Seth could imagine whatever his translation implant did going on behind his eyes.

“It is what my people do,” Venn said slowly. “We explore other worlds.”

“And do what?”

Venn lifted a hand. “We… study them and if they’re inhabited by sentient species, and if they have resources that are useful, we try to create trade alliances.”

Seth narrowed his eyes. “You colonize them?”

“We don’t set up colonies. We set up exploration bases which become trade bases in time.”

“Yeah, same diff,” Seth muttered. “I’m sure Erwell will be all over that. New resources from other worlds? For sure.” Seth slapped his hands on the top of the chair. “Get your story straight because she’s going to grill you.”

“Grill… me?” Venn sat up straighter. A faint flush came into his pale face, the first sign of emotion.

Seth turned his face, hiding a grin. “Question you. She’s going to question you.” He turned back. “If there is a portal, could you take people back through it?”

Venn’s eyes narrowed. He regarded Seth for a few moments. “Yes.”

“Prepare to be asked to test that, then.”

“It is what my people do,” Venn said slowly. “We explore other worlds.”

“I don’t need to test it,” Venn said quietly. “It will work.”

“Right,” Seth said slowly. At any rate, Venn didn’t seem to by lying on purpose. He might have to do some tests.

He picked up the comm. “Director? The patient is awake.”

“Coming,” Erwell replied within a second.

Seth punched in Char’s code. “Cap… Char. Director Erwell is coming to interrogate Venn. Would you like to sit in?”

Her voice came over the comm, breathless and distorted by wind. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Seth paused, holding the comm. He was beginning to get used to hearing her voice again, even starting to look forward to having her pop into the infirmary. Yesterday she’d slid into the bench across from him while he was eating dinner in the cafeteria. Sure, it was to ask for an update on Linc, but she’d voluntarily talked to him. Five years ago, she wouldn’t even come to the door when he tried to apologize to her one more time.

God, I thought I was done being bitter.

Erwell breezed in the door, for once without smiling at him and trying to chat him up. She whipped back the curtain around Venn, only pausing once to glance at the handcuff locking one of Venn’s wrists to the metal bed frame.

She tugged a chair over. “All right, Mr. Venn. It turns out there is some weight to your story.”

Seth eased himself between Erwell and the wall and helped Venn sit up.

Erwell didn’t miss a beat. “I found evidence to suggest that the Na’odani have been here before.”

“That is possible,” Venn replied, settling back against the pillows. “When?”

“Thirty years ago. It was a female Na’odani. She arrived in Arizona, that’s quite far south of here.”

“This means nothing to me.” Venn’s face remained placid. “But time passes quite differently in Nao than it does here, and so it is possible.”

The infirmary door swung open. Char clumped in, tracking snow. She dragged a chair toward them.

“What do you mean?” Seth interjected before Erwell had a chance to sweep past that statement.

“Well,” Venn’s grey brow furrowed. “By watching your clock, I’ve determined that one minute is equal to 2.654 Na’odani ea, which multiplied by the Eskalon constant suggests that your time moves at approximately four times the speed of Na’odani time, however since an ea on Kaa is equal to three Na’odani eas, your time in fact moves at two-thirds the speed of Kaa time… approximately.”

“Oh geez,” Char muttered. She sat down and pulled off her toque.

“Fascinating!” Erwell whispered, leaning forward.

“But that was timing your clock instrument to my pulse,” Venn said, “and doing the math in my mind, so it is hardly exact.”

“Right.” Erwell shook her head as if dislodging the thought. “What I’m saying is that I’m open to believing you.”

“Yes,” Venn said, deadpan. He stared unblinking at Erwell.

Erwell leaned in. “Can you prove to me that there is a portal to another universe near this base?”

“I can hear it from here,” Venn said.

“You can hear it from here,” Erwell repeated.

“Yes.” Venn tilted his head slightly. “It has three distinct tones.” He pursed his lips as if whistling, and after a moment, Seth heard a high, dog-whistle note.

“I didn’t hear anything,” Erwell said. “Right. So if they produce sounds, we’d be able to pick that up on a sound metre?”

“That’s an instrument that measures sound waves,” Seth added.

Venn nodded. “I’m sure you could.”

“Could we pass through it?” Erwell’s tone took on urgency.

“No,” Venn said. “Not without Kemzog stones.”

“Are those what you have embedded in your chest?” Seth asked.

Venn’s silver eyes darkened slightly. “That’s correct, but without the correct equipment or simple experience, it’s unlikely that you could calculate the exact point of the portal—“

Erwell jerked her chair back and stood. “But you could take someone through?”

Venn’s eyes lightened to silver. “I could.”

Click here for the rest of the episode

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