With the tour over, Bella had one final act as a guide for Neptune Shores. She was over the initial wave of nerves that plagued her earlier in the morning. Leaving the space station wasn't what bothered her. Not at the core anyway. It was the future. A bright one she knew, but the next step in any journey was what always worried her. She recalled the anxiety that swirled in her stomach moments before she boarded the space jet on Earth. It was gone now. For the time being.
Bella breathed in through her nose and exhaled. She was ready to drop her tour group off at the customer service desks and board the ship. But first things first.
She led her group to the medical bay where everyone met Dr. Jett Mintaka. The doctor carried himself with a calculated grace. It was as if he was well centered and confident in the choices he'd made in life. Either that, or he hid his insecurities well. Bella suspected it was The Way of the Sword, his Samurai heritage that gave him the calm in his mind and the peace he experienced with his surroundings. It was like he was one with nature. The space station. Whatever. If she remembered correctly, that was what Halo was trying to teach her. To be one with her wooden sword. Bella knew the discipline could help her going forward, but she'd yet to find that all wonderful place of solitude.
Dr. Mintaka went into great detail about how he and his staff were on the space station in case of emergencies, but most importantly, they were present to serve the resort guests, to care for them.
Inside the large medical bay, Mintaka had all fifty of the passengers in Bella's tour group to line up in five rows of ten. There, the nurses began the process of identifying each person with the bio scanners and administering the dual inoculations that would vaccinate the guests against artificial gravity sickness, officially termed, AG Sickness. Bella watched as the young family with the little girl fell in line and drew near the nurse giving the injections. As the father went first, she wondered what Dr. Mintaka was so disturbed about the night before. She remembered him entering the medical bay talking on his cell phone through the Bluetooth piece clipped to his ear. That was odd to say the least. Usually people opted for a video call, but Mintaka was in so much of a hurry that he didn't care to see who he was talking to. Or he chose the voice call to keep the conversation private, which seemed like a more obvious reason for his tense demeanor and vague answers to the person on the other end of the phone.
The mother came up next, trying to assure the little girl that there was nothing to fear with the injections. First came the primary inoculation followed by the shot that would activate the vaccine. The mother took both shots, smiling down at her daughter with tender eyes. Then it was the girl's turn. She looked brave with her narrowed eyes and tight lipped expression. The nurse drove the first injection into her arm much like she'd done with everyone else. The girl yelped and tears welled up in her eyes.
"I don't want another shot," she cried out. "It hurts, Mummy. It hurts really bad."
The nurse tried to hold her steady but the girl squirmed and turned toward Bella, who stood to the side of the line. That's when Bella saw her wide brown eyes and the tears streaming down her cheeks.
The mother pulled her daughter back toward the nurse. "It's okay, Sweetie, just one more shot and then it'll be over."
That made the girl cry louder, drawing the concerned eyes of the other passengers in the big room. In three long strides, Dr. Mintaka paced across the floor and knelt before the girl.
"What's your name?" he asked as his gaze combed over the girl's fearful face. The corners of his mouth curled into a warm smile. His dark eyes beheld her with a gentle patience as if the little girl wasn't holding up progress, but was special and cherished. Mintaka stroked the side of her face, wiping away a stream of tears. "I know it stung your arm, but there is an important reason why we give each injection. We would never do anything if it wasn't safe and necessary for the health of all of our guests." He gripped her shoulder with one hand and brushed his other hand through her hair. "What's your name, Sweetheart?"
"Adrianna," the girl replied in a frightened voice.
"Did you know that your name refers to the sea. It also means 'dark'. Like the color of your hair."
The mother stepped closer. "We live near the ocean in England. When I was pregnant with her, I'd stand on the great cliffs overlooking the water and ponder what kind of life my daughter would have."
"I think that someone named, Adrianna, would be strong and courageous. Do you think you can do that for me? Can you be brave?"
The girl stiffened. "I think so."
"I know you can." Dr. Mintaka glanced up, reached for the syringe, and took it from the nurse. As he held Adrianna's gaze, he raised the needle toward her trembling arm. "Look at me, Adrianna. Focus on me."
The girl obeyed his request, a single tear running down her cheek. Somehow, Bella didn't know how, but Mintaka never took his eyes off the girl as the needle closed the gap to her arm.
"You can do it," Dr. Mintaka said. And with the softest touch, the needle penetrated the girl's bicep and then it was over. "See. You did it."
Adrianna grinned. "I did it. And it didn't even hurt that bad."
With that, Mintaka bid her goodbye and strode away as the rest of the shots were administered with little fanfare.
As the lines thinned and the remainder of the passengers received their inoculations, Bella waited near the entrance to the medical bay. Once the final injections were given, she gathered her group out in the hallway.
"The inoculations you received were to help you achieve optimal health in an artificial gravity environment. Even though you were given an AG vaccine before leaving Earth, we thought it necessary to provide you with a new drug cocktail to improve your body's response to the powerful magnetic field generated by the gravity drives on the Celestial Sea and on the space station during your stay here at Neptune Shores. The inoculations will prevent you from getting sick on the return cruise home as well."
"I did feel a little nauseous on the flight out here," a woman said who stood at the front of the line. "I thought it was like motion sickness, but then I remembered the shots we received in Earth orbit."
"I suppose it could be similar to motion sickness, but only in the symptoms you feel," Bella replied. "You have to remember that you're standing in the middle of a miracle. A science miracle to be more precise. There is no gravity on the Celestial Sea or on Neptune Shores. If it weren't for the gravity drive, everything you see on the ship and the station, including you and the half mile stretch of salt water ocean would float off into a wild jumble of microgravity chaos. But to help us cope with the side effects of the electromagnetic field that pulls every object, living and inanimate, toward the floors of the ship and the station and holds us in place, we need the inoculations. Some of you experienced nausea and headaches and even dizziness on the cruise out here. Space Venture takes your health and safety very seriously. We would never do anything to harm you, and you can rest assured that your stay here at Neptune Shores, or if you choose not to stay with us, your ride back to Earth will be a pleasurable and fun loving experience."
"The shots weren't bad at all," Adrianna said. "And Dr. Mintaka is such a nice man." She turned to her mother. "Mum, are we staying at the beach, or are we going home?"
"We planned for a tour of the resort, Love. But that's all."
Bella bent over to speak to the girl. "Well, guess what? I'll be seeing you on the cruise ship then. My work is finished here. I'll be attending college when I get back to Earth."
This brightened Adrianna's face. "That's simply lovely, Mum, did you hear that?"
"I did." She kissed the girl on the forehead.
"Now," Bella said. "Is everyone ready to head back to the concourse for a final stop at one of our customer service desks? You have the short time till we get there to decide if you want to book a stay now or later. Just remember, if you stay here or not, your travels with Space Venture are sure to be one that you'll never forget."
YOU ARE READING
SPACESHIP ZOMBIE CRUISEScience Fiction
A file from the Interplanetary Data Stream... When the first ever space cruise ship completes its inaugural tour of the solar system, Bellatrix 'Bella' Starr will catch a ride back home that she'll never forget. The ship docks at its final destinat...