Chapter Thirteen: Casting Spells
Korben opened its eyes, shook its head, and got to its feet. It was furious, and beyond ready for the ordeal to be over. Blinking away the last remnants of pain, it stared across the ship, spotted Gil, and broke into a sprint immediately—out of the kitchen, past the corridor, and into the center room. Just before it reached the spinning disc, it finally saw the blaze in Gil’s eyes as the human lifted the three plates he held above his head, and then chucked them all at once at the spinning orange disc.
As soon as the plates left his hands, Gil raced into the corridor and pressed his back against the inner wall. He didn’t know what to expect exactly, but hoped the plates would shatter as they had when Korben broke one over his face, and that the disc was spinning fast enough to distribute the mess.
It turned out to be more powerful than he had expected. The dishes hit the disc and exploded like a light bulb dropped into the blades of an industrial fan, sending little shards of glass-like material all throughout the center room. A small amount even blew into the corridor and near Gil’s feet. He heard a shriek, the sprinkling of tiny splinters, and finally a loud thud. He stood for a moment, shaking, holding his breath, wet with his own sweat and blood. At last, he moved to the opening and peered his head around the edge of the doorway, where he saw Korben, face down on the ground. He knew the alien couldn’t be dead, but hoped it was at least unconscious.
Gil considered going to the exit chamber, grabbing one of the clear spears, and then doing away with Korben for good—right through the eye, just like Roger. Or perhaps he could go into the cockpit, grab one of those devices, and simply send the alien away. Either solution would have allowed Gil to take his time getting away from the ship, and he liked both of those approaches… but the alien still terrified him.
I don’t want to get close enough for him to grab me. I guess I could throw the spear at him, but what if I miss? Suppose it hit the floor and he wakes up? Or that I only wound him and he wakes up angrier than ever? If we were still in space, then I might have been able to figure out a way to close all the doors and open the hatch in the middle—that would have been a rude awakening—but that’s not possible now.
Ultimately, doubt kept Gil from taking further action against Korben. After a painstaking moment of indecision, Gil decided the alien could wake up later—hopefully after Gil was already gone—and then just go back to wherever it came from. He got himself moving again towards the cockpit.
Gil moved quickly. He wiped the drying blood from his face and brought his filthy hand to the center plank of the cockpit. He prepared himself to rub the plank to temperature and open the room, but the lightest touch seemed to activate the touch screen. He looked at his hand and wondered, is it not heat-sensitive? Is it something in my blood? But as the planks silently slid open and he saw the control board, the touch technology no longer interested him.
How the hell am I going to get out of here? he thought, looking over the wide control bay. It was no more familiar to him now than the first time he saw it. He knew one of the buttons controlled the window, and that one of the buttons controlled the gravity; the rest was still mostly a mystery. Starting from the left side of the chamber and working his way to the right, he carefully stepped around Kif’s second corpse and examined the controls.
Okay, Kif piloted the ship to Earth and changed our orientation a couple of times, which means the flight stick is probably the key. Gil used his index finger to lightly push the flight stick forward, and the flying saucer responded instantly, moving forward with enough force that Gil felt it. He wrapped his hand around the stick and pulled back to stop the ship, but over corrected; the spacecraft shot in the opposite direction, the sudden change causing Gil to fall forward onto the control deck and push the flight stick forward.
“Shit!” Gil shouted as the spacecraft shot forward again, flinging him harshly but safely into the center chair of the cockpit. With his hand still wrapped around the stick, he gently pulled back until it stood straight up and the ship finally came to a standstill. He let out a loud sigh of relief. He released the flight stick in frustration and asked aloud, “How do I bring this thing down?”
He craned his neck around to make sure Korben was still unconscious behind him, and then examined the various buttons and switches that covered the flight stick more closely. After some trial and error, he located a small, spring-loaded switch on the side of the stick that he could pull back, but reverted to its normal position when he released it. With the switch fully extended, he very gently pushed forward on the flight stick. A slight sensation of weightlessness rose in him, and he smiled. “Bingo.”
Because only blue skies were visible outside the window, Gil initially had no idea how quickly he was descending. It could have been just a few feet per minute, or something closer to a freefall. Slowly, foothills came into view in the distance, and then trees. Gil pulled back a bit on the flight stick to slow his descent, and after a few more moments, the ship came to a harsh and immediate stop as it bumped into the ground. Gil grunted loudly, the force knocking the wind out of him, and then rested his head on the back of the chair. Panting, but overjoyed that he was on the ground, he looked down at the corpse and mumbled, “I’m not exactly a leaf on the wind, am I?”
Then Gil got up from the chair and headed for the exit chamber.