World of the Lost
Chapter 2: The Lost Planet
This was the last person the Caretaker had to introduce to the world today. As it warped to its intended meeting point, it had a few minutes to wait. The Caretaker had a way to deal with its new guest. When someone enters the planet’s range, they are going to react differently, but something it can rely on is that their curiosity, along with their fear, will want to take in the environment. If the environment can be considered “comfortable,” then the individual will be more at ease, so it does its best to make it so. That being said, the Caretaker can’t change its appearance, so to avoid startling the new person, it waits a few moments until they can regain their thoughts. Being that the new guest was a logical thinking machine, a silver box was all that was needed. All that needed to be done is to wait for Z.A.H.A.R.I..
1 second remained. At 0.9 seconds, the Caretaker heard a distorted warp sound start. At 0.8 seconds, the volume increased. At 0.7 seconds, it waited to see the effect that would come from the transportation, as each one is different. At 0.6 seconds, nothing happened. 0.5, nothing. 0.4 still nothing. 0.3 seconds, what is going on? It thought. 0.2 seconds, the volume is lowering. 0.1 the sound is gone. Time. the special entry room was empty. The Caretaker looked around. “Ms. Sue.” the Caretaker stated, knowing she would be right behind itself right before it asked.
“I’m sorry, Sir, I don’t understand. Z.A.H.A.R.I. should be here,.” she said, a little embarrassed.
“Clearly, it isn’t. Do you know how it transferred?”
“It was a…” she had to look at some notes. “a premature ‘Tetherball’ transport.”
“Was there anything in its transport arc?”
She had to think for a moment. “No, sir.”
“What was the angle of the arc?” Mary presented a piece of paper, showing the calculations for the arc as well as where the starting point was. “Understood, thank you, Ms. Sue.” the Caretaker warped away to meet Z.A.H.A.R.I..
* * *
The look on Z.A.H.A.R.I. was blank, uneventful, and unsurprised. Granted, the only thing it could call a face was an old security camera, but you could still tell that it expected something like this to happen when the Transporter started to act up. Being that it didn’t see what the problem was specifically, as far as Z.A.H.A.R.I. was concerned, it could’ve been transported to Florida or some alien planet. The area around it had a few people, some were looking at it, most, however, didn’t seem to notice it. Most of the people seemed human, with a few machines and who-knows-what sprinkled in. Perhaps it was on another planet. It could also be dead; but then if that was the case, how could it be processing anything? It didn’t have to wait for an answer for very long, as suddenly a tall, slim, shadowy figure looked down at it.
“You’ll forgive me for the delay,” said the figure. “I was expecting you elsewhere.”
Z.A.H.A.R.I. just stared at the figure, trying to identify who or what it was. From what it could gather, it seemed to be some sort of hologram, though when it opened a door, it seemed that it wasn’t just made of light or shadows for that matter.
“Please, come in. You have many questions, and I plan to answer them.” The figure motioned its hand inside a room. Z.A.H.A.R.I. complied. The place appeared to be a diner of some sort, however it was closed. Aside some rather large seats, it was your average place. As the machine looked around, the figure seemed to attempt to walk to a chair. While it did reach it with no problem, the steps didn’t match the distance or speed of it. Z.A.H.A.R.I. simply stood there.
“Before I begin, is there anything you would like to know first?”
“Who are you?” The machine said in a monotone voice. It used the voice sample of an older scientist back when the audio recording wasn’t so good.
“My name and occupation is ‘The Caretaker.’ This is how you refer to me from now on.”
“How did I get here?”
“That’s the interesting thing,” The Caretaker stood up from its chair. “With most people here, when they are transported to some fantastic or ridiculous other world, a part of them is copied and sent here. Those copies are the people you see around here, aside from you and me.”
“How did we get here?”
“While I was always here, you came here from a ‘Tetherball’ transport.”
Z.A.H.A.R.I. looked confused. The Caretaker recognized this.
“Think of your transport as you firing an arrow. When you shoot it, it makes some distance, until gravity takes over and pulls it in. All this happens until it hits something.”
“And I hit here.”
“Correct, you shot out in such an angle, that nothing was in your way. Eventually, you just flew in.”
“So I’m in the center of the Earth?”
“No, you shot out from your time and space, into the vortex, and fell into the point of no return.”
Z.A.H.A.R.I. just stood there, what else could it say that would be of any use to it? Sure, there were plenty of important things it could ask, but it couldn’t think of any at the moment as it tried to process what The Caretaker just told it. The Caretaker just looked at it.
“You know…” it spoke. “For a robot, you don’t seem very curious about what’s going on.”
“What else is there to ask?”
The Caretaker shrugged.
“For you to ask? Nothing I guess. You definitely are quieter than most…” It then stood up.
“But now I have some for you.”