This Shoal of Space:
Zoë Calla & the Dark Starship
(World's First E-BookPublished On the Web in 1996 For Digital Download)
a Dark SF novel originally titled Heartbreaker
by John Argo
Part I-Chapter 2
Part II-Chapter 66
"We have something to tell you," Elisa told ZoŽ with a meaningful glance toward Max.
Max took a deep breath. "Mom, we got into the computer games again."
ZoŽ sat down. "I don't believe this"
"We didn't mean to," Rudy said.
"Shut up," Elisa told him. "I was doing my homework on the computer, and Jeremy kept pinging me with electronic mail messages. That's how it got started."
"I knew you'd be angry," Max said.
ZoŽ picked up the phone and dialed Anne's number. The phone endlessly burred, but nobody answered. A faint tremor made the walls crackle, and the line went dead. ZoŽ let the phone slip from her hand and held her aching forehead. She felt overwhelmed. The hand shook, making her fingers spasm silently against her eyebrow, as if scratching or pointing. "Why?" ZoŽ asked.
The children looked down. "Because," Max said, "it's Captain Colorado."
"That's make-believe!" ZoŽ yelled.
"Please don't yell," Max said. "I think it's the only way I can save my legs. I think only Captain Colorado can save me."
"Stop that!" she yelled. "Stop it, Max. There is something out there in the sea, and it's evil. It's killing people right and left. It's eating our minds and turning us into vegetables like your grandmother. Doctor Boutros is going to do everything he needs to..."
But Max turned over on his side, facing away from her, and pulled the blanket up to his face.
"Honey..." she started to say, then anger got the best of her.
She stormed out into the hall, taking a chair with her. She propped the chair against that door. The draft from the other side was cold and smelled oceanic. Bits of White Stuff fluffed up like idly warning fingers. ZoŽ puffed and groaned, sliding a heavy dresser into place against the door. Why in the hell couldn't Roger get home and help her? The hell with him. She pressed the four nails back into place. Then she piled chairs, a desk, the dresser, books, magazines into place until she had formed a solid wall five feet tall. That would block them. For good measure, she went into the kitchen to get a hammer and more nails from the odds 'n ends drawer.
Elisa stepped forth from the shadows. "ZoŽ?"
ZoŽ knelt down and opened her arms to her.
Elisa came closer, but not enough to be held. "ZoŽ, we love you but we are very worried." Elisa's words rained like nails and tacks on ZoŽ's wounded ears. "We think you should wash yourself and go out more. Buy some new clothes. We're ashamed because you look terrible."
ZoŽ rose. "You horrid little brat!" She slammed Elisa with the palm of her hand, leaving a red palm print on her cheek, and Elisa flew off in silent shock.
ZoŽ sniffled, rubbing her forefinger on her cheek. She went to the living room and dialed Dr. Stanislaus' number. A receptionist service answered: "Dr. Stanislaus has closed his office here. Is there anything else I can help you with?"
"I think I have lost my mind," ZoŽ said, letting the receiver rattle into the switch hook.
Copyright © 1990-1996-2014 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.