I shook off the transportal’s disorientation and trembled with the cold. Authentic cold. Maybe not what I’d expected, but a clear signal that I’d arrived. I’d grown sick of my shipbound existence, the sensory constancy, the monotony of routine, the same faces, same pastimes, same food. The same, same, same. After six cycles, the head of Assimilation approved my placement. And here I stood.
Time to face my new world, my chosen sanctuary, I squared my shoulders, hauled in a breath, and marched through the gray arch into a landscape felted in white. I halted. Warning bells clanged in my head and reality punched me in the chest. Something had gone wrong.
In a panic, I checked my chrono. I had minutes before the ship barreled out of range. Hands fumbling, I opened my comdeck, desperate for a connection.
“Connection established. Audra receiving. You have one chron before communication terminates.”
“Audra, this is Cloe. There’s been a mistake. You need trans me back to the ship.”
“Cloe? Give me a second.”
“Hurry!” I pleaded. A gray-haired alien in a charcoal coat strolled between the white trees, and I turned my back, hiding my dread.
“Your entry was a success.” Audra’s voice crackled with interference. “…didn’t show one irregularity. What’s the matter?”
“This planet,” I whispered, “it’s not the one I approved.” Tears blurred my vision, and I couldn’t stop shivering. “The locators guaranteed an 89% match to my parameters. I saw the images. They sent me to the wrong place!”
“I’m sorry, honey. You certified your choice. The portal’s closing.”
“Audra, you have to help me. Don’t leave me here!”
“All right, I’ll try. Tell me what’s wrong with it? I’ll issue a…” The comdeck fizzled and died.
I throttled the useless thing and smashed it on the stone steps. Face raised to the milky sky, I shouted, “I wanted colors! You sent me to a black and white world.”
The gray-headed alien in his charcoal coat glanced up from where he threw black seeds on the white ground. Gray-feathered birds pecked around his black shoes. “That’s what you get for arriving in winter.”
I frowned at him. “Winter?”
He angled his head toward the gray buildings in the distance. “They didn’t tell me either. Let’s get a cup of coffee, and I’ll fill you in on something called spring.”
Another gorgeous photo and fun Thursday prompt from Sue Vincent. Join the fun. 🙂