The spaceship has erupted into chaos. Walking from one side of the space station to the other side has become a task. As Peter is taking me back to my room, I see the medical aid technicians running past us with people on stretchers. The space station’s lights are blinking steadily off and on. This just confirms that something has gone terribly wrong.
Peter takes me to the Captain’s bridge.
I’ve never been to this part of the ship. This is where the engineers are. This is where the pilots of the ship work. I see Captain LaPerla. It’s clear that she is busy and dealing with things.
“We need all hands on deck in the medical wing,” I hear Captain LaPerla giving out instructions; “There is a shortage of gas. The pipelines have burst. There is a change in atmospheric temperature in the second quadrum…”
“Captain LaPerla,” Peter says.
She is surrounded by people who are looking for Captain LaPerla’s attention. She barely acknowledges Peter and me.
“Not now!” Captain LaPerla states.
“Listen there is an issue,” Peter explains.
“Clearly? Don’t you think I know that?” the Captain states, “We have to find a way to get the shuttle back from Mars.”
“Captain…I understand you’re concerned about your ship but you need to take a look at the bigger picture here.”
“Who are you people? Why are you in here?”
“I know what’s happened!” I scream out.
I don’t mean to scream it out that loud but there is so much chaos around that it is the only way to let people know what’s really going on.
Captain LaPerla and her staff turn to me. Fifteen astronauts stare at me wondering what the fuck I am talking about.
“Say what you got to say son.”
“We have encountered a wormhole.”
A few of the astronauts laugh, “That’s science fiction…”
Captain LaPerla shakes her head, “I don’t have time for this.”
I grab Captain LaPerla by the hand, “Listen. I know wormholes shouldn’t exist. We don’t have the technology for it, but its happening. Take a look at our location.”
“Our navigation is down,” Captain LaPerla lets me know and then embarrassingly adds, “A lot of our systems are down right now…”
“I wasn’t talking about technology. I’m telling you to look outside at the stars. We are nowhere near home.”
Within five hours, everyone on the space station is gathered in an assembly hall for Captain LaPerla’s speech. I look across the room. I’m standing on the podium next to Captain LaPerla. I look down in the crowd. I see Pia down there. She’s probably wondering why I’m standing next to her mother. If she had any idea the shit that was going down she wouldn’t be bothering to give me funny looks over petty bullshit.
Captain LaPerla is the first to speak, “Everyone. I gathered you around because I know a lot of you have questions about what could possibly have happened. We have had the greatest minds on the ship working for a few hours trying to figure out what could have happened. I am not here to lie to you. There is an issue. We have absolutely no idea where we are in the universe…
Chaos erupts in the room.
People are mad. People are scared. For a moment, I swear people are going to run up on the stage or something. I look down from the podium near Captain LaPerla. Pia is crying all of a sudden. Bambi is frantically looking around for someone. Then I see Jae Jae. Jae Jae is all the way in the back not too far from Dre. Jae Jae’s face just looks completely lost and confused.
“HOW THE FUCK DON’T YOU KNOW WHERE WE ARE!” a voice screams.
“HOW DO WE GET HOME!”
“ARE WE GOING TO DIE?”
The screams come one after another. Captain LaPerla has security on the stage but they don’t seem to be doing a good job holding people back. I have to admit Mia LaPerla does seem to have a brave face as she is standing in front of all of them. Even though she was probably clueless as everyone else she was attempting to seem knowledgeable.
“We have the brightest educators, astronomers and astronauts working on figuring out how exactly this has happened,” Captain LaPerla states, “But at this moment we are not 100 percent sure.”
People are screaming.
People are shouting. There are so many people screaming and shouting at this point that I can’t make out one voice from another.
Captain LaPerla gets on the speaker again, “We do have…a theory. It is a long shot. And it is something…well…maybe its best if you hear it from a peer.”
She looks over at me.
I can’t believe the entire space station is looking at me now. I walk up to the podium. My knees feel heavy. After I spoke with Captain LaPerla’s staff earlier about the theory of what happened to us they spent hours trying to eliminate every other option. This was the only thing that even made any sort of sense.
As I stand at the front of the space station I look out at the scared faces.
“A long time ago I studied something called the Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Another word for it is a wormhole. Long story short…a wormhole is a shortcut connecting two separate points in space. This wormhole can connect extremely far distances such as a billion light years or more. After confirming with some of the astronomers on board the Exodus we all believe…we went through the wormhole and we ended up somewhere else…”
I begin getting heckled just like Captain LaPerla was. So much for the theory that the students would prefer to hear horrible news from a peer.
“The universe is endlessly growing…”
“ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!”
“ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!”
People are changing. About 20 students have climbed up on seats and are chanting at this point. I watch as security runs out into the crowd to break up the chants. I am looking around. A part of me is really scared at this point.
At this point, it’s clear that I can’t handle this. I find myself running off stage as Captain Laperla takes over. Luckily, when I come down I find a familiar face in Dre who puts his hand around me and pulls me close to him.
“If you have a question, we’ll be happy to answer them…but one at a time.”
A little blond haired girl steps forward and raises her hand. When I acknowledge her she smiles, “What about the students who went to Mars.”
“If they are still around Mars…they are in a much better position than we are right now,” Captain LaPerla explains.
“How did the wormhole form?” one of the nerdier kids that I recognize from my Physics class asks.
Captain LaPerla sighs, “We aren’t sure. So far, physicists haven’t determined a way in which wormholes would form naturally in the Universe. However, theoretical physicists have said it’s possible that wormholes may spontaneously appear and disappear. However even if a wormhole did appear, the only way that it can be made bigger is by something called exotic matter. Negative properties of exotic matter might push the sides of a wormhole outward, making it large enough—and stable enough—for a person or a spaceship to fit through it. Except exotic matter isn’t exactly easy to come by; it exists only in theory, we don’t know what it looks like, and we have yet to know where to find it…”
The Captain continues to spew technical things and it’s clear the students are lost by this point. No one knows what the fuck is going on and people are scared. They need someone to blame and I realize in no time they are blaming her.
She’s losing the crowd.
“How do we get home?” Another boy asks.
Captain LaPerla struggles with that question, “I…don’t know…”
Chaos ensues. I see people start to storm the stage at that moment! I mean they are literally storming the stage. I see students attempting to fight Captain LaPerla. They are blaming her for this shit.
A part of me knows how fucked up of a person Captain LaPerla is. I mean she did screw me over for the whole Mars thing but this situation is different.
“Calm down. Everyone calm down!”
It’s too late. I see someone run up to her and haul a load of spit in Captain LaPerla’s face. The students are getting rowdy. They are throwing around everything in auditorium.
They are rioting!
“We have to get the fuck out of here,” I hear Dre say.
He grabs my hand. He’s right. We have to run.
The riots continue throughout that night. I’m sitting in my room with Jae Jae and Dre. Dre is trying to comfort me but truth is there is no comforting. None of us are saying anything. We are keeping a low profile at that moment.
Suddenly there is a knock on the door.
I walk over to it and I’m surprised to see Chyna and Bambi.
“Why the fuck are you guys out during the riots?” I ask.
Chyna looks over at me, “I’m wondering the same thing. It has gotten so bad. News is that the rioters are trying to take over the captain’s chair…”
My mouth gets dry. A part of me understands it though. Chaos and disorder in a situation like ours could mean everyone dies. We weren’t living by normal rules anymore. People were scared. No…people were more than scared. They were terrified.
“Have you seen my brother…Greg?” Bambi asks.
Bambi looks concerned. The expression on her face is a little weird.
“No I haven’t.”
“I haven’t seen him since the wormhole,” Bambi explains.
Jae Jae shakes his head, “He was in the storage area when there was an explosion. I saw him right before the explosion.”
What was exploding in the storage room? I was definitely confused about that. I want to ask Jae Jae more about this explosion but I don’t want to seem unconcerned with Bambi. I know that she and I haven’t seen eye-to-eye with what was going on before, but all of that shit is petty now. This was a real situation happening now that needed to be dealt with.
Chyna puts her hand over her mouth, “Explosion…fuck what if he’s hurt. What if he’s dead…”
Bambi is about to turn around, “I need to go find him.”
I grab Bambi, “Wait. It’s not safe. Stay here…wait till the riots die down.”
We sit around for hours and hours. Alarms go on and off. I can tell things have gone from bad to worse. Jae Jae and Dre decide to go look around for Greg while I keep an eye out with the girls.
Bambi rolls her eyes. She’s been pacing at the door for a long time waiting for the boys to get back. Chyna is sitting on Jae Jae’s bed. Chyna is crying her fucking eyes out on the bed.
“Bitch can you shut the FUCK up with this whining…”
“People are rioting outside.”
“They are just a bunch of worried brats,” Bambi tells Chyna, “They’ll calm down in a minute…”
Bambi doesn’t seem really worried in this situation. She’s more concerned about where her brother is more than anything. I have to admit that Chyna’s crying is weighing on me a little bit.
Chyna is shaking her head, “We’re all going to die one way or another. We are lost in space. We’ll run out of oxygen. We’ll run out of food. We’ll run out of fuel…”
“We have four years worth of supplies on the space station,” Bambi responds, “Relax…”
Bambi is heavily annoyed at Chyna but honestly at this point Chyna is the one who is actually right. God knows what was damaged in this strange “storage explosion” that Jae Jae mentioned happened. God knows what was lost. Not to mention the fact that there were students running around the space station panicking and doing god knows what. At this point, we were stranded animals panicking and just killing each other quicker. If these students fucked with this space station we were ALL FUCKED.
I can’t admit to any of that though. Having people panic is not going to help this situation at all.
“Bambi’s right,” I explain.
Me saying that brings a confident smirk on Bambi’s face, “Duh. I’m always right. Just like I was right before. You miss him don’t you?”
Bambi stops herself from pacing around the room long enough to look over at me for a few minutes. Her face smiles at me.
“You know damn well I’m not talking about Dre,” Bambi states and laughs a little bit, “I’m talking about Jax. You know what sucks. What if you never see him again? That’ll be some real horrible shit wouldn’t it? Ending on terms like that…”
Bambi is studying my expression all of a sudden.
I look over at Bambi.
“Bitch you know damn well I’m not talking about Dre,” she states shaking her head.
Bambi is rolling her eyes again. She is not going to let this Jax and me thing die. For whatever reason she is personally invested in me and Jax being together.
“Are you like Jax’s matchmaker or some shit?”
“I need to know why the fuck you want to get Jax hooked up so fucking bad?” I ask.
Chyna looks over at Bambi, “You are really invested in Jax being happy.”
Bambi looks over at Chyna, “Bitch weren’t you just sobbing about how we are going to die? How you dry-eyed and nosy now?”
“You’re avoiding the question,” I tell Bambi, “Like usual.”
I didn’t know what Bambi had up her sleeve. You never really knew with these people. I didn’t trust Bambi. I didn’t trust the fact that she was SO interested in Jax being in a relationship.
Bambi shakes her head.
“You don’t know…if you knew…”
“Know what? Tell me…”
“This wormhole thing, It’s all…your…fault…” Bambi explains to me.
I’m confused as fuck! This girl was telling me that the wormhole was my fault. How the fuck does some freak accident in space that lands us billions of light years away from Earth end up being my fucking fault?
I’m so confused.
“What are you talking about?” I ask Bambi.
Just at that moment, the door opens at that moment, and Jae Jae, Dre and Greg walk in.
“Greg…where the fuck have you been?” Bambi asks him.
She is more mad than worried. I wonder if maybe it is just the tough girl inside of Bambi being too tough to admit that she was worried about her brother. Hell…maybe I should just take Bambi for face value and realize that she’s pissed.
“I owe you an explanation girl?” Greg asks.
“Guys we have bigger issues,” Dre explains.
Dre comes over to me and he holds my hand. I know it’s serious when Dre holds my hand. We all look at him. The look on Jae Jae’s face says it all.
“They are…bringing out guns. The staff is beginning to shoot rioters…”
From that moment I realized that this trip…this dream come true had just become a nightmare.
12 months later.
“Clear the hallways.”
Pia LaPerla and her tasks members are hard at work today. They are harder at work than usual. We are approaching a planet. No one knows what the planet is called.
Hell…we don’t know where we are in the universe. Why we are headed towards this planet no one knows. Mia LaPerla hasn’t really been telling us much of anything.
“Fuckin’ bitch…” Jae Jae states.
“What’s that?” Pia asks.
Pia walks over to Jae Jae. Her people have been bullying everyone for years. I look at Jae Jae. He’s pissed. He has every reason to be. Jae Jae and I have become best of friends for the last 12 months. The last thing I want is for Jae Jae to end up in one of the cells for misconduct. Hell…him ending up in a cell could be one of the better outcomes.
“Jae Jae don’t…” I grab him.
Pia smiles, “I thought so. Now you boys better run along before I get mad.”
I grab Jae Jae and head out away to our rooms.
You see things have changed since we were sucked into a wormhole. 12 months ago, 33 students were killed in what we called the Black Day. It’s the day that we were sucked into the wormhole. It’s the day students began to riot. It’s the day Mia LaPerla decided to use Marshall Law and execute students.
All of a sudden no one was happy any longer. Everyone was scared. If we weren’t scared of the fact that we were running low on fuel and supplies, we were definitely scared of Mia LaPerla.
“That bitch…her mother gives her some power and she just runs with it,” Jae Jae states.
During the riots, Captain LaPerla decided to turn the space station to a police state. We were all being monitored closely. Food wasn’t given as freely as before. People who disobeyed the Captain were punished severely and it just so happen that Captain LaPerla put her daughter Pia in charge of the students.
“Pia’s title is class president now but she’s nothing more than a glorified fucking hall monitor making sure all the students stick to curfew,” I respond.
“And she’s targeting us,” Jae Jae responds.
“I mean once upon a time I did kind of date her ex-boyfriend,” I explain.
Jae Jae laughs. It’s been so long since we thought about all of that.
“Jax, Oh shit, I kind of forgot why she hates us,” Jae Jae explains at that moment.
I shake my head. “We’re all going to die anyway. How much oxygen do we have left? 2 years supply. Our food probably will not even last that long. They could at least let us die in space happily…”
Jae Jae laughs, “Exactly. Speaking of which you should come through with me to Greg’s party tonight…”
“Why? Bambi and you still beefing?” Jae Jae asks me, “How long has it been, a year? Why did you guys fall out again?”
“She is so upset that I broke Jax’s heart I guess,” I respond, “I dunno why she takes it so personal. It’s weird. I don’t care about Bambi though. I have plans with…you know who…”
I can’t help but to roll my eyes at the thought of it.
Jae Jae knows exactly who I’m talking about.
“You need to just break it off with Dre and tell him the truth.”
I’ve confided in Jae Jae. I’ve dated Dre for a year now and truthfully, the spark just never came like I thought it would. Sex was amazing. Dre was sexy as fuck. He was sweet and he did show me a lot of affection. Sometimes however there just wasn’t that…spark.
I don’t know how to describe it.
“I don’t know…”
“You have to be honest with him,” Jae Jae explains to me, “I mean, Mario…honestly. Why do you think you just aren’t into Dre like that?”
“I keep comparing him…”
Jae Jae shakes his head, “Jax huh?”
I shrug my shoulders, “I know it sounds stupid. I know he’s long gone. I’ll never see Jax again. He’s billions of light years away from me—if he’s even still alive. I don’t expect you to understand.”
I sit on the bed at that moment. I’ve had these thoughts since Jax went out into that space shuttle for Mars and our space station was sucked into a wormhole. I never got over him. I regretted hurting him.
At that moment, I see a flicker in Jae Jae’s eyes, “I get it. It’s just when you were in love at one point in your life it’s hard to love someone else. You just keep comparing them to that person. And no matter what happens in your life…you can’t be happy.”
Jae Jae understands me. He sits next to me on the bed. The both of us stare at the floor. I realize how selfish I was being. I realize I have no right to assume Jae Jae doesn’t see where I’m coming from.
“You miss Kaysha don’t you?”
Jae Jae has been dating Chyna for the past couple of months. It’s just been something normal for him to do. We all hung around with Bambi and Greg still even though Bambi still had some sort of beef with me. Jae Jae and Chyna ended up getting together.
“More than life man,” Jae Jae explains, “She was the love of my life and I never told her.”
“Same thing with me and Jax,” I state.
“But truth is…like you said. We’ll never see Kaysha, Jax or anyone else on that space shuttle ever again. We’ll never see Earth again. We are lost in space and we’re going to die out here. You might as well just make the most of it.”
“By staying with Dre” I ask, even though I already knew the answer.
Jae Jae shakes his head, “No…by letting Dre know the truth. Letting Dre know you don’t love him and moving on with your life.”
Jae Jae has been the only one on the space station who I can have these deep conversations with. Him and my teacher Peter when Peter was available. Classes on the space station were different though. Before the wormhole everyone was excited. Now we were being forced to go to class by Pia and her hall monitors. The spark of excitement and interest were gone. Class was just a way to keep us busy until we ran out of fuel and oxygen and died.
This was my new life.
This was my new reality.
“I hope you like it.”
“You made this?”
“Just for you. I had a connect in the kitchens…”
Dre has cooked for me. He is naked in the dorm rooms. He’s wearing nothing but an apron. I have to admit Dre has gotten even sexier over the last year. His body has toned up almost to the point that he is just as muscular as Jax. That’s the problem though. I can’t compliment Dre without comparing him to Jax. I can’t think of Dre sexually without thinking about Jax in the same thought.
Dre lays out a huge steak in front of me.
“I…appreciate it,” I say.
I’m not eating. I’m just looking down at the food.
“Just not really hungry,” I respond.
“You want to go to Greg’s party don’t you? If you want, we can cut this short and head down over there. I know you want to see your friends,” Dre explains.
This is Dre. This is the way he is. He’s spending so much time trying to make up for the way he treated me in the past. I have to admit that I want this to work out. I know that I’ll never see Jax again. I know Dre has turned over a new leaf and this time he wants to make me happy. That’s not the problem though.
I’m just not happy with Dre.
“Nawl man. I don’t want to party.”
“Want to do something else then” Dre states.
With that, Dre drops his apron. He’s completely naked underneath. He has been preparing for this. It’s clear. His tanned skin is oiled down amazingly. I am drawn to it. He tilts his head down a little bit and grabs a hold of his 8 inch dick. He lets it slap a few times in his hands. He gives it a good hard tug. Within seconds, Dre is hard. He is hard and precum comes out of his dick.
He takes a few steps towards me holding onto his 8 inch dick.
It’s so big. I have to admit it’s sexy. But Jax…Jax’s dick was bigger. Jax’s dick had all these sexy veins in it that drove me crazy.
Dre is standing a few inches away from me with a confused look on his face, “You aight? Mario…we don’t have that much longer. Regardless of what Captain LaPerla says, you know we’ll never get home. We might as well make the most out of this.”
Make the most out of this. That’s what he says.
I know I have to do it.
I have to be real with Dre this time. I have to break up with him. Even if breaking up with him means I’ll die lost in space alone…that was ok. I would rather die alone then die with someone I didn’t love. After a year, I knew I couldn’t fall for Dre…not like I fell for Jax.
“Can’t what?” he asks looking confused.
Just at that, moment there is a knock on the door. It’s hard. The knock is hard and clear. I walk over to the door and open it just a little bit so no one will see Dre naked on the other side of it.
The person behind the door is Jae Jae.
“You need to come quick…”
“We found something…Captain LaPerla found something floating in space.”
I shrug at that moment, “Who cares…”
“You don’t understand…it’s a space shuttle…it’s the SPACE SHUTTLE that went to Mars…”
My heart races. Within an hour all, the students are gathered around in the docking module. It’s there. It’s the space shuttle! I remember it from a year ago. We were all gathered in this very same space module.
“This can’t be them…it’s impossible,” Chyna states.
I’m standing with Chyna, Greg, Bambi, Dre and Jae Jae. We are standing with the other students. We are all the way in the back though. The LaPerlas have set up a barrier around the space shuttle. They had to literally have astronauts go out into space and pull the space shuttle in. It’s clear that the space shuttle had completely lost energy.
“It’s them,” I tell her, “I remember that shuttle. It’s them…it’s him.”
We are waiting. We are waiting while the engineers are studying the space shuttle.
I turn to Dre. I don’t even realize Dre is standing there. For a moment, I have forgotten completely about Dre. For a moment, I don’t care.
Bambi looks over at Dre, “Relax, even if it is Jax I have no doubt he’s already been taken. My friend Lamar no doubt has a hold of that.”
“You mean your project Lamar,” I respond.
Bambi rolls her eyes, “Whatever—a guy like Jax won’t stay single for long. Some people are smart enough to make sure of that. No doubt.”
Bambi’s eyes intensely stare at me. She’s making a dig. You would think after a year of the petty bullshit Bambi would finally get over it. That’s not the case though. Bambi holds grudges. She hasn’t made up with Pia and she hasn’t forgiven me for breaking Jax’s heart.
Just at that moment I look over at Greg and he just sternly lets out an antagonistic idea, “They are all probably dead anyway.”
“Shut UP!” Bambi says pushing her brother.
Greg rolls his eyes, “Let’s be honest. They left on a space shuttle a year ago. How much food did they take with them? A weeks’ worth…maybe less. They are dead. Those engineers are cracking open a fuckin’ coffin right now.”
“You’re such a fuckin’ asshole,” Bambi responds, “I don’t know how I’m related to you.”
“And you are just an angel,” Greg responds to his sister, sarcastically.
I had to agree with Bambi this time about her brother. Greg was a fucking asshole. I could tell he was spiteful towards Jax even if he didn’t want to agree with it. Every time any of us brought up Jax he has something shady to say.
But the horrible part is…he was right. No one could survive a year in space in a space shuttle that wasn’t properly stocked. And the space shuttle was just floating there with no food.
“Guys stop arguing,” Chyna states, “Look.
We all are staring there. Holy shit.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
They are coming off the space station. One person that looks familiar walks off. They look weak and fragile. They looked weathered down and a little rough…but they are…alive. THEY ARE FUCKING ALIVE!
I don’t know what comes over me.
“Mario!” I hear Dre’s voice.
I ignore him. I don’t care about Dre. I could care less about Dre. At this moment, my real dreams have come true. I have a second chance with Jax. I have a chance to finally make things right. I break through the crowd trying to get a closer look and praying to God that Jax comes off of that space shuttle. I don’t know what kind of miracle kept the people on that space shuttle alive. I don’t care.
I just need to see Jax.
I need to tell him how I feel about him.
“Get back! Hey! GET BACK!” I hear Pia LaPerla say.
She directs her mother’s staff to stop me from running over to the shuttle. Somehow, I manage to dodge them. NOTHING can stop me. Nothing can stop me from seeing him. I slip through people’s arms. I’m running right up to the space shuttle. It is parked right in the middle of the module by the huge door.
And that’s when I see him. Jax.
He looks so different. He has a beard. He hasn’t shaved. He looks a little dirty.
“JAX!” I’m screaming out.
Jax looks over at me.
He seems confused. His eyes light up. My heart races. Why the fuck am I crying? Why the fuck are tears coming out of my eyes.
“Oh my god…” Jax states looking at me.
Our eyes connect. For the moment I am so sure there is love there. I can’t be imagining it. Even though we ended on bad terms he seems happy to see me. His mouth even opens a little bit. But then he stops.
Something happens that blows my mind.
I see someone else that looks familiar.
“Fuck…” I say.
Bambi is right. I see the person walk up to Jax and hold his hand. It’s not the way friends would hold each other’s hands. No. They weren’t friends.
Jax was holding onto his lover’s hands.
Bambi was right. A man like Jax won’t stay single for long.
But his new lover. It’s not the guy Lamar.
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com