....And Into The Fire (Human, Part 2) by Keith Kitchen

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SUMMARY: Captured by Denebians and accused of being a robot, Dave is mad as Hell and ready to take on the galaxy find his wife and friends, no matter the cost...


I was thrown to the left, then to the right. Then back to the left. Then, it felt as if my insides turned themselves inside out. I felt nauseous. I still couldn't see, so I had absolutely no idea what was going on. The turbulence felt like the Quake of ‘58, the one the San Andreas Suppressers couldn't handle. I've never really cared for California and that time I was lucky. I had been in a large, open field with nothing around to fall on me. This time, I didn't know whether there was anything that could fall on me or not.

I really couldn't be sure. The problem was, I still couldn't see. I was conscious again, I knew that. Still, there was no way to know whether or not something could come crashing down onto Kate's car and me. I was no longer moving so I could be inside that UFO and there could have been something above the care and I wouldn't have ever known. I would have gone from one type of blackness to another and would have never had time to notice the difference.

Finally, the shaking stopped. I checked myself and then was able to rest easy, realizing that I had only collected a few more bruises. I felt around the dashboard and found the interior lights. I pressed the ‘activate' switch and was rewarded with the soft glow of the lights.

"All right, man. I was wonderin' when you was gonna put some lights on in here," a male voice drawled, lazily.

The sound of the voice shocked me. "Who's that?" I asked, whirling around to look behind me, in the back seat compartment. There was no one there.

"Me. Who'd ya think?" The voice replied.

There was something vaguely familiar about the voice. "Who's ‘Me'? Where are you?" I asked, perplexed.

"Where I've always been, dude."

"Where's that?" I was confused enough as it was. This was beginning to annoy me.

"In the box, man. In the box."

In the box? "Would you mind explaining what you mean by ‘In the box'?"

"Ahhh, like, come on, man. You seem to be a groovy cat, you should be able to figure that out. Anyways, I'm havin' some trouble with memory transferal, can you dig? Could you, like , tell me how we got into this groove?"

Realization hit me like a brick. "You're the computer!"

"Like, hey," the lazy voice replied, with just a hint of computer, "I just knew you'd figure it out sooner or later. Yeah, I'm your computer, or at least the supervisory program. Didn't your know that? Just call me Clyde. Heh, heh, heh. Clyde the Computer, at your service."

I started stammering, "Well, uh, how? I mean, uh... You know, uh, you can't... Oh, Hell!" How could the computer be talking to me like this? Robots weren't even this animate.

"Don't you know? You are on the list."

"What list?" This was all too confusing, on top of everything else that had happened so far this morning.

"The authorization list." The computer, er, Clyde responded. "Baweeson, Janderly, Karunnah and you."

I didn't recognize those names at all, unless they were anagrams of Ben's, Jan's and Kate's names.

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