“Where are we?” Testicleeze asked.
She shrugged a tentacle. “I don’t know. I spun the slide scale too fast to see. You said go anywhere.”
“Doesn’t the ship know where we are? Where we slid?”
“No,” Damitol said, her voice rising in panic. “It’s just a . . . a pleasure junger. Not for . . . wild jumps. Not to the middle of . . . nowhere. We’re lost! We’ll die!”
Her aura spun and flipped through a rainbow of colors. Testicleeze had trouble keeping his own from pulsing in sympathy. He stiffened his resolve and forced out a calming hue and a serious tone.
“It’ll be OK. We’re OK. Don’t spin out. Look, you set the autohome, right? The junger can get back to the hanger any time, right? It doesn’t need to know where we’re starting. Am I right?”
Damitol squeezed her tentacles around her body and stilled her aura.
“You’re right,” she said. “I’ll just take us home.”
Testicleeze gripped her tentacle in mid-reach.
“We can go home any time we want,” he said, relaxing his grip and then stroking her. “Just because we’re completely jumpin’ lost doesn’t mean we can’t continue our adventure.”
“But, how will we find your list of places to visit?”
He picked up the list.
“Damitol, I just want to go places, see things, burn a little trizort while I can. List schmist.” He shredded it. “Surely we can find something around here to amusenate us. We’re still near the galactic center. You relax while I look around.”
He pulled out his X-ray detector and looked toward the thick cluster at the center of the galaxy. He increased the magnification several times and then added false color from an rf sensor.
“I’ve got it,” he said, excited. “I found a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.”
“You can’t see a black hole,” Damitol said. “It sucks everything in. It’s a black hole, after all.”
“I can’t see the hole itself, but it doesn’t suck in everything. Outside the event horizon, matter escapes. And there are jets. Sometimes you can see those. Here, look.”
Testicleeze placed the device in front of Damitol’s visualizers and adjusted its angle toward the black hole. He’d chosen jewel colors for the false image, knowing she’d like that.
“Oh, that’s pretty. I’m seeing a jet?”
“Purple comes from the X-ray spectrum. The jet hits gas and accelerates electrons, and that’s what you see. The blue is radio frequency showing a wide shock front.”
“Is the purple knob or the blue one sticking up the jet?”
“No.” He retrieved the device, then adjusted the magnification and orientation. After checking the image, he returned the viewer to Damitol.
“I set the region of interest as the yellow oval. The jet is the sort of dim, linear, purple feature. It made the blue shock wave.”
She scanned features surrounding the black hole, then gave the device back to Testicleeze.
“So much to see in this galumphing galaxy of ours,” she marveled. “Do you think we’ll be able to see more of it after we flork?”
“They’ll give us new responsibilities. Those bulviating grinzats run everything.”
“What if we become grinzats?” she asked. “We could, you know.”
“Wash out your mouth. Everyone says that grinzats acted like klapwads way before florking. Do I act like a grinzat?”
She rubbed his head with one of her tentacles. “No, Testicleeze. You don’t.”
He enjoyed her touch, his aura glowing chortzelish green.
“Let’s go somewhere else,” he said. “I don’t want to flork before I see as much as I can.”
“Send us outward from the center. Otherwise, who cares? We’ll find something.”
“That’s good for me. The slider won’t drop us into the middle of a gravity well, so let’s trust to fate.”
“Cowabunga!” Testicleeze yelled when Damitol hit the button.
Images of black hole emissions from Sagittarius A in center of Milky Way galaxy from NASA.
Stay tuned for the next stop in the joy rides of Damitol and Testicleeze.
But wait, you can read another of Mark’s stories free by clicking here. What happens when the ship that Merlin the magician stowed away on runs into a hurricane? Can he make it through the storm to Texas?
You can find a glossary of gonzo terms here.