When she came to, the most immediate thing she noticed was the bright, orange glow all around her. It hurt her eyes and she composed herself, opening them slowly. She was confronted with a sight of which she could not make any sense, inside what appeared to be a glass jar. On the outside was an ocean of orange and red, spinning, turning, dancing hypnotically.
‘Where am I?’ she rubbed the back of her head; it still hurt from where she had been struck.
‘Oh, you’re awake!’ came an excited voice from an audio source she could not identify. ‘Now, the important thing is to remain calm. I knew you wouldn’t agree to this and I am sorry Daisy, but you had to see what I found. The reason they want me dead.’
‘What have you done to me and where am I?’ she turned around but how she did so, she couldn’t explain. It felt like antigravity but her movement was more fluid as though she stood on an invisible surface.
‘Well, this is going to be hard for you to comprehend but it’s important for you to remain calm. Daisy, darling granddaughter, you are inside Barnard’s Star!’
‘What, I’m… what?!‘ She started to panic, her pulse rising. The atmosphere inside the “jar” suddenly became oppressive, the furnace of a sea outside turning ferocious and angry before her eyes.
‘Now, remain calm. You are safe, safer than here with me. This goo – it has such amazing properties! You can eat it, you can build things with it like ships and cars and even buildings. I’ve seen it! That’s why I think ESA rivals, or even corporate sponsors, have tried to kill me for over thirty years. I sent a report and somebody cut me off. Within a few weeks somebody arrive to try to kill me. I believe you weren’t sent here for that and that’s why I need you to see it.’
‘Why have you done this to me?’ she reached out and slammed a fist against the goo. Surprisingly, it was fluid, as thick as molasses. A dent appeared and then just as quickly, the surface reformed.
‘To show you so somebody else knows. One day, they will kill me, here or back home if I ever make it. Now, watch this!’
At first, nothing appeared to happen but after what felt like five minutes, she saw the first fingers of blackness above her. The “jar” shimmered as it exited the photosphere, serene, lazy orange and red giving way to a black, starry sky and enormous waves of burning plasma ejecting into space and crashing back to the surface – almost whale-like in its return only to shoot up again. She imagined this was what it would be like at sea in a perfect storm.
Daisy watched with awe as she span around, watching the expanse of the surface of the red dwarf fall away. She could see in every conceivable direction and took delight in the change from the black starry space before her and the raging furnace of red, purple and orange star beneath her. ‘What is this stuff?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know, but you get used to the taste.’
‘Sir, madam, would you care for another drink?’ the waiter interrupted their conversation.
‘I’ll have another of these magic fruit cocktails.’ The reporter gestured at his glass ‘Captain?’
‘Gee and tee, on the rocks with a slice of lime.’
The waiter nodded, collected the glasses and left them to their conversation.
‘What happened next?’
‘She brought me back to Barnard IV. It took something like three hours. I was apprehensive about eating what as essentially my spaceship at first, but just a couple of mouthfuls filled me up. I wanted to slap her when I got back but I was so overcome with joy at being back, plus at what I’d seen, that I couldn’t be angry with my grandmother.’ She sighed. ‘I agreed I would not mention any of it to anyone and she let me go. I travelled back through the wormhole and things seemed normal for a few weeks. I went back to work and then one day I was woken up in the middle of the night by some people who didn’t identify themselves. They claimed to have footage – of everything – and that’s when I knew that my grandmother had betrayed me.’