The ship began vibrating ever so slightly and there was a very deep, low humming that seemed to be coming from the bulkheads. A moment after Jennings became aware of this; a woman’s voice said from the overhead speakers, “Ten minutes until jump.”
Jennings, sitting in a chair in the sickbay, glanced up at the ceiling and then over at the nearby wall and placed the palm of his hand to the bulkhead. It felt oddly cold and he could feel a faint vibration.
“You’re first jump,” Doctor Sanders asked?
She was sitting on the bed beside him, her shirt off, but wearing a white tank-top t-shirt. Her strawberry blond hair tied back in a thick ponytail.
Jennings nodded his head at her. The two had been in here for a while, and the Chief Corpsmen and his assistant had taken blood samples from both Jennings and Sanders, as well as checked their heart, blood pressure and basically just looked them over.
“We’re in the last stage now,” the young corpsmen said as he came back over to them. “The Eight Ball is almost spiraled all the way up.”
“Eight ball,” Sanders asked as she looked at the young man?
He nodded his head. “That’s what the crew calls it because it looks like an Eight Ball, and that’s all I can tell you about that. However, with it almost fully charged you’ll probably get a little dizzy and might have a slight headache behind your eyes.”
Now that he mentioned it, Jennings did have a slight headache. He looked up at the corpsmen and asked, “Is it safe to be sitting? What are we supposed to do or where are we supposed to be during a jump? I heard it’s not safe to be by the bulkheads.”
The young man grinned at that. “You’re supposed to be here, and you can do whatever you want, when we jump. Some guys like to jump up in the air just as the final count reaches one, just so they can say they traveled a few thousand miles, suspended in the air the entire time. I knew this one guy that once,” he started to explain and then looked at Doctor Jennings and smirked. “I’ll not talk about that I guess.”
She frowned at that. “I can imagine what he did just to say he did it for a thousand miles.”
The young man grinned and nodded his head, before saying, “as far as not being by the bulkheads. Don’t worry about it. They’ve perfected the jump since the 1940s, and we’re not really jumping forward or backwards in time, but to a new location, so there is no fear of a merge issue to worry about. Besides, our new Jump Navigator is the best there is.”
“I heard,” Jennings commented as he glanced over at Sanders.
“Five minutes until jump,” a female voice said aloud from the ships communication speakers.
“Okay,” Sanders remarked as she looked up at the ceiling.
“All righty then,” the corpsmen said as he began handing them some items. “Open the packet up and take this now. Dump all of it in your mouth and let it dissolve and swallow it with some water if you need to.”
Jennings looked down at the packet the young man had put in his head. It looked like a giant tea bag. At the same time Sanders tore the one the corpsmen had given her open and dumped a huge amount of the white powder that had been inside it in her mouth. Instantly she grimaced as she glared at the young man. “It’s sugar.”
“It is,” the corpsmen said. “and some other things you’ll need. Swallow all of it. When we jump you’ll lose about half your blood sugar, potassium and electrolytes, and when we come out on the other side you’re going to be thirsty, dizzy, have the worst headache in your life and basically feel like you’re going to die.”
“Sounds like fun,” Jennings muttered as he tore open his packet of the surgery, powder mix and dumped it into his mouth.
“Don’t worry it’ll only last a minute or so, and then you’ll stabilize,” the corpsmen explained. “As soon as we get over there on the other side, drink this bottle of water,” he explained as he handed them each a bottle of water. “And eat this,” he then said as he handed them each what looked like a candy bar. “The water is spiked with potassium and some other stuff, and the candy bar is straight sugar. I know, sounds gross now, but trust me, after we jump that’s going to be like Thanksgiving dinner to you.”
Jennings and Sanders exchanged a glance.
“When we jump you’re going to feel like you’re passing out,” the corpsmen explained. “It’s going to be cold, you’ll probably hear a loud screeching or humming sound, it’ll get bright, dark and bright again, and like I said, when we’re on the other side you’ll feel confused and dizzy for a moment, but it’ll pass. Just breath, remember to drink the water and eat the candy bar.”
Jennings glanced from the young man to the bottle of water and candy bar in his hands and then up at Sanders. “Do we get a, ‘I survived the Eldridge teleportation,’ tee-shirt after this is all over?”
The corpsmen made no remark to that, just smiled and walked away.
For a moment Jennings and Sanders looked at each other in silence and then from overhead the woman’s voice said, “Jump in ten seconds.”
“Here we go,” Sanders said in a shaky voice.
“Eight seconds,” the woman’s voice said.
“Nervous,” Jennings asked? He was, but doing his best not to show it.
“Just worried I’ll end up on the other side, not, you know, fully me,” Sanders remarked.
“With my luck I’ll end up with my foot permanently in my mouth,” Jennings commented. “Or my head up my ass, which will not surprise anyone in my family.”
“Three,” the voice above them said.
Sanders laughed a nervous laugh at what he had said.
To Jennings it suddenly felt as if a blast of arctic wind rushed around him. At the same time he felt an odd, almost sucking sensation as if his entire body was being sucked down a whirlpool in the ocean. This sensation only lasted a moment and then he felt . . . nothing. The world seemed intensely bright one second and then all went black, and he heard a very deep and oddly pleasant humming sound. Again, this lasted for less than the space of a heartbeat and then it suddenly got very bright again and as it did so, he felt not cold but humid warmth and a sudden sensation as if he was rushing forward fast.
A moment later he heard a deep, thud-thump sound and if felt as if he was in the middle of a thunderhead just after a bolt of lightning had been discharged—his entire body was vibrating and tingling. Just as his mind registered this, he felt a sudden wave of nausea and a sharp headache behind his eyes, and it sounded to him the way it sounded when you rushed up from under the water into the air.
Just as he understood this he heard the woman’s voice from overhead finish saying “-mp!”
Jennings fell out of the chair he had been sitting in and onto the floor on his hands and knees. He felt sick to his stomach for a moment, dizzy and so thirsty his throat was burning. His heart was also slamming away in his chest as if he had just run three miles.
“I’m gonna die,” he heard Sanders gasp and realized she had slid off of the bed and was kneeling on the floor beside him. “Dying,” she gasped. “Oh God. Di-dying.”
“Drink the water and eat the sugar bar,” the voice of the corpsmen told them. “You’re not dying. We’re on the other side now. You’ll feel better in a moment.”
Jennings didn’t need to be told twice. Even before the young man had finished saying that, he had twisted off the top of the water bottle and had drank almost half of it before he tore open the wrapper to the candy bar and began sticking chunks of it in his mouth. Instantly his headache disappeared, and as he focused his eyes on Sanders he watched her for a moment, smiling.
She was kneeling down beside him, stuffing handfuls of the sugar bar in her mouth, chewing for a second and then gulping it down with chugs of water she took from the bottle. She looked both comical and at the same time, cute.
“Congratulations you two,” the corpsmen said as he came back over to them. “You made your first teleportation jump. The first one is always the hardest. After this they get easier. You’re body gets used to them. I actually like them now.”
“You like that,” Sanders asked from around a mouthful of the candy bar? “You’re a very disturbed young man.”