“They say it never happened,” said Zyla, shaking her head in disbelief.
She was sitting with Brytha beneath a tree - or rather, what they called a tree here on New Cairns - watching the spaceport shuttles ascending and descending through the clear green sky.
“You were with the committee for three days,” said Brytha. “Is that really all they had to say after all that time?”
Zyla sighed. “They said that what I claim to have happened is impossible, and to prove it, they can’t find any physical evidence that it did happen at all.”
“But surely there must be some sign,” said Brytha. “Those things couldn’t have got aboard without leaving some trace of their presence.”
“That’s exactly what the committee told me,” said Zyla. “They couldn’t have done it without leaving some sign. And since the investigators couldn’t find any such sign, despite looking over every centimetre of the ship - at great expense, as the committee was quick to remind me - then it couldn’t have happened in the first place.”
Brytha said, “What about the medical evidence? Surely -”
“The scans were negative,” said Zyla. “According to them, nothing whatever happened to me.”
“I don’t understand it,” said Brytha. “I mean, if what you say is true -”
“What, don’t you believe me now?” said Zyla.
“Oh, Zyla, of course I do,” said Brytha, hugging her. “How could they believe you’d invent such a story?”
“Well, according to the official psychological report,” said Zyla, “I hallucinated the whole thing.”
“Hallucinated? But you’re not supposed to be able to dream in suspension.”
“That’s right. According to them, my brain confabulated the whole experience during the thirty seconds it took me to wake up.”
“Thirty seconds?” snorted Brytha. “That’s ridiculous! They’re just denying the whole thing in case the story gets out and people get scared of space travel.”
“Yes, that would explain it,” said Zyla. “Typical commercial paranoia. It’d probably take a huge lawsuit to determine the real truth, and we’d never be able to afford it.”
Zyla leaned against the tree and sighed. “If only there was some way to prove it. There’s just no way I could have hallucinated ten years of experiences in just thirty seconds.”
Shaking her head, she thought back to they day they had first boarded the ship...
“Congratulations, Ms Kilvan and Ms Sheldran,” beamed the Colonization Authority clerk as he handed them the datachips containing their boarding passes and joint residency permit. “Your technical skills will make an invaluable contribution to the New Cairns colony.”
“That’s the idea, I guess,” said Zyla. “We can’t wait to visit another planet.”
“Well, thanks to suspended animation you won’t have to wait long,” the clerk told them. “If you’ll make your way to Gate 13, the shuttle will be departing shortly and once you’re on board the steward will show you to your berths.”
“13, eh?” said Brytha. “Lucky we’re not superstitious.”
When the shuttle arrived in the starship’s huge docking bay the passengers were met by stewards, who led them aboard the ship and took them to their designated suspension chambers.
“As you’re probably aware,” their steward told them, “the voyage to New Cairns will take a good ten years, even at relativistic speeds, so you’ll be spending most of the voyage in suspension.”
“Cryogenic, you mean,” said Zyla.
“Oh, no,” the steward grinned. “I’m proud to announce that this ship is equipped with room-temperature biostasis technology. It’s only been used on a couple of previous voyages, but soon all of the colony ships will be using it.”
“Biostasis?” said Brytha. “How does that work?”
That was the steward’s cue to launch into a complex technical discussion of the system. As far as the girls understood it, the biostasis chamber used a set of force fields that effectively suspended time within the body, so that as far as they were concerned no time would pass between departure and arrival, although ten years of ship’s time would elapse.
“The beauty of biostasis,” the steward concluded, “is that it’s solid-state, if you’ll pardon the expression. No drugs, no bulky cryogenic units, and no feeling of nausea when you wake up. It’s better for us because we can optimise space for passengers and economise on power, and it’s better for you because you don’t have to undergo complex biochemical procedures before and after.”
“So it’s perfectly safe, then?” said Zyra, who knew as well as the steward that cryogenic freezing was not 100% safe, despite what the brochures might claim.
The steward smiled. “The system has been extensively tested. It’s guaranteed safe and secure. The crew use it as well, though of course they take it in shifts so there’s always someone awake to guard the ship. Here’s your suspension chamber now.”
She led them into a large circular chamber containing about fifty couches. They could see that some of the nearby couches were already occupied by nude women.
“These passengers are already in stasis,” the steward told them. “Take a look.”
Above each couch was a small grey globe that cast a blue glow upon the couch’s occupant. The women lay like statues in the blue light. Their eyes were open but unblinking. They did not appear to be breathing. They might as well have been made of wax.
To her surprise, Zyra realised the sight was making her horny.
“And...we’re going to be like that?” she said.
“Yes, in just a few minutes, once I’ve initialized the stasis programs for your couches. They’re completely unconscious. They won’t know a thing until they wake up in ten years’ time, and neither will you.”
Brytha reached out to touch one of the women, and found her hand blocked by an invisible barrier. She exchanged glances with Zyla, who could guess what she was thinking. At least nobody would be able to feel them up while they were in stasis, although there didn’t seem to be any way to stop anyone from looking.
The steward made some adjustments to the grey spheres above two of the unoccupied couches. “There,” she announced. “The stasis units are ready. If you need to use the ladies’ room first, it’s just down the corridor. Then all you have to do is disrobe - you can put your clothes in the lockers behind your couches - and then lie down. The stasis units will operate once you are in a reclining position, and the next thing you know we’ll be orbiting New Cairns. Any questions?”
They had none.
“Well, then: much as I’d like to wish you pleasant dreams, the fact is you won’t have any while you’re in stasis. Bon voyage.”
The moment she left, Zyla turned to Brytha.
“My god, Brytha. These frozen girls...they’re making me feel...”
“Yeah, me too. You want to...?”
“Well, we can’t do it on these couches, we’d just get frozen before we started. Where did she say that rest room was?”
They returned from the rest room half an hour later feeling calm and relaxed and looking forward to the voyage. They placed their clothing in the lockers and sat facing each other on the couches.
“Well, I guess this is it,” said Brytha.
“Yeah,” said Zyla. “See you in ten years’ time.”
They embraced, and then lay back on their respective couches. The grey spheres hummed quietly, and the two women entered biostasis.
The chamber was dark. Only the emergency lights were operating, casting a faint glow over the room. That was surprising. Zyla would have thought the main lights would be switched on before the passengers were awakened.
Perhaps she had been woken a little early. She couldn’t hear anyone else stirring yet.
Oh, well. Lights or no lights, she decided she’d better get up. The others would probably be awake soon, and she could be the first to greet them.
She tried to stand up. But to her astonishment and dismay, nothing happened. Her limbs remained perfectly still.
Forcing herself to remain calm, she tried again. Still nothing happened.
No matter how hard she tried to move, her body continued to lie like a statue. She couldn’t even feel herself breathing.
A horrible realisation dawned on her.
The biostasis had malfunctioned. Somehow she had remained fully conscious while her body became frozen.
The ship had not arrived at its destination. In fact, it was only just about to depart.
Zyla was trapped. She couldn’t turn off the stasis. She couldn’t escape. She couldn’t cry for help. And as far as the ship’s crew was concerned she was just sleeping peacefully in stasis like all the other passengers.
She was doomed to lie in a state of absolute paralysis, wide awake and helpless, for every moment of ten whole years.
She wanted to scream...but of course she couldn’t.
Time passed. Just how much time, Zyla couldn’t tell. There was no way to measure the passage of time in the dim, silent stasis chamber. It might have been days or months. She had almost grown resigned to the fact that for an entire decade she would neither move, nor see anything move.
But then, to her surprise, she did see something move.
A figure seemed to have entered the chamber from somewhere behind her. At first she thought it might be one of the crew come to check on the passengers. If that had been the case, the crewperson would have reported nothing wrong, since Zyla couldn’t give any sign that something was in fact very wrong.
Then the figure walked around to the front of Zyla’s couch, and she realised it wasn’t a crewman after all. In the dim light, the stranger looked almost human, but not quite. There were the dark leopard-like spots on its naked skin, and the elongated triangular face, and the two pairs of small, pert breasts....
An alien! thought Zyla. But that’s impossible. How did she get on board? Why haven’t the alarms sounded? Why haven’t the waking crewmen seen her on the security holos?
These questions were to remain unanswered. The alien leant over Zyla’s couch and studied her intently. Zyla could only stare back.
This is weird, she thought. I may be the first human ever to encounter this species, and I can’t do anything to greet her.
The alien seemed particularly fascinated by Zyla’s two large breasts (large, at least, by alien standards), and after a moment she reached forward and touched them.
Hey! thought Zyla. How can she touch me? What happened to the invisible barrier?
It was another unanswerable question.
After poking and squeezing Zyla’s bosom for a few moments, the alien climbed on top of her and began to fondle it in earnest. She couldn’t do a thing to prevent it, and to be honest she wasn’t sure she wanted to. Being caressed, even by an alien, was a lot more interesting than staring at the ceiling.
Why isn’t the stasis unit freezing her as well as me? thought Zyla, but then the question was swept away by a sudden, intense rush of pleasure that went on and on and on.
Somehow the alien’s caresses had brought her vaginal muscles out of stasis.
Her face could betray no sign of her ecstasy, but the alien seemed to sense it somehow, and with an enthusiastic purr she slid her long, articulate fingers into Zyla’s reawakened vagina. Within seconds Zyla came again.
When at last she could think, Zyla thought: This can’t possibly be happening.
I can’t move, and I’m being fucked by an alien.
OK, maybe I’m going crazy.
Then she thought: In that case, I might as well have orgasms while I’m being crazy.
The alien seemed happy to oblige. For what seemed like days she continued to stroke, fondle, lick, tickle and masturbate Zyla, who had orgasm after orgasm, some slow, some fast, some subtle and some so intense that she couldn’t think at all for long minutes or hours at a time.
All the while this was happening, Zyla was vaguely aware of other alien presences moving about the room. She couldn’t turn her head to see what they were doing, but some of them were grunting and moaning in what seemed to be an ecstatic way.
It seemed they were fucking the other passengers as well. Including Brytha.
But if the other passengers were really in stasis, and not Zyla’s conscious semi-stasis...then, assuming the aliens left before the ship reached its destination, they would never know how their bodies had been used.
From the aliens’ point of view, every colony ship that used biostasis units must seem to be a pleasure palace containing thousands of warm, pliant, exotic sex dolls.
Even as she came to this realisation, her thoughts were swept away by another powerful flare of ecstasy.
What should she call it? Rape? Although she had not, strictly speaking, consented to it, it was not in the least bit violent or humiliating, and in any case, it felt good. More than good. Better than she had words to describe, in fact. Which was just as well if the aliens were going to keep doing it for the whole decade, because whether it felt good or bad she couldn’t stop them.
So she might as well call it lovemaking.
A little later the female alien disengaged herself and stepped down, stroking Zyla’s face in a gesture of farewell. Zyla was only sorry she couldn’t thank her alien lover.
Out of the corner of her eye Zyla watched her depart.
Mmm. Was that it? thought Zyla dreamily. Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted, and it’ll give me something nice to remember while I’m trapped here for the rest of the voyage.
But no sooner had she thought that than another alien approached her couch. This one was a male. Zyla was amused to see that he also had four nipples on his broad chest.
He also stroked her face before climbing onto the couch and gently stroking her neck, arms, sides, breast and abdomen. That went on for a long time, and by the time she had had two orgasms from his caresses alone Zyla was beginning to wonder if he intended to take it further at all.
As if in answer, he moved closer until his small, flared nose was almost touching hers, and trilled a few quiet syllables. Zyla guessed that he was asking for permission.
When, because she had no choice, Zyla remained silent and still, he took it for assent. He trilled again in thanks and genty eased her legs apart.
Zyla had only had sex with men on a few occasions, none of them recent, and so she had very little to compare with the alien’s...lovemaking.
At first his penis felt disappointingly small inside her, but then it seem to thicken and then lengthen of its own accord. Then it began to pulsate, as if its thickness and length were fluctuating rhythmically, and then the tip began to slowly gyrate...and all the while, the alien’s hips remained almost as motionless as Zyla’s. He didn’t need to move them to control his thrusts.
My god, she thought. He must be able to control the individual blood supply to each block of spongy tissues voluntarily, so that he can control the size and shape and hardness of his erection at will!
The alien continued to demonstrate this remarkable skill, combined with skilful caresses, for long hours, bringing Zyla tantalisingly close to orgasm and then backing off again and again until her body could not hold back any longer and exploded into ecstasy for long minutes at a time, and then repeating the cycle over and over again until finally he could no longer hold back his own pleasure and came into Zyla’s body with a hot, rapid gush, squealing with pleasure.
The male stayed with her for two days, and then another male took his place for three days, and then, spending between two and five days each, came a female, two more males, four more females, a male, the first female again, two females together....
More orgasms than she could count. More ecstasy than she had ever imagined possible. She couldn’t move, and her only regret was that she couldn’t help the aliens with their lovemaking.
And the ship was still more than nine and three-quarter years from its destination.
Around the room the other passengers were sitting up. Brytha did so as well, and turned to Zyla.
“Looks like the steward was right,” she said. “Felt like no time at all.”
Then she saw that Zyla had a strange expression on her face.
“They’re gone,” Zyla breathed. “I’ll never see them again.”
“Zyla? Are you all right?”
“Oh, Brytha,” said Zyla, “I don’t know how to tell you what’s happened to me. I’m not certain I even believe it myself.”
But she had eventually managed to find the words to tell Brytha the whole story, and to her enormous relief Brytha had not laughed. As the shuttle ferried them down to their new world they discussed Zyla’s story and considered their options for acting upon it.
“There must be some kind of evidence for what happened,” said Brytha. “I mean, if the aliens came from another ship then it must have shown up on the ship’s scanners.”
“Maybe they didn’t come from a ship,” Zyla suggested. “Maybe they jumped through some kind of portal from another dimension.”
“Well, then, there must be medical evidence,” said Brytha. “I mean, all those aliens couldn’t have ejaculated into your body without leaving some of their semen behind.”
“That’s true,” said Zyla. “My god, that’s right! I may have alien DNA inside me! Just think, Bry, the first concrete evidence of alien life, and it’s inside me!”
“Well, not so much concrete as sticky....” grinned Brytha.
After clearing immigration they emerged from the shuttle terminal into a small, neatly laid-out city. The air was scented with strange plants and birdlike creatures fluttered gaily overhead with no concern for the human hustle below them.
“Well, if first impressions are anything to go by, I think we could get to like it here,” said Brytha.
That night in their modest but comfortable apartment, Zyla astonished Brytha with her lovemaking techniques.
“My...my god,” muttered Brytha. “You’ve never done that to me before.”
Zyla grinned. “When you’ve spent ten years getting fucked by complete strangers, you tend to pick up a few tricks.”
“Well, all I can say is, if it was that good for you for all that time, I envy you.”
Zyla kissed her. “It wasn’t like being with you,” she said. “I missed you. Even though physically you were right next to me.”
“Well, then,” said Brytha, “it seems we’ve got some catching up to do.”
The next morning there was the orientation lecture and employment registration to be taken care of, which meant it was midday by the time Zyla entered the Colonization Authority office and demanded to see a senior official.
She had then had to spend hours going over her story again and again before what seemed like every single member of the Authority’s staff. By the time they were done she was certain even the cleaning robots knew the story inside and out.
Then they had sent teams to check over every inch of the ship, which was still in orbit awaiting refuelling for the return journey, and while that was happening they conducted countless physical and psychological tests on Zyla.
Finally, days later, they had solemnly announced that there was no evidence to back up her claims. There was absolutely no proof that aliens had come aboard, and certainly no record of an alien ship approaching the colony ship. Nor was there any physical evidence that Zyla, or any of the other colonists, had experienced any kind of sexual activity while their bodies were in biostasis.
Despite Zyla’s protestations, the physician repeatedly assured her that there was not the slightest trace of alien semen in her vagina, nor any traces of non-human biological compounds anywhere on or in her body. Nor, for that matter, had the scans of the ship detected any such substances anywhere.
The psychologist had told her it was not uncommon for the mind to fabricate memories and experiences under extreme conditions. He conjectured that her mind had simply reacted to the stress and excitement of relocating to a new planet and the unfamiliar experience of biostasis by inventing her alien sexual adventure.
“He said I just fantasized the whole thing,” said Zyla, shaking her head. “Good god, what does he think I am, to have that kind of fantasy?”
Brytha put an arm around Zyla. “Look, I believe you. Your story was too detailed to be an hallucination. I think maybe the Colonization people are covering this up. I wouldn’t be surprised if they already knew about it.”
“But if that’s true, how can we prove it?”
“We’ll just have to bide our time, that’s all,” Brytha told her. “Keep looking for bits and pieces of evidence whenever we get a chance. Until then, we came here to start a new life, and that’s just what we’ll do, and we won’t give the authorities any reason to regard us as emotionally unstable. But I promise you this, Zy. One day we will find out the truth.”
“I hope so, Bry. Because one day I’d just love to introduce those smug Colonization officials to my alien friends. Preferably face down on stasis couches.”
Aboard the ship, a technician carefully removed the biostasis projector from above the couch that Zyla had occupied, and placed it in a sealed container before replacing it with a new unit.
The stasis unit in its sealed container eventually found its way into a larger sealed box, together with all of the physical and verbal records relating to Zyla’s alleged alien sexual experience.
The box was itself placed in a chamber within a large stasis preservation facility. The chamber was given a label emblazoned with a date and code number, followed by the legend:
Evidence relating to Alleged E. B. E. S. E. Report #647: Kilvan, Z. (F)
Ten thousand kilometres above the planet the colony ship prepared to leave orbit, carrying several hundred returnees back to the homeworld in biostasis before bringing in the next batch of colonists.
Meanwhile, in a nearby dimension the aliens felt a thrill of excitement. Another group of frozen gods was about to enter the heavens.
It would soon be time to worship again.
From Chris on June 22, 2004: