Seeing DoubleMature

Vincent got into the simulator and turned it on. He put on the prop flight helmet and strapped into the cockpit. The menu came up and he chose the option to link up with Marcus’s system and then chose the “versus” training mode. Soon the simulation started and Vincent found himself in a small single pilot fighter craft that was sitting in a launch tube. The fact that the simulation started in a launch tube attested to it’s age due to the fact that launch tubes were no longer considered efficient deployment systems. Shrugging off the amusement of this he engaged the rails and launched into space and began the search for his target. Several moments passed as he navigated through the space near the carrier he launched from in a standard search pattern. Eventually he reached a debris field which he knew would be the battleground where Marcus was waiting. He entered cautiously, staying in the shadows of the debris as he scanned for his target. Suddenly an alarm blared in the cockpit warning of a missile lock and he spun into evasive maneuvers, grazing debris as he maneuvered eloquently through the simulated wreckage. This was a walk in the park to him since there was no real danger, this made him remember the teachings of a veteran pilot that was bestowed on him at a younger age. “You can jump on a single square foot of tile without fear if it is at ground level, but put that same tile thousands of feet in the air and regardless of knowing that you can jump up and down without falling, you’ll hesitate due to fear. Fear is your only true enemy.” Vincent maneuvered through the debris and tracked Marcus’s position by cross referencing firing angles and the path of the missile that he evaded. He considered and projected Marcus’s next move and maneuvered into position. His assumptions were correct and soon Marcus revealed himself as he searched for Vincent’s fighter who lay in wait behind a large piece of debris. Vincent switched to his main gun and came in close, following Marcus as he swept the grounds. The interference of the debris field made it impossible to detect each other by radar and forced them to search visually, which gave Vincent the ability to hide in Marcus’s blind spot. He followed him for some time, staying in gun targeting so that his missile system wouldn’t lock on and warn Marcus of his presence. Eventually Marcus stopped, something that Vincent had anticipated, Marcus was now attempting to use the radar and see if he could discern any organized movement in the objects near his position. This was Vincent’s chance to attack. He switched firing mode to missiles but as the chime began to beep for the lock, something happened. Vincent was pumped, he was about to win, his excitement was palpable and his adrenaline was racing but without warning, at that key moment, everything froze. Time seemed to slow to a crawl and his head became cold and weightless, he felt nauseous and every object in his vision seemed to double and blur. The sensation felt somewhat familiar, as if he had felt it before or as if this same moment had happened before. It came to his attention in this confusing state that not only the objects in his vision blurred and doubled, but somehow he was able to sense everything around him, from the simulator to the other people in the lounge, the bartender and Enora. His head began to ache as the sense expanded, things that were near him became unfocused and dull while new objects came into perception, the floor below and above him with the people present there and the circuitry embedded in the decks. Like a light burning out everything suddenly went dark, his vision, his hearing, all his senses. He started to come to at the sound of Marcus.
    “Whoo! Gotcha!” He said, undoing his restraints and taking off the helmet. “Man Vincent what happened there I was sure you had me.”
    Vincent shook his head. Marcus’s voice was barely audible at first and a ringing burned in his ears. His vision was blurred and tunneled but it was slowly coming back.
    “Hey man, are you alright?” Marcus stated as he got closer. “Enora, help me out here.” Marcus unbuckled Vincent and removed the helmet. He lifted Vincent’s head and looked in his eyes. “Vince, are you ok?”
    Enora came to the other side and quickly grabbed his arm. “Help me get him on the table.”
    Vincent barely felt the motion as they removed him from the simulator and lay him on a table. “Ugh, something’s wrong.” He said as he groggily regained a normal state of consciousness.
    “I don’t doubt it, maybe we should take you back to the medical center.” Enora stated.
    “No!” Vincent barked, “No...” he said more softly. “I’m fine.” He sat up and looked around.
    “You don’t look fine man, you’re white as a ghost.” Marcus said. “What happened?”
    Vincent shook his head and rubbed his eyes. “I don’t know, everything went to shit, my vision got blurred stuff started to double up and then I was totally out of it. I was hallucinating.”
    “Hallucinating?” Enora asked, “Explain.”
    Vincent shrugged. “Well, I could see you and the Bartender, and then the deck above us and the people walking around there, even the ones below us and everything in between like wires and computer components in the magnetic system underneath the concourse floor.”
    “Alright, we’re getting you back to Med.” Marcus stated.

    It didn’t take long for them to return to the medical center. When they arrived, the triage staff decided that Vincent’s condition was not serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention. “Figures.” Marcus added, as they criticized the system. Enora, Marcus and Vincent remained seated in the triage center for at least an hour before Vincent was admitted. The doctor took a short look at him while asking a few questions and quickly shrugged off the entire ordeal as simply post traumatic stress due to the events that occurred the day before. “The anxiety involved in the simulation was expected from someone who had just been in a life threatening situation.” Said the doctor, “I’m sure you’ll be fine after some counseling.”
    Vincent nearly protested at the idea of counseling but understood that it was procedural and he couldn’t avoid or deny it.
    “What now” Marcus asked after Vincent explained what had transpired in the examination room.
    Enora shook her head. “I don’t like this, you’re going to have to pass pre-flight exams and if this is still an issue you’ll lose combat status.”
    Vincent shrugged. “Nothing we can do about it until I’ve been picked by the shrink.
    “Well, I’m going back to the pit.” Marcus said, “You with me?”
    Vincent nodded and turned to Enora.
    “Yeah, I guess there isn’t much else we can do but sit and wait. Might as well celebrate your success from yesterday.”
    “Drown the sorrows of misfortune.” Marcus said mockingly as they walked out of the medical center for the second time that day.
    The night livened up when they returned to the pit to find Delia McFierson brightening spirits and raising moral with her fiddle, Huedenver by her side with a harmonica. Her voice was high pitched but serene in its way, an Irish accent and spurts of Gaelic highlighted the lyrics of her songs that were manly based on true events that had transpired within the unit during her time. The incidents described were cleverly exaggerated with humorous outcomes and skillfully contrasted by serious drama.
    “This is one hell of a place.” Marcus interjected as he sat at their table with a fresh drink. “I really don’t see how they can keep up with the demand of alcohol.”
    “They brew some of their own too you know.” Delia said as she took a brake from the fiddle. “They’ve got at least four distilleries scattered around the maintenance bays, but it’s barely enough to keep up with demand, hence the need for donations and stocks. Not to mention they can’t brew every brand, just a few.”
    Marcus nodded in agreement, “That’s good, I should talk to the bartender, I’ve worked with brewing before. I might be able to lend a hand. What’s the guys name anyway?”
    “The bartender?” Asked Delia.
    “I’d give it to you but he’s the type that wants to know who knows his name. Sorry Marcus but you’ll have to ask him yourself.”
    “Understandable.” Marcus added. “I’ll do that...”
    Vincent looked over to Marcus who remained seated. “Well?”
    “... what does the man have an expiration date or something? I’ll ask him later, I’m relaxing here.”
    “Thought you’d be more motivated than that, that’s all.”
    “Hey, nothing could stop me from enjoying a bit of R&R when it comes my way.”
    “Cheers to that.” Vincent remarked.
    “Well, time for us to get back up. Huey, let’s go.” Delia said as she got up and headed for the back of the room where an area had been cleared for them to perform.
    They played into the evening until thirty minutes to lights out when the illegal establishment closed, giving everyone ample time to get to their quarters. Vincent walked with Enora out of the alley way and onto the concourse, Marcus trailing behind.
    Enora stopped and turned to Vincent, “Well I guess I’ll see you tomorrow. You’ve got most of the day off other than a combat flight assessment at nine hundred hours.” She smiled at him, “If I don’t see you then, I’ll see you the day after tomorrow.”
    Vincent forced a smile back at her, in truth he hated for the evening to end. It had been a good one in her company. “Good night Enora. Sleep well, and if you’re out tomorrow, be careful. I want to see you again like this.”
    “You will.” She said, as she walked off, hurrying to her quarters before the lights went out.
    “Well then, shall we be on our way?” Marcus said as he finally caught up. “His name is Cid by the way, I introduced the both of us even though you weren’t there.”
    Vincent frowned in confusion and finally took his gaze off Enora who disappeared behind a structure that didn’t quite reach the ceiling of the concourse. “Who?” He asked to Marcus who walked passed him.
    “The bartender.”
    “Oh. Cid?”
    Marcus stopped and turned around. “Yeah, you didn’t hear me the first time?”
    Vincent shook his head and smiled wryly, “Don’t piss me off chump.”
    Marcus laughed, “Hah, what could you possibly do in your dilapidated state.”
    “Want to find out?” Vincent ran toward him, grabbing his jacket and playfully attempting to pull him to the ground. All the while Marcus laughed.
    They struggled with each other for a moment before they both fell to the steel floor laughing in the empty street. After a moment they lay on their backs in silence, watching their breath rise in the cold air.
    “So?” Marcus asked, “What exactly ‘may be happening’...” he said while raising his arms up and making quotations with his fingers. “...between you and Enora?”
     Vincent slapped his hands down jokingly, “Shut up...” there was a moment of silence. “... I’m not quite sure actually.” Vincent finally said. “But I think it’s good.”
    “Glad to hear it.” Marcus added. “Does she have any friends.?”
     Vincent turned to him as they lay on their backs. “Your hopeless.” He said, frowning.
          Marcus started laughing, and soon Vincent joined in. Marcus got up, still laughing, and gave out his hand to Vincent. “Come on, let’s get to our quarters before lights out. I don’t want to get in shit for being out after curfew.”
      “You’re right, let’s go.” Vincent got up and they walked down the street toward the base of the residential tower that housed their living quarters.

The End

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