“Tell Beckham to come get me himself if he needs to speak to me so badly,” Taryn said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“I need to go see the captain. It’s important.”
As she made her way down the shining hallways, she hoped Beckham will go easy on him. And her, when it came down to it. Seeing the captain was more important than anything Beckham could want from her. The silvery music had taken residence somewhere in the back of her head and showed no signs of abating anytime soon.
The control room sat at the front of the ship. It had the only large windows in the entire ship. Taryn used to spend a lot of time there. She loved seeing the new planets and the colorful nebulas and stars. Now, after so long aboard the ship, they had lost their novelty. Taryn entered her access code and the doors slid open quickly. She was one of the few with a valid access code, and she only had one because she and Captain Aaron had become friends early on.
“Hey, Tar. Long time, no see,” Captain Aaron said, grinning widely at her.
“Hi,” Taryn said softly.
The two of them stared uncomfortably at each other. Taryn had no idea how to begin. It had been so long since she’d seen him, and she was only halfway sure she was not actually going crazy.
“So, um, you want some breakfast?” Captain Aaron asked breaking the silence.
“Yeah. Sure.” Taryn replied.
Captain Aaron dug through a silver cylinder that sat next to his control panel and tossed her a red apple.
“Sorry it’s not much, but they tend to send me all my food for the day at once,” he shrugged apologetically.
“It’s okay. They told us they ran out of apples a while ago,” Taryn said taking a very satisfied bite of the fruit. If she closed her eyes, she could almost feel like she was back home.
“So. What do you want?” Captain Aaron asked.
“Oh, um, I need to ask you something but there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to think I’m crazy,” Taryn said.
“Okay then,” Captain Aaron said with a laugh.
“So, I’ve been…hearing this music. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s not the stuff they play downstairs. It’s…different. Like a music box, if it was made of ice. And it’s probably going to drive me crazy,” Taryn said breathlessly.
“Huh. Well, it could be an old radio transmission or something. I know they used to send songs and messages into space before we figured out we really were alone.”
“Do you hear it?” Taryn asked delicately.
Captain Aaron shook his head.
“Nah. But don’t worry about it. I’m sure you’re not crazy.”
“Hey, Taryn? Why’d you stop visiting me?” Captain Aaron asked after a pause.
Taryn was saved from answering by a loud buzzing. They both jumped and looked at the screen where Beckham stood observing them with a haughty glare.
“Crap. What does he want?” Captain Aaron said.
“Me. Pearce tried to give me a message from him this morning and I blew him off,” Taryn sighed.
“I should go. He’s…you know,” Taryn said tossing the apple core into the trashcan.
“Yeah. Bye, Tar. Don’t be a stranger.”
“I’ll try,” Taryn said with a smile that felt fake even to her.
The moment the door slid open Richmond, Beckham’s number one thug, grabbed her arm in a vice-like grip. Nowhere to run to now.
“Hello, Beckham,” she said with a bare hint of distaste in her voice.
“Hello, Taryn. I believe you got my message,” Beckham said formally.
“And yet I had to come and fetch you. How unfortunate.”
“I had urgent business with Captain Aaron.” Taryn said, her temper flaring.
“It appeared to me that you were dining with him.”
“What we were doing is none of your business. What do you want?” Taryn spat at him.
“To talk. Nothing more,” he said coolly leading her and Richmond through the hallway.
It was alarming the speed at which the other passengers they met got out of their way. Taryn had barely left her room since she had started feeling the weight of their journey. If she had realized that Beckham had gotten this bad, she would have gone to see him first. Causing any sort of trouble was the last thing she wanted.
The three of them reached one of the big sitting rooms that Pearce was guarding. He had a black eye. A hard look passed over his face when he saw Taryn. She couldn’t meet his eyes. A faint panic was starting to overtake her. Inside the sitting room, Taryn was surprised how different it looked from the rest of the ship. There were paintings on the wall and a large rug on the floor. Curtains were drawn over the small windows. The light in the room was warm and a large basket of apples sat on the table. Ten others milled around. A beautiful girl Taryn had never met gave Beckham a coquettish smile and her equally beautiful friend bent close to whisper something in her ear.
Beckham nodded to Richmond, and he released Taryn.
“Everyone out. We need privacy.” Beckham said.
He didn’t have to raise his voice. Everyone scattered, even Richmond. Taryn found herself alone with Beckham, which was essentially the last thing she wanted.
“So. You wanted to talk,” she said, trying to keep her voice even.
“Yes. I know about the music, Taryn. I hear it too,” he replied.