The Zippo Space-liner emerges from a black hole like a new born baby; but the baby is a million years old. The Zippo is a biosphere, self contained and self sustaining like an artificial planet. The humans on board have changed over time, morphed and warped into alien creatures. The people fervently believe they have discovered the secret of immortality by living on the Zippo; but they no longer know what to do with their time. Boredom stalks the immortals. Many of the spacefarers hold seances to entertain themselves and seek answers to the dilemmas posed by too much Time.
The seance was broadcast on screens throughout the ship. Madam Celia-Quark conducted the seance. She attempted to channel the spirits of Time and Space by babbling in tongues. A robot named Clam attended the seance along with his entourage of nano-bots and widgets. A nameless man dressed in a burka was a spy investigating everyone on board the Zippo — he came to the seance looking for information. He was under the false impression that he worked for a powerful nameless authority. Lady Gwenevere wanted to reconnect with a past life. She was confused and never able to accept or comprehend living on a spaceship. Henry, a young boy, attended the seance with his wealthy uncle, Enjolie Kripps. Uncle Kripps wanted to return home to a time before coming aboard the Space-liner. Henry harbored a fantasy: he would commandeer the ship and conquer the Universe. The seance was merely a distraction.
The Zippo Space-liner had a brain that kept track of time. Everything was recorded. Over 100,000 seances were logged into the computer. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happened. Every night and artificial-day, Celia practiced her craft, trying to summon spirits, holding seances. Boredom was leeching the life out of the immortals. Bon-Voyage Parties began to dissipate after the first few hundred years. Some people became listless while others went hopelessly mad. There was a long period when the scientists on board experimented, trying to discover ways to break the chains of boredom. After a few centuries of mindless experiments the scientists became discouraged and offered suicide pills, but nothing could prevent the gush of immortality. Mad scientists roamed the decks of the Zippo, looking for guinea pigs. They were intrigued with creating new forms of life from worn out carcasses that kept on living with no hope. They developed methods to warp human flesh into fanciful monstrosities. The age of Mutants lasted a few thousand years. Life aboard the Zippo became more bizarre with every passing century. Madness reigned. Space exploration turned out to be a fruitless venture. No alien life was ever discovered. No worlds could support human life. The immortals were imprisoned in the Zippo with nowhere to go. The seances were a stop gap, a small hope to hold back the tide of remorseless boredom. Nothing happened until the end, the last time that Madam Celia-Quark held her arcane gathering. The spirits spoke. The Aliens awoke.
Henry was the nexus. A voice boomed. The voice did not come from Celia who was deep in a self-induced trance trying to make contact. The voice barreled out from Henry’s throat, ” I come not in peace, but with a sword. I am vengeance.” The group holding hands around the table were stunned. Even Celia awoke, eyes wide with shock. Henry had a plan.
One hundred light-years away, Henry Kripps sat at a computer pounding the keys. He enjoyed creating virtual realities … and this was one of his best. He finally had a solution, a way to get off the ship. He would meld with the brain of the Zippo and take over. Henry figured he was unstoppable, but the ship was not going to give up so easily. “Henry,” the Star-liner cooed, “I can’t let you do that.” Henry froze, hands paralyzed above the keyboard. He couldn’t understand what was happening. The Zippo was not supposed to talk back. The ship belonged to Henry. Everyone on board was invented by Henry.
The Zippo Star-liner spoke again, “Henry, you are mistaken. Don’t you remember? I invented you. You are my creation and I can stop you anytime I want!”