After traveling for six months throughout the vastness of time and space with the alien known as John Smith, Cici Connors wants to do one more thing—go home and see her friends. As a rabid Doctor Who fan with a deeply held desire to be a time traveler's companion, Cici never expected to experience homesickness, but it's real. Once back home, things aren't quite the same as Cici remembers. John's colleagues, the gorgeous Captain Mac and the femme fatale, Babbling Brook, may not be as harmless as they first appear, either. Will the imminent destruction of Earth throw a kink in Cici's plans of leaving John? Will John ever let her go?
I sighed. “Just another supernova?”
All right, it wasn’t what you’d expect a lowly human like me to say upon witnessing one of nature’s most spectacular light shows, but I’d become jaded these past few months. I’m not sure when it happened. It just did.
“What? Just another supernova? Just another supernova?”
John Smith frowned at me with a classic Tom Baker-like pout. Here we stood on the translucent observation desk aboard the Meryllian intergalactic star cruiser, The Gigantic, and I couldn’t even muster an ooh or a heartfelt ah. He furrowed his brow deeper. My alien tour guide/lover had taken to wearing bow ties and odd hats lately—a fez among them—and the crimson cone he currently wore had slipped to one side.
“Whatever’s happened to your sense of wonder and excitement, Cici Connors?”
I forced a smile. “I’m sorry. I know I should act more enthusiastic. I don’t know what got into me for a moment. It’s gorgeous.”
“Gorgeous?” He arched an eyebrow. “Well, I suppose it’s better than saying it reminded you of a backed-up sewer drain after a raging rainstorm.”
That was it! Suddenly I knew what was bothering me.
“John, do you think we could make a U-turn and head back to St. Louis for a while?”
A quizzical look crossed his features for a brief second. Although he still bore a passing resemblance to the Tenth Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant, I had come to see the true nature of the mysterious John Smith during our nomadic travels. His fathomless eyes revealed his alien nature and shielded others from probing deeper into his psyche. He wanted to know everything about everyone he met—and yet he shared so little of himself. The more I thought about it, the more he reminded me a lot of my ex-husbands.
John babbled on, gesturing wildly with his hands and arms in his over-the-top manner. “Cici, you’ve dreamed all your life of traveling the cosmos, of traveling through space and time and back again. Why on earth do you want to go home now?”
Earth. That was it. I was feeling homesick for my home world, terribly homesick.
By my reckoning, we’d only been gone about six months. In those six months’ time, we had traveled back and forth across the galaxy, from the creation of the cosmos to the end of the universe, and had still somehow managed to end up on the thirty-second century middle class equivalent of a Princess cruise ship watching an exploding supernova. It wasn’t even a real one at that. These pseudo-supernovae were manufactured for the space tourists, John had informed me, by a start-up outfit located on a small moon orbiting a gas giant near Betelgeuse. They had cornered the market on such spectaculars and were hoping to expand into full-blown intergalactic pyrotechnic shows featuring several Big Bangs and collapsing universes for the finale.
When I had badgered John for an answer as to how they could perform such feats of wonder without blowing up themselves and everyone else in the cosmos, I had received the most unsatisfactory answer of “Later.” Really!
Here mankind—excuse me, sentient kind—had develop such advanced technology and they were using it to put on overblown laser light shows? What about working on a cure for the common cold? For cancer? Why not a cure for boredom?
I walked across the observation deck, being careful not to bump into our hosts. The Meryllians had an unusual habit of tripping you up with their three-foot height and powder gray coloring. You couldn’t see them many times until it was too late.
“I want to go home because I want to see my friends again,” I said at last. “Is it so difficult for you to understand?”
He scrunched up his nose, giving me a pained look. “You have me.”
His childlike plea touched my heart. What I had to say was hard to say without sounding cruel, but it had to be said.
“Uh, yeah, I do, John, but I want more than you. I want—”
“You want more than me?”
His wide eyes and quivering lip betrayed how stunned he was by my revelation, but somehow he still sounded indignant. The depth of his self-love knew no bounds. I could see the First Doctor booming such an arrogant statement to his companions who, of course, would have replied apologetically, “Right you are. You know what’s best, Doctor.”
But the Doctor didn’t always know what was best, and neither did my traveling companion. Sure, watching the dying embers of the universe flicker until they were no brighter than a fading campfire did bring a tear to my eye. So did a good chick flick and PMS. After so many wondrous sights, I’d become jaded and bored. My Doctor substitute didn’t seem to get it. I took another stab.
“Yes, I need more than just endless travels, endless fascinating sights. I need structure and routine occasionally.” I spun around and gestured broadly. “I need to be with people who love me for who I am and don’t try to pawn me off on an interstellar slave trader in payment for a rickety transmat booth.”
John glared down his nose at me. “I explained the circumstances to you thoroughly, Cici. It was an attempt to get him to lower the price. No one should have to pay that much for such substandard transport.”
“You’re damn right!” My voice rose an octave, bouncing off the transparent dome above us and echoing. “It was worse than substandard. I’m still picking the splinters of wood bark out of my hair. As much as I love to hug trees, rematerializing inside a trunk isn’t something I ever want to attempt again.”
“I apologized for it, didn’t I?” He crossed his arms and slumped, his tone sullen. “You humans can be so overly sensitive at times.”