Pulled from Another World

Chapter 4: SensoryMap

He closed the program with a thought and signed. He still wasn used to the level of fame he had accrued over the past few years. His popularity exploded after he started streaming Deicide when the game came out. He and Jessica played regularly in competitive tournaments and were some of the highest earning players in the scene. He purposefully hid his identity behind the alias DoubleTap and Jessica became DoubleBarrel; they even wore costumes of their avatars to conventions to not give away their identity. After he was doxed it didn take long for internet sleuths to find Jessicas identity as well. Luckily where she lived was much harsher on harassment, stalkers and doxing information than the Bridges and she was relocated before things got weird.

”Oh, shit. ” Kevin blurted. ”I forgot to clean out my locker. ”

To those living in one of the Celestial Bridges personal space was a luxury that most could not afford. The apartments were small and only big enough to offer protection for ones belongings and person while they slept. Bathrooms and cooking areas were shared in communal zones. For those that wanted extra privacy they could purchase their own private cooking station and bathroom. These small rooms were called lockers and were usually more expensive as the apartment themselves.

He turns to his door, and it slides open when he placed his thumb on a scanner in the middle of the portal. He picked up a half empty box full of small knick knacks and headed out. He stumbled back into his apartment when the odor of stale air, fuel, human fecal material and trash mixed in a cacophony of scents which assaulted his nose. He closed the door and feverishly shook his head to clear his airways. He placed the box down and reached inside to get his filter half mask.

”I am not going to miss that about this place. ” He said to himself.

He placed the mask on his face and took a long breath in. The mask connected to his augmentation and projected a 3d image of his TKLiveSpace avatars face, which was used originally as part of his costume for conventions. The avatar is a caricature of his actual face in the style of an anime chibi character. The projection is visible 360 degrees and will match his facial expressions perfectly without impeding his vision. He turns off the projection with a thought and prepares to face the rancid stink of outside.

His apartment was in the upper level of the Sol Relay Station which was and used mainly as an industrial spaceport. The Orbital Elevator sent goods down to the planet for processing and brought up refined goods. The station was also the most heavily populated with over one billion Bridgers working and living in the Relay. Homelessness was a problem but most consider being homeless here to be much better than on the planet. Bridgers are safe from the storms on the planet and finding work is easy.

The air was also cleaner here than in other Centauri Relay Stations since all refining was done on the planet. However, what was considered breathable was questionable. While individual apartments had an extra layer of filtering all common areas were subject to, what most called, the ”Great Stink ”. The Relay Authority did nothing about it since the air was breathable and it was a ”deterrent to homelessness, ” so they said.

Kevin with his mask secured, picked back up his box with ease and headed out of the door. Outside was just a long bleach white hallway with many more doors much like his own as far as the eye can see. Above the doors were the somber red numerical designations for each unit. Kevins apartment was ”Zenith-21347 ” which is considered to be in the good neighborhood. The skink wasn as bad and the homeless could not get into the apartment complex.

He let out a disapproving breath as the smell, while greatly distilled, still burned his nose hairs. He persevered, thankful that this will be the final trip before he would be saying goodbye forever. He scurried down the bland corridor trying to take as few breaths as possible along the way. His rose-colored glasses on his life in the apartment started to fade with each smelly breath.

”Kevin, hey! ” A mans muffled voice called out to Kevin from down the hall.

Kevin turned around and saw one of his neighbors walking towards him. Kevin immediately recognized him as Jason even though he could not see his face under the visor on the mans helmet. Jason was in his work clothes which was a special ship engineer spacesuit. It was designed to allow for full dexterity while working in the docks which are frequently depressurized. The suit was tight fitting with an exoskeleton brace along his body. The suit is normally bright hi-vis greenish-yellow with orange and yellow reflective tassels. This time however he was covered from head to toe in soot and oil. Kevin noticed that Jason did not have his tool bag, which was unusual for him, normally he would never let it leave his sight.

Jason was Kevins adopted younger brother having known him since their time in one of many orphanages in the massive structure. The only reason Jason was able to move to this apartment complex is because Kevin used him as a referral. Jasons roommate was their younger sister Wilma who worked in the Orbital Police Department, so she was barely home. Jason and Wilma were actually blood siblings and only managed to stay together because of Kevin always looking out for them.

”Jason, hey are you just now getting off of work? ” Kevin asked.

”You haven heard? ” Jason asked as he walked up beside Kevin. ”There was a massive accident at the Trevser Starport. Everything is delayed by at least a day or two. Several people including me got sucked out of the hangar after a massive depressurization. Lost my tool belt too. ”

”Wait what? ” Kevin said, shocked at the revelation. ”Is everyone okay? ”

”As far as I know only a few people were not recoverable, no one I knew thank God, which is honestly a miracle. ” Jasons voice was audibly trembling. ”But hey, I know you were leaving today. I think you should contact the Housing Authority and Movers Association. I am pretty sure they know about what is going on but they will still kick you out even if you don have anywhere to go while the dock is repaired. ”

”I am not worried about the damn housing authority, are you okay? Did you get checked out? ” Kevin asked as he put his hand on Jasons soot covered shoulder. ”We can head to a hospital. I will cover the expenses. ”

”Thanks but I am fine. I was already looked over, I just got a couple bruises. ” Jason assured though his voice quivered unnaturally. He took in a shallow breath and closed his eyes although Kevin could not see his face clearly. ”I saw something unnatural out there. ” Jason said so low that the air refused to carry the sound beyond his lips.

”I didn hear that. ” Kevin responded.

”I said we will talk later! ” Jason announced loudly, clearing his throat with resolution. ”I have to take a shower and you have a date with the Housing Authority and Moving Association. ”

Kevin let out a long sigh and with a defeated breath. He was already well aware of the massive headache the Housing Authority is going to be about the situation. They never liked him since he one the apartment in the lottery which was meant for a family of at least three people. They tried to disqualify and evict him under the pretense that he obviously would not be able to pay for an apartment of this size. However, he made enough as a streamer to billions of people that he could not only afford the apartment but he could get a larger size if they had it available.

”Thanks for the heads up. ” Kevin said as he retracted his hand and rubbed the ash on his dingy gray t-shirt. ”If you say you are alright thats fine, but I will be checking on you later. ”

”No problem, Wilma will probably kill me if I went and died. ” Jason said as he let out a yawn.

Jason pressed a button on his suit which causes a depressurizing hiss on his suits right arm as a small amount of air rushes out. When the hissing stops he twists the node on his wrist which allows him to take off his filthy glove. He reached out his hand and Kevin firmly grabbed it appreciating the gesture. Both men smiled though neither could see the others mouth because of their headgear. Jason then retreated down the hall in the opposite direction to get to his apartment.

Kevin walked to the elevator while flipping through news stories with his mind through his Sensory Augmentation. He was looking up information on the massive accident that occurred in the dock he was scheduled to leave from later that same day. Jason was right, the port would be down for two days as repairs were complete. This puts a wrench in his plans as there is often a slim window when it comes to interplanetary travel. Missing the allotted window by even a few hours can add days to the trip time or cause the trip to be canceled altogether until the next allotted time.

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