Slowly the doctor's mind wandered back to vague awareness. It took a few moments before he regained his bearings. He was in his own bed and the last hazy memory he could recall was of Mrs. Robinson placing a cold, damp cloth on his feverish brow. He brought a hand to his forehead and discovered the cloth still there. Removing it, he slowly swung his legs over the side of the bed and glanced toward the half-open door and the darkness beyond.
Hesitantly he called out, “Mrs. Robinson? Your patient is awake. I believe my fever has broken.”
No response came. Doctor Smith's brow furrowed as an unsettling feeling came over him. It was uncharacteristically quiet. It was then he noticed that the familiar thrumming of the engines was gone. Must have landed while I was unconscious, he thought to himself. He stood and stumbled to the door, steadying himself against the wall.
“Mrs. Robinson?” He poked his head out the door cautiously and caught something out of the corner of his eye. As he turned his head to see, a small yelp involuntarily escaped his lips. It took a moment for Smith's eyes to recognize the large, dark shadow before him as that of the Robot.
“What are you doing there, ninny! You nearly frightened me to death!”
As soon as Smith said the words, he instinctively knew there wouldn't be a response. He stepped toward the Robot and ran his hand over the dead lights and panels, along the smooth metallic side to where the power pack should be. It was there. The doctor's mind puzzled briefly, until a whiff of acrid smoke teased his nostrils. The familiar smell told him his mechanical friend would most likely not be responding to anything anytime soon.
“Oh, dear,” Smith worried aloud. “What happened to you?”
He fumbled around for a few moments until he found the controls for the lights, then inspected the damage to the Robot. Smith's brows raised in alarm as he spotted the tell tale scorch marks of a laser blast.
Smith whirled around. “Will? Penny!” he called as he frantically searched the living quarters for signs of his companions. “Judy?” Finding nobody, he ran to the ladder and climbed to the upper level. “Professor? Major!” As he turned to step onto the deck, he gasped at the scorch marks etched into the floor and walls of the ship. He slowly made his way around the astrogator, his eyes darting left and right, alert for any lingering danger.
He walked toward the open hatch, stopping a few feet from the threshold. Fidgeting with his hands, he stared meekly out into the blackness as his inner coward warred with an urgent sense of concern. A cool night breeze blew in from outside and the conflicted doctor shivered. “I don't like this,” he muttered. “I don't like this one bit.”
It took a few moments, but concern won out and Doctor Smith took a few reluctant steps outside. Then a few more, until he could see the signs of an unwilling exodus in the dirt around the ship. He followed the tracks as far as his meager courage could take him. Out of sheer desperation, he called out the names of his missing companions several times before both his courage and strength failed him.
Smith hastily retreated to the warmth of the Jupiter 2 and locked the ship up tight. He retired to the familiar safety of the galley and made a cup of tea to calm his nerves. As his trembling hand brought the cup to his lips, he lamented, “I'm all alone.”
Continue to Chapter 2: Robots & Ruminations