The message began.
"Daniel, you have to help me," Jeska whispered quickly.
Daniel shuddered. Seeing Jeska’s face, even a recording of it, hurt.
If I were sober, it’d hurt a lot more, Daniel thought. He had been 19 when she left him.
His remembered her as this perfect woman, but the Jeska in the message was a mess.
Dirty smudges covered her face. She looked like she had been crying. Hair disheveled, sweat beading on her forehead, she wore a torn blue shirt with alien writing on it.
She still looked fantastic.
Though this was his umpteenth time viewing the message, Daniel was so focused on her that he still didn’t notice that his biografted translator couldn’t interpret the language on her shirt.
If he had noticed, it would have struck him as very odd. His translator was top of the line—at least when his dad installed it 21-years earlier—and it could comprehend most known languages.
"Please! Something is hunting me. Something—” Jeska let out a thirsty-throated cough, then hurriedly looked left and right to see if the sound had alerted whatever was after her.
“Something horrible,” she said. “I'm in the Quadra Sector. Here are the coordinates.”
The numbers displayed at the bottom of his eyescreens.
"Please hurry, I need—"
A bloodcurdling, high-pitched shriek interrupted Jeska.
She looked left, screamed, and darted out of view to the right. Something red hurtled after her, too fast to see clearly.
Daniel had asked Trak to analyze the image, but Trak said there was some kind of distortion. The creature, whatever it was, stayed a reddish blur.
Because Jeska hadn't been there to stop recording her message, the message went on for another 134 minutes.
Rather than watch a darkened hallway for three hours, Daniel ordered his augmented internal memory—augmem for short—to reverse the message until it found the clearest image of Jeska’s face.
Then Daniel told his augmem to freeze the image to his eyescreens.
As he stared, he knew he was obsessing.
He didn't care.