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The Stargazer

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Sarah Lynn woke up with her head pounding and her mouth tasting like butt. Her gorge rose as she sat up, and she gagged and gulped air until she felt a little better.

When she could peel her eyes open enough to see, she noticed she was lying on someone's coat spread out on a metal grid floor. Weird whooshing noises surrounded her in a dim but not dark room. Small lights blinked on a weird-ass circular table in the middle of the room. The whole room looked like a rough circle, now that she could see better, with high walls decorated in some bizarre mixture of industrial chic and disco.

"Oh, you're awake. Fantastic." An old guy with fluffy grey hair appeared from a doorway and came down a short flight of metal stairs to where she sat. Instinctively, she pulled away as he approached.

She remembered they'd gone to the planetarium "Okay," she said. "Where the hell did BoJack drop me?"

"I don't know who dropped you. I found you asleep in my favourite planetarium." The old guy sounded Scottish, and he hesitated over the word 'asleep' like he was being polite about how Sarah Lynn had passed out. The nicer cops did that. "I gave you an antidote to counteract the toxin in your system."

"You gave me what?"

"Just a little thing I've found in my travels. I'm the Doctor. And you are?"

Hah, as if he didn't recognize her. "Sarah Lynn."

He didn't blink. "Nice to meet you, Sarah Lynn." She waited, but he didn't go on.

"You know," she said. "I sang 'Prickly Muffin.'"

"Really? Whatever for?"

She stared at him. Her eyes felt raw and as big as dinner plates. She changed the subject. "You're a doctor?"

"The Doctor, yes."

What the hell. "Only, I have this terrible pain in my back." She rubbed her back and said, "Ow."

He nodded gravely. "I see."

"So while I'm here in your," she looked around, "um, club, maybe you could write me a prescription for some Vicodin?" She turned up the winsome charm at the end of the question, scraping through her memories to when she was a kid and could turn on the cute at will.

The Doctor bent down and pulled out a glowstick from his pocket. He pointed it at her, shining the light in her face before her moved his arm around her back. The glowstick hummed eerily. Nice trip toy, Sarah Lynn thought. "You don't appear to have a back problem. If you're in pain … "

"Oh, I am," she said.

He stood and offered her his hand. Sarah Lynn got to her feet. She felt a little hungover, but not bad at all considering how much blow she'd done. "Then we'll have to sort out why," said the Doctor with a wicked little smile.

"Great," she said, not meaning great. "So I'll just be going."

"Will you now?" he asked, giving her a mild case of the creeps. The coat on the floor wasn't hers. She picked it up anyway and draped it over her arm. Then she walked with purpose towards the door. She'd get an Uber or better yet she'd call BoJack and make him pick her ass up from wherever this crappy disco was. Jesus, did he even know this guy or had he dumped her on the first person he'd seen?

Sarah Lynn muttered to herself, and in the words she couldn't quite form were the wreck of a dozen friendships from the grasping claws of people who wanted so many things from her she'd found herself with nothing left of her own. BoJack told her he hadn't wanted anything from her, but he'd dropped her with some old perv. Fuck calling him. She yanked open the door.

She stared at the stars in a colorful swirl outside as the coat fell to the floor unheeded. She was still in the planetarium. And man, she was tripping balls. Sarah Lynn reached out through the door, and her hand bumped against an invisible barrier that tingled.

"Wonderful, isn't it?" The Doctor stepped beside her. "I never get tired of the view."

"I want to go home," she said, and started to cry. There was nowhere that fit that description. Not her new house, not BoJack's house, not the house Mom bought with Sarah Lynn's money when she was five. Home was some airy-fairy nonexistent place where she'd be taken in and loved and she'd never be hurt again.

The old geezer seemed to understand. He left her at the door and went to the disco table. "Where would you like to visit, Sarah Lynn? Any time, any place, anywhere in the universe. Home, if you like, if you know where that is."

She sat down on the floor, using the coat as padding again. She noticed she'd drooled on it in her sleep, and wiped the yuck with her hand as her eyes stayed on the starscape. "I don't know."

"All right," he said, and his voice was kind. "Then do you trust me to pick? There's a planet in the Orestes Cluster where the trees are made of crystal, and every star in the cluster glimmers off their surface. It's supposed to be quite beautiful."

"Yeah," she said, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand. "That sounds nice." The planetarium's projector must have a badass program reel.

She heard him doing something, and glanced behind her as he turned some knobs and dials, calling up the crystal tree shit story. She caught his grin, like some extra playing an imp in that made for TV fantasy movie she'd done when she was twelve. He pressed a button and the door shut, blocking her view. "Hey!"

"Off we go!" said the Doctor. The room jerked and twisted. Fuck, was this an earthquake? Her stomach rolled, threatening to spew as the sound system screamed.

"What the hell are you doing?"

He ignored her, dancing around the table, grabbing switches as he went. Finally, with a mighty screech, the room stopped shaking. Sarah Lynn staggered back to her feet and pulled the door open again.

Outside, she saw a forest of shimmering trees. "Wow."

"I know," he said, against coming up beside her. He offered her his elbow like some old-timey gentleman. Without any other options, she took it. They stepped through the door together.

"Holy shit," she said, craning her neck around. "You've got some bitchin' VR in here!"

The Doctor looked at her with a strange, sad expression. "You know," he said thoughtfully. "Perhaps you should stay with me for a while."

An alarm bell went off in her head. This was how people wound up getting kidnapped. Did it matter? She couldn't name a single person who would miss her, not really miss her. This guy had enough psychedelic shit on hand that he was sure to have pills or mushrooms or something and if he didn't she could ditch him later.

"Sure," she said. "I've got nothing going on."

"Splendid. You were talking to yourself before you woke up fully. I thought perhaps after we leave the crystal forest, we could visit Frank Lloyd Wright."

"You've got a Wright program, too? Hell yeah." The planetarium trip had been her best idea ever. Something caught her eye. "Holy shit, is that a crystal aardvark?" She tugged his arm. "I dated an aardvark once but he was a total dick. Come on, I gotta say hi."

He followed her, bemused, as they walked into the forest together, and although she didn't know it yet, into a new adventure.