Saturday, November 11, 2017

Welcome Aboard

Claire and I stood in the queue for the Star Trek Experience simulator ride based on the Next Generation era. We were both excited. We hadn't any idea what to expect, having read nothing about it in advance. We'd been on these kinds of rides before, where you and a bunch of others sit into a box on top of an enormous computer controlled hydraulic system and get thrown around in sync with footage to give the illusion of actually being on a rollercoaster, or flying in a helicopter.

But this was Star Trek, we were going to be flying through simulated space, buckled safely into our seats, safely located in a hotel very definitely safely on good old Mother Earth.

We lined up outside the simulator in a nondescript room, and were asked to first observe a safety video on a few screens above the ride access doors. The usual stuff. Claire and I were standing side by side.

Suddenly a bright flash blinded us all, and the room was plunged into darkness for less than five seconds. We heard a strangely familiar sound, felt a rush of air travel from our feet upwards and then the lights came up.

We were standing in an entirely different location than the room we had been in moments before. Let me emphasis that. An entirely different location. An officer in Starfleet uniform stood looking at us behind a console I had seen hundreds of times on TV where the doors we were supposed to go through had been. The ceiling and walls surrounding us, previously grey and drab, were now the familiar futuristic panelling of the transporter bay.

And, looking down, Claire and I both came to the same shocking realisation at the same time. The freaking floor was not the same one we were on moments before either, but the glowing discs of light we so knew and loved.

It was all I could do to just hold her hand and not cry. In that moment my heart was beating a thousand beats a minute.

I'm not crazy. I didn't for a moment think I had actually been teleported to a Federation starship, but every sense I had was telling me otherwise. My brain was firing off, trying to explain the sensory imputs my body was sending it that conflicted with all rational thought. Trying, and utterly, completely, failing.

"Are you all okay?" My attention snapped back to the ensign before me. "I'm sorry, but we had to emergency beam you out of there. If you follow this officer, everything will be explained."

We were lead down a familiar corridor, inset with the same familiar lighting, past familiar doors and then through a sliding door with the familiar whoosh sound and my heart went from beating like a drum in my chest to stopping dead.

At that moment I was standing on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-D. Before me, on the big viewscreen, stars drifted past. This was a set, obviously, but once again, my brain was having a hard time explaining that to the rest of my body.

It all felt so real.

One of the two officers on the bridge welcomed us on board and told us she had someone that wanted to talk to us.

The stars on the screen were replaced with the much larger than life face of Commander William Riker, who informed us that the Klingons had found a way to travel back in time to our century. Their plan was to kill the ancestor of Captain Jean Luc Picard, erasing him from history. One of us was the target, but without knowing which one, they rescued us all. Now, he told us, we were to follow the ensign to a shuttle where we would be whisked to safety.

With one last, quick look around the bridge, we were all bundled into a turbolift, which, once the doors closed, started to move, the lights flashing by as we changed floor. The lights flickered and the lift shook as we were hit by the attacking Klingon vessel and alarms started to blare.

The same doors we had entered through opened and we were in a completely new hallway, rushed down to the awaiting shuttle, where we were strapped into our seats and blasted out into open space, high above the earth, as the Enterprise fought off the Bird of Prey. Our shuttle ducked and dodged, avoiding lazer blasts and zooming through the atmosphere. We flew down over the crowded lights of the Vegas Strip at night, banked around and landed on the roof of the Hilton. The seatbelts clicked open and we were lead out into an ordinary looking hallway. On a wall-mounted TV a news anchor was reporting on unusual lights in the skies above Nevada, but a stern looking government official was assuring the viewers that it was just a weather balloon.

And suddenly we were back in the public area, standing in the middle of the shop filled with magnets and posters bearing the likeness of various actors.

We were back on earth, safe and sound from our adventure, and neither Claire nor I had any idea how any of it had happened. We talked about all the theories we had, but when, a few days later, we went on the Behind The Scenes tour, the truth turned out to be far better than either of us dared imagine.

Related Posts:
Two To Beam Up
Bridge To Shuttle Bay One

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