The city fell away beneath Caleb’s feet. The floor of the transport had either turned transparent or become a screen when it began to lift off. With no sense of thrust from the vehicle, the image made Caleb a little nauseated even though he was not afraid of heights.
He was alone except for Max in a cabin about the size of a walk-in closet. There was a chair that looked like it could recline all the way to a lying down position and a cabinet that looked like Apple had designed a vending machine within reach of the chair. Other than the small plate on the wall where they had entered — there was no indication of an actual door — the room was empty. His luggage had not been brought to the room as was presumably stowed elsewhere on the transport.
“Where are the others?” asked Caleb. “Are they on this, um, elevator?”
Max said, “Others?”
“There are over ten million people in the New York City area, so there should be ten of us.” The city was just a concrete colored smear on the green, brown and blue background of the Earth now and Caleb was feeling suddenly uncomfortable. He moved to sit in the recliner. “I can’t be the only one.”
“You are not the only one,” said Max. “You are the last one. The others are already on the ship.”
Caleb stretched and the recliner responded by settling into a less erect configuration. “I’m a replacement, aren’t I?” asked Caleb. “Someone else got to the spaceship, saw the slime monsters and noped out, right?”
It seemed to take Max a long time to parse the question but finally the robot said, “Yes.” After a beat, Max asked, “Do your fellow humans find your perceptive abilities as irritating as I do?”
“Yes,” said Caleb and closed his eyes against the image of the receding Earth.