No prompt used.
The challenge: the story must take place on or in a vessel where escape is an impossibility, there must be at least two characters who are in conflict with one another and it must feature an event utterly outside a character’s realm of expectation.
The hologram was still following me. I ducked into a storeroom where there should not have been any hologram projectors aside from the ones allocated for assistant holograms only; it should be a safe space away from it.
It wasn’t. The hologram stalked between the shelves and disappeared behind one of the colony ship’s many computers.
That was it. I was heading to the hologram control room. They had to know about this and they had to be able to do something about it.
The hologram followed me to the bridge, so I could point at it while explaining what was going on.
“It seems to be acting normally,” the operator I had been directed to mused. He sounded like he couldn’t care less. “Tigers are known to stalk their prey.”
“Why is it stalking me and literally no one else everywhere, even to the storerooms?!” I yelled.
The operator scratched his chin. “I’ll look into it.” He started to type something on his interface. “I see nothing wrong with this specimen. Are you sure you are not just imagining it?”
“Yes!” I half-shouted, exasperated. “Why else would I be here?”
The operator turned to look me dead in the eye. “Do you have any idea how many times a day we hear complaints about the holograms?”
“The average is five times an Earth cycle,” the operator told. “I know these things. The hologram works perfectly. It is not dangerous to you, so please, do everyone a favor and ignore it. It cannot eat you, after all.”
I wanted to complain because the hologram — tiger, was it? — unnerved me. However, I didn’t have a leg to stand on, so I nodded, murmured my thanks and left, trying to ignore the hologram even when it stared at me.
A few hours later, I turned to look over my shoulder when I was in an area with only one hologram projector. That one was meant for showing preloaded graphs and such, none of the system that holds our ship’s holographic nature together.
Yet there it was. The tiger. It was skulking around, looking at me.
Something was wrong with it, no matter what the hologram operator had said. I just didn’t know what or why, and with so many complaints around I would never get through to them. I’d only look more paranoid if I tried.
If only there was someone who took me seriously about this hologram…
Or was I actually paranoid, perhaps imagining it? Were there one or more tiger holograms I just happened to run into without hearing about or seeing them stalking other people?
No, it didn’t make sense. That tiger shouldn’t have been here of all places, and not in the storeroom either.
What was going on around here and why was I the only one noticing all of this?