Friday, November 22, 2013

Tumbling After

Luke Bellmason's NaNo-novel, day three:

Among his other life-threatening injuries, LeVant had lost an arm and eye in the attack. The arm was quickly replaced. They had scanned his existing arm, mirrored the resulting 3D model and fabricated a bio-mechanincal replica within twelve hours. The operation to attach the new arm had taken barely more than two hours, but the eye would take longer.
A Corp doctor, dressed in the light blue robes of the Corporation Medical Division, explained to Taylan that a replacement would have to be grown from live cells extracted from LeVant’s good eye. This would take at least two days, and she shouldn’t expect him to regain consciousness before then anyway.
Taylan had stayed with LeVant in the ward aboard the Corporation’s Medical ship all night and all the next day. She felt sorry for the fact that there had been no one else who had visited him. Apart from a procession of corporate officials and medical staff, there had been no family of friends to come to see him.
In the weeks since they’d arrived in system, she had not had much contact with Kerrin LeVant. He’d been so wrapped up in Corporation business. All the stuff he’d been preparing for over the last eight years on their voyage from Earth had come real. Taylan realised that the time on the ship on the way over here had been like a holiday compared to the work they’d both been thrown into since they’d arrived.
She’d used the excuse of her own injuries to keep herself aboard the hospital ship, but they were not nearly as serious as the ones he’d suffered. He’d lost so much blood before the med team had been able to get to them and on the evac shuttle they’d struggled to stabilise him. It had been touch and go whether he’d make it. Now, he was over the worst, but he still had not woken up.
Eventually Taylan herself fell asleep, though she fought it. She knew what horrors awaited her in her nightmares and didn’t want to have to experience it all again. She had considered asking for the drug the top corp executives used which kept them awake with no ill effects, removing the need for sleep completely and allowing them to work continuously without fatigue, but the medic had advised against it in her condition.
She had been right to fear her nightmares. Each was a more intense rendering of the events of the previous day, but prolonged and unceasing. While the actual explosion and its aftermath had lasted less than half an hour before they’d been lifted out, in her dreams no help came. The explosion continued outward, through the crowd in front of her, splitting alien and human bodies open as she watched helplessly. It split her own body open and continued through the air into the sky and out into the orbit of the Earth fleet and the station. And when it was all over, she would wake up in the hospital chair and the explsion would start again, destroying LeVant as he lay in his medical bed, taking him apart slowly, atom by atom, in a never ending cycle of destruction.
When she finally did wake up, she burst into tears only to discover that LeVant had woken up and was sitting bolt upright in front of her. He leant into her and put his new arm gently around her shoulders. It felt warm and soft, but it was unmistakably mechanical. Even more so when LeVant stretched around to put the other arm around her. She sobbed for several minutes while he comforted her, before realising that he was probably in some considerable discomfort himself.

“I was supposed to be the one doing this,” she said. “I wanted to be here for you when you woke up,” she managed, through tears.

“You are,” said LeVant, unsteadily. “It’s a welcome sight, let me tell you.”

“Do you know what happened?” Taylan asked, suddenly recalling all the things she had rehearsed in the hours she’d waited.

“Last thing I remember was sitting down, next to you,” he said. “Then waking up here about fifteen minutes ago.”

“So you don’t know about the bomb?” He stared at her, open mouthed. Taylan worried that she’d said something wrong and that the shock was probably the last thing his body needed right now. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have told you right out like that…” LeVant shook his head,

Taylan was scared to speak, frozen in time just like she was in her dreams. She watched LeVant go through the different reactions to this new information.

“Is that why my arm hurts so much?” He said. Taylan couldn’t stand it any longer. She sprang from her seat and ran from the room, her legs barely able to carry her. She desperately looked around for somewhere to throw up and managed to make it to a sink in a room on the opposite side of the corridor. As the contents of her stomach drained slowly into the sink, she had the thought that she wasn’t supposed to be here.
The thoughts started to come; she wasn’t trained to be talking LeVant in his current condition, she wasn’t supposed to be in his room, she probably wasn’t supposed to be on a Corporation ship without being on official ELIJA business. Then her panic spread wider; she was six light-years from her home planet, she’d nearly died and if she had been killed her parents wouldn’t even have found out about it for another six years. For all she knew, her parents might even be dead!
She started hyperventilating and stood up from the sink, only to be hit by an intense dizzyness. Two medics were there in time to catch her as she went down into a faint.
She had no idea for how long she was out, but the ward’s artificial lighting system had been set to night mode. She looked up from her bed to see LeVant sitting there beside her.

“Hey, seemed only fair I should return the favour,” he said. She smiled back at him. It filled her with an enormous sense of relief to see him there. His strength, his familiarity. It was comforting.

“Did they tell you?” she said. “Everything?” 
He nodded and lifted up his artificial arm to show her.

“This was what was bothering you?” Taylan gave him an apologetic sort of look.

“It all seemed like too much to take in at the time.”
LeVant picked up a stack of smart paper and showed it to her. “I’ve been catching up on events, I’ve got to get back to work pretty soon or I’ll never make the time back.”

“You’re going back to work already?” Taylan said.

“I have to, can’t afford to lie around here. The timetable won’t stop just for me. I’ll be in the next room if you need me.” Then he kissed her on the forehead and turned to leave.

“Wait,” she said.

“Please, just a minute longer.” She grabbed a hold of his hand and then couldn’t figure out if it was the real one or not.

“Listen,” he knelt by the bed and leant in closer to her, “when we’re out of here and you’re feeling better I’ve got the most amazing surprise for you.” She looked into his one remaining eye. “I’m going to take you to meet someone, if you can keep a secret.”

“What? Who?” She said, but he just laughed softly. Now, it felt silly to be acting like giddy school children, but the excitement on LeVant’s face made him seem like a nine-year-old at Christmas who knew what presents she was getting.

“You’ll never believe it,” was all he said. Then he left.

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