The Second Bridge, pt.10

Funny that I’ve yet to reach the plot point that made me laugh out loud while driving to work yesterday.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Whether 500 or 5000 words, I need to create a permanent or temporary close to this story:  the professional edit and new cover for my first novel “The Fourth Law” are complete and I need those uploaded to Createspace.  The cover is the easy part.  The text body has to go from Word to pdf, wherein I edit and move, then request a physical proof for review.  I’ve done this three times already, but at about once every nine months I drink too much to recall the details.

Below the fold, I’d had some conversations recently with some in the medical field about challenges that might be faced by new-made humans.

It had now been hours since the destruction of the prototype fusion reactor, called Chise by most. Fausta has dashed out and away with her burden but Leslie had hours of work left: first shutting down and salvaging what he and his team could – at least until the core was no longer as hot at the sun – as well as making preliminary incident reports as to why over two billion former-US dollars worth of equipment was now a slagged ruin. While the command responsibility was at PM Phil’s feet, it was really at his family’s.

And thus mine, he thought, filling out the fifth report. Not my kids are any more a secret than the P-kids in and around Knoxville, but I won’t put the microscope of this catastrophe onto my co-workers.

He paused his typing. Onto Gary. He continued, thankful there were no windows in Chise’s control room. It must be 1900 or later…

“That’s enough, people.” He heard Chinon’s call and looked up from his screen.

“Everyone staying late and writing ‘I’m sorry’ on the blackboard fifty times is not fixing anything in there,” he waved vaguely right. “We have homes and families. After today’s excitement…”

He trailed off; began again.

“After this excitement, I’d like to see everyone at 1000 in the morning. Thank you!”

The rush around him and out was sudden. But then, who wanted to remain behind with failure?

Leslie regarded the wall to his right.

“You, too, of all people,” Chinon reiterated to him, quieter.

Leslie stood and shook his head.

“Fausta told me before all this they’d some triage station set up by the city’s core.” He took two steps and stopped. “I can’t go home knowing nothing. About her.”

Leslie walked out to the dark parking lot to his small electric car. The drive to the fission reactors to the northeast took only minutes. He noted the once-empty smaller building – very close to the city core – where Fausta had set up her medical complex. He entered without knocking.

With surprising delicacy he saw the combat android changing an IV that went into the left arm of the subject – girl! he shouted at himself – on the table, her eyes closed and not moving. He didn’t react at all to see Dorina’s ghostly white outline half imbedded in…

“Henge,” Leslie said through clenched teeth. “How is she?”

They had obviously been aware of him before he came in.

“Stable.” Fausta began. “As a newly formed human this entire planet is a biological threat to her. These IVs are rectifying that.”

“So… like a series of vaccinations?” he asked

“Yes. That’s the easiest way to put it,” she agreed.

Taking a few steps closer, he saw the girl had a hospital gown on with several blankets tucked around her. Dorina was –

She pulled her arms out of Henge’s gut and brought her translucent face inches below Leslie’s.

She was not smiling.

“The next few days are critical, human!” Completely bereft of her girlish cheer – and he’d never been addressed by one of the like that before – he nodded.

“You may move her tomorrow. Until then… I have summoned coffee for you! Assist!”

“Dorina,” Fausta’s mouth was open and her speaker at its lowest level. “Do not speak to humans like that.”

“I’ll be back later!” Leslie saw complex and unpleasant emotions chase across the loligoth’s face before she faded.

There was a knock at the door. One of the housekeeping staff, Rhonda, was there with a pot of coffee and a mug. He took them and thanked her.

“You’re the best, Rhonda! Thank you! Please go home!”

“Come now, Mister Hartmann! What would you do without us?” She’d been there over forty-five years. Probably close, he thought. He placed the beaker and cup onto a tiny table by the window.

“Fausta? Please: how is she?”

He watched her array go from the table to him and back.

“I…”

The voice from the table was almost impossibly soft. But then, she had never used it before.

“… am very young. In your home.”

A cough shook her. Faster than he could see, Fausta gently held her shoulders.

“In… my home…” Henge corrected.

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