Question: is there anyone, besides me, stupid enough to think that I would wrap things up tonight? I really planned and wanted to. It’s all in my head! But it’s already 1.5L bottle of wine o’clock and tomorrow’s DayJob promises to be awful.
Part Five is it! I swear! Even if I have to wait three days and make it 10k words long!
Gary was aware of the voices first. Henge and… what was her name? Ah: Lauren. The light from the window of her hospital room was a close second, followed hard by the ache in his young back. He lifted his head from his beloved’s bed and stretched. Fausta was nowhere to be seen.
“Good morning, Gary!” Henge said happily.
“Good morning. I hope to see you every morning!” he replied.
“And if your duties call you away for a year or more?” she countered with a smile.
“I was trying to be romantic; you know full well it’s against my nature.”
“You two are so weird!” the other girl, Lauren, said.
“Are we?” Gary asked rubbing his eyes. Henge was still smiling at him so he leaned forward and kissed her.
“Yes, you are! The way you two talk to each other! Kissing in front of someone who’s essentially a stranger – ”
“As you were instrumental – oow!” His back complained again as he stood and moved around the bed to her. “In saving my Intended’s life you are anything but a stranger.”
He stopped just before Lauren and gave a stiff bow.
“Thank you. I am in your debt.”
“A pound of silver in minted coins. Deliverable in no more than five years.”
“Gary!” Henge called. “Is that what I’m worth?!”
“Not at all. You are priceless to me. Her help, however,” he rolled his left hand toward Lauren, “comes with a price. Fret not: my profession will make paying it very easy.”
Having been reclined at thirty degrees, Henge sat straight up.
“You have thought of what you desire to do with your life! At least initially!”
“And that is…?”
“I am going to be your doctor.”
“A doctor! Wonderful! You’ll be brilliant and help to many – ”
“You misunderstood, beloved.” He sat onto her bed and took her hands with his. “I’m going to be your doctor. I am going to specialize in your new body and keep you alive.”
He raised her hands to kiss them.
He leaned forward to kiss her lips.
He let go her hands to place them onto her lower abdomen.
“Geez, you guys! I’m getting something to eat!” Lauren seemed to flounce out in a huff.
“How long were you two talking?” He asked, staring at the open door.
“About an hour. She said she slept in an empty bed here and came to see me at first light.”
“Why?” Gary asked, looking back to his love.
“I think she’s just a wonderful person!”
“It’s no wonder such would be attracted to another!”
“The prospect of marriage,” she said, letting her eyes drop, “is making you loquacious, Intended!”
“I’d rather it you lubricious, but I’m willing to settle.”
There was a tiny pause before they both shook in silent laughter.
“Another miracle!” A woman said.
“Oh, Mom!” Faustina sighed.
Gary and Henge looked up to see their human family in the doorway.
“Mother-in-law!” Henge waved at the one chair in her room. “Please sit! My pending brother-in-law needs rest!”
Callie sat but held Henge’s eyes.
“Is that just politeness or is there something you and your family know?”
Gary watched his mother relax.
“On behalf of my Intended, I would like to thank all of you for bringing us dinner from home,” Gary said. “It was a little chaotic as she was being moved up here just then, but Mother’s and Sister’s food is so good!”
“Bet you can’t tell who made what!” Faustina said.
“You cooked the meat,” Gary and Henge said in unison.
There was more motion at the door. Lauren had returned.
“They’re all in here!” she said, stepping aside. A grey man of middling height, middling looks took her place. He wore the shirt, coat, and collar of a priest. His skin was that of a man half the age of his eyes.
“I am Father Kagy,” he said by way of introduction. “I’ve been asked to preside over a marriage?”
“G… Gary!” Henge stuttered out. Not understanding the threat he stood from her bed and raised his fists in a self-defense stance.
“Stand-down, Gary,” Fausta said as she also came around into the doorway. She placed her hand onto the priest’s shoulder. “Kagy has experience with… people like us. Years ago and far away. A city called San Diego.”
“Let us,” the priest tried, “not talk of such things! This is a time for joy!”
The flatscreen on the wall opposite the head of Henge’s bed came to life. The image resolved intothe Platform in their home. Henge was happy to see her family when she could not have them in mind! But at the back…
“Henge! Why are you crying?” Gary asked. He watched as she barely managed to point to the screen.
There were three figures Gary had never seen before, standing just between the Platform and the drop of land. A hale, blonde man, dressed like a doctor; a woman in veils, but her red eyes glowing through; an Asian man in what seemed to be a pressure suit with no helmet.
“Are there any objections to this marriage?” the priest asked.
“No,” Gary’s father, Leslie said.
“None,” Henge’s father, Thaad spoke through the speakers.
“Dearly beloved…” the priest began.