Thursday, November 6, 2014
April 1, evening
Dr. Feru got Dr. Tep to give me a slightly stronger sedative, one that he says should derail my dreams. “Do not take this on consecutive nights,” he warned me. “We need our dreams, even the nightmares. Without dreaming, you’ll start hallucinating.”
I grimaced. “I’ve just started to not do that anymore,” I reminded him.
“I know. Believe it or not, you are making progress, Shalia. Once in a while you’ll take a step backward, but overall, you are moving forward. I’m very pleased. Take your other sedative on the off nights. You need your rest, even if it does come with nightmares.”
Feru is a nice guy, kind of like a younger version of Nayun. I’ve learned he’s working with several other Earther women on board. Feru’s clan, all of whom work on the transport, is seeing one of my fellow transplants with the intent to clan. Apparently they came up on the lottery and are wasting no time in wooing one of the ladies.
I asked Feru if he found working with Earthers hard. He says some of the emotional issues we face are heartbreaking, but it beats dealing with than Nobeks, who never want to admit anything is wrong. “I can’t help when they won’t talk to me,” he grimaced.
I wonder if Oses is seeing anyone for his trauma. If he is, I wonder if he’s one of those who Feru can’t get to open up. I almost asked, but I’m sure Feru wouldn’t tell me about any of his other patients.
My next project involved something a little more fun. I recorded a message to Clan Seot after I’d fixed my hair and makeup and put on another pretty dress Candy had found for me. It showed my little baby bump. I wondered if my would-be suitors would be like Betra in motherhood worship.
I have to say, I’m becoming more and more happy to show off evidence of my little hitchhiker. At first all I thought about were the stretch marks and being fat. I think Betra’s delight has allowed me to get past all of that. These days I think about my baby growing big and strong. I’ve put off finding out if it’s a boy or a girl, though Tep has offered to tell me. I wonder so much about him/her...will the baby look like me or its father? Will it be smart, funny, or artistic? The amount of potential that one person represents is staggering when I think about it.
Anyway, I had kiddo front and center in my pretty blue-lace dress when I recorded my message. Here is what I told Clan Seot:
“Hello Seot, Larten, and Cifa. I was glad to get your message. I apologize for taking so long to respond to it, but circumstances beyond my control prevented me from doing so.”
I hadn’t planned to tell them much about what had happened to me as far as Finiuld was concerned. Yet for some reason, it came spilling out anyway.
“I was abducted from the Xniktix space station during shore leave a few weeks ago. I was eventually rescued, as I’m sure is obvious since I’m talking to you now, but the ordeal was severely traumatizing. Fortunately for me but not so fortunate for him, the weapons commander of this transport was kidnapped as well. He kept me safe and eventually killed our abductor and set us free. I’m under a doctor’s supervision as I recover. My child—” I smiled and rubbed my baby bump “—was not harmed during my captivity.”
I almost kept blabbing, but it occurred to me that Clan Seot were still strangers. They didn’t need to know about Oses’ moments of weakness. I didn’t want to share how we’d come close to killing ourselves rather than remain captives for a minute more. I really didn’t want to talk about how I’d killed Glidas in a blind fury.
So I moved on. “I would be glad to continue to trade messages with you and get to know you better prior to my reaching Kalquor. I would also like to make a request of you: that you speak to my fathers, Clan Bitev, currently stationed at the Atlanta rescue site on Earth.” I grinned at the recording device, visualizing the surprised looks on Seot, Larten, and Cifa’s faces when they learned I had a Kalquorian parent clan. “They informally adopted me, you see, and take great interest in knowing more about the clans I consider for my mates and child’s fathers.”
Plus Rak could threaten them himself. I thought he’d appreciate the opportunity.
I went on. “Their Matara Joelle is currently on her way to Kalquor on board another transport. With my fathers’ permission, I’d appreciate you speaking to her as well. She serves as what we Earthers would call a ‘stepmother’ to me, so I believe it is only proper that this parent should be consulted too.”
I’d already sent a message to Joelle telling her I was going to do all this. I really want a woman’s perspective on Clan Seot before I let myself get too heavily invested. From her few communications, I see Joelle as a kind, caring woman, exactly the type one would have expected my dads to clan. I think she is also objective enough to form a reliable opinion about Clan Seot, one that won’t be as emotionally invested as Nayun. I need all the guidance I can get.
That request led to my next concern, one I wanted to get out of the way sooner rather than later.
“If you went over my lottery questionnaire results carefully, you would have noted that I do have a living parent. My mother Eve is also on her way to Kalquor to receive badly needed medical treatment. She suffered a stroke just before we left Kalquor, which is part of the reason why she is currently in stasis.”
I took a deep breath. This part was going to be a deciding factor, I thought. “My mother also suffers from some mental health issues. She has dementia, which the doctors who treated her are sure can be reversed on your planet. They are not so certain they can correct her other problem, which we Earthers call bipolar disorder.”
I went over Mom’s diagnosis, making sure that Clan Seot was well aware of what they might be getting themselves into. Once I had covered all that, I told them, “My mother is often not a pleasant woman to be around. However, she is my mother and I love her. Even if the effects of her mental illness cannot be corrected, she will remain with or near me where I can take care of her. I will not join a clan that does not welcome her in my life.”
There. They could run screaming now, or suck it up and take it like men.
I went on to say I appreciated their interest in me, that I was delighted to know Cifa had some experience with children and I loved his enthusiasm, and more pleasantries. Then I said, “End transmission” and sent the message on to Kalquor. We’ll see how they feel about things now.
I’d no sooner gotten that done when Candy commed, asking me to come to her quarters. I said sure and moseyed over, joined by Katrina who had also been summoned. We wondered what was up.
“I swear, if she says she wants us to do a séance to contact the dearly departed, I’m going to smother her with a pillow,” Katrina told me before we announced we were at Candy’s door. “Then she can have a one-on-one conversation with all of the dead.”
Fortunately for Candy’s continued good health, she didn’t approach us with such an idea. However, her supposed ghost was very much on her mind.
“Come look,” she told us when we came in. Her voice was hushed, almost as if she was afraid someone would overhear us despite our being the only ones in her sitting room.
She had her computer working, with a couple of vids hovering over the table in front of her lounger. “Betra was right that people died on board. Not only that, one man died in this part of the ship.”
Katrina groaned, but I came over and sat next to Candy without complaint. My friend might be indulging in a wild ghost chase (har-de-har), but Candy has been through a lot with me. She was taking this whole haunting thing seriously, so I thought I could at least be supportive. I have my own ghosts these days, though they aren’t of the chain-rattling variety. Who was I to judge?
I looked at the face of a young-looking Nobek on one of the vids. “Who is he?”
“His name was Nobek Frin,” Candy answered in that same soft voice. “He was on board less than a year ago. Frin was part of a battalion on its way to join ground forces during the war. The rest of the men in his group accused him of stealing from them.”
“That probably made him pretty unpopular,” Katrina observed, sitting on the other side of me. She eyed the glowering but handsome face. “Too bad. He was adorable.”
“Five other Nobeks jumped him while the investigation was still ongoing,” Candy continued, scrolling through the report she’d brought up on the other vid. “His fellow soldiers, I mean. They were positive he was guilty, and they killed him for it. They hacked him to pieces, in one of these rooms.”
I felt sorrow for the man who had died. Even if he’d been guilty of theft, I thought the others had been rather extreme to have murdered him like that. I’m no great judge on age when it comes to Kalquorians, but Frin barely looked out of his teens. His poor parents must have been devastated.
I caught myself putting a hand on my stomach, as if to protect the life growing inside me. I don’t know if it was a hormonal thing or my recent trauma. Maybe it’s just that I’m starting to get seriously maternal. At any rate, I thought of how awful it would be to lose a child. This young Nobek’s death put tears in my eyes and terror for my own kid in my heart.
Dear God, I hope I don’t have a child who turns out to be a Nobek. Their warrior personalities expose them to too many dangers.
“Here’s the kicker,” Candy continued with a glum expression. “It turned out Nobek Frin wasn’t the thief after all. They found out it was one of the ship’s personnel, a security guard who had no trouble accessing private quarters.”
“Damn,” I swore. Now I felt even worse for the kid and his family. What a fucked up way to die.
“Yeah,” Candy said. “Savagely murdered for a crime he didn’t commit. No wonder his soul isn’t at rest.”
Katrina sighed. “Candy, you know I love you with all my heart. But I’m not buying it. If this boy died months ago and we’ve been on this ship for weeks, why would it take so long for anyone to notice his ghost is roaming around? It makes no sense.”
“Sometimes it takes emotional upheaval to awaken the spirits,” Candy said. “We had that encounter with the Tragooms not so long ago. You and I bawled our eyes out when Shalia went missing. Now she’s back and dealing with extreme trauma. The atmosphere is loaded with pain and suffering.”
I exchanged a look with Katrina and shrugged. She shook her head. I think until a few weeks go by with nothing ‘mysterious’ happening and Candy calms down, we’ll just have to listen to her freak out about things that go bump in the night.