Thursday, January 15, 2015
Tep is an evil creature. He said the meds would give me 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time. Ha! Try 12 hours. Then when I’d finally wake up, I was dopey and out of it for another 2. I swear it felt as if by the time I had any real energy, it was time to take another dose again. That doctor of mine is a fiend to keep me down like that. When I complained, he only smiled.
At least I was too knocked out to have nightmares. That more than anything else made the drugs worthwhile. Who knows, maybe the hypertension was brought on partly because I was too afraid to sleep most of the time. I finally got some proper rest.
Candy and Katrina were sweet enough to keep me company a lot of the time when I was awake. Renovations to our dance club have begun. The gals tell me everyone is really excited about it, including the Kalquorians. Those boys may not dance, but they love to see us do it. Many have volunteered their time when they aren’t working to help make the club a reality. Katrina got the liquor store on board to agree to stock and run the bar area of our little place. They’ll take care of the rationing protocols as dictated by the fleet.
The gals have kept me up to date on reports of the strange shadow being seen from time to time in the hallway that runs right outside our quarters. Candy attempted another exorcism two nights ago. This time she had about half a dozen helpers besides Katrina. The shadow hasn’t been seen since. They’re hopeful our wandering spirit has been evicted at long last.
I was hopeful too. Then I found evidence this morning that something is still amiss.
I was still groggy enough as I readied for my appointment with Dr. Tep. Betra had to help me pull myself together. I’d been in my bed for days, and the doc had been making house calls to keep it that way. This was the first time I was going to Medical since he made me a useless, mostly-unconscious lump a week ago. My hair screamed to be washed and combed for a change.
As Betra helped me to the shower, I frowned at the stall. “Have you been using this?” I asked him.
“What, your shower? No, I’ve been getting cleaned up in my own quarters. Why?”
“Someone’s hair has gotten on my soap.” I pulled the long, wiry black strand from the scented bar I love to use. It smells of lemongrass. I wiped out the ship’s stores of the stuff weeks ago, buying the entire stock they’d taken from Earth. The guys say now that they can smell me instead of that now-gone pregnancy scent, they love the aroma. I do too; that’s why I took the whole darn supply of two cartons.
Betra took the soap from me for an appreciative sniff before putting it back. “That’s funny. I never come in here. I’ve never seen Oses use your facility either, though it is a possibility.” He took the hair from me and looked at it. “It probably floated around in your quarters, having decided it no longer liked being on one of our heads.”
We dismissed the occurrence, not thinking twice about it. Betra helped me get cleaned up and we went back into the bedroom to get me dressed.
Then the second weird thing happened. “I want the teal blouse with the silver embellishments,” I told Betra as he opened my closet.
“Why didn’t you just say blue-green then?”
“Because it’s teal. There’s a word for it, you big goof.”
Betra rummaged around the clothes hanging in midair between the wall panel and the cavity where they are usually kept. “I don’t see anything teal, Shalia. Or blue-green.”
I huffed. “It should be right there. It’s the blouse that’s all drapey ... fine, I’ll find it.”
But I didn’t find it. One of my favorite pieces had gone missing. But that wasn’t all.
Betra picked up something that fell from a skirt that was hanging amongst the other clothes. This skirt had some metal studs that outlined the pockets. Apparently, it had snagged someone else’s clothing, because Betra held up a red bit of material.
“I hung that skirt up myself yesterday,” he said. “This wasn’t on it; I would have noticed.”
I snickered, ready to tease. “Why are you hanging up my clothes? Do you like to dress up and feel pretty when no one else is looking, Betra?”
He rolled his eyes at me. “Your laundry came back four days ago. I got tired of looking at it lying on the lounger and put it away while you slept.”
“What is it you found?” I asked, coming close to look.
“Part of an insignia from someone’s uniform. I recognize the material.”
I got a creepy feeling. “Could it have come from a combat soldier’s uniform?” I had visions of the ghost of Nobek Frin hiding in my closet, waiting for me to open it so he could spring on me and enact some kind of revenge for his death.
Betra looked at me. He frowned hard, as if he was turning something over in his mind. Finally he said, “It does match up with that sort of badge.”
I tried not to let my voice quaver. “You haven’t seen anything strange while I’ve been doing my coma bit, have you?”
Betra shook his head. “No. Nothing has woken me during your bed rest.”
“And Oses? He hasn’t seen anything when he’s been able to spend the night?”
“He’s said nothing. He’s only been here three nights anyway. He’s been doing doubles much of the time, like last night.” Betra’s gaze had gone distant.
“Then where did this come from?” I wanted to know.
“That’s a good question.” Betra drew himself up. He had a determined look on his face, as if he’d come to some momentous decision. Then he smiled at me. “Pick out another blouse to wear, Shalia. You’re going to be late to see Dr. Tep, and I’ve got some duties to attend to.”
I wanted to fret over the mysterious scrap of clothing some more, but Betra shushed me and made me get dressed. He even fixed my hair and encouraged me to put on a little makeup. “I’ve noticed how it seems to pick your spirits up when you do all that,” he said in an overly cheerful voice.
I was still a little too dull-witted at the time to realize he was distracting me. When my appointment with Tep was done, Katrina came to fetch me in Betra’s stead. I had planned on grilling him a little more about the whole uniform scrap thing, so it was hard not to pout a little. However, between the encouraging medical report and the fact I was now able to join my friends at lunch, I was in too good a mood to let it bother me much.
Betra is due off his shift in a few minutes though. I have the feeling that bit of a soldier’s insignia means something important to him. I have every intention of finding out what it is when he gets off work.