I finished the beds this past weekend. Sanding. So much sanding. I think I could build a beach out of the sawdust from my sander. And then staining. And assembly. Disassembly and transport. Reassembly. A quick Home Despot run by Mrs. Dave to acquire more pocket screws and plywood for the bunk boards. Finally, the beds are assembled and installed, made, and sleepable. Half a pool noodle is working well to keep the Wee Horde from a surprise plummet during the hours of darkness. And they love them. Which means the toys are out of the laundry room and upstairs, and I’ll be setting up my computer desk in the near future. And the Great Garage Re-Org can move forward. Finally.
And finishing one project has left me depressed. All the frustration and effort, literal sweat (I managed to avoid blood and tears, mostly) and I’m feeling mighty low, which doesn’t help the creative wheels much. It’s not dissimilar to finishing a story, really. The cure for which is diving into another project. So I’m working on more fiction. I dunno, folks. These are the kinds of days I just don’t know. One word after the other, I guess.
I don’t have a clever title for this chapter, and thinking about it, I may edit it down to two lines or so. Still, while I’m ostensibly minding the children, I’ll take it. And the bit at the end might just save it
Chapter 3: (Needs a Title)
A short wait later, during which Dr. Corama watched me with a frank gaze and tapped the fingers of her right hand on her left arm, two large young men in issue Assault Corps coveralls entered the compartment. The junior of the two, whose name tape read Torgsen, set down a bundle of rods and began to slot them together to form a rectangular frame. He stretched a simple canvas cover over the frame, and then snapped a lump of metal and molycirc into each corner. It was the same one he’d have likely carried into battle to move the wounded out of harm’s way. It even had the same restraint straps hanging off the sides.
Torgsen powered up the cart, and it rose to hip height. I tried to sit up, again, and again only succeeded in twitching my limbs. The doctor checked her wrist chrono and pressed her lips into a thin line.
“Mr. Avendar, your system is going to take a while to flush the stasis drugs, and you’ll find you won’t regain complete coordination until then.” She leaned over me and fixed me with a stare. “So stop trying.” The senior corpsman chuckled, and grinned when the doc glared at him.
“Ma’am, he’s a convict: you don’t have to explain anything to him.”
“He’s still a human being, Ferrer,” she said, her tone mild, “besides, there’s something strange about him.”
“Strange?” The noncom’s face betrayed nothing but disinterested curiosity, ignoring the implicit reprimand. The doctor nodded.
“Why put a prisoner convicted of fraud in stasis? Thebes is only a few days travel away, and even if he’d gotten violent, locking him in a cell and pushing food through a slot would have been sufficient.” She shook her head, her auburn hair gleaming in the harsh light from the fixture.
“Our not to ask, Ma’am,” Ferrer said, and motioned to Torgsen. The junior took position at my feet, while I sensed the senior move to my head, though I couldn’t quite see him without another humiliating attempt to simply move. “On three, Torg.”
Without counting, the two lifted my unresponsive meat puppet onto the float cart. Ferrer crossed my arms over my chest and strapped them down, ratcheting the strap just to snug, while Torgsen did the same at my knees. Though they hadn’t overtightened, it was still uncomfortable. My skin felt as though I’d spent all day in the sun: tight, and a tingling that was rapidly approaching a painful buzz.
“Take him to an isolation room and fit him with a cuff. I’ll check on him when I’m done examining the others.”
“Aye, aye,” Ferrer acknowledged as Torgsen maneuvered the float cart out of the compartment. A combination of the stasis drugs and the odd sense of frictionless movement caused by the float cart set my stomach churning. I made the mistake of closing my eyes, which just made it worse.
“Shit, Chief, he’s turning pretty green,” Torgsen said.
Ferrer grunted from behind me, and the cart whirred gently until I was semi-reclined.
“That should help,” Ferrer said.
The two proceeded to ignore me as they escorted the float cart through an airlock and out of the prison transport. Then I did have to close my eyes, nausea or no, as the bright, natural light of a system primary drew involuntary tears. Hot, dry air and the breeze that pushed it exacerbated whatever the drugs were doing to my skin, and I began to whimper and writhe as the sensation became unbearable.
“Void,” Ferrer swore, noticing. “Let’s get him inside.”
The two double-timed across the landing pad and under an awning, the float cart obediently keeping up while I did what I could not to scream at the overwhelming sensation.
The next thing I knew, they had me in a small, windowless room made of duracrete.
“Go see if the doc needs a hand,” Ferrer told Torgsen after they lifted me to an unpowered bed made of more duracrete. Simple, heavy, one-piece construction meant stronger men than I would have a hard time moving it, let alone using it as a weapon.
“You sure, Chief?”
“Yeah. He’s not going to manage anything.”
As the junior corpsman left the room, Ferrer snapped a chunky device that around my left wrist. It covered from midway up my forearm down over the back and palm of my hand, locking my wrist in place, but leaving my fingers free. There were slots for nanotech and pharmaceutical based curatives, as well as a small readout.
As soon as it latched in place, I felt a chill on the back of my hand. A feeling of pressure meant the thing had slipped a delivery needle into a vein, and after a moment, the world took on a slight sheen, and I could feel myself begin to relax. My twitching stilled, even though my skin still crawled. I just didn’t care.
Ferrer looked up from the screen on which he was jotting notes, one eyebrow raised.
“Least I could do for the man that saved my life.”