Mama's Pride - Part Three
After a smothering round of kisses all over Alex's face, Bethany hopped off him and grinned. "It's so good to see you awake!"
A concept Alex started to doubt. He pushed up on his elbows, Bethany and Franky towering above him. In the crook of his right elbow, Franky lovingly carried a large jar of Deluxe Silky Peanut Butter as if it was his baby.
Franky reached down with his free hand, hauled Alex to his feet, and dropped him into a chair at the table. Once more the meat taunted Alex; drool-worthy meat that begged to be eaten yet moved away every time Alex tried to sink his teeth into it.
"Eat, eat," Bethany said. "You must be starving." She settled in the chair next to Alex, scooting over until their chairs mashed together and she could move no closer--penetrating deep into Alex's personal space.
Alex picked up a hamburger patty with his fingers. Before he could get it to his lips though, Franky shoved the opened jar of peanut butter in his face. "Franky give peanut butter! Mmmmmm!"
"I don't think he wants any peanut butter, Franky."
Alex turned to the voice, the only beacon of sanity in this future world he'd been banished to. Katlyn winked with an amused smile on her lips. "You should take it easy, Alex. You don't need to be eating all that. Just going to make yourself sick."
He chowed down despite the warning--finally! And it was sweet heaven. By the time he finished his plate, his stomach felt on the verge of explosion and he let out of a massive belch capable of destroying entire civilizations. Never in his life had he known such bliss as he did while devouring a plate of freshly cooked animal flesh.
Never in his life had he thrown up as much as he did after devouring a plate of freshly cooked animal flesh. The epic nature of this expulsion of food rivaled the biggest battles in history. Bethany, wise beyond her years, saw it like a vision and nearly leaped across the table before the first wave of puke made its way to the surface of the table. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Alex registered the screams of chaos surrounding him, but the blur never fully formed into a complete picture. All he remembered afterwards was the burning, sickening feel as the food came out the same way in came in. Over and over and over again.
He woke up in bed sometime later. Starving once more yet regret never crossed his mind. Even the aftermath of his meatfest was worth every second.
"Mama came in and gave you some medication," Katlyn said from the side of his bed. She set down the SoftPAD she'd been reading. In the dim light of the room, her face looked even more angelic than he could remember. "Quite the show you put on."
"Thanks. I aim to please."
"I don't think Beth will ever look at you the same way again. The poor girl turned green and I thought for sure she'd end up adding to the flood you created."
"For the best, I hope."
"I don't want to pry, but..."
Alex sat up. Misleading Bethany had its disadvantages. Katlyn seemed to be noticing it now, as well. Maybe not. Alex wasn't foolish enough to admit something without knowing for sure that's what Katlyn was talking about. "But what?"
"Isn't she a little young for you? The way she talks..."
"She's a good girl. Smart. But that's all. I'd do anything to protect her, hell I have done anything to protect her. But she's more like a sister to me than anything else."
"She doesn't think so."
Alex shrugged. "I can't control her feelings."
"It's none of my business, Alex. Just be careful. You're playing a dangerous game with her. Eventually the truth will come out and when it does, people are going to get hurt. Bad."
Like he didn't know that. "You're right. It's none of your business."
Katlyn shifted in the chair, picked up the SoftPAD. "I transferred a bunch of information to your account," she said. "You should catch up on what's been happening around here. Things have spiraled out of control in just a month's time."
"No amount of information on file is going to catch me up. Especially information from their perspective. Why don't you tell me what's been going on? Start from the rescue."
Katlyn looked at him in such a way, subtle yet unmistakable, that made Alex regret being flippant with her. "Fine," she said. "A month ago, Mama's old pirate friends under the command of her protege, Greegan the Mighty--also rumored to be her lover--rescued all of us from the planet after we blew up the temple. We were shuffled off to this ship, Mama's Pride, and it was there you died."
The medical personally aboard Mama's Pride moved in an organized frantic pace that impressed Katlyn. Compared to the old ship, whose name she'd never heard now that she thought about it, everything seemed to belong in a whole new era of time. Sterile and clean, full of equipment that belonged in scifi books and movies, the medical bay gave her her first real look at advancements in technology she'd yet to grasp.
Holographic displays exposing the inner workings of the human body in various degrees of depth. A group of aging doctors surrounded the examination table Mama was on, poking and prodding at the hovering display of her internal body with their fingers. The image twisted and turned, zooming in and out on damaged areas no human eye could see as of yet.
Several tables down, past doctors working on Bethany, Franky, and Anthony, Katlyn spotted two young kids standing beside Alex just as the one with blonde hair tossed his head back and laughed. Humor may be the best medicine for what ails you, but seeing a doctor laugh while someone you cared about lay beaten and bloodied before him didn't seem like the best medical technique.
Katlyn slipped off the table and hopped toward Alex and his "doctors," ignoring the pain from the whip lash in her thigh. A nurse tried to tell her to stop and get back on the table, but Katlyn merely brushed him aside. The nurse huffed and walked away.
"Dammit man! He's dying! We've got to save him!" Katlyn heard the blonde doctor say as she approached.
His companion giggled and then said, "Dammit man! I know he's dying! But save him? He's so ugly!"
This brought a fit of giggles to both men--and a fit of anger to Katlyn. She reached the boys--men, she realized, very young men--and grabbed the nearest one, the blonde, by the back of the neck. As her fingers dug in, she could feel his body tense and his companion's eyes bulged.
"You seem to be having a good time," Katlyn said quietly. She was close enough to the blonde's ear to be heard with all the noise in the room. "But I would strongly urge you to get serious quickly. If that man dies, you're going to join him."
She released him and hopped back. As the blonde turned to look at her, he must have judged her to not be the type of person that joked around. His attention immediately turned to Alex.
Katlyn stood at the head of the table, arms crossed, weight balanced on her good leg, and watched as the young doctors activated the holographic representation of Alex. They glanced at each other nervously, at the hologram, then each other again.
The damage was devastating. Katlyn didn't need to have any medical training to see that. Being a physical therapist, however, gave her some insight into what she saw. Most of Alex's left leg had been destroyed. The damage to the muscles and bones in his knee would probably never heal. She'd never seen such extensive destruction before. What concerned her more, however, was the amount of blood he'd lost, and the damage to his face and ribs. Bones were so splintered and embedded into his body, she was surprised he was still alive at all.
"Look lady," the blonde's companion started, swallowing hard. He looked everywhere but at Katlyn. "There's no hope here. He's dead. His body just... uh... doesn't know it yet."
She couldn't argue. His stats, visibly running through the air just under the body display, were getting worse by the second. Alex was a fighter, though. She glanced down the tables toward the doctors attentively working on Mama. All the experienced doctors seemed to be there; all of them worked in overdrive to assure Mama's survival.
Both young doctors followed her gaze. The blonde shrugged. "Save who you can?" he offered. A moment later he was on the floor, writhing with pain. Katlyn grabbed his wrist, twisted his arm fully around to his back, and then, using the blonde's own weight, applied enough pressure to the wrist to cause it to snap.
Several of the doctors working on the others looked up at the piercing screams from the blonde. One of them, a middle-aged woman with dark black hair whose name Katlyn later discovered was Cindy rushed away from the table with Horus as another doctor continued to mend his handless stump.
"What's going on?" she demanded. Her eyes barely fell on Katlyn before she turned toward Alex's failing stats. The blonde's companion and several nurses cleared away the blonde after injecting him with a sedative. Nobody seemed to challenge Katlyn's action. Not yet, at least.
"By the Goddess," Cindy said after an initial check of the extent of Alex's wounds. She tapped behind her ear and mumbled something Katlyn couldn't hear. Almost immediately two of the doctors working on Mama had appeared at Cindy's side.
Katlyn staggered back, her body weakening under the stress she added to it by refusing to wait comfortably for treatment, allowing the doctor to work.
Cindy took a strange device with a red glowing light on top that looked like a metal saltshaker. As she ran it along Alex's chest, Katlyn watched the holographic display as the bone fragments in his chest seemed to melt away.
One of the doctor's next to Cindy shook his head. Then a sharp alarm went off, and Katlyn saw Alex's pulse drop to zero. The holographic heart that was weakly pumping in his chest had stopped.
Katlyn opened her mouth to say something. She didn't know what, nor would she ever remember. As the doctors went into hyper-mode trying to save Alex, Katlyn felt a tiny prick on her neck and spun, pain boiling through her leg at the sudden movement. A nurse, the same nurse she'd brushed off, held out his arms and smiled at her as the world faded away.
To be continued...
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