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June 27, 2022

Anachronocity v9p5

By Josh Brown

Mama's Pride - Part Five

The events following the incident on Nelson's Folly shook Alex hard. As Katlyn recounted the aftermath, Alex sat on the edge of his bed with his head in his hands, hating the future now more than ever. His brother's creation nearly ended in Alex's death, much like it drove Daniel to suicide. Alex refused to allow himself to believe in "clinic death." If he was revivable, he wasn't truly dead. His sanity depended on this rationalization.

Alex still found himself trapped in the future without much hope for a return to his own time. All his forward momentum died when the old ship self-destructed. So now he had to start over--albeit more knowledgeable. In the end, that meant even more time in the future and even more opportunity for death to finally take him.

Katlyn said, "A week passed by without incident, mostly..."

***

During that week following Nelson's Folly, doctors came and went. The medical facility aboard Mama's Pride was home for all the victims of priestess Kai's assault.

Having suffered the least, Katlyn recovered the quickest but quarters needed to be made for the new guests, so she had to live out of the medical facilities for the moment.

Others seemed to recover quickly as well. Mama was out of bed, helping the medical staff within a few days. Being around her old friends rejuvenated her to a degree Katlyn had never seen before. Her lively, outgoing personality doubled, maybe even tripled in intensity and she loved it. The reverence the crew showed Mama also struck Katlyn. These people truly cared for this woman, and she them.

Horus soon thereafter started moving about. His new, artificial hand constantly flexed in and out of a fist. Katlyn watched, more than a little mortified as several doctors performed tests on the hand, measuring the reflex times and general mobility between Horus's real hand and his mechanical hand. One doctor giggled giddily when a device for measuring grip strength exploded under the force of Horus's grip. The doctor wasn't the only one. Horus had a twinkle of deadly intent in his eyes.

Things weren't looking well for Franky, though. He stayed in bed the whole week and talked to no one. Mama told Katlyn there was nothing physically wrong with him, but he seemed distant, lost in his own mind and unwilling to come out and play.

Several times Katlyn went over to chat with Franky, to try to draw him out a little. The events on the planet must have hit him harder than the others, though, and her attention didn't even get a nod.

Greegan often stopped by to whisk Mama away for mysterious, unknown reasons. Once, while Mama conversed with other doctors about Alex's condition, Greegan wandered over in his shuffling, heavy-footed manner, with his fingers lightly brushing along the wall for guidance.

"Hello," Katlyn said as he approached.

He asked, "Katlyn, right?"

More than a little surprised, Katlyn nodded. Then she rolled her eyes at herself and said aloud, "Yes, that's me."

Her voice must have given her away. Greegan chuckled. "I know my ship better than anyone ever could. Plus, Mama told me which bed you were on. So it wasn't difficult to count out the steps. I'm Greegan the Mighty, captain of this fine vessel. I just wanted to come and thank you personally."

"Me? For what? You're the one that rescued us."

"And you're the one that saved Mama. That, Katlyn, can never be repaid. You did everyone on this ship a tremendous service and you will always be considered one of us."

Katlyn could take a deserving compliment with the best of them, but she felt uneasy with this one. There had been no hope on the planet. She'd only delayed the inevitable deaths of them all.

She said as much to Greegan and his face beamed. "Nonsense," he said. "Had you not done what you did, we never would have been able to get in there and get you folks out."

Katlyn smiled, too. "Well, thank you."

"So, how do you like this fine, fine ship?"

"It's beautiful. I've never seen anything like it."

Greegan laughed aloud as if Katlyn had just told the funniest joke ever written. His amusement was lost on her. "She's not nearly as top-notch as most ships out there, but we love her. And she thanks you for the compliment."

It wasn't hard for Katlyn to see how this blind, physically limited man had become so powerful to so many people. Just being near him made Katlyn want to like him. His presence put her at an instant ease, and just talking with him made her feel an immediate connection, like he could be anyone's friend with a few kind words. Strangely, at the same time she sensed an underlining power and wanted to be his friend because that power was not something you wanted as an enemy.

"Mama said the Elders' medical advancements made it possible for you to get your sight back..." Katlyn frowned. She did not intend to bring that up, yet the sense of ease, of instant companionship, dropped her guard. "I mean, if it's not too nosy--"

He didn't seem to mind. The carefree smile buried in the mass of hair on his face remained steady. "If God had intended me to see, He wouldn't have taken my sight when I was still a newborn."

"God?" Katlyn blinked.

"Yes. God. You sound shocked. Not all of us pirate peoples believed in that false goddess."

"I just didn't know people still believed in God this far in the future." What--why did she say that?

Greegan overlooked it--not likely, Katlyn thought. "God the Father. Almighty Supreme Being. He's still very much alive, my dear."

"What if He wants you to have your sight now? Maybe He took your sight at such a young age so that when you were finally able to get it back, you'd have a completely different view of things."

Nodding, Greegan said, "That's a valid point. It's a tough decision for me. I've gone forty-plus years without my eyes, and in that time, the world around me formed its own shapes in my mind. If I could suddenly see again--for the first time, really--what would that do to me? To my reality? There are many people like me, without sight, and they'd give anything to see for a minute. I don't know, though. I'm comfortable. I don't need eyes to see. Sure, there are maybe a few things it'd be worth having a peek, but in the end I think I'm happiest as I am now."

"I can respect that. You're a decent man."

"I don't know about that. Anyone can appear decent, but you don't know all the facts. Still, I thank you. Now, if you'll excuse me. Mama and I have a date." His eyebrows danced above the frames of his dark glasses and he shuffled away.

As the week dwindled away, Alex, Bethany, and Anthony continued to remain unmoving on their medical beds.

Doctor Laroque stopped by often just to talk when she had the time. Word spread throughout the ship, she informed Katlyn late in the week. Alex's revelation about the Goddess Arl being a teen pop star from the twenty-first century was gathering momentum. Information, proof of this, began to flood the nets and Alex's status as the Goddess Killer started to cement.

Near the end of the week, people started coming in to look at Alex. The older doctors that so vehemently ignored him as he died stepped up their treatments for him. More than a few intense arguments arose about the best ways to help him.

By the time Katlyn moved into her own quarters, a steady stream of visitors flowed through the medical facilities in order to look and--a little creepy, this was--touch him on the arms, legs, chest, face, hair. One particularly ugly beast of a woman tried to give Alex junior a little squeeze but the man behind her--likely a husband or boyfriend--put a stop to that immediately.

The day before Katlyn moved into her own quarters, she made her daily attempt at talking to Franky. This time, she came prepared with the ultimate bribe for a man of Franky's eclectic taste. She pulled up a chair next to his bed and settled on the smooth, metallic surface. These chairs annoyed her, so uncomfortable. She always wondered if they were the only way to keep the medical staff awake.

"Hey, Franky," she said. "I'm back. Clearly I haven't disturbed you enough to get you to tell me to leave you alone. So here I am again."

Nothing. Franky continued his silent, blank stare at the ceiling. Okay, then. Time to break out the big guns.

"Guess what, Franky. I brought you a gift this time. See, I think I've figured out part of the problem. You've been in here so long that you've been suffering from withdrawal. So..." Katlyn rested the box in her lap on the bed next to Franky's hip, right under his massive hairy-knuckled hand and popped it open. "Just for you. A brand new jar of fresh peanut butter. Extra smooth."

When that got no response, not even a slight tick, Katlyn leaned back in her chair and sighed. "It's all right. I'll leave it here so you can have it later."

She took the jar from the box and nestled it against Franky's arm like a doll, then stood and started to leave.

Before she got two steps away, Franky said, "Franky remembers. Franky doesn't want to remember. Katlyn help Franky not remember anymore."

Slowly, Katlyn eased back into her chair and took Franky's hand. She didn't know what to say or do. Helping Franky forget the incident on Nelson's Folly wasn't possible, as far as she knew. Maybe she could help him deal with it somehow.

"They did a terrible thing to you, Franky. Nobody deserves the kind of treatment Kai and her minions subjected you to. I saw--"

The words escaped Katlyn's lips unsaid, along with her breath. Franky's hand clamped painfully hard over hers, squeezing without mercy.

"Franky deserves," he said. "Franky deserves far worse. Franky remembers!"


To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-04-24
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