Mama's Pride - Part One
Katlyn perched on the edge of the bed where Alex laid facedown, his back a series of long-healed crisscrossing scars. For the past month he drifted in and out of consciousness never fully resurfacing from the void that became his new home. According to Mama, the lashing he took on stage was but a mere tickling compared to the beating he'd sustained before in his cell. The illegal medication given to him pushed his already severely injured body into a dangerous overdrive that enhanced his injuries tenfold. That he still survived after all of the punishment he'd taken--even Mama had trouble not believing in miracles after that.
Every day, sometimes for hours on end, Katlyn came and sat with Alex. Waiting for him to wake up, to return from the extended vacation his mind decided he needed, gave her a lot of time to think. Often times those thoughts centered on the life that was, the past, before the madness of the future had taken hold and refused to let go. She missed her family, her friends, her normalcy. The adventure that was to be fun and exciting turned into a disaster and now all she wanted was to go home--but that wasn't possible with her only way back refusing to live again.
With that realization, and the fact that all of Alex's previous work had been destroyed with the old ship, Katlyn's mind began to ponder how she and Alex would be able to survive here in the future.
Hooking up with the Pure League was a mistake--staying with them, at least. She appreciated the rescue from the Interpol ship and all, but remaining with the League had brought nothing but trouble for them both. That said--where else was there to go? The Elder offered to help them. That option was too late now.
Stuffing her thoughts away, Katlyn discovered Alex's eyes open. "You're awake."
She started to stand. "Better get Mama--"
Easing back down on the edge of the bed, Katlyn gazed questioningly.
"I'm not--I'm not ready to deal with them yet. How long I been out?"
"Sorry," Alex murmured, closing his eyes again.
"Don't be. By all accounts, you should be dead. I'm not about to argue with a month of sleep. How you feeling?"
Alex rolled to his side and then slowly sat up. "Fine--great actually." He stretched his arms over his head, mouth creaking open with a huge yawn. "No pain. No pain at all. Bit stiff, but otherwise."
"Mama said you're knee was pretty much destroyed. She had to clean out a lot of the bone and replace it with some kind of metal--can't remember now. You shouldn't be able to tell the difference."
Feeling both knees experimentally, Alex shrugged.
"Got some bad news, Alex."
He quietly listened to the news, not at all surprised as Katlyn told him about the destruction of the old ship and all his work.
"Well," Alex said, "at least I have a real bed on this ship. How's Bethany--and the others?"
She nodded her head. "All okay. Doing well. Bethany's still having some trouble with her memory from the blow to the head. She's often in here sitting with you. Doesn't remember what happened to her at all, but she's been told."
"I'm sick of this place--this future. I can't stand what it's doing to me, to us. I killed a man. I helped kill thousands of children."
Katlyn stared at the bare gray wall, unable to look at Alex. Her mind drifted over the thousands killed by one of the bombs she set, and the priestess she killed. "We've both done things we're not proud of, Alex. Been part of things we wish we could take back. Can't do anything about it now. Have to move on. Get us home. No sense thinking about it."
"Pushing the thoughts away isn't easy--"
"No. I can't get us home."
Now she turned and looked at Alex, her eyes widening just a little. "What do you mean you can't?"
"It was a fluke. An accident. The machine was never meant to physically transport people. It was only meant to be a window into the past and the future."
"Just reproduce the same conditions..."
"I'm working with different technology here. There's no way for me to reproduce it exactly. And even if I did, there's no guarantee that it'd work."
"So you're just going to give up?"
"No, no." Alex shook his head. "I'm going to do what I can. But I'm warning you now, there's a good chance it won't work. I'll never stop. If it takes fifty years for me to get it right, then so be it."
The idea of being trapped in the future for fifty years left Katlyn's mouth dry, her mind numb. She said slowly, "I have faith in you, Alex."
She had no choice but to have faith.
After Katlyn left to get Mama, Alex slipped out of bed and pulled on a pair of sweat pants. He squatted a few times to test out the new knee and found no difficulty.
He felt great. His body was pain free and well rested. A new man, Alex thought.
Once Mama checked him over, he dressed and wandered out of the room.
First thing he noticed about the ship was its state. Unlike the last ship where everything was held together by bubblegum and duct tape, this ship looked new and intact--no wires spewed from the ceilings, no flickering lights struggling for survival, just slick gray walls with all their inner-workings in proper order.
Couple of turns later, however, and Alex was lost. He tried to backtrack to his room, only to realize he didn't even bother to look at the room number in his haste to move his body.
Undeterred and just glad to be out of bed, he wandered the halls assuming he'd run into someone eventually. Eventually he did.
As he turned a corner, Alex slammed headfirst into a wall of human flesh. Before he could tumble backward to the floor, however, two strong hands grabbed his arms and steadied him.
Shaking his head clear, Alex looked straight ahead only to find an ample chest held snug in a black tank top staring back at him. His eyes took in the glorious view, lingering perhaps a bit too long if the finger digging under his chin, guiding his entire head upward had anything to say about it.
Craning his neck, Alex looked up at the stunningly tall woman he'd crashed into. She was no supermodel, but not unattractive, either. Straight dark hair flowed around her face and sides all the way down to her knees, which was a long long way. Alex was no midget at six feet tall; this woman had to be a good seven or eight inches taller.
"Uh, hi," Alex managed.
"Up finally I see. Was beginning to think you were a myth."
"You know me?"
"A lot of people know you--"
Alex beamed. He'd never been famous before!
"You destroyed an entire way of life for millions of people. What do they call you? Oh, that's right. Goddess Killer."
Alex beamed no longer. "What?"
"Didn't hear, huh?" The Amazonian giant dropped a heavy hand on Alex's shoulder, her eyes a bit too cold for comfort. "After the destruction of the temple, once things calmed down, several people came forward with information on this Avril Lavigne, or the Goddess Arl if you will. Information that you provided them before the whips started flying. Most of the priestesses were hunted down and killed. Some are still around, I'm sure, but there's a good amount of confusion and chaos right now as a result of 'The Great Deceit.'"
Swallowing hard, Alex said, "You weren't one of the followers... were you?"
"I was. Very loyal one, in fact."
"Sorry?" Alex said lamely. All the while he thought, "Please don't kill me!"
The woman stared hard, deadly. The color drained from Alex's face and he was fairly sure he'd need a new pair of pants shortly.
"Kidding? You saved us all from the lies perpetrated by those in control of the temple. Without your heroic efforts, we'd all still be suffocating under the weight of lies told by Kai and the others. You're name will live for a very long time, my friend. Songs will be sung about you! Celebrations will be thrown in your honor!"
"Never had a song sung about me. Sweet!"
"I will make it my mission in life to compose the greatest song ever written and it'll be all about you. The Goddess Killer! Revealer of truth!"
Grinning, Alex said, "I'm digging this."
"The Great Informant! Risking his life to expose the lie! He is... uh, what's your name, anyway?"
Humph. "Alexander Sterling," Alex said, a bit put off by that.
The woman gave his shoulder a healthy squeeze and then headed off down the hall Alex just came from. As she walked away, her voice faded, but Alex managed to catch the beginning of her epic song, and he frown.
"There once was a man named Sterling, who loved to go whirling and twirling..."
To be continued...