Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter Eight

“Yes. It’s all yours. You control who comes in. All you have to do is place your hand on the sensor and it will open.”

I looked at the pad inside the door. “From inside?”

“Yes, Cohen. You are not a prisoner on my ship, you’re a guest. It is probably best that you don’t wander around alone, since I don’t want you to get lost, but you’re not trapped here. If you wish to go out, just hit this button which will page the bridge. Someone is on duty at all times and can provide you with assistance.”

I still couldn’t believe this was all for me. I wrapped my arms tightly around myself, bracing for the pain but needing the comfort. When it didn’t start burning after I dared so much physical contact, the jarring shift in reality struck me again. I still couldn’t believe it was gone. I shivered.

“If you’re cold, you can adjust the environmental controls here in your quarters to a warmer temperature. And there are clothes in the drawers in that wall there.” Captain still stood just inside the door, pointing things out. “Look around, change, and get some rest. The tablet on the bed controls the vid screen, and you have access to the entertainment and unclassified news on the system.”

“T-thank you.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Captain hovered just outside.

“Yes.” I wasn’t sure what else to say. What he wanted me to say.

“All right then. I’ll let you explore your room. Rest well, Cohen.” Captain stepped back and turned, and then the door slid shut. I took a breath. Then another one.

It was quiet in my room. I missed the tiny temple with the soothing sounds. I touched the bed, then the wall. The top drawer slid open when I pushed on it. Inside were clothes, soft shirts and pants. I grabbed one of each and put them on the bed.

I wasn’t where to put the dirty robe, but I kicked it in the corner. I stepped in front of the piece of sonic shower. I’d used on before. I lifted my arms and turned in a slow circle. Getting clean always felt like it should include something… more.

Sometimes I thought I remembered water pouring down over me. It hadn’t gotten me clean—the pollution in the atmosphere meant rain left dirty gray steaks on everything it touched—but it was warm and wet.

It had felt amazing. Of course, I’d had to take two sonic showers to get the gunk off.

I took a second shower, but I still didn’t feel anything and the experience was disappointing as always. At least I was clean and didn’t smell of my own sick. The clothes on the bed were soft, hanging in draping folds. I’d worn the skintight suit for so long, it was strange to feel my clothing move independent of my body.

But they were warm. I wrapped my arms around my chest and glanced around. I had no idea what to do, but the shower couldn’t help the taste in my mouth.

I fidgeted, eyeing the dispenser. I’d never had access to one“Um. Liquids.” The screen lit up with a list of options. I didn’t know what half of it was, but I found one I remembered from my childhood and selected that. A cup with hot tea, green steam rising gently, materialized on the shelf.

It smelled just as good as I remembered it. I picked up the cup and the memories of my childhood assaulted me. We didn’t have much, but whenever I was sick, my mom would spend out subsistence credits to get me a cup. It always made me feel better.

The sharp taste cut through the acid bile still coating my tongue, washing it away. I stumbled over to the bed, holding the cup between both hands. I sipped it, staring blankly at the wall. The warm trail of a tear surprised me. I’d suppressed what good memories I had, the anger and betrayal consuming me when I could battle through the numbness and pain to feel anything.

I rocked forward and back, my harsh shuddering breaths growing louder. Loud beeping startled me, and I dropped my cup, which was thankfully empty. Was it the door? Would a verbal command work?


The vid screen lit up, and a woman stared at me. She was dressed in a uniform, her hair flowing down to her shoulders with some sort of cloth holding it back from her wide face. Her eyebrows lowered and her forehead creased in a frown. “I apologize. I was attempting to reach the captain in his office.”

I looked around. “These are my quarters.”

This time her eyebrows went up. “Clearly. I apologize for disturbing you.” The screen went dark.

“That was weird.” I wiped my face with both hands, glad the interruption at least brought my tears to an end. I hadn’t been up very long, but exhaustion already dragged at me.

The vid screen was directly in front of the bed. I slid backward, enjoying the silky fabric, and then slid under the covers. They were heavy and warm, and I sighed.

“Vid on.” The screen lit up. “Entertainment.” I went from program to program to find something, eventually settling on a docu-drama from a colony set up on a planet with high volcanic activity. My eyes kept drifting closed, and not even the loud explosion of an erupting volcano was enough to keep them from finally falling shut for good.

I snuggled into the bed and sighed.

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