Goodbye Sol – Page 19

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I felt awkward, and I think the others around me did as well. As we tried to sit together to eat our evening meal everyone shared a nod or two before they shoveled food into their mouths. Willow was still in her pod recovering, and Skyler constantly grinned from ear to ear, beaming his pearly whites at everyone. I knew it was going to take time for things to feel normal again, with two new crewmates aboard, but I kept wanting to point my finger at Skyler and yell out everything I had heard in front of Asher and Emeric. I found myself mourning the way things used to be.
“What do you think of the beef?” I asked Skyler. Everyone had taken a few spoonfuls in silence, but the strange tension was too much for me. I could hear Willow occasionally groaning with discomfort just beyond the storage wall.
“Beef?” Skyler asked, glancing at his plate and poking the lump of grey. “Is that what it is?”
“That’s what it is supposed to be,” Emeric said, scooping a heap of the soft grey ‘beef’ into his mouth. “Mmm. Just like back on base.”
“Well, it’s definitely not like anything I’ve ever had before, but I guess it’s the best food I’ve eaten in twenty years.” He took a mouthful and swallowed. “It’s also the only food I’ve eaten in twenty years.” Skyler let out a boisterous laugh.
Asher nodded and laughed as well, though noticeably lower in volume. “Can you believe that by the time we get home you’ll have been away from Earth for twenty-eight years?”
“It’s crazy,” Skyler said, shaking his head. “I’ve spent almost as many years in cryo-sleep as I have alive and well. I wonder what I’d be like now if I had stayed on Earth.” He stared wistfully up at the ceiling.
“Would you like to know what life on Earth is like now?” Emeric asked. His gaze seemed to pierce right through Skyler and I wondered if he had any gut feelings about what Skyler was potentially planning to do. Emeric’s ability to judge a person’s character was something that was likely critical to his success in the military.
“I know it’s different now,” Skyler said, still staring up at the ceiling. I glanced up to see what he was looking at, and I saw nothing there. “Anaya said something about a Great Wipe, and shifting priorities. I guess it would be quite different for me there now.”
There was a note of sadness in Skyler’s voice while he spoke, and for a moment I began to feel sorry for him. It didn’t last long before I remembered what I had overheard. I turned my attention to my food.
“Has Willow eaten?” Skyler asked me.
“No, I was letting her sleep a bit. But it would be okay for her to eat now.” I pushed my chair back from the table in order to get up and prepare a plate.
“No,” Skyler said, placing his hand on my arm to stop me. “Let me do it, please?”
While his tone seemed sincere, I couldn’t trust him. I wondered if he was looking for an opportunity to talk to Willow about blowing us up versus killing us slowly. I nodded to him and stayed seated, my eyes glued on him as he prepared her food and then walked to the doorway of the infirmary. I considered using the opportunity to tell Asher and Emeric what I had overheard. This was my first time with them alone, but it also seemed like the perfect opportunity to gather more information, more evidence. “If you’ll excuse me,” I said quietly to Asher and Emeric, “I’ll be right back. I should run her stats again, just to be safe.”
Emeric nodded and I immediately stood and walked to the infirmary door.
Skyler was standing next to Willow’s cryo pod. He was holding the tray and saying something quietly to her.
Willow was sitting up, propped up by pillows. She seemed a little groggy. As I entered she turned her attention to me and waved. A small smile played at the corners of her lips. “Hey, Doc,” she said warmly.
Skyler turned then and gave me a nod and a tight lipped, closed mouth smile.
I wondered if Willow had greeted me out of friendliness or in order to alert Skyler to my presence and cease their conspiring conversation.
“How is my patient doing?” I asked both of them. I hoped my tone was warm and friendly. After a pause in which they both smiled but said nothing, I began again. “It’s been a few hours since we stabilized your condition, and I’d just like to run some more tests and see how you’re doing.”
Skyler backed away from the pod so that I could get to the instrument panel. I looked over the readings. “Things are looking much better. In the next hour or two, if you are feeling up to it, you should stretch your legs and move around. It would be good for your recovery.”
Anaya smiled and then yawned. “I think I need to eat before I can do anything else,” she said.
“Well, let’s leave her to it then,” I said looking at Skyler.
He took the cue well and started back to the dining area.
“I’ll check back in on you soon. Feel better and let me know if you need anything.”
Willow nodded.
I walked back around the wall where Emeric and Asher were nearly finished their meals. They sat politely at the table and made conversation while Skyler and I finished ours. As I scooped my last spoonful into my mouth, Asher stood up to clear his plate.
“I noticed you have a pool table near the bunks. Anyone care to play?” Skyler asked. There was a smooth quality to his voice. He didn’t sound anything like the man that first came aboard the LD.
Even with his charm at maximum, I couldn’t help but feel chills as he spoke. I questioned each statement that came out of his mouth. I wondered why he would be acting this way unless he had an ulterior motive.
“Sure, I’d love to play,” Asher said as he dropped his food tray back into the food system. He walked around the table and leaned on the wall beside me. “No one here is any good.”
Asher winked at me, and I leaned over and gave him a playful backhand to the bicep. He laughed, and so did I. Asher was the only person I had ever felt so comfortable around. Someone that I could be totally myself with.
“I can hold my own.” We all turned to see Willow. Her face had good colour to it. She stood straight, a foot away from the wall. “Am I cleared to play, Doctor?” She said as she approached the dining table.
“You should be taking it easy,” I said.
“I’m sure a round or two won’t kill me.”
I looked at Emeric, and he nodded. The decision was mine to make, but it was nice to see that I had his support. “Only one or two games, and then I want you back up here in your pod for monitoring and medical support.”
As everyone walked downstairs, I followed Willow to make sure she was able to move without issue. Emeric tapped a panel at the bottom of the stairs, and the lights on the main level dimmed to their night time levels.
“So teams?” Skyler asked looking at Asher.
“Sure, how about Anaya and I on one team, and you and Willow on the other?”
“What about Emeric?”
“He doesn’t play.”
Emeric looked up from the tablet computer in his hands and nodded slightly.
“Well then, I guess it is the Raven versus Lalonde’s Dream,” Skyler said as he grabbed a pool stick.

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