Goodbye Sol – Page 21

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My room echoed with a loud beeping. It wasn’t often that I needed to be woken up at a specific time, but I wanted to check on Willow. After the pool game, we all went to bed, but not before I double checked her vitals and made sure her medication was topped up. Even such a small amount of activity had heavily drained her energy and caused me to be concerned.
“Alarm off!” I shouted. I changed into one of several LD uniforms stored in the drawers of my desk. A badge, stitched on my chest and each shoulder, showed off the crest of the ship, and included the launch date, embroidered in a golden thread. It was loose fitting, comfortable to wear and fast to put on. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, it felt nice to pick the simple choice, rather than piecing together one of the civilian style outfits that I brought along. I pulled up the zipper to the coat, and exited my quarters.
Do I eat first or check on Willow first? The decision seemed monumental as my brain was still struggling to completely wake up. With my stomach letting out an audible groan, I arrived at Willow’s cryo pod. I started to look through the different readings from the night, as well as her current status.
“Hi, doc,” Willow said with a sleepy smile. She opened her eyes and turned her head to look at me.
“Good morning,” I said, returning a smile. “How did you sleep?”
“This pod isn’t as comfy as the bed downstairs, but it does come with the surprising bonus of not having to hear Mr. Extreme-snorer.”
I nodded and smiled. “I bet that was a nice change.”
“Since he was in cryosleep for so long, I never knew until we came onboard the LD that he snored. I can’t believe you don’t hear him from your room.”
“I actually sleep with a soundtrack on, either music or nature sounds,” I explained. “I’m from a big family so I need noise to sleep. I could probably sleep through the apocalypse.”
I felt strange opening up to Willow. My mind whirled with imaginary scenarios where she helped Skyler to stop the Lalonde’s Dream and essentially killed Emeric, Asher and myself. Willow seemed so gentle, though. Her large eyes begged to be trusted, and her small mouth promised to keep secrets. I wanted to like her. I did like her. But I didn’t know what she could be capable of. Out here with a terminal illness, how far would she go for the immortality of history? What did she have to lose?
I stopped my mind from wandering and busied myself with the computer. I reviewed the simulations that it had come up with. It had tested thousands of drug combinations and interactions as it tried to find any other treatment options I could administer to her using what limited supplies we had.
“Are you in any pain today?” I asked.
“Nope, but I haven’t gotten up yet.” Willow looked at me from head to toe. “Think I could get one of those?” She pointed at the crest on my chest.
“A uniform?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’ve been in this cryo suit for years. I could use a change. Any change.”
“Of course. That makes sense. I’ll see what I can do.” I pulled up more details from the cryo pod. It had scanned her blood to check how much medication was still in her system.
“Well, am I going to live?” Willow asked.
“It looks like you are maxed out on your medication,” I replied.
“Yeah, are you sure you can’t do anything else? I don’t want a repeat of yesterday.”
I frowned. “The computer hasn’t come up with any alternative medication strategies, and if I give you any more of the drugs we have on the ship, it’ll likely damage your kidneys.”
“I can survive without kidneys, right?” Willow said. She looked at me with frustration in her eyes.
“You are physically stable right now. Let’s not do anything that could cause more harm than good. If you are in pain, I can try other pain management treatments, but as for your BCD, it’s still getting worse, and we will just have to be mindful.”
“Can we get something to eat?” Willow asked as she sat up in the pod. It slowly started to tilt, and adjusted itself into a near standing position. Willow changed her posture as the pod moved.
“Sure. We do have to keep your strength up.”
We walked over to the dining area around the large storage wall. I grabbed a tray with a breakfast meal on it, and Willow followed suit. The brown protein and fibre bar sat next to dehydrated berries and a silver foil pouch of applesauce.
“I noticed the other day,” I stared at my plate of food, not wanting to make eye contact with her. “The way Skyler handled your,” I hesitated, trying to find the right words, “condition. He seemed quite concerned for you, but he also didn’t seem to know that you have BCD.”
Willow said nothing. I risked a quick glance at her from the corner of my eye. She was staring at her plate. Her mouth was tight, the skin around it turning slightly white.
“Are you and he friends?”
“Why do you ask?” She looked up from her plate and her eyes met mine. I felt uncomfortable and looked away.
“I’m just trying to figure out your dynamic. I didn’t tell him anything more than that you have a condition that needs treatment. I wouldn’t tell him much because of Doctor patient confidentiality.”
Willow nodded. Her shoulders dropped ever so slightly, and she scooped a spoonful of a bright yellow egg substitute protein foam into her mouth.
“I did have to tell the captain a bit more than that.”
She looked at me again, and her eyes seemed to be filled with sadness and anger, as if I had betrayed her.
“I had to give him some information. He is the commander of the ship.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That you have a pre-existing medical condition that requires continual medical treatment, and that you condition has declined because of prolonged periods outside of cryosleep with limited access to medication.”
Willow nodded again.
“Listen, Willow, the people on board this ship are not your next-of-kin. I have no right to tell them your medical history. But these are the people you will be living with until you die. It might be easier for all of us if you were forthcoming about your condition. If you would like, you could give me permission to disclose on your behalf.”
Willow stared at the display on the wall above the table. It was cycling through nature scenes and looked like a window. She smiled as the scene switched from a sunny meadow to a sandy beach.
“Do you want to know what I first thought when my doctor on Earth told me I had Brinkerhoff-Chernobog disease and that I was going to die?”
I nodded.
“I thought, what the heck is Brinkerhoff-Chernobog?”
We both laughed in unison.
“Actually, I thought about all the scientific advancements I was going to miss. I thought of the world as a whole and all the changes I wouldn’t see. I didn’t have a family to miss me, I just thought about how much I’d miss in the world.”
I imagined what thoughts would roll through my head if I found out I was going to die. Immediately, I thought of my brothers and sisters, my nieces and nephews. I missed them so much and sadness welled up in me thinking of my absence from their lives for this mission.
“So what was Earth like when you left?”
“You know. You were in contact with them. You were able to use a similar technology to what we have to send messages back and forth, right?”
“Um, I broke the communication system trying to fix the power distribution system to keep life support going, remember?”
“Oh, right.”
“Not that it would have mattered after the Great Wipe thing, right?”
“Yeah. You are lucky you weren’t on Earth for that.”
“Lucky? I thought I was going to die out in deep space. Alone. With Skyler calmly sleeping away in his tube, while I tried to keep the mission moving forward and surviving one catastrophe after another.” Willow paused and took a long breath. “It would mean so much to me to know what happened in the twelve years between the Raven launching and the LD launching.”

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