contract more than anything else in the world; except for his family,
of course. And he didn’t have to choose one or the other.
figure out they were hiding it from him. Unfortunately for
Christopher, the truth would prove to be far more horrifying than
anything he could ever have imagined.
Bile burned the back of his throat. It gagged him. He’d trained for this, and somewhere in the back of his foggy mind, Christopher knew that. Breathing was the key. Utilize short inhalations through the nose, expelling from the mouth. The respiration exercises happened automatically. His brain knew what needed to be done to keep him alive.
He couldn’t stop his body from shaking. The metal table beneath his back was cold. No creature comforts on the transport ship, not for deep space travel. Only the basic necessities would be allowed on board to keep the load light. Some of the crew on this mission elected to stay awake for the eight months of travel required to reach the crucial mining facility. He remembered opting for stasis now, knowing the bare living conditions they’d be subjected to for the long haul.
Oh man, how could he have forgotten? His family made the trip. Sudden images of them seared across his brain like postcards on a slide show. His stomach clenched painfully. Are they suffering the same symptoms? How could he have considered doing this to them to begin with?
Loved them…didn’t want to be apart from them. Am I really that selfish?\
His vision was dark, but he could hear others in the room. Their whispers hung in the air, negative with discord. “He shouldn’t be here; not with his condition. I was against this from the beginning.”
“The corporation decides who will be required at the facility. Now get over it and do your job quietly, like everyone else here.” A deeper voice snapped back quickly. We’re they referencing him? He couldn’t be sure of anything coming out of stasis. But that wasn’t his priority.
“Where is my family?” He choked out the words, gripping the sides of the table. He still couldn’t see anything, just the outline of vague shapes, but he was getting up anyway. His distorted vision could have been the sickness or anxiety – he wasn’t a medical expert, but it didn’t really matter. His wife and two daughters were the only concern.
“Corporal Carter, please remember your conditioning. You must remain still until all of your senses adjust. You know that.” A stern female voice instructed him. Firm hands held him down. He didn’t appreciate it.
“I asked you a question.” His voice was clearer, now. For all he knew, they hadn’t understood him the first time. The attendant had addressed him by his military title, but he recalled this was a private operation. Well, as private as any company could get. The military had their hands in everything that was worth anything, back home on earth and as far as they’d gone in the galaxy.
“Cindy and the girls are fine, Christopher. They’ve already been out of stasis for 24 hours, and they fared a lot better than you, actually. None of them came out with side effects. I’m sure the children are tearing up the recovery room as we speak.” Her lips pursed together when she spoke. The way she’d said children was off, like it was distasteful to her. So, she didn’t like kids. He didn’t feel like he was high up on her list, either.
“Let him sit up if he wants to, Doctor Larson. He’s a tough guy. That’s how they make ’em in the Marines.” Things were coming into focus and he could make out a second figure beside the table when the man spoke. It was the same guy who laid the hammer down on the doc a few minutes ago, by the sound of it. He looked military. The way he carried himself, the hair cut, all said he’d been in the service. Hell, maybe still was.
Finally, someone who might understand. Continue reading