2009 - Time line
Final Word Count: 50093
This year was exceptionally hard. The story sucked and I never really got into it or got motivated to write it. What was supposed to be a time-travel novel with female characters, ended up being a chic-lit novel with time travel *gah* I would not read this crap that I was writing. Apparently though the concept is interesting and the characters also so perhaps at some stage when I master this planning thing, I'll give it another go and see if I can selvage even 5000 of the original words. I made it over the finish line by sheer strength of "I want my life back NOW" and lots of random completely deleteable scenes about random crap like food, fashion and memory flash backs. Some one kill me now please?
It started as a low hum slowly growing in volume until reaching an annoying level that penetrated her deep sleep and caused her very bones to thrum. Groaning she uncurled her lithe body, stretched once and groped for the off button winking down at her like a baleful green eye from the ceiling of the sleeping pod. It took her two hard presses to silence the drone and stop the blinking.
"Good morning and welcome to another blustery day in So Cal. DJ Crazy Jeff here to keep you company through the next few hours," the radio sang as Kaitlyn slowly rolled through her yoga stretches within the confines of the still warm sleeping pod. All the while DJ Crazy Jeff babbled on energetically in the background about pertinent and amusing news of the day. Not much was new though: politicians were still corrupt and lining their pockets with the taxes of hard working citizens; the local ultra-sports team, the Cougars, had lost yet another game, had been related out of the league and their coach had been found face down floating in his pool during the night; and the green living fanatics were still trying to put an end to the space expansion program claiming now that the heat and fumes released by the rocket launches were damaging the already unstable ozone layer, never mind how they still were demanding that the funds allocated for the exploration of the galaxy and finding a new home for the entire human race would be better spent fixing up the home they seemed intent on dying on.
Easing into the downward facing dog position that normally gave her an exhilarating head rush but today failed to bring the buzz she had been looking forward to, Kaitlyn paid more attention to DJ Crazy Jeff rattling off about how the green fanatics had no chained themselves to the gates of a space camp preventing the kids from enjoying their summer holiday and learning about all that was off this sorry lump of rock, never mind a few of the things that space exploration had taught about energy conservation. 'When were they going to learn that their claims were false,' Kaitlyn mused irritably to herself, 'That the millions being spent to advance the space programs to the point where cross galaxy travel could be a reality would never be enough to save the already dying planet. In a few centuries, maybe even decades, the sun that had already swallowed Mercury would make a snack out of their beloved Gaia even if the Earthlings had high jacked it out of there long before then.'
With a groan, Kaitlyn collapsed and rubbed her cramping calf muscle. It had never fully recovered from where the aluminium shard that had pierced her suit had sliced and embedded itself. She had been off world doing repairs to one of the larger jump stations when the debris storm had swung through. It had been her fault. Always pushing for a little more time out of the safety of the living capsule gazing at the blue-green marble of home, of Earth; she had misjudged her time and ended up stranded outside the sealed airlock as the cloud of garbage - ex-satellites, old tools and other random space trash - had tumbled passed. Her fingers traced the sickle shaped scar as she remembered the sharp pain, the glob of floating blood, the panic that had nearly over taken her senses before she sealed the suit with some of the duct tape she had been doing minor repairs with and passed out from the shock and pain. Her fellow crew members had found her latched to the airlock door, her tanks red-line empty, her lips blue but curled in absolute delight. They had nearly cut her lose to float away like the garbage cloud but when their commander had asked specifically if they had found her, they had brought her in. Later they had worked out that she had seen the moon come up over Manhattan, or at least that meridian of the world where Manhattan was located.
She had been confined to sick bay until a transport could be organised to lift her back down and the shard had been left in place as none of the crew were trained surgeons. None of them trusted her after that, even if they had never really trusted her before that anyway. Heavily sedated against the pain, she had lost nearly three months of her life floating in low-grav and sensory goo, kinda like the old sensory deprivation chambers she had read about in the history books. Once back Terra Firma side, the surgeon had had a horrible time digging the dirty shard out of her calf. He had had to cut away a fair bit of the muscle where it had attached and the body had started to bond with it. Doctor Kay had been surprised that her body had accepted rather than rejected the invader. The operation had left her with the sickle shaped scar and had cost her another month in bedtime. Kaitlyn sometimes considered that she had been so heavily drugged through most of it to be a blessing because she would have gone stark raving bonkers from pure boredom if they hadn't kept her nearly comatose for those four months.
The rehab had been hell too. Three months of space atrophy and another month of bed rest back in standard 10N gravity had left her muscles wasted so bad she couldn't move without help. Some of the toddlers that were brought to visit the other person in her ward could move more than her.
She had never really got his name, nor why this seemingly endless string of females all with children of about the same ages came to visit him. With his dark brooding eyes, bushy eyebrows and glossy chocolate brown locks that tended to fall into his eyes when ever he turned to look at the latest of his visitors or laugh at something unwitty they had just said, could make him attractive to a certain sort of female. From the parade of feminine specimens coming to visit him, he was obviously considered attractive by a larger number of them than Kaitlyn would have thought, even if he didn't seem to be picky in what he sought for in a partner. Actually she wondered if perhaps he weren't just the human equivalent of a breeding stud; housed, fed and groomed simply to aid with the breeding of more progeny with his preferential genes. She doubted it though as he did seem to show at least some genuine affection for each of the ladies - redhead, blond, brunette or raven haired - that visited him trio of sprogs in tow.
She remembered when he was no longer there though. It had been the day she had finally managed to sit up on her own. It had exhausted her and she had been unable to move the pillows to prop her up better but she had done it and then she had looked over and noticed he was gone. His bed was all made up neat, the sheets folded with the exact crisp lines the nurses in this facility were so fond of. One of them had walked in right then and seeing her struggling to stay in a semi-seated position resting on her elbows while her body sagged back down again, rushed over to prop her up with some pillows.
"Where has he gone?" Kaitlyn asked before she realised she was doing so, her voice sounding so soft and far away.
The nurse looked at the other bed, turned back and shrugged before replying, "Not too certain. Jakery was discharged yesterday and collected today by one of those gooses who like to visit him with their broods of rug rats. I'm ever so glad that they wont becoming back here any time soon, you should see the mess they made of the canteen wall with those markers the one twit gave them to draw with. Imagine that giving a child that size markers to play with but no paper and then having the audacity to claim that it wasn't your fault when they drew on the walls and we demanded compensation." The nurse rattled on for bit longer while she helped Kaitlyn get comfortable on the cushions but Kaitlyn did not interrupt her. She had had no visitors she could remember and none of the nurses had spoken to her before now except to order her to take her medicines or roll over for a massage. Even the rehab coach who was supposed to be helping her regain strength in her muscles and control over her body again said very little to her.
The nurse left off from prodding the pillows and moved over turn on the television in the room. She was still rattling away, bemoaning other visitors and patients in the facility, as she swung the screen towards Kaitlyn so she could watch from her bed without having to stretch.
"Dinner will be brought through in about an hour, Miss," the nurse finally said before leaving the room.
Kaitlyn attempted to relax back against the cold hard pillows now pressing uncomfortably into her back. She breathed deep and slow, like the rehab coach had taught her to steady herself and regain her energy. Once she was feeling a little less worn out again, she gently lifted herself a little and slowly nudged the offending objects into a slightly better configuration. It was slow and laborious work. Kaitlyn knew she would never again take such simply things for granted.
The TV flashed with the bright colours of a commercial, the product was not one Kaitlyn was familiar with but it appeared to be some kind of soda, perhaps an energy drink. She had been off world for about 6, maybe 7, months when the accident had happened and by the calendar next to her bed where someone had been dutifully crossing off the days with a thick reddish orange marker, it was about 2 weeks to Christmas. Not that she could feel the normal chill associated with the season in this room - they obviously kept the heating up so as to keep the patients and their visitors comfortable.
As she lay watching the infomercials flash past on the TV, Kaitlyn tried to remember anything about the man and his visitors conversations. Jakery, the nurse had said his name was but she could not remember any of the ladies who called on him ever using that name or any other now that she applied her mind to remembering. None of the children had addressed him either, not even calling him 'dad' or 'pops' or 'pa' or any of the other normal father-type names. Kaitlyn let her head sag a bit and slumped in the bed, sliding against the largely nylon sheets. The thinking hurt her head and made her fuzzy. She eventually gave up and realised that she knew nothing about her ex-room-mate.
Dinner arrived, more of the same grey coloured porridge type slop she had been getting for days and had been eating on the space station before her accident as well. It was neatly partitioned though into the three divisions of the plate and the different bits did taste subtly different. Well sometimes at least. She gulped it down nevertheless as if she hadn't seen food in days. It was the same with all her meals. She would eat like a starving person presented with what could be their last meal and inhale it barely tasting or chewing it as it went down. She was frustrated and tried to slow herself but she just couldn't help it. The kindly nurse who had brought the plate in for her just stood at the door smiling and nodding as if this was perfectly normal behaviour, only moving towards the bed again when Kaitlyn abandoned the spork to use her fingers to lick up the last of the grey goo.
Tears were pouring down Kaitlyn's face as she looked up at the dark smiling face of the large lady nurse who reached for the plate. The nurse knowing already what the problem was, gently pulled the plate from Kaitlyn's hands and said softly, "It is okay dear, I'll get you some more. It is always like this while your body is trying to repair itself. It will slow down. You will be able to eat a normal meal again at normal speed. Don't worry deary." She patted Kaitlyn on the head and disappeared out the door for a moment before returning with a covered tray.
Removing the cover, revealed another partitioned plate, a small drinking flask of a brownish liquid and a sealed tub with multiple coloured layers in it. Kaitlyn's face lit up and she snatched for the tub. The nurse stopped her and looked sternly at her before saying, "You know the rules - jelly last after the rest and then sleep. And I brought you and extra plate tonight because you looked like you needed it."
Kaitlyn sunk back down and started to make quick work of the second partitioned plate. It tasted faintly different to the previous one but at the speed she was eating she couldn't really be sure. Next was the flask of drink - chocolate milk tonight by the taste and texture but it went down just a fast as the porridge had. Only then did Kaitlyn slow and tentatively reach forward for the tub.
The Nurse smiled and passed it to her with a spoon, she had opened it while Kaitlyn had been guzzling the milky drink down. The nurse cleared away the rest of the remains of the meal and straightened the bed while Kaitlyn slowly savoured every spoonful of the jelly like a child who was never allowed such treats.
"You know, Miss," The nurse said after watching for a bit, "You are the only one here that eats that stuff. The other patients they want none of it but you, you savour it as if it were something really special. I don't see nothing wrong in that but I had thought you space cadets and rocket jockeys were more used to powdered fruit and nearly solid custards than plain ole simple jello." She shook her head and removed the tub and spoon from Kaitlyn's now lax hands.
She placed them on the tray and let out a shallow sigh. Kaitlyn now snored peacefully. The nurse muttered to herself as she rearranged the pillows and lower Kaitlyn into a flat position to sleep. "Why do we have to trick them into taking the drugs? I am sure this one would be no trouble. She's not like Rodger two doors down who still thinks he is on the damn space station and who keeps fighting to get out of his bed despite his not having any legs any more. No, lil' Miss is all placid and calm like. She's no trouble," the nurse mused.
"Yes she is and the drugs help keep her that way, " a voice said from the doorway.
The nurse startled nearly dropping the tray and turned to see Doctor K standing there watching her. "Sorry doctor. I meant no disrespect of course, " the nurse stammered looking at the floor, "It's just that ... well ... this pretty miss, she don't give no trouble at all. Never has. She just wants to get better and get herself sorted again. That's all. Not like Rodger who just wants to fight."
"No disrespect, I hear what you are saying Nurse Salie and that is why I have lowered Miss Dewar's doses," Doctor K replied, "I have also increased the amount of protein and energy portions in her current diet so she can heal faster. I watched her today on the camera. She needs to do some brain gym as she is battling to recall things. Has anyone debriefed her yet as to what happened on the space station? Does she even really know where she is? I mean, really is? Her voice was so soft when she asked about Lieutenant Jakery earlier, like she hasn't used it in a long while so perhaps we should find out why she hasn't had any visitors too and get her some one to talk to." He nodded at the nurse then, made a few notes in Kaitlyn's file and left the room, effectively having issued the orders he felt were necessary in the questions he has asked.
Nurse Salie walked back over to Kaitlyn and smoothed her hair out of her face as Kaitlyn drew a slow deep breath, sound asleep. "Fear not pretty Miss, Nurse Salie'll take care of you. Nurse Salie'll make it all better. Nurse Salie'll make sure you get your jello every night like you like it," she whispered affectionately to the sleeping girl who stretched a little a smiled in her sleep.
Nurse Salie then switched off the TV, closed the blinds and left the room to go fight is Rodger and finish her rounds for the evening.
--- end of chapter ---