Entropy and other inconveniences…

linked to this story here: X

„Nobody took a dump here.“ A scrawl in black sharpie stretched over the upper right corner of the booth door. „SEXXX! Call 314-159-26.“ The lower margin of the door warned about the pervy limbo dancers.

Andy cracked a smile and checked for the naked chocolate bar and the newspaper in the inner pockets of his long leather jacket. Someone flushed a toilet two cubicles to the right. He heard the somebody leaving the public restroom without washing hands. The door slammed shut. Andy sighed. He squeezed his notebook into one of the butt pocket of his denims. His naked toes felt wet and cold on the tile floor. He took a deep breath. The air was stale, the aroma of urine was overwhelming. He consoled himself with the fact, that in a blink, he was going to disappear from the questionable puddle.

A whispering fizzling noise echoed from the walls of the room, and Andy concentrated upon an imaginary spot, half a step away, in front of his navel. A little sphere of pale blue ball of brightness formed instantly. He cupped his hands hovering two inches away from the light. He made it bigger and bigger. The muscles in his arms vibrated with effort, he made the sphere spin. He stretched it  over his shoulders and took a deep breath.

Andy stepped into the pale blue vortex in front of him.

The bathroom, and the rest of the world at his back folded, and faded to nonexistence. Everything went black. The muscles on his chest and back rippled with tension and fibrillation.

At the edge of his visual perimeter, the pale blue light twitched and sparked.

He stood in an Andy-shaped hole in the fabric between realities. His spine tingled and burned, as if his skin had been shock frosted. He felt lightning licking and stinging at the back of his head and around his shoulder blades. His fingertips and bare feet stung with electric pins and needles.

Entropy swept over him like a tidal wave, knocking his breath out, leaning on him, pushing downwards. He bowed his head. Submerged in the currents of energy flow, he slid through spacetime layers into lower energy state realities. The torrent caught him in a tight grip around his waist and yanked him down.

He hated this part. The sinking feeling in his stomach froze his mind. He panicked.

He usually did.

What if, he got a hypo here and had no strength to get out again? Would he die, or would he be arrested in the terrified state of  just realizing, that he was about to die?

Forever?

His instincts took over. „Hold onto something.“ They demanded. „Let it guide.“

His hand grabbed his daughter’s little praying bead bracelet. The pressure that made him bow, lifted suddenly.

In his imagination a happy family breakfast flared up. Ava buttered a bun for Emily. He was drinking coffee. He smiled.

Depressurizing made him dizzy. The breakfast table faded, as he stopped focusing upon it. There was nothing to see, nothing to hear. He closed his eyes. For once, no static filled his head. Calm. He imagined this was peace. Surely this was what it felt like.

He wanted to remain. Inertia crept into his mind. But he knew he couldn’t stay.

He never stayed.

Peace was not human nature. Guilt was. Sickness, decay, futility, death, war and famine were too. Always suffering…

The burning sensation chewed up his limbs, his arms and legs stung. His face hardened into a heavy ice mask.

Transition was a bitch. He couldn’t breathe. His eyelids weighed tons, lips sagged.

He couldn’t stop shivering. The clench of solid inertia overpowered his bones, his organs, his muscles.

The breakfast table flickered again. It hung in front of him, some steps away, taunting. He shuffled a foot forward. He had to keep going. He had to reach it. The darkness pushed into his pores, dissolving in his veins.

He felt sick and broken. Entropy knew he was, and caught in his edges, in the fissures of his brokenness. It cooed to the darkness, that sprouted in his body and soul. The rotten blackness in him grew. His heart seemed to transform to a homing beacon to catastrophes and bad intentions. He had no time to brace himself. The dizziness tipped him out of his position. He spun, but his heart slowed.

He had to keep moving. The gaps between his heart beats grew.

Sick yellow light shone somewhere in front of him. It flickered like a candle a mile away in a dark stormy night. He tore at the slowness of his body. He tore at the spinning of his senses.

Move. Just.

One.

Step.

He fell to his knees in a moving cargo elevator, between Floor 17 and 18. The air around him crackled and fizzed. The elevator stopped with a sigh and a jolt. The lights flickered a slight bit.

For a moment, Andy’s arms remembered the shape his dying daughter. The smell of strawberry shampoo and blood hit him. The memory sank deeper and vanished from his consciousness, as his heart accelerated. The familiar pain burrowed deeper into his spine. Guilt zeroed in of him, and he knew he had the right timeline.

He shivered violently. Rime coated the walls of the elevator, his clothes, skin, hair, brows and eyelashes.

His mouth was a desert. His lungs tried to breathe. His heart tried to crawl up his throat. An invisible hand compressed his chest. Air refused to get in.

Andy propped his arms on his knees.

No hunger, no cold, no nothing.

His body willed itself back to normality and tried to swallow.

med bay snippets # 3

Is this one of your stupid jokes, Rains? What do you mean with, “we lost Decker”? He’s hooked to E-bed 2, in quarantine, thanks to you. Care to elaborate? He raises an eyebrow.  I know the doc doesn’t approve that I ripped off the seal. The best I could do, to trigger the alarm.

I shake my head, but plunk down into the seat, the doctor offers me. He pushes a cup of fresh coffee over to me, and glances down his watch. I know perfectly well, that what I’m about to say is… It sounds batshit crazy, even to me.

Look doc, I’m… I don’t know. I – I just – I have to tell someone. Makes me feel less…

Disoriented? Distressed? The doctor offers. I know he means to be helpful. But…

This is a report. I keep telling myself. I have to warn everybody. Doc Wellington has to keep his cake-hole shut. I tell him, before I let the Captain in on this… Whatever this is.

I can’t meet his gaze. Those eyes,  they accuse, they see through, they strip you bare.

I nod and take a sip from the freshly brewed hot dark liquid. My mouth burns…  This is a report. I will burn less, when I talk. I need to get this out of my system.

You know, some hours ago… Down on Chimon, when Decker knocked himself out, and I had to haul his heavy ass back? 

The doctor nods.

I… I think something happened to Decker. Uh, he said some very weird things… Some, uh, really disturbing stuff… I don’t think he was himself.

The man sitting opposite to me,  fixes me with his blazing eyes. Even though I’m not looking at him, I feel two hot spots resting on my cheeks.  As if two wasps had decided to sting me simultaneously.  Just freaks me out. He harrumphs politely, and  folds his fingers into a praying gesture.

Well, delirium is a very strange mental state. He begins explaining, but this is bullshit. But this is not that easy. It can spook anyone. I don’t like how he shrugs. There are documented cases, where people started speaking tongues, even ancient greek or latin… His patronizing smile turns my guts.  And it was a most stressful situation. Acidic taste seeps on my tongue, and I force my stomach back down. I shake my head.

THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN!  Not at all. I nearly left him on the surface! I have his full attention now, he leans forward.  I nearly left him on the surface, because he freaked me out. 

The solar storm damaged the engines of the landing pod, upon reentry.  And the com.  I have to admit, the landing was less than optimal, and it’s my fault, that Decker got nearly killed on spot. He kind of rescued me, and got his oxygen tank damaged. 

My hands leave the cup alone and I raise them, palms up. Shrugging palms.

First everything was normal. Well, as normal as being stranded in a volcanic eruption zone on an unstable planet. Normal apeshit crazy stuff.  The man in front of me scoffs.  A sense of humor is always a good sign. That’s what they tell you in the military. A residual coping mechanism, when everything else is beyond repair.

Got him into the nearest pick-up area.  That was when his oxygen got down into the red zone. He said that he won’t survive this, that the drugs aren’t working properly, that something was wrong.  Then… I swallow.  

Then, uh… He screamed! He screamed for three minutes straight. It was, it was , uh nauseating. It must have hurt so badly. He screamed for his mother… I – I-  Oh, God…

Take your time… It must have been hard to listen to a man dying. 

I cannot hold back, to my surprise – I sob.

Uh, he said that he is going to enjoy this. And that I will enjoy this too. He’d make me…

med bay snippets #2

The soft purring of the monitoring alarm on my watch wakes me, by vibrating. I’m up…

I tell the watch and it recognizes my voice. The command kills the alarm.

Sleeping at the med bay is seldom a good idea, and sleeping at a working station – uh, table – is downright irresponsible. I rub my face into some kind of wakefulness and wish I could rub my back into a painless state.

I wish I would have slept in one of the E-beds, but shake my head at the idea. The beds are semi-autonomous, so they can keep an exhausted man in stasis, till he gets all the tiredness out of his system. No matter how long that may take.

In case you are the ship’s doctor, this is a very bad idea. They tell you that in doctor’s school. Don’t get high on E-beds pain or sleep medication. I guess some of my colleagues must have tried, during their long trips to the Kepler System.

I have Lieutenant Decker in one. The screen above his E-bed flashes red.

Let’s check you then. 

I download the most recent parameters the bed has measured to my watch. I throw out my thumb and index above its display to activate the tablet function. Blood pressure: 100 to 80. Good, pulse: 110. Almost okay. Oxygen saturation: 85%. Not okay… Breathing frequency dwindling under 10. Bad. I shake my wrist to retract the tablet. The antidote is wearing off.

Load E-bed 2 with enough Naloxone. Doctor Oscar Welligton, authorization 00.01, code 672779-0.

The unconscious man in front of me looks like he just hopped from the grim reapers grasp, with a nearly translucent, pale skin.

What a disappointment… I do not recall Decker to be a genius, or  even smart. The flashing red on the E-bed monitor stops. His breathing improves visibly, oxygen saturation climbs above 90%. That’s the spirit, Lieutenant. 

This bloke finds the most pleasant way to go. Fearless, without the hunger for oxygen, without the hunger for life. I make a mental note to stock every suit – at least mine – with enough morphine to kill an elephant. This is a manageable last resort.

It is a stroke of genius to use morphine to save himself from asphyxiation. The question remains, if he’s left with cerebral damage. No one knows how long he was cold out, or even breathing… After all, Rains is not to be trusted with precise observation about his colleagues. If I recall correctly, he even broke Decker’s nose in a brawl a month ago.

How’s the lieutenant? 

The captain’s voice rings through the med bay. The com is in override mode on my watch.

Barely alive. I answer. That’s that.

Any permanent damages? 

Can’t tell… Sleeping beauty has to wake up on his own. The morphine still has  about two hours to the  pharmacological half-life. Ask me again in two hours. 

The Captain seems satisfied, and the com dies down. I pull the footage from Decker’s and Rains’ suits.

med bay snippets #1

I look at my bandaged hand in the unnatural green light of the exam room. Nasty… That’s what I would say, if my mouth would do its job. Lips and tongue are swelling and numb. I try not to be too suspicious by licking them. I bet, if you eat a swarm of angry hornets, it would feel the same. Not the regular ones, but the big, Japanese ones, with mean attitude.

Oz is smiling at me, like he always does, when I get into trouble. It’s an equally patronizing and cheering smile, reserved for fuck-ups like me. It’s the smile of a big brother I never had. I’ve seen him do this with his patients too. I can almost hear his habitual mantra.  Unbelievable!

Oz jumbles on his sterile gloves. Elegant trick, how his long slim fingers do the opposite of striptease. Now comes the folding, his fingers clench into a praying gesture. I call it The-praying-Oz.

Hibernation unit. Ate my hand. 

My mangled palm leaks through the bandages. The black stain seeps through the cloth I wrapped around the hand.

I hate this part. The peeling away of bandages, the revealing of hurt, skin, muscle and sinew, maybe bones. The heavy lid traps not only fingers and palm, but the momentum of damage. The will to destroy, the idea to kill needs dear payment. Maybe I pay with more than my blood and my  fine motor skills. My breathing is fast, but not because of pain. I switch my pain sensors off, when I’m about to pull a stunt. To pull a stunt… That’s what Oz calls getting into trouble. Breathing. Fast and shallow, which is a problem. I feel the swelling starting down my throat.

This is bad. I sure hope Oz tries to get me to speak, so he’ll notice. Come on Oz, do your magic! I cheer him on mentally. 

How did you hurt your hand? Tell me!

Oz’s eyes lock on mine. Guided missiles…

I’ll pull the footage afterwards.

They just look like laser guided death on a mission. Thank God, my mouth is out of function, or I might be telling him the truth.

Mffpfen…felin …Ifaf…wetwiiin…it. 

Ah, yes, the perks of drug allergies. Not having to care about the tension in your voice, when you are lying.

My pen is safe, don’t worry about that… Of course, I won’t tell him that I was meddling with the security protocol of that hibernation tank.

I swallowed codeine beforehand and brought a broken ampule. I already swapped it with the one on the table he did not give me, when I stumbled in.

What? Why are you talking so funny?! Epinephrin. Now!  

Oz jumps out of my field of view. Better hurry…

He slams the epipen into my thigh. There they are, the angry hornets with attitude flooding my leg, or is it my lungs? Feels like drifting…

Look at me! Focus!  

I don’t think so….

kenopsia

n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.

 

This happened.

Part 1 – My New Thomas

(content warning: abuse, drugs, violence) 

this is an ongoing project inspired by my headstrong weird grandma

Life has a twisted sense of humor. I always felt, the joke was on me.

Eight years ago I quit work. My hands got too shaky to pull the widths of material over my desk, too achy to slice my scissors through the fabric, too clumsy to hold a button and sew it in it’s place. My hands stopped working properly. I had to give up being a dress maker, at the age of fiftyone.

I always feared that day. I’d come home, knowing I had to stay in the morning, the noon, the afternoon, the evening. I’d have to stay the whole day. There was no place to go to, nothing that needed doing, no escape from my husband, Thomas.

Dread filled my heart, dread and disgust. Forced to be alone with him, gave me chills. I would miss work, and that was a fact. I hated my aching and stiff joints for it.

Thomas was a thin, sinuous man, with short temper and unsteady icy fisheyes darting through a room looking for hidden shadows. A nervous man looking for trouble. His drinking, the jealousy, the fights over money, the beatings – he put me through hell, for thirty-nine years. Every week, he gave me new reasons to divorce him. My sense of duty kept me by his side. I had no explanation why, not even to myself. I suspected that there was something wrong with me too, that I wanted all this horrible mess… After all, we both have been through war, as orphans, through a different kinds of hell, and we helped each other to overcome our everyday’s struggle for survival. We made it, only because we shared every scrap of food and clothing we could get our hands on.

He made shoes and bags, and I sewed and washed, till my fingers bled. We figured, we were safer, if we stuck together. So what other choice was reasonable?

We married, after the war was over.

He was jealous, a coward, a drunk. His violent outbursts made my days bitter. He kept accusing me of adultery. His drinking got worse by every day. I started hiding money, so  we wouldn’t starve.

I told myself, it would get better.

One particularly bad day, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I begged him to kill me. It was a shock to me. Hearing myself saying those words, I thought I would never speak. By that time we both had split lips and bloody noses. I almost crushed his windpipe and he broke my hand. Clutching my long kitchen knife, he screamed for money. I pulled my shirt up and pointed to the lethal spot, where he could end it all.

That day, we nearly killed each other.

Instead he fell sick. He had no more money for liquor. Delirious as he was, he wandered out at night, so I had to tie him to my waist, so he’d wake me if he moved. Nightmares rocked his emaciated body, he screamed for help, for his father and mother. Even with eyes open, he saw decaying bodies everywhere he went. His delusions sat with him at the table, they were with him in bed. He often asked me to remove the flies and the rats. Of course there were non.

A few days later, his liver gave up.

I thought he might too.

I hoped for it. I prayed for it. I wasn’t proud of my euphoria, but I felt my freedom in reach…

I waited.

I waited three days and four nights, but he did not die. He lay there, unconscious, in the fresh white bedsheets, soiling everything, with stinking brown liquid leaking from his pores. His face had the color of ash, lips parched with dried black blood. I kept changing the bedsheets every second hour. If he died, nobody would see his filth, not even the reaper himself.

On the forth morning, he woke up a different man.

The old Thomas was gone.

A new Thomas was there instead. A man, who forgot about the last thirty-nine years; one, who cried if you raised your voice at him; one, who was scared in the dark; one, who helped, if you asked him; one, who kissed my hand, when I cooked and washed for him. One, who held my hand, when we walked down the street. One, who bought flowers, because he knew I liked them.

I started to like this man.

This Thomas was a Thomas I could live with.

 

part 2 

the experiment

content warning

I got you a blanket, so you won’t freeze.“ Steve smiles and hands Tom a grey woolen cover.

Already half undressed, Tom furrows his brows. He stops mid motion, shoe laces around his fingers. „It looks scratchy. I’m hungry, and it’s freezing.“ He looks at Steve’s face and stops again, irked. „Don’t stare like that!

Like what?

Like I was a piece of cherry pie. Stop that. It’s awkward.

The blanket flies to the autopsy table. „I just can’t please you, huh?“ Steve smirks. „When did you eat the last time?

Six hours ago. As you told me to. I’m hungry. When this is done, you owe me! Not only dinners and lunches and lots of roast beef! And steak. You owe me big time.“ He throws his left shoe to the door. „And roast potatoes. Oh, and pizza. See? Goosepimply. All over. God! Tell me, everything’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay.

Everything prepared?“ Tom swings himself onto the autopsy table uneasy. Looking around in the morgue increases his doubt by the second. Steve can’t let him doubt the experiment. He is the most important subject to this experiment. He is the only subject.

The table seems to be really cold, he shivers slightly and folds his hands over his bare chest. Suddenly his gesture seems inappropriate to himself and he changes posture, forcing his hands down.

Steve pats his shoulder. „No need to be nervous. You remember everything?

Yeah… Why did I let you talk me into this? Tell me again. When did I say yes to this?

Hey! Are you going to be a sissy about this? We are pioneers. Our names will go down in history! We’re gonna be famous! Stars!

It didn’t help. Tom looks unconvinced. „Relax buddy, I checked the defibrillator twice. We talked about this, remember? I got you a doctor on stand by. Decker is just a door away, waiting for my call. He’s on duty today.

Who? Decker? You mean dickweed Decker? Are you kidding me?“ Tom sits up, all tense pulling the ECG electrodes off of his chest. He starts shaking his head in disbelief. „Are we talking about your medical backup? I mean, MY backup? Please Steve, say you are joking.

Steve rolls his eyes. „Why? He IS a doctor.

„-And an idiot! He wouldn’t find my heart, even if it crawled out of my chest and tried to bite him! Steve, I got a bad feeling.“ Tom’s pleading eyes lock on Steve’s face just for a moment too long. He can’t stand the look and turns away.

“Don’t say, you are backing out on me. Not now, Tom! Not now!” The words get pushed through gritting teeth. They dissolve into the strained silence around them. 

“Are you listening to yourself? Do you know, what you demand from me?” Tom buries his face in his hands. “You ask me to die!”

“No. Technically not!” Steve nods. “Okay. Okay! I know. I know. Sorry, sometimes I am a real jerk,”he pauses. He has to very careful now. His only test subject is about to scrub everything. Everything he worked so hard for, all the money he bribed Dickweed with, for nothing? Actually, it isn’t necessary… For a moment he ponders, he could force Tom into this, all he needs is chloroform, or laughing gas, and a  plastic bag… When the crunch comes, he’ll knock Tom out, and do what is needed to be done. It would be way better though, if he does it voluntarily. “You will not die. I promise! It’s only coma. We discussed this, remember?” He throws a look at Tom. He sighs with relief, he caught him, and now he just reels him in. “Don’t you think I’m nervous too? Nothing will go wrong. People lived through these things.” He swipes  his hand above the monitors,”and now we have the chance to prove the existence of the soul, and it’s capability to detach from the physical body.” Tom looks at his toes, and nods slowly. “Now lets get you some iv accesses, and the dream juice flowing.”

Steve knows better, than to look at his best friend. The crushing trick his face makes, the hurt radiating from his eyes, the disappointment, Steve isn’t able to take that in. He knows it. He needs to focus, this is too important to be tainted with mixed feelings.

Tom surrenders, with a soft, barely audible sigh.