Sealed With a Kiss 12

Tempus Fugit.  Time passes.  If I didn’t have a watch I wouldn’t have any idea wherewhen I was.  How can that be?  I think surely I would have taken off a watch when I went back or the magnetic fields would’ve fried it.  But how else would I have know the time when I got there?

They’re making no effort to do anything but keep me hydrated and let the massive internal damage heal.  What else can you do with radiation poisoning?  I try to sit out of bed for longer periods, and they don’t like that.  Even when I get up to go to the crapper.  A nurse who looks twelve years old keeps looking in on me and frowning when i’m out of bed but if I don’t get up and move around i’ll be too weak to sit up.

Finally they take away my watch and everything deteriorates.  Someone is being wheeled in here on a gurney, screaming in the middle of the cloud that stinks of blood and xrays.  This must be an acute care facility.  There’s nothing like the despair you see in the chronic ones where you go to die.

In this mental place I go to when there is no other I get words like anisotrophic and orthogonal.  Something about a fighter craft that goes 4000 mph.  That’s nothing on a relativistic scale but apparently it’s just enough to have measurable flattening of local spacetime that the mind cant handle it so it has to be hologramed into a form the mind can grasp.  Then the image of splitting of wood along predetermined lines.  The electron density in pi bonds on a Benzene ring.  That’s anisotrophy.  The hologram must be orthogonal.  Empty words from undergraduate school.

I come to with a start when I see Sadaam Hussein looking down at me.  It’s Dillon of course.

They couldn’t find any cancer, he says and seems on the verge of a giggle.  I told them just wait.  Your white cell count is almost nothing.  So to protect you from infection they give you five antibiotics so you’ll get more resistant Staph.  Your bloodwork looks funny.  What do you expect?

I think I have to do the hit or we’ll lose it altogether, I say.

That’s what I thought, he says.  We’re the only two people here who can even shoot a gun and I have to stay here and run things or i’d go myself.

No you wouldn’t, I say.

No, he says with a tired shake of the head.  I wouldn’t.  Can you be ready in a few days?  He says.

I’d go right now but i’m too weak, I say.  We’ve been tip toeing around a problem when it needs to be hit with an axe.  The shoot needs to changed a little.

Spend the rest of the day  getting up and moving around, he says.  When we get the details right you’ll leave in an hour.  He leans out the door and says, Nurse!

Could you get my watch back?  I say.  I don’t even know what month it is.

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Sealed With a Kiss 11

I am bowed over the stick, vomiting and snotting blood all over the ship.  Being lifted out of the cockpit by Dillon and Lincoln and being carried to a room full of medical equipment.  IVs full of blood thinners and anti nausea drugs.  Coming to and passing out and coming to again.  I am absolutely filthy and profoundly sick, even though I was fine when I left 1965.  After a while a doctor comes in and I look at her and say, RU going to fuck me?

She laughs and   says, If i did that now it’d kill you.  Ask me again when you feel better.

Oh, yes, I realize.  She’ll fuck anything.  And the fact that she’s a psychiatrist is nonrandom.  She’s crazy as a shithouse rat.  And the fact that she’s a psychiatrist is not incidental.  She fucks and she is completely crackers.

I notice that Dillon is sitting in a corner chair, enveloped in darkness.  When he sees me looking at him he says evenly, Welcome back to this old world.

What happened?  I croak.  It was radiation, wasn’t it?  Hoggins didn’t shield that Plutonium adequately, did he?

The shielding was more than adequate.  We record the rems before and after a trip and the levels were indistinguishable.  The difference was like how much more radiation you get from living in a brick house than a wooden one.  In other words, next  to none.

He seems to be gathering himself up to say something and I wait patiently.  Finally he says, You right about one thing; it was radiation.

What…I start to speak and he shuts me up.  It’s a very obvious thing we all overlooked.  When you travel in that ship you are going close to lightspeed. Now we know from Special Relativity that when you go that fast and hit something there’s no different from being the other way around.

I didn’t crash into any thing, I say angrily.

In parts of space there are pockets and currents of things like Hydroxyl radicals and Hydrogen nuclei, which are bare protons.  Now what happens to  that radical when you hit it at 99% lightspeed?

I face palm and say, It smears out quantumly into a gamma ray photon that will fry your ass.

That’s right.  That’s what happened to you.  This time the rems absorbed caught up with you.  The medical people are guessing some kind of lymphoma.

I’m going to die?

No one’s saying that.  They just don’t know.

They know.  They know i’m going to die.  They act like they’re acting when they feel impotent.

I need to get cleaned up, I say.

What’s your hurry?  He says, looking at me sideways

Man owes nature a debt,

Goethe, he says.  You’ve read Goethe.  I’m not impressed.

Nothing impresses you, I say hatefully.

Who was she, Chones?  He asks evenly.  The abrupt change of topic trip me and I say, What?  Uh..

The girl, he says patiently.  Who was she?

A towny.  A nobody.  Just a girl.  How did you know?  You’re not the sensitive kind.

Sensitivity has nothing to do with, he says.  The smell of pussy was all over you.  What did you tell her?

Nothing, I say.  Just the cover story about being a travelling salesman on vacation.

That’s all?

Yes, I say.

You sure?  He says.  Just a story get her down?

That’s it, I say, relieved.  That girl fucks.  She may have done the whole town.

Uhhuh, he says, Do you really want a bath that bad?

Yes and I can bathe my self.

Let’s see if you can stand up, he says.

I manage to do that smoothly enough.  Dillon goes outside the door and he talks and then in comes Lincoln and a boy with corporal’s stripes.

These gentlemen will bathe you, Colonel, he says.

Like hell they will, I say.The corporal grabs me roughly and i kick the  legs out from under him and he lands on his ass.  Dillon looks amused.  Lincoln looks bewildered.  The Corporal looks at me peevishly.

I look down at the corporal and say, Don’t ever  do that again.  You underestimated me.  Just because I was sick you thought I was helpless.  Next time you could turn into a corpse damn quick.

Yes, Colonel, he  says, mustering what dignity he can.

I can bathe myself, I say to Dillon.  Have somebody  in the bathroom if you have to, but I want my privacy.  Understand?

Oh yes,yes, he says.

And that’s how I got my shower.

Being a walking corpse carries a few privileges.  ..   .