#InTransitMonsters is a #firstdraft #novel about Technology as Messiah. Humanity is about to fall, and is forced to create monsters to save itself. Can these giant monsters succeed, or will humanity's old ambitions damn the species to extinction?
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Ghale (H + 1.1 Days)
I sat next at Martin's bedside. His bedroom had a nurse's transit installed into it. Medical equipment had been moved into place around him.
"It's... kind of nerve-wracking." I told him.
Each ragged breath from Martin sounded like it cost him. It sounded like the air had been pressed out through rags. Martin looked paler than I'd ever seen him. It made part of me wince a bit in sympathy. The machines felt like they were Martin's entrails and organs. The cleanliness of the space only made it worse.
It felt like we were inside Martin's own body. A cybernetic maze of things keeping my elderly friend alive. He gave me a weak smile. I was glad to see him. I had missed my friend.
"Ah." Martin nodded. He seemed distracted.
"You must be bored." I gave him a mild grin.
"Get any writing done?"
Martin shot me a look. "You ever write anything while feeling like a burlap sack of shit?"
"The efficacy... of words..." Martin closed his eyes. "Ugh."
I suppressed a giggle. Martin without his poetic words wouldn't be worth the visit.
"At you're trying. I'm glad you're still alive, Martin. I wish... I wish I could've stopped by sooner."
Martin waved a hand. "Eh. Just blood, gore... shit. The usual."
I put my hand in the old man's. After a moment, he coughed. Then, in his characteristic Martin way, he looked back over at me.
"The news... has been almost as hagged as me." Martin's raspy voice perked up a bit. "How goes our mad project?"
Of course. I'd been avoiding talking about the project's launch. A part of me didn't want to stress him. Another part didn't know what to do or what not to do.
"Its... It's going ok." I nodded, more automatic than anything else.
"You think you're going to stress me, don't." Martin waved a hand. "Give me some good news at least. I'm sick tired of hearing or seeing cities burning in my BrainSys."
"You saw the Chicago fire?" I asked.
"Every goddamn feed is covered in pictures of it." Martin shook a little. "The Joiners have gone from killing their kids to lighting old buildings on fire."
"There's too many rioters and not enough police." I sighed. "Almost everyone with that sort of experience died fighting offworld."
"We're a planet of kids, old farts and cowards." Martin agreed.
We exchanged grim looks.
"I... I haven't looked at any report for the last sol or so." I told Martin. "Besides, I couldn't do anything with the knowledge anyway. Charlie is still just doing reconnaissance."
"Ah. That isn't as exciting as cities being on fire."
"I guess I could ask Charlie to see if Mars is flammeable."
Martin chuckled. "I'm glad you started talking with her. Some of this mess... at least some of it turned out ok..."
"I should've... I guess I owe Miri something in all this." I shook a little. "She's going to die soon, Martin."
"I wish I could hold the signal for you." Martin frowned. "I... hate being laid up like this. You shouldn't..."
His voice broke off as he went into a coughing fit.
"Martin? Are you ok? Do I need to call a nurse?"
"I'm fine." Martin wiped his mouth. "It's... fine. Just give me a moment."
I nodded. I looked away. We'd been two parts of the same machine for years now. He'd been right. What would I do when I got the report of Charlie's death? It would be just a blank signal, wouldn't it?
"Martin... I don't know..." I shuddered for a moment. "I don't know her. Yet... I do. It's so wrong. Morgan's still upset with me over it."
"I imagine never meeting his daughter will do that."
"I've missed this up at every stage, Martin. I talked him into killing her the first time. The second time I just dangle her in front of him before shoving her off to be killed."
Martin nodded. "She won't die, Ghale."
"Don't spin it." I told him.
"Then how do you know this won't end with me crying over a girl I've only known for less than two months?" I wiped tears from my eyes.
"I never married, you know." Martin said. He gestured over to a empty chair. "My sister still didn't come to see me."
I blinked at him. "I didn't know you had any family left alive."
"She..." Martin coughed again. "There are some bridges you can't ever unburn, Ghale. You... you and miri remind me of my sisters. I screwed that up too many times before."
"It's hard to indict others when you seem them repeat your mistakes, huh?"
"Twice as hard to fix it if you don't know the fix." Martin winced at the chair. "Maybe I tried too hard to fix it. Maybe I should've been a better person. I wish could go back sometimes. To before I said those damned things."
"What did you say?"
"Angry things." Martin looked out, as if gazing back. "Words are... I don't know. I never could really put my feelings down right. I never was around. Neither of them ever seemed to want me in their lives."
"Better to know them rather than never then?" I guessed at the meaning behind his words.
"Everyone turns to dust, I think." Martin said, his words becoming more raspy. "And the failures, they just feel like condemnations against all those who taught you, raised you. Age does that, I think. Makes you just remember the shit you fucked up."
A minute or so later, I got the no return signal from Mars. Charlie hadn't responded. My daughter the monster most was dead.