Friday, April 2, 2010

My Private War, Part II

The following is the second part of an ill-conceived story arc chronicling Rolinthor's and the Applied Physics Institute's pathetic solo misadventures in the Derelik region. Read Part I here, and check back this Sunday for the next episode (you know, if you're empire mining, and you're really, really bored).

Most people find lying in the coffin-like alcove of an autodoc to be an unnerving experience. They say that, beyond the intimations of death brought on by being surrounded by a long, narrow box, it's just a creepy experience. Moments after you first crawl in and lie down, innumerable sensor ganglia extend from the walls, floor, and ceiling of the box to sweep across the skin in a gentle, undulating rhythm. Here and there, an individual ganglion will pause over the skin and burrow into a particular pore or prana point, to diagnose, to administer medicines, or to inject a few billion tissue-repair nanites. The ganglia punctures are utterly painless. Only for the briefest of moments, before the anti-inflammatory meds kick in, you might feel a series of slight itches or a tickling sensation, but that's it. Still, it just freaks people out.

Personally, seeing a body surrounded by the ghostly translucent filaments of a 'doc reminds me of the tropical fish that hide in the sea anemone back home on KP IV. Maybe that's why being in the 'doc, as I am now, doesn't bother me: I don't draw a bright line between man and machine. We're all God's refuse.

Prime's face appears briefly above me through the 'doc's view-plate. The ganglia recede, and the coffin lid opens.

"So, what did it find?" I say, rising slowly and rubbing the itchy feeling off my bare skin.

"Zippo. Zilch," says Prime. "You're as strong and healthy as you were last time you stepped out of the vats. And before you say it: I checked your implants, too. All functions nominal. Whatever's causing these blackouts is non-biological, as far as I can tell."

"Well, then, what's the next diagnostic level?" I know the answer before he says it.

"Next level?" he says. "You've got to be kidding. You've just been given a once-over by the best healthcare money can buy. There is no 'next level.' We've exhausted all the somatic possibilities. It's time to talk psychosomatic."

"I'll not be lettin' ye muck about in me soul with yer Gallentean witch-doctoring!"

"Why is it you always start talking like your father when you're afraid of something?" says Prime.

"I ain't afeared a nothin' under Heaven," I mutter, but without conviction. Prime's got me pegged. I do sound like the old religious fanatic.

Something inside has known all along that the problem isn't in my body, whether the carbon or silicon parts of it, and I'm not sure I'm ready to hear it. But there's no way out but forward, if I ever want to find out what's causing these blackout rages and get my memory of the past few days back.

"OK, Prime, what do you have in mind?" I ask.

"Rol, can I ask you a favor?" he says in calm, measured tones.

"What? Sure."

"Stop using that nickname, especially when the others are around. It's demeaning. I'm not your clone, slave, or puppet. And I've got a real name: Roland Prideaux."

"Okay, okay. I'm sorry, bud." I genuinely feel like an ass. And also: It wouldn't do to have Prime mad at me when he's about to poke around in my soul with whatever psychobabble procedure he's got in mind. Speaking of which.... "So, Prideaux. What do you have in mind?"

"Three words: Deep Regression Hypnotherapy."

No comments:

Post a Comment