“Excerpt taken from
“A PSILENT PLACE”
Jen’s powers of concentration had always been formidable. Which they were now, causing him to start visibly when the guard tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hey, doc,” the guard said. “We’ve got another eppy* for you. Brought in from Sigma.”
“I’m not authorized for Sigma,” Jen replied, mind still occupied with the man with multiple ailments.
“You are now. You might even get a reward for this one.”
His heart started to pound as the message registered. This was it.
Miran façade quickly in place, Jen excused himself from a mass of humanity with nothing better to do than wait , then followed the guard, surprised by the long, unruliness of his blond hair. Except for the blaring green regional banner on his jacket, he’d have thought him another prisoner.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, voice deliberately modulated with indifference as he noted a cluster of people in the far corner where they were headed.
“Don’t know,” the guard said. “His bios just dove. No warning, no fluctuations, nothin’. Like a telemetry drop-out. An escape would show the same, but then zone scanners would pick ‘em up. We figured a snoop circuit malfunction. But when we checked, there he was, flat out.”
“How long’s he been unconscious?” Jen asked.
“Based on the data drop-out, about five minutes.”
Jen nodded, relieved. There was still a fair amount of time.
The crowd saw them coming and divided, revealing a gurney against the wall. He could see the patient wasn’t old enough to spontaneously asystolate. Medium build, a few years older than himself. And for the first time it really hit him who it was.
His heart dropped as if to fall from his chest, confirming why physicians seldom treated family members. He’d never thought of Laren as an eppy. He’d never thought of him as a prisoner. Or a patient. His brother had never been sick a day in his life. Yet he was pale and flaccid, collective agitation of the entourage testimony to his importance and grave condition.
“All right, everyone out of here who’s not med-ops certified,” he said.
When the group moved back without protest, he stepped to the gurney and took the patient’s wrist. A weak and thready pulse, beating dangerously slow; respiration, barely; pupils unresponsive. Numerous indications of electronic abuse and malnourishment, general tissue damage, and scarring. Disgusting on any human being, much less his only brother who, by all rights, should be home with his family.
“This man can’t be treated here,” he declared, voice awash with inflections of anger mixed with unquestioned authority. “For optimum recovery probability, the ALSIC’s** the best recourse.” When no one argued, he called for the hover-litter he’d stowed earlier and ordered Sigma personnel to secure departure clearance.
His emotions, strong but invisible within an infallible Miran façade, raged with contempt. He’d met the man responsible for such despicable exploitation of his brother’s life onboard the Aquarius. He didn’t like him then.
He hated him now.
*Elite Political Prisoner ** Advanced Life Support Intervention Center i.e., regional hospital
Copyright © 2012 by Marcha Fox
RWISA “RISING” WRITER, JULY, 2018
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