Episode 58: Denial

Fan Art: theravenslanding.com, Zarecaspian.com

Darkness was Crimson’s only solace. Her robotic arm, shoulder interface, metal pelvis and heavy steel and titanium leg were a combination of dead weight and confusing electrical impulses, neither fully feeling nor fully numb. It was like having an arm, leg, and pelvis that all felt asleep, heavy as uranium, and only ever tingled in a vaguely dissatisfying way: to remind you that it was there… but not really. Sometimes she had phantom pains: deep in her consciousness the missing arm and leg still existed in a tangled memory of shooting agony. She preferred these pains awake, when she could steel herself against the sensation. Asleep it was as though the spectral limb attempted to graft itself back onto her torso for long, horrifying reminders of its former demise. Made sleeping was a bitch.

Mostly she just drifted in a semi-conscious state, her eyes half-closed and only vaguely deflecting the storm clouds of uselessness—emptiness—that waited for her waking mind. She allowed her Mindframe to run diagnostics, and counted the slow information flow like a droning blur of tiny, binary sheep. It prevented her from having to fully face the chasm of absent memories—the post-traumatic stress waking hours of an amnesia victim—and the torturous phantom spasms of deep sleep.

Her quarters were Spartan. Like her past, there was nothing (Well, the dark snatches of writhing biotic-fluid hoses, bone-saws, and piercing needles, that came to her in cryptic flashbacks hardly made good décor; so she preferred the plain metal bulkhead and utilitarian computing console that her quarters offered). There was a single, heavy chair that could support her metal carcass, and her reinforced bunk, welded to the wall. That made up her furniture. Her meager selection of tank tops and cut-off shorts (kept dressing as simple as possible) were shoved in drawers inset to the side wall. That way she didn’t trip over loose drawers. And the minimalistic clothes meant less she had to pull on over her dumb cybernetic limbs. It meant she was often cold, as their steel crate floated in the vacuum of space. But it was better than being too hot. Mounted on the opposite wall was a toilet, sink, and neglected shower. She washed with a cloth—although electrocution was always an easy option. In the early days the shower head jutted out from the wall like a splinter in her mind, tempting her. Now she ignored it most days; but she kept it installed, just in case.

She also kept it dark, the quarters. Better that way.

Because there was her Mindframe. Just kept ticking. Whoever had done whatever they had done, they seemed to have linked her into an encyclopedia of the history of Earth. Not Earth II. Earth, Earth. Humanity earth. The history of humanity, at the fingertips of her mind. Too much information. The essence of human memory surely thrived on forgetfulness: constantly dusting down and refining memories to images and flickers of things one liked, hated, or found notable in some other way. It was selective; allowed you to escape or imbibe as one pleased. She watched as others, Andross especially, candy-coated and selectively recalled the past at their leisure. Crimson was without a memory of her own self, unable to candy-coat or hate her own past. Yet the confounded weight of a billion pasts pushed at the back of her cerebral nerve like a rhinoceros. It had taken her time to learn how to push back, and keep the overload of information at bay. It only slipped through occasionally now.

But she lay on her back, with her eyes half closed, and tried the slip beneath the surface of flowing information and existential despair. With hurricanes of everything and nothing waiting to assail her at any given moment, she could do with an attack by underworld hitmen. It might provide a welcome distraction.

How many days? Day until they could feel like they were getting somewhere. Maybe she could hover here in binary limbo until the crew stuffed their ship with the settlers and they were on their way to find out where she had come from. Probably not. Someone would have a problem—

“Gator to Crimson!” the intercom shattered her fragile inner peace. “You gotta’ take a look at something in Engineering right away!”

Outside—glaring light and people. And she’d have to haul her leg across the half-mile of Keffler’s Green House.

“On my way.”