Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chapter 12 - WHAT WENT WRONG

The doctor kept his word; two days later I was on crutches. My rib cage was securely strapped, much to my dismay. My eyes were still sensitive too, so he gave me a pair of eye shades. I thought they were rather cool. They were all black and wrapped most of the way around my head, fitting close to my face and blocking out stray light from around the edges. The lenses were black too and extended almost as far as my ears as well as across my nose. The doctor told me that the pilots used them all the time so they don’t have to keep opening and closing the port shades whenever they swing around to land. There was always a chance that a bright reflection or glare might flash across the cabin during maneuvers, and with these glasses, it didn’t leave them blinded at a critical moment.

The casts on my feet were a little strange. Incorporated into the cast that extended up to my knees was a bracket that wrapped around my ankles and lower calves. This bracket extended about six inches below my foot. I couldn’t walk on them, but they helped me balance while I used my crutches. It was far better than a wheelchair.

After I was safely settled in our stateroom, I went for a walk. I had been lying down for days and I was restless. The ship was very small. There was only one other passenger and a dozen or so crew members, so it didn’t take me long to find my way to the cryo-chamber. I wanted to see it for myself.

The mechanic was sitting on the floor with his back to me amidst a large assortment of pieces and parts that had to have come from the underbelly of a pod I could only assume was mine. I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he seemed to be going over each piece with meticulous care.

I moved on into the room and he turned to see who had entered. “Hey, miracle boy. You’re up. How’re you doing?” he asked.

“I’m getting better every day. Find anything?”

He shook his head and turned back to his work. “I don’t know what happened, son. Everything seems to be functioning just fine. The whole bay was inspected just two planet-falls ago. It’s a mystery to me what went wrong. I’ve been testing wires and relays for a week now, and now I’m down to testing every single part that has power going through it. I’m even testing the parts that don’t have anything to do with the freezing. If I can’t find anything here, I’ll move up the line, but things get generalized real quick, and only the one pod malfunctioned.” He shook his head and looked at me again. “I’m real sorry about what happened to you, and real glad you weren’t killed, though that might have been a blessing all things considered.” I’m sure he was looking at my cracked and scabbed lips and the black and blue raccoon mask easily visible under my eye shades.

I sidled up to the pod my mother had ridden in for a closer look. “Yeah, it was rough. I guess most of my ribs were broken and my feet were messed up pretty bad. Everything else is just bruises, but that’s bad enough.” I poked at the padding in the pod. It was designed to be firm enough to support its frozen occupant and still allow it to sink down well into the padding for even better support under boost. That was all very fine for a frozen body. I suppose it helped me too, a little, though I think I might have been in better shape if it had been softer. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have mattered; not much would have made a difference under full boost.

The mechanic grimaced and shuddered at my words. “Like I said, it was a miracle you survived.”

“Yeah, well, hey, I hope you find something,” I said as I left - and I did hope so, fervently.

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