Friday, December 10, 2010

Chapter 46 - THE LONG ROAD

Repair crews aboard tug ships appeared two days later and we were under way again though it would be sub-light all the way. I clawed my way out of my seat as soon as they installed the parts that held the force field over the port. Nobody understood how things had been working, but they had little reason to question me, for which I was thankful. I was also thankful that they hadn’t repaired the gravity plating yet either, because I’m not so sure that I could have walked down the stairs to my seat. It was all I could do to shuck the space suit I’d been wearing.

Colin was the first to see me drifting down into the cabin and was at my side immediately. “What happened to you? You look like the living dead.”

“Great, what’ll my mother think? Where is she anyway?” Before I let myself relax into my seat, I said, “Colin, I’m going to need your help and Georgy’s too. I’m going to sleep for a while, probably a long time. I’m going to need you guys to take care of me. You’ll have to make me eat and I’ll need to eat a lot. Wake me about every four hours. I can’t think of anything else; I’m too tired.”

“We’ll take care of you Liam; don’t worry,” said Colin. “And Liam, thanks. For what you did for me, thanks.”

I think I smiled. I was glad he hadn’t been scared away. “My pleasure. Glad I could help. Don’t let mom get too upset. This’ll scare her - a lot I think. She’ll want to fuss. Won’t do any good.”

My sentences were getting shorter and I was rambling. I missed Colin getting me into my seat; I just suddenly found myself there, and then I fell asleep. It was such a relief just to turn off for a while.

They told me it was six days while I mechanically consumed whatever was placed in front of me before I said anything. Apparently, I asked for an apple. Colin told me I’d have to make it since there wasn’t any in the galley. All I remember is someone telling me ‘I’d have to make it’. I didn’t remember what I was supposed to make. I don’t know if I even tried.

It was nearly three weeks since leaving the cockpit before I pulled myself out of my seat and found my way to the shower. Mother tried to steady my progress until Colin and Georgy took over; since the gravity was still off, it was a sonic shower, not nearly as revitalizing as a water shower. I felt a little more coherent when I got out, but was still quite ragged around the edges.

I picked up my sword belt a couple days later and those in the cabin who noticed, cheered. They had no idea what I had done; all they knew was that I had been ill and sleeping for a long time. Now that I had started sparring again, the boredom of their day had some relief.

The noise attracted the attention of the repair crews who were coming and going all over the ship. They had moved in with us, filling any empty seats while they worked on the ship, therefore they were constantly in and out as their shifts changed.

We stayed at it longer than I intended, but sparring in 0-G was so much fun, and the enthusiasm of the crowd was catching.

Our lessons expanded when members of the repair crew joined us from time to time. Before they got the gravity plating turned back on, we all got several pointers on how to use our weapons under weightless conditions; of course, Colin didn’t need many of those pointers, but he practiced avidly just the same. You don’t stay good at something if you never practice it, plus he had new mass to learn how to wield.

Ultimately, this trip took fully twice as long as it was supposed to, since we were forced to drop out of faster than light travel far sooner than we should have. Consequently, I had another birthday in space. You don’t travel with a group of people for a year and a half without becoming as close to a family as it is possible for a group of strangers to get.

Everyone had a birthday at sometime or another during the trip. We celebrated them all with a bit of a party and a few exchanged gifts. No one had really come prepared to celebrate over a hundred birthdays, so not much but well wishes were ever exchanged, but the parties were fun and another diversion from the boredom of endless travel.

There were movies too, (fortunately) and we had seen everything in the library more than once. Long before we reached our destination, movies were played by popular demand; I liked them all.

Supply ships found us twice since the disaster and unloading was also a diversion. It’s interesting the things people will use to relieve their boredom. By the time we reached our destination, the line between crew and passenger was almost indistinguishable.

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