I said last Monday that Floyd had sent me a piece of fiction for today, which is a jolly good thing, since I still have a cold and my brain is full of germs.
So here it is, from F. A. Hyatt:
(the following is just a short excerpt from one of my projects, but I thought it might serve to illustrate part of what this rant is on about)
“So, how does it feel; I mean, how do you feel?”
“Good.” Ben turned his hands up off the table in a sort of palm shrug. That kind of off-hand response was promising.
“There are differences. Touch is more localized. Tips and pads of the fingers, only four spots on each foot–that sort of thing, but phantom nerve effect, kind of fills in the gaps.”
“That’s not what I mean. You don’t feel, disconnected, remote?”
“No. Its me, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.”
He looked good. They always looked good. Like golden, diamond statues. I checked the Mag shielding. The flux meter showed a good field. Between it, and the collapsed crystal armor, he should be able to fiddle around during solar storms without damaging himself. Still, there were other things. Human things.
“Any phantom pains, unnatural sensations?”
“Nope. We already did the range of motion and sense routine, remember? Ann, I’m fine. Can I go now?”
I looked at the pressure tests, cold penetration results. All were highly compliant, still I was reluctant to let him leave.
“Remember, there’s no such thing as ambient sound in a vacuum, Ben. External sound cues come to you only from other Belter’s transmitters, or from impacts on the suit skin, or are internal. Think of sound as non-ambient, or as a knock, unless you are on a breather ship, or in a breather dome.”
“Yes Ma’am. No offense, but I’ve had the training. I’m of age.”
I nodded. The problem was with me. I had passed by the opportunity, no that’s not the truth–had chose against, conversion when it was available to me. Fear? Something religious?
Out the port window, small flashes of milling citizens darted among the rocks and platforms of the Albequere’ collective. He would be fine here. They were all fine. Mining, exploration, energy without limit, entire world-lets of resources. Even with Marsport, just ten months away, it just seemed—alien. I waved Ben off the table and escorted him to the lock.
“You have family here?”
Ben hesitated, one metallic hand glittering on the seal frame. “Uh, no Ma’am, some class-mates though.”
I bit back my tongue, embarrassed. Albequere’ was a new collective. There were no breather domes here. His parents and such, would be mostly too old, not convertible so as to face the vacuum. The hardness of space, a desolation to them.
They scooped out the human body, to do that. Only the spine, for stem and blood cell generation, along with the nerves and organs, transferred to the shells. Took three weeks. Bone wouldn’t be of any use anyway. First year without gravity you’d loose more than half the mass of it, and sixty percent of any muscle you had. Wouldn’t be safe, to try and pack all that extra baggage along, maintain it, heat it. The Exo-shells had to substitute for all that support and much more.
Ben lifted his hand from the frame; made a tentative motion towards me. “You okay? You did a good job. Glad I had you for final orientation.”
“Just thinking. Good luck; it was nice knowing you.”
He snapped off the external speaker and stepped through into the lock.
I cycled him out.
The outer door opened on two golden, floating figures–the Welcome Wagon, I guess. Odd, knowing that while they could come visit me, I could never even survive the life they lived. But, when I get back, I have the trees, the grass, blue skies, my parents, furniture to wax, Sundays at the Zoo. I remain content.
Good stuff, eh?
WRITING PROMPT: Write a character who is willing to give up life as he or she knows it to live in an alien place. Why is he or she willing?