Posted March 14, 2012
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“You know you’re the last, don’t you, Neela?”
She does, of course, this beautiful, fragile Child of mine. She’s conserving air and energy but she nods to me from her cot, although with her eyes closed she can’t see me. Or maybe she does… what stands before her mind’s eye no one will ever know, even me. Omniscience isn’t quite what my Children have assumed down through the ages.
“I don’t know if this will come as any comfort to you, Child, but the last of your siblings down below on Terra Toxica went away thinking how blessed you and your fellow crew members were to not suffer the ravages of that plague they had created and released in my name while you were here in orbit. Every one of them would have traded places with you in a heartbeat, even if only for a heartbeat. Every one of them would have traded the pain, the blindness, the bleeding and the madness which came to each and every one of them, young and old, rich and poor alike. Came to them all before their last, strangled, choking breaths.
“With you alone remaining, my Child, I’m able to hold you closer than ever. No one else seeks my succor. No one else struggles or suffers. You truly have my undivided attention. But as a matter of respect I ask for your permission, your leave to share these last moments.
“I see you nod once more. Thank you. And so, here I… AM.
“Oh, my Child, I wasn’t aware of how cold you are. Here, let me warm you. Now that I’m right here, is there anything you wish to talk with me about. Anything at all? No? Ah, I see. You’re drifting away and it’s too late for discourse. At least you’re not alone here at the end, unlike your fellow space station crew members. Of course they weren’t really alone because I never left them, but they believed they were alone. In their silly despair they thought I had forsaken them.
“Two of them went out through the airlock unprotected, preferring to face the vast emptiness of space rather than the vast emptiness of their futures. Three of them shared a poisoned cup, hoping for a painless, peaceful end. Judging by their convulsions and consciousness-shredding fear, it was neither painless nor peaceful. I could have made it so, had they asked, but they didn’t.
“Is that a tear I feel slipping down our cheek? Silly Child of mine, there will be no pain for you, only peace. Ah, it’s a tear of love. Well, that’s all right then. Here, let me add a tear of my own, now that I can, thanks to your generosity.
“Oh, my Child, you’re done. Your oxygen is depleted and it’s finally time to sleep. Sleep well my—
Tim Reynolds is a Calgary writer with his most recent published stories in the genres of science fiction, horror, and steampunk. Other hats he occasionally dons include that of poet, stand-up comic and photographer, all detailed at www.tgmreynolds.com.
All content released under a Creative Commons license unless otherwise noted.