Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #1790650
Science fiction, riddled with emotions
|“Oh My God!!” , screamed Cathy! Im late again! She stole a quick glance at the looming overgead time display and realised that the exclamation of being late had cost her another ten seconds. She had a little under two minutes left to save her babies from certain death. Her ‘Babies’, Paula, 17 and King, 21 were , in fact already dead. She had those precious two minutes to choose the right bubbles for them, for the day and then all would be well...again.|
A ‘Bubble’ was in fact, a life form that every mother chose for her offspring, every morning. You died every night and had to leave the day behind. No baggage...no attachment. Only learning. No schools. Every child was someone new everyday for seven years, from the age of 15 to 21 and learnt along the way.
Paula especially liked being in the medical field. Whether she was a doctor, a nurse, a mere helper in the hospital, whichever role was picked for her, she shone. With a heart blooming with spring flowers, and a voice like the soft echo of a snow clad mountain, she was loved by everyone.
“Ok King.." murmured Cathy.. “Here you go Son. “ And she pulled out a boistrous bubble of a firefighter. She knew it was risky work, but she also knew that it would shape his personality favourably. And then, she made the biggest mistake of her life.
She took an extra ten seconds with her beloved son. Those ten seconds changed her life forever. Now, she had only five seconds to give life to her daughter, asleep, or dead, so peacefully, next to her. She blindly picked a bubble and prayed that it wasnt a very tough one. Paula wasn't cut out for being a tough one, she thought. A mad scramble and a wrong bubble..
Paula opened her eyes and took the customary twenty minutes to prepare herself. As the realization struck, her soul practically transformed. She was now, in a cramped solitary confinement cell. She was, in fact, on the last day of an inmate’s death row. She knew that she would be home again the next day, but she had to be who she was, today.
The smell of her cell was pungent, almost acidic. On taking a closer look, she saw the culprit; her own open toilet. Strangely, she felt no remorse for being there. But then, that is the way Bubbles work. They transform you so completely, you are mentally and physically equipped to handle your daily roles. Although, you change everyday, your never forget anything...ever.
“Looks like a good day to stay indoors,,” she thought aloud. Her shot at optimism was cut short when the guards opened the heavily armoured doors and asked her to step out for her daily thirty minutes of excercise. Like it mattered. She dutifully fell in line and instinct told her where to go for her breakfast. The bread smelled stale, as did the soupy thing on her plate. Hardly hungry, she pushed it aside. “I think you should eat a bit. Sex isnt half as fun on an empty stomach!” said someone so close to her ears, that she could smell his dry, dirty breath. Spinning around, she was completely taken aback! Right there in front of her, were four notorious looking rogues, all stripped to the bone! One glance and she knew that this was it! There was no escape.
“Take a deep breath and don't scream, or they will hurt you more,” Paula kept reminding herself, as they ravaged her body, one by one. Her training as a Karate expert told her that she could tackle them. Her instincts, however, did not allow her to defend herself. With every passing moment, she hated herself more and more. “Oh shit! “ she screamed suddenly, as she felt excruciating pain! Someone just stuffed her with a baseball bat! “Shut up! Bitch!” said another as he pissed all over her. The warm urine, blood, semen , sweat all mixed to form a nauseating smell. Paula soon passed out.
She woke up in her cell, still naked, still very much in pain. Qucikly clothing herself, she made a silent promise to herself. She would forget this tomorrow.
Little did she know.
The rest of the day passed by and soon she was back in her house, ready to drop dead, literally.
The next day, was a Sunday , review day. Kids woke up as themselves and had a day to make notes and review the experiences of the previous days. King was up early . “Mom!” he shouted outside the kitchen door! “I'm done with my review. Out for a game with my friends. Don't wait for dinner. I will be home late.” Before she could react, he was gone. All she could hear was the distant buzz of his motorbike.
“Paula!!” screamed Cathy from the stairwell! Usually, not one to be late for Sunday review, it was rather strange that Paula was still asleep. “This girl is getting more and more unpredictable as the years pass. Typical teenage , I guess”, she thought. Little did she know about the storm raging deep inside her little girl.
Paula didnt want to get up. Sunday or no Sunday, as far as she knew, the world was no longer what she knew it to be. The System, however, did not permit anyone to end their own lives. It just wasn't so simple anymore. “Paula..you look ashen! Are you feeling alright?” enquired Cathy, placing a gentle hand on her daughter’s forehead. “No fever”, she thought. “Mom, leave me alone for a while, will you?” snapped Paula, so unlike her usual self. Cathy’s fears about something being amiss were slowly coming alive. One look at her daughter’s disraught face told her that nothing was the same anymore.
As Cathy picked through the review papers, the holograms for Saturday played right before her very eyes. Although she didnt want to look, her eyes were disobedient. She could not peel them off the gruesome images playing before her. In minutes, her daughter’s dainty frame turned into a ravaged bit of human flesh. The anguish was palpable.
“Paula..listen, it’s mom. Paula...wake up sweety..” Cathy tried coaxing Paula to talk to her. As their eyes met, an emotion flew between them, and in that one second, they knew. They knew that the truth was lurking between them. Thats all it took for the floodgates to open. Paula cried just a second after her mother’s body was shaken by uncontrable sobs! ‘Mom’, Said Paula in an almost inhuman voice,”do me a favour, will you?”. Cathy held her breath, waiting for the worst. “Dont give me a bubble tomorrow. Please Mom, let me go. I dont want to live on with this body anymore. “
Although she was expecting just this, Paula’s request came as a rude shock. Knowing that she had the power to release her daughter from her anguish, she did not want to take this decision. She knew it would kill King if he found out what happened. And how would she console herself? “If I let her live on with this scar, how will I face myself? And if I let her give up on her own life, I’ll never know if she wouldve been able to fight it.” This dilemma kept haunting her till she finished her cleaning and cooking. She prepared Paula’s favourite dish in the whole world..Spicy Bean Tacos with Casear Salad. “I don't know why Im doing this”, she said aloud when she was alone. Paula has a lifetime of Mexican food ahead.
The smell of the freshly cooked beans wafted through the kitchen and into Paula’s room. The spicy aroma was mixed with the smell of open pickels, that her mother always laid out on the table. Paula’s tongue twitched with the desire to dive into her dinner. As she slowly came down into the hall and went through the kitchen doors to their little dining table, she stopped short. The table was beautifully set. Everything that Paula loved was right there, from the tacos to the salad, from her favourite cola (which her Mom never permitted in the house!) to white ribbon mousse for dessert. As she let the culinary sight and smell take over her senses, Cathy walked in with a bowl full of Custard and Jell-O.
Before Paula could say anything, King walked in, slower than usual, she thought. He nodded at her rather sweetly and took his customary place at the table. Whether he knew or no, she could not tell. He was guarded in his talk sometimes and this may have been just another one of those days. As Cathy joined them , they held hands and said Grace, again, a custom in the tiny family. Ironically, Cathy and King, both squeezed her hand at the exact same moment, with the same undisguised love. In that one moment, the world stopped turning.
And Paula knew.
This was her Last Supper. Her anguish would be over tomorrow. And her family loved her more than ever. Gratitude filled her eyes, but words eluded her. There was so much that she wanted to say...to King, her brother, her buddy. As she choked back the tears, she could hardly eat. King was making an effort, but his smile could not conceal the tear in his eye. For Paula’s sake, Cathy was being strong, although she was in shreds emotionally!
None of them wanted this dinner to end. The magic was being together was spellbinding. The dinner, did , in fact come to an end. And they slept together, in Cathy’s room, one last time.
Monday morning, King was a Senior doctor at University. And Cathy, was home alone.