a not too distant future where people are expendible.
| Somebody had been in her house. She just knew it. She could tell. What she couldn’t tell was when, or who. It didn’t make her feel comfortable. Actually, she felt invaded. Not in a good way, but in just the way she’d become used to.
She was being bombarded with how, why, and what and when until her head spun. As she pondered when, it occurred to her that maybe she knew. Wasn’t there the slightest, faintest, remembrance of being awakened last night? Or was it two nights ago? Didn’t she remember being probed? Didn’t she recall the introducer going into her arm, eliciting the slightest twinge of pain, and then, nothing, back off to sleep?
But she didn’t smell them, and she always smelled them. It was one of the few gifts a supreme war goddess had, the ability to smell an unwelcome visitor.
If it had been any other time in her life, she could have cared less, she never did anything illegal while she was asleep. But now she had something, someone to worry about. Bill. Bill could be harmed, and if he was harmed, she would care.
Now as she thought about it, she recalled more. Maybe she hadn’t been as sedated as she thought. Didn’t she remember that they attempted to probe Bill, but for some unknown reason, it appeared they couldn’t find him? They brushed across his body, made ready to insert their needles, and then just stopped, as though suddenly they lacked the energy to proceed or somehow felt uncertain or mistaken. And Bill was awake. She remembered that now. He was awake. And he wasn’t afraid. He’d simply stared and they’d left.
So, she sat and she waited. She’d never contemplated waiting for anyone or anything. The only thing she postponed was imagining her life after her obligations were over. The idea of waiting to have a discussion to quiet her mind created knots in places she hadn’t known knots could be.
She’d talked to Bill about her lot in life and how it required two more investments. And now several weeks into their, what would she call it, relationship; she’d soon have to embark on her travails and get on with getting the next war child on the way.
The thought of the cold injector gave her the chills and a sudden whiff of nausea. That was a signal that her fertility implant was revving to go. She could feel it whirring in her arm. Her ovaries were getting all bubbly. She could feel that too.
She’d had to explain to Bill early on that though he wanted to donate in the old-fashioned way, he likely couldn’t accomplish the task. She’d been genetically matched with six donors and only they could do the job. This she knew. He’d only be wasting his massive talent repeatedly on an unachievable goal. Besides, she couldn’t bear sending one of their progeny off to war. It had been hard enough knowing the war child was half hers. Her only relief was that they were half the donor’s. That almost made it worth it. If it were hers and Bill’s, well, she’d be tempted to take their progeny’s place on the battlefields, or better yet, send Bill. And he wasn’t even trained. He wouldn’t last an hour.
She and Bill managed to laugh about that. Even though, she could have sworn she stopped laughing sooner than he did. She even imagined she saw a smirk on his face. If he hadn’t had to get her an iced gel bag a second later, she might have focused on it a little longer.
It’s funny how those ripping and pulling sensations in those sensitive areas manage to refine all of your thoughts and focus them on relief, fast relief, and relief only.
Thinking, as she did much too often, she pondered how the body healed and how the staples fell out and how the sutures were absorbed. She could now think about Bill and let the feelings and the warmth rush over her body. Warmth was so much better than cold and anticipation of a better life was better than anything else. She’d been taught that at some point in her younger years and it had been years since it had been reinforced.
By the time Bill made his appearance, she’d decided not to ask the burning questions blurring her vision. There were so many questions with unbelievable answers, why focus on questions with answers she might not like, or likely understand? She decided to just ask how his day had been and what he wanted to eat after his long day doing only God knew what. When he asked if she was good enough to eat, she smiled. Sometimes life was good. The one good thing about a one-room apartment was that you didn’t have to travel far to reach the bed.
When Specimen realized Bill wasn’t coming up for air and that maybe he was having a seizure, she wondered why she always managed to let her thoughts drag her down, even when she was rarely up. She physically shook herself out of it. He thought that was a signal to move on and move on he did.
She wasn’t exactly ready and she almost giggled when she realized what he meant to do. Then she got concerned. She’d never done it all the way in the old-fashioned way. She didn’t know anybody who had. She didn’t know that anybody still did.
What was going to happen afterward? Would he still want to see her in the morning? She didn’t know where those questions came from. She coughed. Then she did giggle.
That was a mistake. He lost his concentration. She didn’t know concentration was necessary. She giggled again. He seemed to do everything so easily, without a care in the world. That was how his kind operated. So what was this loss of concentration about? Just as she started to hyperventilate and panic, he recovered. He recovered in a big way. She’d be sore for days.
She could smell the sleegards before she saw them. Their appearance was not a surprise. It had been two weeks since she’d last seen Bill, and it had been a week since she’d ignored the third depositor.
She half-expected her ovaries to explode, but then she realized they wouldn’t do that. If that happened, the rest of her carcass would go to waste along with a perfectly good uterus. No, they would hook her up and remove all consciousness. She looked forward to the relief. She couldn’t bear her life the way it was. The loneliness was immobilizing. She hadn’t realized how alone she was until now.
The stench was becoming overpowering. Why didn’t they just burst down the door like she’d seen in the lessons beamed into her brain? Why were they simply buzzing about her door as though they couldn’t see her or find her?
She started to cry. She started to scream, but still they wouldn’t enter. Then they simply melted away. The smell dissipated and she was alone. She was completely alone, confused, and still she didn’t care.
The buzz from the door awoke her. She didn’t know she’d fallen asleep. The soon-to-be no longer supreme war goddess dragged herself to the door, thinking the sleegards had simply been trying to torment her. She didn’t even look in the security view screen. Why bother?
She opened the door and turned away, hoping the needle boring into her brain wouldn’t be too painful.
She stood and waited. Something was wrong. She felt nothing and realized she also smelled nothing. She turned. There was Bill, in his entire erect splendor. He should have been embarrassed. She should have been angry. He really should be dead and she should have been the one to kill him. She was completely confused.
Then, it slowly dawned on her. She just knew. She’d been tested, but more than that, she’d been changed. She could no longer be seen by ordinary eyes, and definitely not by sleegards. Something about Bill had rubbed off; something about Bill, indeed.