October 31, 2010

Zion's Children - pt. 21

In a very short time, life became routine to the newcomers.

Lily Bennett did her duty, tended to the sick and the dying, and slept poorly. She found herself growing to like many of the people she ended up covering with a sheet. They fought to the end with such a cheerful attitude that she felt guilty for not wanting to be here in the first place. Just like her ancestors had never asked to be Exiled, neither had their ancestors. They were here against their will as well. And just like her world had never asked for the Flu Scare, neither had these people asked for this disease to ravage theirs.

Byrin Gold worked hard and slept little. He ate even less, though Miri managed to get a bite or two into him each day. He gathered new data, and reviewed the old, finding only new questions and no answers. He didn't interact with the patients as much as Marcus and the nurses did, but each time he questioned one of them about their earliest symptoms his desire to end this disease grew. Each colonist had been given the standard vaccinations when the Conglomerate had first sent ships to this world.

The two new nurses, whose names Byrin had never bothered to learn (Amber Linderman and Rose Montoya) worked different shifts. Amber nursed patients during the day, Rose at night. They saw each other at shift change, and some meals. They both longed to go home, but were compassionate enough to truly care for their patients.

The first two weeks the days passed by with little change for any of them. Somehow though, they all managed to make a few new friends. Miri was loved by all, as she showed love to all without judgment. Marcus spent much time with Byrin, learning as much from the younger man as he was teaching.

Lily, despite her hardline Christianity, grew to like Amber and Rose as nurses and even a little personally. She did not agree with their lifestyle, but they were dedicated nurses. She dealt mainly with Amber, who had a keen sense of humor, but heard good reports about Rose from nightshift. She also enjoyed her time each day with Marcus, wishing circumstances allowed for personal affections to grow.

Somehow, Byrin learned to work around his attraction to Miri. He knew it was there, but would have denied if anyone else suspected and questioned him on it. When he allowed his mind to ponder it, it the quiet hours he pretended to sleep (for her sake)...he knew great frustration because he could see that she believed the same as Lily and knew that a distant admiration was all she'd ever allow. Which is why he didn't ponder her care of him, or allow himself to imagine that she equally admired him. These people were dying, and if he allowed himself to be distracted by fantasies, the very woman he admired would die as well.

But things changed the day Byrin decided to draw a sample of his own blood...

October 30, 2010

Zion's Children - pt. 20

It was late when Miriam returned to the small home she shared with her grandfather. It had been a long day of assisting Byrin in the lab. The man seldom took a break and even if he wasn't wearing himself down, he was pushing her to her limits. After all, she was only human.

She paused in the small living room, listening. Above the gentle breeze whistling through the windows, she could hear her grandfather snoring. This little house of theirs was old, had been old when Levi had been young. Miri sometimes thought he had forgotten what it was like to be young, but then he was from a different generation. His parents were children of the Exile. Great-Grandma Bernice had been 16 when she'd been shipped here, she had met her husband here 3 years later. Great-Grandpa Joshua had been 15 when he'd arrived.

Today's development had been far from encouraging in the lab. She doubted she understood the science of it any better than the doctors. How could a virus keep on living and replicating after its host body was dead? There was no new energy to be had, so how did they keep going?

Marcus and Byrin had discussed digging up older bodies, but had decided not to. They didn't think it necessary at this point to risk offending any colonists, and they didn't think they'd have her grandfather's permission anyways. She knew he would deny them, if they ever asked. He was very touchy about the dead. She didn't relish the though herself, but she had to admit that she was as curious as the doctors. What happened when there was nothing left for the virus to consume?

Did it turn on the other raw materials present? The wrappings and the coffin? What if it all turned liquid and managed to seep out the wooden coffins? If it was capable of consuming other organic lifeforms, would it ravage the world? But if it was able to do that, why hadn't it already?

None of it was pleasant thinking for this time of night.

She skipped the meal her grandfather had left warming for her and went straight to her small room. The bed was not large, but it was almost comfortable. Still, she didn't lay down yet. She knelt by its side and lowered her head atop her hands.

"Please God...end this suffering. Have Your people not suffered enough at the hands of their enemy?" Tears leaked from her eyes in a steady streak, running across her folded hands onto her bed coverings. "Your people here are dying. They have died other worlds. It's not the dying...the crossing over into Your kingdom...it's the suffering. Please God...ease our pain...take away this sickness...please..."

Hours later when Levi came to check on her, Miri was fast asleep in the kneeling position. Her body lax against the bed, tear stained still damp. With gentle hands, he lifted his granddaughter and managed to get her under the covers without waking her. He found her such many nights, and doubtless it would continue until the disease had wiped them all out. Still, he added his own petitions to hers as he laid himself back in his own bed.

"Please God...let this end..."