Safe - the other four letter word

Sail and Blitzen JP

Serena nodded quickly, nervously gnawing the inside of her cheek as the ship’s ‘doctor’ placed the contacts just where he said he would. His eyes didn’t linger where they shouldn’t, but she white knuckled the chair just the same, waiting for the shoe to fall, but aside from having fingertips that were a little chilly he was thus far truthing about the ‘safest place on the ship.” He had a funny way of talking, and under different circumstances, she’d like to have tried saying words like he did, but now wasn’t the time or place. Besides, she wasn’t a child by any stretch of the imagination, just because someone looked and sounded friendly, didn’t always mean that was the case, but something about him put her slightly at ease. Slightly.

The exam was completed without so much as a pin prick. She was feeling more at ease until her eyes fell on all the dental equipment locked safely behind glass. Her imagination went on overdrive, she’d heard drilling was one of the most intense pains you could imagine. The Skyhook didn’t have anything THAT bad!

“I won’t give you any trouble,” she said quietly. It was a simple pre-emptive strike, a game really, do what you were told, and there was no reason anyone would have to show you your place. People who caught on quick on the Skyhook had a much easier go of it. It was the fighters who got the brunt end of the stick.

The medic nodded. “That’s appreciated,” he replied easily. “Now, let me show yah the injury.” With a button push, the padded exam chair slowly rotated, bringing Serena face to face with a large view screen.Adler lifted an eyebrow She could see animated line that jumped rhythmically with her heartbeat, numbers under a heading “BP” that held more or less steady. TEMP and RESP also had numbers beneath them, but the screen’s surface was dominated by a ghostly image. The bones of her hand glowed a smoky white grey. “Fortunately,” Dr. Adler turned to face his patient, “none of tha bones of yah fingers are fractured...merely dislocated. The real damage is the crush wounds tah the soft tissue.”

He moved a utility tray into position. “Ah’m gonna inject a local anesthetic inta yah hand, tah numb it while Ah reset tha bones. That’s tha gist,” he offered as he resumed his seat at her side. “Ah’ll splint yah fingers tah protect their healing, but soft tissue like this needs tah rebuild on its’ own. Ah want tah point somethin’ else out, Miss Serena,” he said. “See that numbah under tha title H-RATE? That’s yah heart...beatin’ way too fast.” The number 115bpm caught her eye. “Ah’d like tah give yah a mild sedative…” At the sudden look of alarm in her eyes, Dorian lifted a hand. “Yah’ll be wide awake, able tah move, evahthing,” he nodded reassuringly. “This’ll just help yah tah relax while we treat yah fingers.” He offered her a small white tablet with a cup of water to wash it down.

This part of the game she was more familiar with, the part where something got slipped in a drink and you wake up with a three year contract. But that part already happened, didn’t it? And as far as she could tell, Richelle hadn’t been in a rush to get her back. They were headed to New Kasmir, the Skyhook was aiming to the core. Worst of all, despite herself, she did like hearing him talk, and he had made her hand feel better instead of worse. There was the off chance he could be telling more truths. Letting out a low, slow breath she tipped the tablet back and chased it with water before raising her tongue to the bridge of her mouth and tilting her chin to show him it had been swallowed. A few moments later and she watched the numbah under the letter H start slowing down some. The pounding that had been in her ears subsided and even her muscles relaxed some as the chair suddenly became even more comfortable.

“They’ll heal up.” She self- diagnosed, looking at her own hand. “Fingers and toes usually heal on their own.”

Adler lifted an eyebrow. “That they do,” he agreed. “Ah see ‘em, in evah saloon, market, an’ minin’ camp on tha rim. Lotsa folk who just ‘tough it out’ and ‘let ‘em heel.’ Those folk...hard workers...wind up sufferin’ a hand that’s less useful because fingers are twisted an’ don’t work properly. Haven’t asked yah age, Miss Serena,” he said, “but Ah can see that yah have a good seven-eight decades ahead of yah. Now’s not tha time tah start that life with a disability yah coulda prevented.” His hands rested upon his knees as he implored the patient. “This is simple, if we do it now.”

Biting her bottom lip she nodded, holding out her hand as steady as she could, keeping an eye on everything he was doing. “Sixteen.” She added, not sure if it was a question or a rhetorical, but not willing to leave it to chance. “Just turned, not long ago.”

“Yah not tha youngest aboard,” Adler chuckled. “We have an eight year old...Haddie.” He laid the needle into the soft tissue between her knuckles. “Practicin’ tah be a world class mind yah things.” The actual procedure only lasted another fifteen minutes. After Dorian had reset the two dislocations, he placed both fingers into protective splints. “That’s all there is,” the medic offered a smile. “Let’s remove those contacts.” Soon after, she was free to go. “If yah hungry, tha galley’s up those steps,” he offered. However, the slight hesitation in her eye prompted another offering. “Or, if yah just wanna rest, yah welcome tah just stay right there. Ah’ve got plenty tah keep me busy.”

Serena moved her splinted fingers carefully freezing for a moment when she realized the ‘easy’ part was over. Outside of the room was a ship - an unfamiliar ship with unfamiliar people. It lifted off - it sounded different than the Skyhook, lift off felt different, “Can I stay a little bit?” She asked cautiously. “Tha safest place on this boat?”

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