Conversion, pt. 1: Sunshine

Sy awoke from a sleep deeper and more restful than she’d had in years. The glow of the Martian sun filtered through the blinds, and the air felt clear and cool, despite the lingering scent of disinfectants all medical wards share. She yawned and stretched. She wondered how a hospital bed could possibly be this comfortable. The pain in her chest was gone, she noticed, and she felt invigorated. Tentatively, she touched her nose, but there was no pain there, either.

Slowly, she sat up, the heavy blanket sliding off her. She noticed she had somehow wormed her way out of the hospital gown, and without the blanket, the cool air was a tad cold on her naked body. She lifted the blanket, sniffed and made a face. The scent made her acutely aware that she had not showered in three days. Inspecting her wounds, she was surprised to discover that the circles of thick scar tissue she had expected were little more than two patches of mild discoloration, like a mild burn after a month or so. Against her dark skin, they were quite noticeable, but not nearly as gnarly as she had expected.

When she looked at the clock over the door, she gasped audibly. She remembered it had been 8 in the evening by the time they had brought her back, and she had been half asleep when Romeo had lifted her into bed already. Now it was half past 11. She had been asleep for 16 hours straight. That was more than she’d had some entire weeks!

Just then, a tall, burly man with hairy arms sticking out of his rolled-up sleeves entered the room. Looking up at his face, Sy found her gaze met by kind grey eyes in a round face, accentuated by a well-groomed beard surrounding a rapidly intensifying grin. “YOU ARE AWAKE!” the doctor thundered, his voice filling the room and probably the hallway too. He was tall, his head almost brushing the top of the door, with a wide build and a bit of a belly. His doctor’s coat hung open, and didn’t look like it even could close, not without a fight anyway.

“Err… Yeah, hey,” Sy said uncertainly. “You the doc ‘round here?”

“I certainly am!” the doctor said jovially. “You, my dear lady, have had, what we call in the medical profession, a healthy and restful sleep! You have been underneath the waves of the dream ocean for 15 hours and 48 minutes exactly, by my calculations! How are you feeling?!” He sat down on a stool by Sy’s bed, which creaked dangerously.

“Way be’er,” Sy smiled. The doctor’s energy was infectious. “Them nanites did a helluva job gettin’ me back on my feet! Y’think I’m good to skip the wheels today?”
“According to the nanites, I would say so!” the doctor agreed enthusiastically. “They are mostly doing upkeep right now, your internal damage is all patched up and excess bodily fluids are all back where they belong! If you wish you may test your mettle against the floor, young lady!”

Sy swung her legs over the side of the bed and carefully slid down onto the floor, which was cold on her bare feet. She took a tentative deep breath, stretched, and did a squat. You never quite appreciate feeling healthy as you do after getting better. “Feelin’ fine, doc,” she said. “Be’er than fine, I feel like runnin’ a mile an’ I wouldn’ break a sweat I think!”

“That’s the spirit!” the doctor laughed. “Better walk a mile before you run one, though, young lady! You have been awfully close to the edge when you came in here, you know!” He nodded sagely and stood up. “But we have not been properly introduced! I am Doctor Cody Easton, and I oversee the fine medical facilities up here in the Spire! And you are born Sara Wiles, now going by Sy, and a fine name it is if I do say so myself! Very pleased to see you back on your feet, young lady!” He stuck out a massive hand, his equally massive grin never leaving his face.

“Yup, right on all counts,” Sy said, taking his hand and shaking it. It was like shaking a tree trunk. “Guess yo part o’the hive mind too, huh?”

“Oh yes! I am certain you are sick to the bone of hearing it, but we rarely get outsiders in the Spire, so I have been following the conversations with keen interest!” Cody beamed. “For what it is worth, I have not considered you guilty of anything for a nanosecond! Curiosity is natural, why, it is the reason science exists, is it not? And do not worry about Blue. She will come around. Deep down she knows it is not your fault.” He cocked his head for a moment, his mouth frozen in a half-open position as if listening to something, before sighing and rolling his eyes. “Very deep down. Give it time.”

“Yeah, I will, doc. Thanks.” Sy’s own smile had faltered at the mention of Blue. Wishing to move the conversation on, she looked around. “So… there a shower ‘round here? Smellin’ a li’l funky, know’m’sayin’.”

“You certainly do, my dear!” Cody laughed heartily, his beaming grin instantly returning. “It is right over there, through the door on the left! Soap and towels are on the racks, you will not want for a thing in the Spire as Piper likes to say! Have at it, and someone will be by to pick you up for lunch later!” He looked her up and down. “And perhaps some clothing. I dare say you look a might chilly, and I am certain you would prefer it over hospital gowns!”

“Yeah, that’d be good,” Sy agreed. “Thanks fo’ the good care, doc. Guess I’ll see you ‘round, huh?”

“Ask any of my sisters or brethren and I shall come abounding to your side post-haste,” he replied. “I shall meet you in the evening for a checkup. Do not overexert yourself and you should have a fine, glorious day, I wager!” He bowed deep, beamed another grin at her and left the room, while Sy went into the room he’d indicated to have her shower, still chuckling at the unstoppable ray of sunshine that had brightened up her morning.

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