The Story of Terra
Geich, a former Emergency Room Physician, walked over to a Medical Clinic located in the center of a desert valley on Seg. Vaccination season had begun on planet Seg and he needed to fetch more vaccine capsules. Seg, the only inhabited planet in the universe supporting life in an orbit too close to their suns, remained hot every day of its short year.
The weather looked clear, but Geich could hear the roar of a sandstorm heading in the direction of the Clinic. It looked dark against the bright background of the red desert as he opened the door to the clinic and entered.
Suddenly the first wave of the sandstorm passed over the Clinic and a violent noise came from sand hitting the building.
“Great,” Geich shouted. “A sandstorm.”
He heard a laugh from the back of the Center as Terra walked out from the storage room.
“How come I only hear you laugh during sandstorms Terra?” Geich pulled down the hood on his Desert Survival Suit. “I need a seat.”
Sounds of the storm hitting the center took his breath away.
Terra carried a few trays of vaccine capsules to a table located directly in the center of the room and started packing each capsule into padded packaging.
First, she noticed Geich staring at her.
“Terra.” He coughed. “You are a beautiful sight. I am inspired.”
Second, Terra finished packing the vaccine capsules and looked over at his ‘inspired‘ face. For instance, Geich slouched onto the table covered with a red dust.
Dust seemed to cover everything.
“You are always so silent.” He removed a moistened towel from his travel pack and began to wipe his face. “Ok. Ok… Continue to be silent.”
Terra helped him load the package of vaccine capsules into his travel pack.
When the Galactic Alliance used wormholes to explore new worlds they contracted a sickness. The “Hu” virus, picked up from the crater world of Alsa, spread like wildfire throughout the universe.
“Hu” mutated quickly and began to attack all living cell structures destroying all intercellular communication within living organisms.
Consequently “Hu” held a death sentence.
As a result, the Galactic Alliance took responsibility for the spread of the contagion and quickly created a vaccine that needed to be administered periodically on all planets.
“Terra it amazes me that you can stay out here by yourself. In other words, I am going to have to stay until the storm passes.”
“You are going to be here for a while.” Terra turned towards her private quarters. “Would you like some food?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
She came back with a tray of sliced fresh Tucuber. First Geich ate. Second, he talked loudly about how fresh Tucuber reminded him of his home planet.
Above all the storm roared on.
“I am going to nap in the corner for a while. Thank you for the food.” He grabbed a blanket from his travel pack. “Wake me when the storm passes.”
Terra set a chair next to a window where she could see the red sand.
Runners, like Geich, who gave up their careers as Physicians, picked up and distributed the vaccine to barren locations throughout the universe.
People of Seg lived scattered throughout the landscape. As a result, communities consisted of families miles from each other. Each family, in homes of stone, cultivated underground marshes for fungal gardens and drinking water.
Geich delivered the vaccine to every family in the valley. The Medical Clinic had been situated in the center of the largest Seg community.
“This planet suits my needs.” Thought Terra. “Now that I am no longer rich.”
She remembered her husband working on the Verotchka Space Cruiser’s AI system. He would smile often, showing all his teeth, as he input code. When he died she manipulated the code. What did she change? She could not remember. These memories seemed from long ago.
“Where is the Verotchka now?” She thought about her brother Somyan and how he took good care of her. “Is Somyan still alive?”
She needed complete isolation and time to think. Suddenly she felt a cold feeling in her chest that forced her to sit on her cot. These strings of events that brought her here made no sense so she curled up on her cot to let the roar of the sandstorm lull her to sleep.
When she woke she saw a trembling spot of sunshine through the window. Thoughts she had before her nap returned and she longed to be rich again.
“What am I supposed to do when I am done here?”
“I have no idea.” Geich woke up and answered Terra. He stood up, packed his blanket, and took out a portable Brac-Na brewing kit. “Care for a cup before I leave?”
“Yes.” Terra sat at the table again. “Thank you.”
“You know Terra there is never a wall that can’t be broken.” He finished brewing the Brac-Na and handed a cup to Terra. “In my opinion, we have no more heroes. Today the Galactic Alliance is made up of timid, slow, lazy bureaucrats without a fearsome bone in their bodies. They are even too arrogant to realize they are all failures and that their lives have tricked them. Instead of struggling they only criticize and call the universe mean and do not realize that their own criticism gradually degenerates into meanness.”
She nodded and continued to drink her Brac-Na.
“Terra I am here because I loved. Once I felt happiness stood in front of me. I sang my way through every day without any self-examination or any ideas of what I wanted from life. Well, time goes fast.”
He took a drink of his Brac-Na.
“I met so many people day in and day out now everything is dead. All that pleased me, that caressed me, that gave me hope turned to nothing but red dust in a sandstorm. Now everything is a flat empty plain and there is nobody and it is horrible.”
“I understand Geich.” She looked down at the table so Geich could not see her eyes tearing up.
An alarm rang and lights filled the room.
“Sounds like time to refill your vaccine capsules. I must leave I have many miles to walk and I will be back in a month.”
Terra, lost in remembering her past, suddenly burst into tears. She felt unbearably sorry for herself and Geich. All of a sudden her longing to return to her old life took control of her. Her shoulders shook with each sob.
“I no longer think and have extinguished it all. I am no longer alive.” She sobbed.
“No. Do not cry.” He understood the necessity of tears and felt sorry for them both.
“You must go.” She stopped her sobbing, wiped her eyes dry with her sleeve, and conducted Geich through the anteroom and out the front door. He put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a supportive glance then he turned and walked.
She prepared for the arrival of the refills and turned off the alarm. A Medical Drone broke through the atmosphere as she started the landing sequence. Having performed this landing ritual so many times she did not need to think. Everything in her life had become a ritual.
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