Story 29 – Birth Part One, fantasy 767 words.
This story is a short opener to a big world. It’s set in Coleopteran, a world that will feature in more stories as I continue writing.
“This,” Doctor Tremblow sighed, his back piping letting out steam in a seemingly sympathetic way, “is really going to hurt.” He wiped sweat off his forehead as he leaned over the boy. He was white as a sheet, yet managed to look more stricken than ever at Tremblow’s words.
“Okay.” Was all Sosan managed in response. With that the doctor took to his work. Sosan lasted surprisingly long. Eventually he passed out, shortly after the bone saw started up. The small room grew hot as the day progressed, the assistants bringing in hardware as it was required. It was unfortunate that Sosan was so very vital and healthy, he kept waking up as Tremblow worked, Sosan screamed until he passed out again.
Sosan jerked awake, screamed, then realised he wasn’t in pain anymore and stopped screaming. He was in a tank of green liquid. As he looked up he could see the gas lamps on the ceiling, appearing green as he looked at them through the liquid, the pipes running every-which way. He looked around the room. Although his vision was somewhat distorted by the imperfect transparent walls of his tank, he could see that he was inside, in a different room, one he didn’t remember having seen before.
It was larger than the operating room. A single large leather chair stood near the open archway, the wide mouth of a pipe hung above the tank. It had obviously supplied the green liquid in the tank. It was attached to a cylindrical machine that poked through the back wall. Sosan’s conscious mind caught up with him and he realised he was not in the liquid, he was under it.
He panicked and spasmed, at once he tried to get purchase on the side of the tank to pull himself up but couldn’t, his hand slipping in the semi-viscous liquid. He tried to sit up, but found he could only bend his torso slightly, certainly not enough to sit himself up. He curled his legs underneath himself but couldn’t find purchase. Sosan held his breath as long as he could, each attempt to get himself out of the tank tired him more. His vision swam as his lungs burned. Sosan jumped as the doctor rapped his knuckles on the side of the tank.
Tremblow had come in while Sosan was flailing. Sosan’s reaction was pretty much standard in everyone who underwent this procedure. It was expected, that’s why the tank was built as thick as it was.
“Breathe,” Tremblow said loudly. Sosan pressed himself against the glass, holding up one hand as high as he could. The Doctor let out another sigh, steam hissing out behind him. “Just breathe. You’re a dockie now; you can breath in almost any liquid, so do it.” Sosan screwed up his face, his lungs gave out, he tried to hold on but couldn’t and gulped in a mouthful of liquid. It didn’t have the effect he thought it would.
Coolness rushed through him, his vision cleared as he gulped in liquid, laughing. Tremblow was right, he was a dockie, he could breath underwater. His body changed, forcibly adapted though the best of modern science could muster. A dockie – the dock workers of the depths – a job for as long as he could manage to stay alive. Dockies were rare and, if inexperienced or not careful, they were killed by accidents quickly.
Sosan took a couple of minutes to calm down. Once he had, he noticed the doctor still standing at the side of the tank. He asked to be helped out, but the doctor didn’t react. He shouted and, though he could hear himself, Tremblow gave no signs of having heard him. Giving up on speech Sosan gestured upwards. Emploring to be released.
“Up? Out, no, you stay there. For another three days at least. Each day we change the tank’s chromogel. You stay infection free, healthy, yes? The mixture kills bugs, plus lots of oxygen for you. So no.” Sosan settled, considering this. Three days in this liquid? That seemed like an appalling idea, he’d take the infection risk. He motioned up again. Tremblow shook his head.
“You really don’t want that, the gel also stops your pain. If we took you out now the pain would make you pass out and the infection would kill you. So, no, you stay there for three days.” He help up three long fingers for emphasis. He rapped the tank and started back out of the room. Sosan settled as he left. Three days. Long, long days of just lying in a tank. Forget infection, he was going to die of boredom.
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