work in progress
A jagged, liver-colored scar cleaved Yrmela’s cheek from her ear to the corner of her mouth. It was the worst of the scars and Sybil Cane was saving it up for something big, something special, and she could think of no other occasion that would be more appropriate. It was like laying away a bottle of wine when it is too young to drink. When do you open it? At the moment it is mature? At it’s peak?
She could tell by the way Yrmela winced every time she mentioned Phaedra that she was angry, more angry than she had ever seen her. That Yrmela despised the Admiral did not prevent her from being possessive, because possessiveness, clinging, jealousy were the emotions of weak sad creatures. Yrmela could not help but be dependent in spirit as well as circumstance. Alas, mused Sybil Cane, the poor girl could fuck me up. The simplest thing would be to vent her but she couldn’t bring herself to do that yet. It was unnecessary. She would placate Yrmela as she always had, one scar at a time.
She examined the scar through a magnifying glass. The healthy skin cells were like a jigsaw puzzle of identical pieces. Cutting across it was a swath of thick, irregular tissue. She switched to the screen and a microscopic scan and got to work numbing it. “You don’t feel anything, do you?” she asked. Yrmela shook her head. “You gotta say it. Recorder is running. Do you feel anything?”
“Good. You don’t always numb up easily. Let’s have a look here. Hmm. At this level of magnification it’s a fireworks show.” She got to a molecular view, then removed the scar tissue cell by cell. She irrigated the wound and debrided it with a cryostick until it was clean. Then she packed it with freshly cloned cells and applied a Bondaid. “There. What was that, a half hour of your life? Tomorrow, we’ll take off the Bondaid and put the RenewGel on. You’ll have a brand new face practically. Now run along and take the rest of the day. Go for a walk. Watch a game show.”
Yrmela touched the Bondaid and smiled. “Thank you, Sire. I am most grateful.” Tears came into her eyes.
Embarrassed for her, Sybil Cane said icily, “Now go on. Have a good day. Good bye.”
Her office was stark and made her feel alone. She spent so many hours here drinking, sucking at the sore that would not heal, the ulcer of her exile. There was the desk and her chair. She had sat at that desk in that chair for a third of her life. There was no end in sight. Retirement for her would not be an Adirondack chair in rural New Hampshire as it had been for her Sire and Grand Sire.
There was Yrmela’s desk, with its edged stack of papers in the middle. By day she could laugh at her but in the long hours of night the desk was a rebuke. How was she different than a common prisoner, a murderer? She could come and go freely, true. She could dine in the elite cafeterias, attend lectures and cocktail parties. But in the end she was not free. She who had been bred for icy mountain air served as a donkey to the Constellations End. She looked at the table with the coffee maker and toaster and thought she might as well make coffee and toast for that mousy little cunt Yrmela. Yrmela! Talk about rebukes. Her teary grateful eyes screamed fuck you. The weak hammered down the powerful with resentment, guilt and sorrow. Why don’t I hang myself from the coat tree?she wondered. She would be free then, retired. Retired to nothing, annihilated without reason, become as all was and would be. This minor, temporary wiggle in oblivion that was her only possession, her life, deprived for 40 more years of progeny, and even then cloning was in doubt, it wasn’t done in space. But she could do it of course, everything she needed lay at hand except for the authority. She lacked authority. Well not in everything. She had the auctoritee to thwart the mechanical disposal of humans into deep space if it served her purpose. And she had the power to vent them. She probably vented a thousand a year. Not personally. On her medical order. It was her job to judge fitness to work and prospect of survival.
So the baby would go to Vesuvius, but where would 57607 go? It drove her nuts not knowing what 57607 was worth, what family she come from, whose bastard she was. Had she attended garden parties and Birth Night Celebrations? Attended the opera in the white and blue pinafore dress and sailor cap? What her conservative Sire forced her to wear in Boston, lobster afterwards on gaudy gold plates. God how Cane hated it, even as a child all she wanted to do was bust out and do something exciting. She insisted on medical school—a shame on her family—but to hell with them. If she could be a doctor she could travel. She imagined Africa, Asia, Europe. She would live in New York in a glass tower and work for Monozone Inc. And that did happen. She attended Albert Einstein in the Bronx and lived in a Manhattan high rise over the East River wall. She bought a shiny black hovercraft with a red stripe and flew it to school each day, stepping out in pearls and pumps, parking with the surgeons. And after graduation, she worked for Monozone.
Her family all but disowned her. Her Consort Sire was the Junior Senator from New Hampshire. He was most disappointed. As if he ever did anything but snore in the UN! She wasn’t going to follow her Sire into the Navy either. But about that she had been wrong. The Older Sybil Cane made it quite clear. No military, no financial support. She entered the Navy after graduation as a Ship’s Surgeon, and was promoted steadily in her first few years until she attained the exalted, and overrated rank of Admiral. The navy has an army of admirals! It’s like being an Executive Producer on a film. Very impressive. She marched around in her big hat during ceremonies but the rest of the time she sat below deck treating gonorrhea and e coli infections, drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, emergency appendectomies. Anything can happen at sea. She had even heard of one case of rabies, when unbeknownst to the crew a rabid raccoon crawled aboard one afternoon and fled below deck, eventually hiding in the galley, where it lay for a week behind sacks of potatoes and onions, until it was disturbed by the cook, whom it charged and bit on the face as he wrestled it to the ground. Someone had the presence of mind to shoot the raccoon, but they had no vaccine on board, never anticipating the need. Eventually everyone got the disease and they hunted each other to death.
She did see the world, through a fucking porthole. In the intense, moldy boredom of a floating circus they call a ship she found her way to illegal ass. At that time she preferred the fellas to the gals. She’d eaten enough pussy at Exeter for a lifetime. She was just discovering the pleasure of a good fuck with a good old fashioned dick. Boom boom boom. Grind away. They were young men, they lacked skill but their enthusiasm was enough, she could always masturbate while the piledrive did its thing, deep thrusting and hard rubbing. Her asshole would catch fire. “Harder!” she liked to scream and the sailors complied. God what an idiot. She had been warned. The first time because a sailor was stupid enough to share details of their adventures with his bunkmates, and even showed around a picture he had taken without her knowledge (that didn’t matter, she would have taken it herself, she had high bossy tits and was proud of them, she knew all she had to do was let one nipple swing into a sailor’s face and he was done, men, simple men!) while the men wanked. It was not awful the thought of all those strapping sea worthy boys spewing spunk to her image. But her direct CO felt differently and hauled her onto the carpet, put her in a headlock and whispered in her ear, if you need to fuck wait till we get to port like everyone else. Understand? The next person fucking you will be me! The commander of the carrier group was the Ruler Renee, and she didn’t put up with violations of protocol. Right, as if everyone didn’t know that the Ruler Renee was screwing her young Lieutenants. Oh how those women sighed in the lounge. They weren’t shy! After one year at sea she knew more about the Ruler’s genital architecture than if she’d been her patient. Cane just had the regrettable bias towards the lingam, something the harridans of the Navy couldn’t deal with. She had to ween herself off dick. Balls below deck were blue. She found that females, boring, were harder to seduce but easier to maintain. Then, a few months later, Admiral Mazda Cyaxares arrived in pomp, gilded helicopter, red carpet, turkey and Beaujolais. The feast beneath their belts, light dancing commenced and the rum kegs were opened. Opportunities to celebrate in an unrestricted matter were rare and she was young. She danced with her girls, one after the other, and drank too much. A lesson hard to learn, one wasted on her now that no one cared how drunk she got. She could drink herself to death and they’d be happy. They’d be happy if she did anything but live. So live she would do! She would smash her fist into their order. All they could do was vent her, and this far from Earth, at this distance she’d be dead immediately, frozen solid. The worst was in Earth’s orbit where it is sometimes 50 degrees Fahrenheit! They did not tell you that. It could take 5 minutes to suffocate. You wouldn’t even be cold.
But it was the floating around forever that upset people. Space mummies. Just like the movies. They used to fall to Earth, burn up in the atmosphere. People were so disturbed by that, by the pictures of Earth’s orbit litered with vented bodies. Now they wait. You won’t be vented in orbit anywhere. There was enough junk circling the planets. But they had many ways to kill you at sea, all worse. Drowning was too good. Unless it was in acid. She had heard that acid had been banned but the latest news was that Everest had brought it back. News. All news was old by the time they got it. That was one of the things about new prisoners, they were up to date on Earth business.
If 57607 did grow up in a Ruler family she’d be a pain to crack. They’d have trained her hard not to break ranks. Of course she had been caught. She was there, someone knew about her. The thing to do was make her complicit, suture her into things. Put her in charge, give her some goosebumps. She will reveal herself. Should she fix the place up a little, make it more attractive? If they watched tv together, would they sit in chairs? She very much wanted to spend the night with 57607 watching tv in bed. But it would be near impossible to bring her back to her room undetected. She considered removing the picture that concealed the peephole but decided against it. All in good time.