[OC] The Space Monster Part 4: Dr. Jekyll and Miss. Hyde
Mandatory Author Blurb: Well that was a very shitty week for me. I guess I'm going to continue being busier than I was before at least until August, but hopefully not to the same extent. In other news, this story is now somewhere North of 8000 words, making it the longest thing, fiction or otherwise, that I have written thus far. And in completely unrelated news, my home and native land turned 150 today. An occasion I celebrated by… sitting in the basement with only screens for company. Hmm. I seem to do that a lot, maybe I should change things up. It probably wouldn't hurt to go to the gym, or for a walk in the woods. Ahh, but it looks like it might rain, and there's a new deathworlders chapter, my favourite youtube channels have posted some new videos. No…must resist temptation, don't want to develop back problems and aching joints in my 20s, that would suck, ahh but I do have to do this bloody math though (Integral calculus is of the devil I tell ya. No human could come up with something so twisted, clearly the Prince of Darkness himself must have made it so as to instill terror and confusion among mortals). Ok. Fine. but once the math is done, Oooh! Steam summer sales! I guess its a vampire potato life for me…
So happy birthday Canada. I would stand on guard for thee, but this couch is too damn comfortable.
Well, enough of that, on with the show (or online short story, whatever)
The Flying Garbage Heap
She was dimly aware of the alarm going off in the ship, and the automated voice rambling on about dangerous contamination of something or other, and some sort of countermeasure being deployed to stop it. None of that was really important to her at that moment, as her mind was much more focused on the pain that seemed to be radiating from every single cell in her body. She was no stranger to injury, but whenever she had broken something in the past a trip to the hospital was only some minutes away. Out here she would have to deal with everything by herself. Kaarrl had tried to help, he really did, but he had all the strength of a wounded sparrow and so the most he could do was get some cloths that could be used for bandages. Not only did she have to apply those bandages herself, she had to set all of the broken bones, and relocate her arm, and that fucking hurt like all hell. What made matters worse was that the entirety of Patricia's knowledge of medicine came from dubious scenes in fictional works, and occasionally checking the internet to see what kind of cancer this or that weird ache was symptomatic of. In other words, the chance that she screwed something up in the process of attending to her wounds was pretty damn close to 100%. She didn’t bother moving after everything was done, her body was telling her in no uncertain terms to lie down and rest, and she usually trusted her instincts with that sort of thing. Kaarrl didn't seem to be moving much either for that matter, she supposed they were eventually going to have to get up and get back into the business of staying alive in space, but not right now.
At some point she fell asleep, and she remained in a nearly comatose state for what must have been 12 hours or more, though she couldn't be sure without any legible clocks onboard. The pain appeared to be mostly gone, but when she tried to get up it all came back So I guess I get yet another day of rest. Yay? Kaarrl had been generous enough to give her some ration packs from the pod, tough and tasteless things which she forced herself to eat.
This little act of kindness on his part only made her feel even worse, he wasn't exactly in good health either, and that was mostly her fault. That was one of the big problems associated with having to lie still for the whole day, an idle body inevitably led to a wandering mind, and a lot of crazy shit had happened over the last couple of days. She had nearly died several times over the course of 48 hours, and it seemed her mind decided it would be a good idea to keep imagining, in all the gory details, the ways she could have kicked the bucket, as always, you are such a useful organ, brain… However, it was hardly the worst of the terrible things her treacherous brain decided to burden her with. That dubious honor already belonged to the experience of constantly reliving of the final moments of her fight with the Corsair.
Patricia had always thought of herself as being deeply averse to violence. She had always been polite and deferential in that stereotypically Canadian way, She voted for the most anti-war candidate in every election, she attended protests against violence of all sorts when she could, and she had never held anything but contempt for those fools who thought they could change society through the barrel of a gun. So if pacifism is such an integral part of my personality, where the hell did all of THAT come from!? Whenever her mind fixated on those last few moments of the fight, one detail that always stood out was the fact that she enjoyed it. She'd never be able to forget the satisfaction she felt as she watched its life drain from its monstrous face. Even now, she didn't feel bad about what she had done, she had actually tried to feel guilty, but couldn't, and that scared her. It was just as bad, if not worse than repeatedly imagining her own death, as it brought into question her entire identity. After all, only serial killers and cartoon villains are supposed to enjoy killing other beings, that was not a thing for ordinary decent people. Am I actually a psychopathic killer at heart? Have I just been repressing my true nature all this time!? Bah, perish the thought! Much too uncomfortable…
The next few days were basically indistinguishable from one another. Neither She nor Kaarrl bothered with anything but the bare minimum of movement, being essentially bedridden was useful for healing injuries, but not for containing the helpful stream of advice and encouragement from that most useful organ, and ration packs were just as tough and tasteless as ever. The monotony was only broken once the stench became unbearable, forcing Kaarrl and herself to address the elephant in the room. "Is there a storage pod or something we can put this in? I'll go mad if I have to live in this stench for a second longer." Said Patricia.
"Storage? I thought we were going to dump it into space." Kaarrl said. "Why the hell would we do that!? You yourself said that nobody knows anything about Corsairs, so wouldn't a mostly intact specimen be invaluable?" Patriciia said in response.
"Yes." Agreed Kaarrl, "and that is exactly why, as soon as they find out about it, either some thugs working for one of the big companies will make us an offer we can't refuse, or even worse, the government will take all of it, saying something about Eminent domain this, or national security that. By the Accursed Plains, they'd probably take my ship as well, my business is in a legal grey area, and I'm not rich enough to afford good lawyers!"
Patricia thought that he might be over-exaggerating the situation a bit, but given her own lack of experience in the galaxy, she couldn't be sure, so she decided to go after the other problem with his argument. "That might just be the most selfish sentiment I've ever heard! We can bring critical information to save lives all over the galaxy, and your concerned about the fucking profit margins!?"
Kaarrl instinctively recoiled, the animal brain having told him to back away from the angry creature that could easily tear him limb from limb. However, his conscious mind was not so easily cowed. "And how do you think any of this would help anyone again? So far as I can tell, the only thing we've learned here is that Corsairs are exactly as dangerous as everyone thought, and the only to stand a chance against them is to bring a monster of your own! Seeing as you’re the only such monster I've ever encountered, I don’t think that's going to be helping anyone."
"Maybe they could find some weakness to exploit from what we have here, we don't know." Patricia retorted.
"Or maybe those psychotic [fucks] will launch a campaign of galactic terror in response to discovery of that weakness, or even just the news that someone survived one of their attacks, we don't know that either." Kaarrl said.
That last bit caused her to pause and think for a second, before dismissing it as fear mongering and hyperbolic speculation like all the rest of his arguments, and she was about to say as such when Kaarrl decided to continue. "and I haven't even got to what will happen to you. If we bring an intact corsair ship, and the dead body as well, the whole story will inevitably be leaked. You technically committed assault, you see, and that would be big trouble for any being, but for you… I'm guessing that you've only met others of your own kind, yes? I guess I should fill you in on what the rest of the galaxy thinks then. In short, to everyone else, you look like the thing that their nightmares have nightmares about. I still see you that way, and I've gotten to know you a little bit as a sentient being. Now imagine what you will look like to the public, who only gets to know a few pictures and some hyperbolic statements churned out by sensationalist corporate news media, or clickbait driven gal-net cesspools! You'd be lucky if you just got away with a life sentence…"
"Ok, sure, fine. You seem to be really insistent about this, and I guess I don't know enough about the galaxy to really argue with you on this stuff… But I just have to ask, what's stopping you from suing me anyways? Your right that I committed assault. Surely it would be to your benefit to go to the courts, especially if their as bad as you say?"
"Not really." Kaarrl replied. "I thought about it for a while, and I decided that a lawsuit would be too [bloody] expensive and time consuming to be worth it. And besides, in light of recent events, I think it would be more useful to have a being with your… unique skills in my employ, and for that the threat of a lawsuit would be more useful than the real thing, yes."
"So…your blackmailing me?" Patricia said. "I guess you could call it blackmail, or extortion, or… Whatever one you think applies in this situation, but I prefer to think of it as an honest trade. You see, I get to have your services at my disposal, and in exchange, you don't get sentenced to vivisection." Kaarrl deadpanned.
"Oh alright." Patricia said, "but only on the condition that it's temporary, and you don't ask me to do anything unreasonable. Oh, and if you abuse your position in any way, I will rip your spine out. Don't of it as extortion though, it's a legitimate business arrangement, you give me the promise of a fair deal, and in exchange I allow you to keep all of your remaining bones." At that last bit she broke out into a grin that could be described as something between the 'feral' and the 'shit eating' variety.
"Good, good. Now be a dear and get that putrid thing into the airlock [ASAP], I need to go and salvage what I can from its ship." Said Kaarrl. "Me? on my own? That thing has to weigh 200 pounds!" Patricia complained. "Exaclty. So which of us do you think is more capable of moving that kind of mass?" Kaarrl said.
"urgh, fine." I really hope he doesn't catch on to my bluff on the spine thing she thought. I wouldn't be able to stomach following through on a threat like that…Or would I? I really don't know anymore.