I sat the cruise control at 80 mph as the car rolled up I-95. I remembered Celia, Nicole, Judy, and even Lindsey, with tears that made it to my chin. I remembered Cadi, and my sadness turned to laughter. Nicole’s mother was a blast. Arrested for racing a teenager after recovering from Alzheimer’s. So many lives I could have saved, and made their lives healthy and enjoyable, but vanity and wealth ruined it for the world.
I have a sister in Ohio that I haven’t seen in… a very long time. She should be about, seventy-two by now. I would love to give her the Durée but I know, that she would demand to give it to her kids, or someone in her life eventually, and there comes the problem again. Better for me to just remain like I am, dead to the world.
That evening, Sandra wanted to go to church. There was one little church on the other side of the island. It was similar to the one that she went to in Florida so she dressed conservatively and I wore a white shirt and a tie. I ran the air conditioner in the Miata and kept the windows closed to not mess up her hair. We parked in the sand lot beside the building and sat in the car watching the people go into the church. They were all carrying bibles, so we also carried ours. We walked to the door and were greeted with handshakes and smiles. “Good evening brother.” “Good evening. I shook the procession of hands and proceeded into the room. We were the only white people in the church. I looked around a little worried.
“God doesn’t see colors.” She smiled at the room full of faces watching us, took my hand, and found two seats about half way to the front. “Hello, I am reverend Thomas. I don’t think I have met you before.” I reached up and shook his hand while he and Sandra discussed histories, where we lived, and how her father was also a minister. I sat in a daze looking at the bleeding statues and wondered why they saw their savior as a tortured man with thorns piercing his head and a baby in a manger when to the best of my reading, he was a powerful and impressive archangel before he saved humankind, and would later be their global sovereign.
I snapped back to Sandra as the music started and the hands clapped in unison. There was no air conditioning in this building. It had metal louvers on two sides and a nice ocean breeze occasionally blew a paper from the benches of randomly placed books. The preacher spoke occasionally but mostly, everyone sang. Song after song with hands clapping and butts swinging.
In the end, a bowl was passed and we dropped a twenty in as we passed it on. We left the church with the rest of the group and drove slowly along the shoreline road. It was a full moon and there was no conversation in the car. Sandra was deep in thought, and so was I. I never planned to have a family. I still don’t want to have a family. I would be restricted in my travels and activities. I love spontaneous sex and now we will be dragging a baby everywhere. The thought of leaving Sandra crossed my mind, but was quickly dismissed. Then again, there will be a baby inside her contorting her tight body into a shape that may or may not be repairable. I then questioned if it could be someone else’s baby. I almost wished it was for a few reasons. One, I would have a justified exit plan, and two, it would dismiss the possibility that the Longue Duree, that resides in my body, may kill them both as it did Nicole. I realize I am being selfish, scared, groping for an exit, but deep down I know that Sandra’s morals are infinitely higher than mine, and she would not have cheated on me. “Deal with it Louis.” I said aloud.
“Yes. They have created a being; and blown the breath of life into it. It is, according to Bethany, a sentient being able to think, function, make decisions, and reproduce.”
“Louis, this is wrong. This is very wrong.”
Louis had a condo in Uruguay. He also had a farm in Uruguay.
He went to an auction, of a government research facility, and bid on an entire room of equipment, that nobody else wanted. He won, and with much expense, took it all back to Orlando to his old partner’s laboratory. This is a cut from book III, of Longue Durée, Extending Life.
Martin walked around the array of parts and wires, analyzing all the ingredients.
“So, do you know what it is?” I asked, humbly.
“Got an idea, but I’m not sure, yet. Help me move this over there, and this over there.” He pointed.
We spent the next forty-eight hours plugging things in, reading directions, checking parts to internet specs and bolting things to the walls and floors with anchor bolts. The screen came on when we plugged in the regular wall current, but we had held back on turning on the switch to the little reactor.
“I suspect that there is an overthruster here someplace?” asked Doc.
“What does it look like?” I asked.
“It’s usually triangular, with a transducer module on each point. The signals mix and create a…….”
“I FOUND IT!”
“Yes, you did! Plug it into this cradle, and we should be ready to see what the big voltage does.” We were both excited like a couple kids with their daddy’s Playboy collection.
“WAIT!” yelled Martin.
“What?”“I don’t want to die in another lab explosion. Let’s go to the hardware store.”
We went down to Ace and bought a big roll of 10 ga. wire, and a big fused switch. We interfaced the wire into the switch of the reactor and basically bypassed it to the roll of wire. We unrolled it across the floor and out onto the loading dock. We connected the switch to the end, and now, we could turn the thing on from outside. We spent another hour checking our work, and then went out on the dock.
“You flip it.” Martin said.
“No, It’s your lab!”
“It’s your fuck’n reactor!”
“Okay, SHIT!” I reached down and picked up the box. With my right hand on the lever, I stepped behind the wall. I looked into Martin’s eyes and he gave me a big smile, like we were about to die in style. I flipped the switch.
After about a half hour, and other patients getting angry from the delay, another doctor came in and went directly to Nicole’s room. She was moved to a surgical room in the back of the building, and Margie looked at me, worried.
Two hours later, an hour past quitting time, the other patients had been rescheduled for tomorrow. I sat alone in the waiting room, doing what I never do. I prayed.
Doc Dabney came through the door and sat down beside me. He was thinking of what he was about to say, and choosing his words carefully.
“Did we lose the baby, doc?” I said it to save him the stress.
“And Nicole, too.”
I broke into tears, as Doc patiently waited for me to get control. I got dizzy and felt like I may pass out.
“What happened, Doc?” I forced the words.
“She began bleeding. Something was wrong with the baby. It wasn’t normal. It aged to a point, and then just stopped. It wasn’t developing as it should have been. Her body must have sensed it somehow; and tried to reject it. The uterus had been torn from the muscle spasms; and would not coagulate. I even tried a dry pack, and it still wouldn’t stop. Her symptoms were like an abortion drug called Cytotec. She hasn’t taken anything but vitamins, has she?”
I thought of the Longue Durée. It has never been tested for childbirth. The color drained from my face, as I felt responsible for their deaths.
“No, Doc. Just the vitamins.”