Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The Forseti returned to its usual hustle and bustle a few days after Mikarik’s confrontation with the two Humans and the Nabak in the ship’s galley, and the next day the ship docked with Yshot Station on the edges of the Iastret Commonwealth, with the intent of being out of sight of both friend and foe alike. Mikarik spent all that time in his quarters. He figured that if he were to at least give the impression that he was off licking his wounds, it would give the rest of them some added satisfaction without any additional cost to him.
Still, even his thick Thorian skull could only take so much abuse before he started feeling the ill effects and he was not so stubborn that he would unequivocally refuse to see a doctor. In any case, the ship’s doctor, Ory Sufai, struck him as one of the more reasonable members of the Human species.
He picked the timing for his medical visit to coincide with the docking at Yshot Station. While the transfer here wouldn’t involve any crew boarding the station for time off or a change of scenery, the expectation being that they would only load the supplies necessary for the remainder of their journey and cast off as soon as possible, it should have made the maintenance crew, engineers and officers busy enough to pay little attention to Mikarik’s own activities. Mikarik may not have had too much pride that he would avoid heading to the medbay entirely, but that was no reason for him to be seen doing it by anyone but the doctor, and surely Humans had similar oaths of confidentiality that the Thorians’ own medical professionals took.
It was an odd sensation, being enveloped in silence after weeks of the hum that filled the ship as it skimmed along the surface subspace. Mikarik was one of the few who’d claimed that he actually felt this low vibration, a sound and feeling just above his level of perception, though a number of crewmates over the years had told him it was all in his head. Sure, everyone felt the occasional jolt when a ship was flying on sub-light thrusters. Skimming along the edge of subspace and regular space, on the other hand, was supposed to evoke nothingness – the great void before there was even a universe.
It wasn’t nothing to Mikarik, though. Then again, most people also failed to perceive the moods in the drops that powered that skimmer to begin with and he wondered if this connection he experienced is what moved into the hole left by his inability to hear the mood of his own species.
As he walked down the corridors of the Forseti towards medbay, Mikarik ran his fingers along its walls, the wood grain just out of reach of his touch, separated by a thin film of preserving plastic. He admitted that the windows were a nice touch, and surprisingly realistic for a video screen. His fellow Thorians would have likely found them tacky as any wall decorations on Thorian ships were limited to light screens meant to simulate the Thorian sun streaming in through opaque glass, while the freighters he’d been on chose the “metal coffin” aesthetic. On the Forseti, though, they were flying over some lush deep green forests, possibly on Earth, though at other times he’d recognized Mrabr and the now-pristine wilderness of Vaparozh.
When Mikarik entered the Forseti’s medbay, a round open space with six private rooms radially adjacent to it, he could see Dr. Sufai through the glass window to her tiny office whose entrance was at the far right of the main room. She had been staring intently, almost angrily, at the tablet on her desk as she twirled a pen in her hand and looked up almost at the exact moment he popped his head into the medbay. The intense expression on her face melted away, replaced by a smile that seemed to go out of its way to hide her teeth.
“Mr. Mikarik, how can I help you today?”
“‘Mikarik’ is fine.” What was it with Humans and trying to slap a label on everything? A name was a name and that should have been enough.
“Right, sorry, habit.” She stepped out of her office, wiped her palms on her shirt and extended her right hand in the customary Human greeting, which Mikarik returned.
“Come in, please,” Dr. Sufai gestured in the general direction of the patient rooms. Mikarik took a hesitant step forward as her small wave covered at least three of them. “Oh, whichever one, it doesn’t matter,” she clarified and Mikarik split the difference by choosing the middle one. “Sit, please,” Dr. Sufai waved at the cot while she herself pulled up a small rolling stool. Mikarik lowered himself on the bed, which was soft yet somehow stern, a patient bed meant to be comfortable but also easy to clean. He could hardly remember the last time he was at a doctor’s office, likely for a checkup during his last few months at the Navy, which would have put it at almost four years ago. There was something always so awkward about the process, more so when you were out of practice and even more when you couldn’t just leave the doctor behind you in their office and had to co-exist with them in closed quarters for an indefinite period of time.
“So,” Dr. Sufai was sitting on the stool, her hands in her lap, one hand holding onto the thumb of the other one, “What’s troubling you?” It was actually a trifecta that was bothering him, but Mikarik thought he’d keep to just one, which, upon later reflection, he shamefully had done to appear more gritty.
“It’s my head, actually,” he winced, though he experienced no new pain up there.
“Really? And I’d heard that Thorian skulls were practically indestructible.” She scooted her stool closer to him.
“‘Practically’ being the operative word here.” Mikarik raised his hand to pull back hair that now reached down to his brow but was normally combed back, and revealed the bruise that crept all the way up under his hairline.
“Wow.” Dr. Sufai leaned in closer, her right eye half-closed, and gently ran her fingers over the bruise, “That’s quite the disagreement you must have gotten yourself into.”
“You should’ve seen the other guys,” Mikarik said with a crooked smile.
“Mmm-hmm,” the doctor murmured, pushing back in her chair and putting her hands on her knees, “I have. How do you think I’ve heard about the sturdiness of a Thorian skull?”
“I see.” Mikarik wasn’t sure why he was suddenly so embarrassed about the incident now that he was under the doctor’s gaze, when up until a minute ago he would have worn the scuffle as a badge of pride. In any case, that smile of his was now in retreat. “How is Officer Meslina’s leg?” He asked when he found nothing else to say.
“She’ll have to wear a brace for the next week, but otherwise she should heal just fine.”
“And the other two?”
“Concussions for both, but they’ll also recover. I would say it was getting too lonely here before your fight, though it’s never good news when I’m woken up early from stasis.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Oh it’s fine. It’s what I’m here for. Now lie down for me please.”
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.