|From:||Travis Cummings tonto@********.com|
|Subject:||[01/01] Summer Vacation|
|Date:||Thu, 7 Oct 1999 12:31:23 +0000|
Ahem, the Summer Vacation challenge. I think I'm slightly off target
with mine but here it is anyway. Comments, money and fame are always
Records had been broken all season. Never seen before temperatures
had smashed the old records up and down the West Coast affecting
Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle with complete disregard for
national borders. The media had been obsessing about the whole thing
since early May, when that month saw the mercury rise to levels
normally seen in the middle of June. A heat wave of epic proportions
according to the hype, which saw the death of the occasional middle
class consumer when their air conditioning failed. Never mind the
sinless hordes trying to scrape together the money for the water they
desperately needed, they weren't photogenic enough to deserve the
sympathy of the media. No it was the corporate wage slave that made
the news, the sort of people that would have died soon enough from the
stress of their meaningless jobs at another faceless corporation,
assuming of course they didn't choke on the toxic synthetics they
warmed up for dinner each night first.
Unlike the news reporters the heat didn't discriminate. Even the
corporate elite were feeling the effects of the heat. They weren't
immune and even they sweated whenever they were forced to pass through
an area without air conditioning, admittedly a rare occurrence. More
importantly it was hurting the upper echelons where it hurts most, at
the profit margin. Productivity had taken a hammering as the heat
slowly choked the city. Still, not every business was suffering
reduced profits, and in some particular circles the heat wave had been
very lucrative. The heat had successfully shortened the fuses on the
most dangerous tempers on the West Coast. There is nothing quite like
a heat wave to bring all the dirt and muck boiling to the surface.
Many people got what they deserved, while others merely suffered
injustices ranging from the insulting to the terminal. It didn't
matter much to Chris, it was all just money in the bank to him. He'd
managed to score enough successful payoffs in the early part of
summer, so now he was no longer feeling the hunger cause by poverty
and financial uncertainty. He and Tess had taken some time off,
getting away from the growing madness of the plex.
Now they were walking along an old dirt path, meandering along stuck
between a lazy river on one side, and light woods on the other. It
was still hot, but being out of the city and away from the blanket of
smog and pollution that trapped the heat meant they could enjoy the
sunshine. Well at least Tess could in her short sleeved shirt and
denim shorts. Chris had to cover up, as his chrome arm and knee
replacement heated up under the hot sun, and the first day here he'd
burnt himself by absently scratching his chest while sunbathing. It
was just another inconvenience, another little hurdle created by the
blend of man and machine.
"Over here" directed Tess as she'd dragged on his flesh arm. He
resisted for a moment, a little game of strength before he gave in and
let her win.
She led him just off the path, through the long grass, to a lone tree
sitting watch over the river. Crouching at the riverbank she cooled
her face with the water before sitting back and stretching in the
"Sit" she instructed her looming companion. "C'mon now, don't get all
tense again. Sit down, relax. There's no hurry."
Nodding and conceding a wry smile he sat down beside her, his
subconscious habit forcing him to choose the side that kept his metal
limb away from her. She took his hand, and stared out across the
river, turning her head away slightly.
"You didn't have any tremors yesterday," she said softly - a statement
of fact rather than a question.
"No, that was the first good day in a long time," he said, studying
the side of her face for a reaction.
"And you slept well, I didn't hear you wake up"
"So the Doctor was wrong?" Her voice cracked slightly, ironically a
tone he wouldn't have picked up on without his augmented hearing.
It'd been November of the previous year that he'd first noticed the
tremors. It started with the occasional twitch of his left arm,
written off as a minor inconvenience until it happened when he was
trying to throw a flash grenade. It was after that he saw the Doctor,
who performed a number of tests and came back a week later with the
news. He's been diagnosed with CNSO - critical neural system
overload, a side effect of the implants and chemical treatments he'd
taken to gain the life saving speed edge. It wasn't supposed to be
terminal unless left untreated to develop into an advanced stage,
where the damage would become not only irreversible but also fatal.
Chris didn't have the money to pay for the surgery, but he have enough
to commence a course of drugs and chemical treatments designed to
prevent further degradation of his nervous system and to suppress the
symptoms of his disease. It was a bad sign in February when he
started to see the tremors again, and the Doctor reluctantly placed
him on a stronger treatment program.
This time it was only a couple of weeks before the tremors returned
and the Doctor had bad news. The tremors would get progressively
worse until his system shutdown in approximately nine months. At that
stage the shutdown would effect his brain and his death would come
shortly after this. Now he had the money, but the Doctor had told him
it was too late. The treatment wouldn't save him now. However,
Doctor's had been wrong before, Chris knew this from bitter
experience. That and he had good news, and there was a reason he was
"Coyote spoke to me last night," he said, suppressing his laughter but
unable to control the huge grin spreading out across his face as Tess
snapped her head around to face him in. Before she could start asking
questions are scold him for not telling her earlier he continued.
"I was running with Coyote across the plains, and he turned to me and
smiled, and said that everything would be better now. I know what
you're thinking, it's been years and last time we didn't end up on
good terms but this time it was incredible. It wasn't like those
times after I got the wire, when he'd growl and snarl at me, remember,
right before that Fed-Boeing frag-up when he stopped talking to me
completely. It's going to be all better again, I'm forgiven." Chris
was speaking quickly, nearly shouting his joy to the world. He didn't
notice the world around him dim as clouds rushed across the sky
blocking out the sun, nor did he notice the wind begin to whip the
slothful waters of the river back upstream. He didn't even notice the
tears forming in his companion's eyes as he cried out his victory over
"I'm going to live!"
The was a flash of light from the distant mountain peaks as Tess threw
her arms around Chris and cried. The deep rumble of thunder reached
them as the flood of confusion awakened inside Chris.
"It's okay, don't cry. Coyote said it'd all be better now. I'm going
"You stupid man," Tess said sobbing back tears and shaking in the
chill of the wind, "That's not what he meant."
Chris' face went blank, and then his brow furrowed and he blinked,
subconsciously unable to reason his way through to the logical
"That damned Trickster told you you're going to die today."
And then the rain fell down.