by Faith H. Goble
The mysterious Lodestars that have suddenly appeared in the sky have brought about an apocalypse. Michael, who has contracted a bizarre medical condition, moves to the Palace, the indoor capital city of Birdland, a nation of genetically modified, hyper-intelligent birds. In his position of technician, things go downhill fast for both Michael and civilization.
I woke from a deep sleep as the door swung open with its usual soft hiss. In the muted light coming from the hallway, I could just make out Eden bringing in my breakfast. She was wearing a soft pink smock that clung to her shapely figure, and she smelled of lilacs this morning. I’d noticed that she always smelled like flowers, sometimes lilacs but usually roses or jasmine. When I was with her, I was reminded of the fresh sweetness of the fragrant atrium on L1.
“Is it six already?” I smiled at Eden, yawned, and looked up through the thick glass at the black sky with its sprinkling of crystalline stars.
“Not quite. I came in a little early so we could talk.” She handed me a glass of grape juice and helped me to sit up, anticipating the dizziness that had recently started to overcome me every morning. “I would’ve let you sleep; it’s just that I’ve got to cover for some people who didn’t come in today. I won’t have much time later.” She hitched herself up and sat down on the edge of the bed by my legs.
“I still don’t understand why they won’t let me bring you a thicker pillow and another blanket for daytime.” She looked across the room at the gurney that I was forced to rest on during the day. “I’ve never heard of allergies that bad.”
“No, I haven’t either. And anyway, I don’t really feel any better than I did before.” I moved my legs to the side so Eden would have more room, enjoying the soft warmth of her body against me.
“What’s this about you’re having to cover for people out sick?” I sounded a bit querulous; Dr. Steve had told me that Eden was to be exclusively my nurse. Maybe I was being petty and unreasonable, but she was the only bright spot in my day. I felt weak and vulnerable — even more alone and sick — knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see her as often.
“Oh, they’re not sick. They’re just not coming in.” She patted my leg. “It’s because of Dr. Steve’s latest project. The birds love this new thing of his, this AV, and they’re staying home to watch it. A lot of the 5F staff are taking advantage of their supervisors’ absences. They’re skipping work too.”
“His latest project?” Just how many projects does Steve have? I knew the birds were brilliant, but I had come to believe that Dr. Steve was a truly gifted genius, even for a bird. I remembered the conversation I’d overheard between him and the mighty Admiral Coop as they’d stood outside my door months ago. “What exactly is AV?” I asked.
“It’s Avi-Vision — television like I remember watching when I was a little girl. You must’ve watched it too when you were a kid. A few years ago, the birds starting producing the sets again.” Eden stretched and yawned. “Excuuuse me! I stayed up late watching AV — me and the rest of the city.
“First there were a few programs that nobody watched much: This Old Nest, The Early Bird Report, Nite Owl News, Molting Mario. All news or educational stuff. But now, there’s all kinds of great shows that are on all the time — well, except at night and for an hour around lunchtime.” Her blue eyes sparkled. “And now they’ve got people in them.”
* * *
To be continued...
Copyright © 2011 by Faith H. Goble