A Matter of Faces
M/M Science Fiction
An ESTO Universe Short Story
A teensy bit of background: Picture a batch of writer friends wanting to do an antho together. We met in a cabin, so we agreed on a cabin theme. Angel: But I don't write contemporary *mini sulk* Freddy: So write a scifi cabin story. *said in challenge-I-dare-you mode*
The odder the challenge, the more likely I'll accept.
Data privateer Rhodi Mansour crash lands on a barely habitable moon where he's found by a research scientist who refuses to show his face.
A little snippet:
Rhodi woke to a sea of pain. His eyelids wouldn't open all the way, as if someone had punched his lights out. Both of them. He was… where? Not outside. His lungs struggled, but he pulled in warm, fully oxygenated air. He lay half-reclined on a bed, the head presumably raised to help him breathe. His clothes had vanished and he fought a moment's panic. All right, so he didn't have immediate control of the data chip but it would be safe enough in its hidden pocket. Turning his head hurt like a bitch and showed him a Spartan room with a bank of monitors lining one wall, bits and pieces of equipment strewn about on counters as if an indoor tornado had struck.
"Hrgh?" Oh, damn. The attempt at "hello?" had come out a guttural moan. His throat felt swollen, too. Every freaking thing felt swollen, his fingers thick and half-numb, his lips puffed as if he suffered from severe dehydration. What the fuck was going on?
"Oh. You're awake."
The deep voice came from somewhere on his right, though it sounded oddly muffled. A shape materialized from the corner of his vision to stand beside him, a tall, broad-shouldered man with a surgical mask and cap obscuring most of his face. The gray eyes were intelligent and kind, though, so Rhodi told his startled heart to settle down. Probably a doctor…
"Try to stay still if you can. This part of the disease process is the most dangerous. If we can get you through the next sleep cycle, your chances improve exponentially."
Sure sounds like a doctor. "Drgh?"
"Terribly sorry. You have questions. I'm going about this all wrong. Julie always said I had faulty social skills." The man perched on the edge of the bed, facing him. "I'm Gel."