Untitled Short Story
This was a stand alone story for a character I created for a forum based web story. I had originally posted this story on one of my other blogs, which I am now looking to close down and possibly merge into this one.
I used the story as back story for a character I created in City of Heroes, though that one was a bit more on the action side than the detective side.
It was the sight I never thought I would see. He was the most steadfast member of our race here. He was the one that we all looked up to for inspiration. He was the one who managed to take our exile on this alien world and turn it into something to be proud of.
Yet, here he was, casing the convenience store like a common criminal. It was obvious that he was nervous about it, committing a crime. It was obvious that he didn’t know what he was doing, for the most part. But, he did know that he had to eliminate evidence of the crime. That’s how I figured out what he was up to. It was a bit subtle, but he at least figured out that by standing near the camera, he could scramble its signal, preventing it from picking up his crime.
I decided to step in before he made any more mistakes.
“Let’s go, Ron.” He looked at me, realizing he was caught.
“Solaris,” he replied, staring at be. The look in his eyes. It wasn’t guilt at being caught. It was regret.
I could have turned him in to the police, except that he hadn’t actually committed any crime, not yet. Instead, I took him to a nearby coffee shop. We both ordered a cup of coffee, though neither of us actually needed to drink. We sat silently. I figured when he was ready, he would talk.
“I needed money,” he finally spoke.
“Ron,” I replied, “You have a job.”
“Had one. I lost it last week.”
“What happened?” Ron remained silent, clutching the cup of coffee with both hands.
“I went stage four.” I closed my eyes, realizing what had happened. “It’s hard to hold down a job when you can’t help erasing any computer you’re near.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” Stage Four. Brutal for our race. I was only stage one of the Bleed. I was diagnosed with the disease, but showed no ill effects, at least, no apparent ones. The moment I tested positive for the Bleed, I was immediately quarantined, then shipped off to this planet.
“I… I needed money to go out to Nevada.”
“You’re not…” Ron nodded.
“You don’t know what it’s like. The pain, the inability to control myself. And from what I heard from others, the alternatives are not anything I want to endure.”
“So, you’re just going to let go?”
“There’s no cure, Tempest,” Ron continued, “Other than…” Ron shivered. I knew what he meant. There were some that managed to beat the Bleed… temporarily. But it meant exchanging energy with a healthy member of our race, giving them the disease they once had. We commonly, and derisively, called them bleed feeders.
The irony of the bleed feeders was that they usually caught the disease from their victims. And here on this quarantine world, there weren’t any healthy members of our race.
“Still, do you really need to let go?”
“I’ve heard of people who went to stage five,” Ron continued, “Exploding like that doesn’t appeal to me.” Ron looked out the window, “These people shouldn’t endure that, even for solids.” I frowned, realizing that Ron had made up his mind. For him, letting go was the only option.
“You sure?” I asked. Ron silently nodded.
“I heard there’s no more pain. At stage four, it’s a lot easier to just let your energies go.” Ron frowned. It was obvious it would rather live. Who wouldn’t? He started to slide out of the booth.
“Hold on,” I said, reaching for my wallet. I pulled out a couple of hundred-dollar bills and handed them to Ron.
“You can,” I answered, “After all you were the one who helped set me up as a police officer when I first came here.” I pushed the bills towards Ron, “This doesn’t come close to making us even, but it’s a start.” Ron smiled as he took the money.
“May someone show you the same charity one day.” I smiled as I shook Ron’s hand, saddened to I would be seeing him for the last time.