Here’s part 2 of Mother’s Milk. I also recommend going back and rereading part 1, as I made some corrections. The lead character is now 13, not 8.
For the next two weeks, life was uneventful upon the ship. I tried to hide from the pain of losing loved ones back home, as well as my home, by watching performances in the theaters, and watching movies and shows from the monitor in my room. When I wasn’t rotting my brain away with media, I was hanging out in the garden. Under the circumstances, things were going as well as they could. I mean, at least I had my remaining family.
Then the accident happened.
One of the programmers aboard the ship went mad and hacked into one of the security robots. Instead of a security bot protecting us from potential psychos, we had a monster spinning around on wheels, firing lasers from its four slot canon. This happened when many of us were dining in the cafeteria. Everybody ducked for cover, hiding under tables and behind the counters. Some even tried to crawl in the cabinets. I can never forget cowering with my mom and my sister underneath one of the cabinet drawers. We had to toss out bowls, plates, and pans to fit in. As we huddled together like frightened kittens, I couldn’t help but think about those eyes. They burned red like fire but were as cold as the metal shell that they resided in.
Sitting not far from us was another woman, crying. Even in the darkness of the cabinet I could make her features out clearly. She had striking curly, blond hair and light blue eyes. She was a woman I would grow to hate.
“What’s wrong?” my mom asked her.
“I can’t find my daughter,” the woman said. “I told her to stay close to me, but she’s lost out there somewhere.”
“What does she look like?”
The woman brought out a tablet and pressed a button on it, causing a small holographic image of her daughter to appear. The woman tried not to cry but she lost it. “She means the world to me. She’s the only family I have left. I’m so frightened.”
“Calm down,” shushed my mom. The electronic buzz of the security bot could be heard as it wheeled closer to the cabinet we were hiding under.
When the security bot wheeled away, the woman mustered up courage that she had lost previously. “I’m going to save my daughter or die trying,” she said defiantly. That would have been well and good had she not slipped on the slick floor where wine was spilled from a bottle blasted from a laser. She was out cold.
This was the moment I can pinpoint when my life fell apart.
“I need you two to stay here,” my mom told the both us. “Takeshi,” she directed her attention to me, “whatever happens I need you to look after your sister.”
We implored her to stay but to no avail. It’s funny how time is relative. It took her only a couple of minutes to find the woman’s daughter cowering under one of the tables, but to my sister and me it felt like an eternity. When my mom found the girl the security robot had its four barreled blaster aimed at her. There is no doubt that she would have been killed had not my mom grabbed the girl and took the blast to her back instead.
The guards came right after my mom was shot, and blasted the robot into pieces. There arrival was too late, as twenty people had been killed. A guard found Nabiki and I and asked if were okay. We were anything but okay.
Later on there was a court-martial for the rogue programmer. He had done what he had done out of madness of the idea of losing his home back on earth and having to be stuck for years in space. He had overridden the computer system, making it hard for the other programmers to break the code in time. He was given the death penalty by being shot out of the airlock into the vacuum of space.
As for my sister and I, we were ushered back to our room where a few of the guards and a few of the staff stayed by our side to comfort us. There comfort couldn’t help. It was bad enough that we had lost our dad a year ago. To lose our mom was beyond devastating.
That night, after the guards and the staff left us, I slept with my little sister by my side. I tried to stay strong while she cried herself to sleep on my shoulder. They say that time heals all wounds, but some wounds are just too deep. As the weeks passed, I tried to be strong for my sister, but I couldn’t. I had lost my appetite, and I was short with her when she got on my nerves. I especially hated the daughter of that woman my mom had saved. It was her carelessness that had killed my mom. I don’t care that her mom was one of the lead engineers on the ship. My mom shouldn’t have had to stick her neck out for her clumsy daughter. I would often see her daughter because she would try to make amends with me. The first time I met her was a couple days later in the gardens. I was lying down, looking up at the branches of the trees and the vastness of space.
“Hi,” she said softly. “I am sorry about your mom. Are you okay?”
“Do I look like I’m okay!” I shot back at her. “Because of your stupidity, my mom is gone.”
“I know and I’m sorry,” her mouth quivered like she was about to cry.
She was a girl of about my age, with the same blond hair as her mother, as well as bright blue eyes. Of course she didn’t die. She was too pretty to die.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice full of remorse. “If I could rewind time I would. I know your mom didn’t deserve to die. I wish I could make it all up somehow.”
“You can make it all up by getting out of my face,” I told her, hotly.
She left me to my anger, and I swear that I heard her crying as she ran off. It served her right.
My mood didn’t improve at all as the days went by. I snapped at the kitchen staff, at people who bumped into me, and I kicked cleaning robots I found roaming the ship. I hated everyone and the ship I was stuck on. Worse, I took this out on my sister.
“Will we ever see mom again?” Nabiki asked, timidly, one evening.
“I don’t know! Why do you keep bothering me? Just leave me alone!” I shouted at her in exasperation, making her sob.
I just couldn’t be a father figure to her. I didn’t have the strength.
One day, Captain Fernandez asked to speak with me. I thought he was going to shoot me out the airlock like he did the deranged psychopath who was the source of my grief. Instead the Captain smiled at me warmly as he offered me to take a seat in the cockpit.
“I understand your frustration” he cut to the chase. “You miss your mom. What would you say if I told that she is still alive?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. “She can’t be. She got a hole blown into her back.”
“Yes, but doctors were able to repair her heart,” he reassured me. “She will take a while to heal, but our doctors are hopeful.”
“Why wasn’t I told this?”
“We didn’t want to get your hopes up initially. But she is healing to such an extent that not only do we know that she is going to pull through but that she will be free to return to you in just two more days, we’re thinking.”
“Can I see her?” I nearly shouted, unable to contain my joy.
“Not yet,” he said. “She’s slowly regaining consciousness. She needs her rest.”
Back in my quarters, I told Nabiki the good news. The two of us danced around and laughed joyfully. Nothing could hamper my good spirits. Or so I thought.
Sure enough, two days later my mom returned to us. The door slip open and she was there, smiling. My sister and I rushed over to her, knocking her over as we landed in her arms. This didn’t faze any of us. My joy in particular was so full. All was right again. It was as if the universe had fixed its cruel mistake. My mom, sister, and I cuddling together on the floor and laughed.
“We missed you so much,” Nabiki said.
“Me too,” I agreed with the understatement of the year.
“I am so happy that you two, my treasures, are safe,” said my mom.
At first all seemed perfect. Maybe that was the problem. It all felt a little bit too perfect. I’m not lying when I say that she looked like my mother, felt like my mother, and seemed to have all her memories intact. We talked about what we missed back home, about old friends and acquaintances, and all of our experiences growing up. And yet something didn’t seem right about her. Maybe it was that her memory was a little too perfect. I don’t know. Regardless, it wasn’t long until the illusion, as well as my newfound happiness, came crashing down fast.
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