Author : Lliir

Mary Ellen Gratcke had never contemplated murder before. She’d never felt so betrayed, helpless, and naked before, either. A mere thought, a flip of a switch, and the killing began. The fluid levels in the special bath that protected her betrayer from the dangers of hyperspace flight ebbed, then began plunging.



She reflected long and bitterly on the deception that had rendered her nothing more than a brain in nourishing liquid, navigating a ship. So much for the Fountain of Youth. So much for saving her grandson, Frank.

“C’mon, Grandma! Faster!” Perpetual energy is amply manifest in small children, and though she’d put up a good fight, failing knees and lungs never let her keep up with the four year old whenever he came to visit. When she’d collapse into her chair, Frank would clamber onto her lap, nestle his head under her chin, and gently stroke her face.

“It’s okay, Grandma,” he’d say. “I have to take naps sometimes, too.”


“Grandma,” Frank had said, as he lie in that hospital bed, “I hope I live to be as old as you.”

Mary Ellen just chuckled, though her daughter and son-in-law had blanched.

“I hope you live to be even older, Sweetheart,” and she had clutched his tiny, shriveling hand. In her dying heart she whispered, “I hope you live to see next year.”

Doctor Lawton had given Frank seven months unless he could get Tranenamine, a rare medication that Lawton hadn’t been able to find anywhere within eighty parsecs–at least a year’s journey by the fastest ships Mary Ellen knew of.


“Mrs. Gratcke?” that calm voice of wickedness had said.


“How would you like to cheat death? You and your grandson?”

Too good to be true, but… “I’m listening.”


“I’ll try it first,” she’d told the liar. “To see if it’s safe for him.”


She hadn’t had the chance to see Frank a final time before the procedure. And now, she had no eyes to behold him anyway.

“Grandma,” he had whispered, half-coughing, the day before the liar came.

“Yes, Sweetheart?”

“They told me in church today that I’d go to Heaven. Will you come play with me when you get to Heaven?”

She could only turn away and hide the tears.


She wanted to smile at the victory she’d win for justice by ridding the universe of an awful man.



“Yes, Sweetheart,” she’d choked.

“They told me in church today ‘Thou shalt not kill.'”

In the now, Mary Ellen’s conscious gasped. The switch was reset. Her captor lived.


Three days later, Robert Choisse congratulated himself on his fastest delivery run ever–six months round trip for that toure– grateful for the cerebral navigation system that sped his flight. He regretted that the system had gone haywire, but pull a plug, problem solved.

“Thanks for your business, Mrs. Homan,” he said as a lady tearfully signed for the shipment of Tranenamine, “Give my regards to the little guy.”

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