Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Our breasts are sore and our balls itch.

We feel like half of our food goes towards our tumours now. The black accordion beside our bed makes our four lungs work, squeezing long and then flat, our only sense of passing time when the lights are off. All of the instruments around our bed make the room look like Christmas. They softly ping, beep, scratch, whine, record and bear witness.

We are in the grip of a sadness so total that it will last us the rest of our lives which, if the doctors and technicians are right, will be about another six days.

We raise our hand up to the button that makes more pain medication drip into the tubes and it’s exhausting. The competing muscles from two people fused together struggle and fail before flopping back down on the bed. Several medical alarms go off and then go quiet again, just like they do every time we move.

The irony is that we were in love before all this. Two cadets on a starship. Cadet Robert Jacobs and Cadet Linda Castle. Bright kids with bright futures that knew nothing about what cruel surprises fate had in store. We held hands in the corridors, had sex whenever we could, and blushed when we thought of each other.

What fools.

The transporter badly needed a resequencing, the official inquiry found. Our molecules were transposed, inverted, inverted back and then met in the middle somewhere. Normally, when this sort of thing happens, the victims die immediately or are returned to the pad intact and separate as their backup selves. In this case, not only were the safeguards dormant, we survived the melding.

The mashing of our bodies and minds together has changed us into a giant lump of flesh with arms and legs splayed out like a starfish. Our heads are mashed into one staring monstrosity. Our nervous system allows us to feel pain but we can barely move. The tumours started immediately and continue to multiply and grow. Our entwined DNA is rejecting itself but we cannot be separated.

And now we know way more about each other than we wanted to. We know that Linda did not love Robert and much as she said she did and that she had her eye on another cadet. We know that Robert had a history of sexual abuse that he never disclosed to Linda. We know that Linda was very mean to her ex-lovers. We know that Robert tortured rodents as a child. Our minds are one and the veil is down. We know so much more about each other than any human has a right do. Every insecurity, bowel movement, unfair thought, dark corner and weakness laid out like an autopsy for us both to see.

We’ve been told that our backup selves will be returned to life after we die and informed of the anomaly. This ruling is supposed to be humane. They will never be allowed to witness the abomination we’ve become. We will never be able to tell those two idiots to break up immediately. That’s the most frustrating thing about this entire experience.

We have a unity two humans have never before achieved.

We cannot wait to die.


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