Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Mareck’s Sensei had spent countless hours sitting in front of his bonsai tree, studying it, almost communing with it, and occasionally making an almost imperceptible cut.
For years, Mareck thought the old man was crazy.
The sun, having warmed the other side of the earth, was creeping up on the horizon as Mareck returned to the sprawling expanse of stacked and cantilevered shipping containers that he called home.
A warm envelope of soft light followed him from the garage, through the hallways and down the stairs into the basement, leading him with a gentle glow and dissolving into shadows behind him.
In the darkness a whirring disk, sensing the dirt and blood he was trailing behind him, dutifully scrubbed the slate floor back to gleaming, hovering just out of view as its master limped and grunted his way through the house.
The deepest room housed Mareck’s laboratory, and his recovery room, and on entry he began an almost ritualistic deconstruction.
The space was an eclectic hybrid of stone, and bamboo, of stainless steel and ceramic. He removed his clothing, tossing the items into a chute in the corner that whisked them away to be cleaned. Any damage to the fabric would be repaired automatically.
The thin armor suit came off next, its microfibre base-layer relaxing from a skin-tight fit to baggy elastic, allowing him to slide it off his shoulders for it to drop to the floor around his ankles.
The damage to the shoulder and thigh plating was extensive, and would require careful repair.
But not tonight.
In the middle of the room stretched a coffin sized transparent cylinder, hinged on one side, and it was into this that Mareck crawled, the gashes in his thigh and upper body now leaking fluid freely.
Once inside, the lid closed and the unit sealed. There was a moment as the headpiece aligned, and the interface handshaking completed, and then he uplifted into the house itself, the sensation of limitless freedom replacing the throbbing wounds and aching muscles.
His point of view changed from looking up through the glass towards the ceiling, to looking down through the glass at his now sleeping body, its heart-rate slowing as the tank filled with artificial amniotic fluid.
The point of detachment used to unsettle him, but this had become second nature now, he was as much at home in the house as in his own flesh and blood.
Ambient music filled the empty spaces in his consciousness, as the doors and windows all sealed metal-shutter tight for the duration of this recovery.
He would spend countless hours now above and inside his own body, studying it, almost communing with it, reaching inside with the most delicate of tools to repair blood vessels, to neuroglue severed nerve bundles and stitch together muscle and skin.
Anyone who could see him would surely think he was crazy.