Dr Carlson looked up wearily as the last patient of the day came in. She was a new patient, Emily Mitte-Kunagi. He noticed that her body language and her clothes were aimed at not drawing attention to herself. It worked until she sat down, removed her darkly tinted wrap-around glasses and looked him in the eyes. Her eyes were a deep indigo, with flecks of silver. That simply wasn’t possible; he had read that they were now extinct. Yet here she sat, living proof that at least one Vaata remained.
She cocked her head at him, intrigued:
– I sense no fear in you. That is unusual.
– Are you always met with fear?
– Yes, with fear, terror even, hatred, anger, revulsion… not usually with simple curiosity.
– Well, psychologists are ultimately just curious observers.
She closed her eyes for a moment:
– Oh! You are ill and… dying. I thought the Kalevi Empire had eradicated all disease?
– Well, all apart from the Super Bugs we created by living in such sterile environments. Even then, we can usually be vaccinated against them. I was the one in a million for whom the vaccine did not work. Haigus B is untreatable. I may be almost symptom-free for a year or two, but then it will begin to affect all major organs. Death will be slow and not kind… But what brings you here today?
– Loneliness. It is also a slow and unkind death.
For the next hour, she talked of what it felt like to be the last one left, to always be running and hiding, to have no one and nothing to rely on. She had searched through several galaxies but had found no other survivors of the Tapma Cleansings, as they were now called. In times of war, Vaata oracles had been greatly valued. They had allied themselves with humanity during the Vooras Invasion. But in times of peace, humans had turned against the Vaata, afraid of their “sight”. Emily explained that the popular misconception that the Vaata could read all your thoughts had led to their annihilation.
– You cannot read thoughts?
– No, it is more like sense impressions of your future. As some are of only a few minutes ahead, it can feel as if we are mind readers.
– I had planned to kill you at the end of our appointment and then myself. I did not want to die as I have been living for the past few decades: helpless, hunted and completely alone.
Dr. Carlson, feeling oddly calm and detached, remained silent. Emily continued:
– I am considering an alternative. I could take you to the edges of the known universe and show you wonders you cannot imagine. In exchange for your companionship, I can promise you a kinder death when the time comes. And I can promise you that I will be with you on that final journey.
Dr. Carlson laughed, feeling almost euphoric:
– Why not? But if we are to be traveling companions for a while, we need to introduce ourselves properly.
Holding out his hand, he said as he shook her hand:
– Hello Emily. My name is Ivan.
– Hello Ivan. My name is actually Saar Valge.
– Perhaps we could record all your memories on our travels, Saar, so that something remains of the Vaata?
Ivan stood and offered Saar his arm. As they left the room, his voice commands erased all recordings of the last hour and turned off the lights.