Author: Hari Navarro
I crawl through the flap in the folds of my midnight sheets and touch her again. I touch the cold stipple of her naked skin and it is not the hollow caress of dreams. I am not in that place where images scatter and reform into half-remembered fragments, this is not a dreamscape deprived of the tactile – this is real.
I cradle her, enveloping her in my arms in an embrace that has me clutching for the shifting sinew beneath her flesh as it gently detaches, molting from her frame. I hold her together. I must hold it together. I kiss her and taste her death, the crunch of scorched flesh that lines the ripped gape of her mouth.
She died speaking to me, filing a field dispatch from the desert of some fucking planet the numeric classification of which now escapes me. A number that will soon be forgotten too by those who sent her there, her massacre mediocre and but one of many.
I was the battalion surgeon, but, unlike the brave of the past who forged my profession amid the chaos of battle, I struck a more civilized stance. Boldly stepping into battle, vicariously in the form of a medi-drone, one I controlled from a deep-buttoned leather clad hell many light years from the boom and spark of war.
I had developed the diagnostic and surgical probes that lived inside the exo-armor within which she had sat in the desert and waited for the call to surge.
Impenetrable war suits that relayed vitals back to me in an instantaneous cheat of time and distance. Of course, we could have sent drone-soldiers to fight as well, but we humans we just love the crunch of boots on the ground.
So, she’s talking and I’m interrupting. It was dawn and the sun had just spilt across the endlessly undulating dunes, sucking the nights’ shadows back along the wind-carved waves that fingered their every surface. Then a sound, like the crack snap of thumb against finger…
The round hit her just below her left breast, slicing through the impenetrable and exploding next to her skin. Ripping upward the entirety of her shoulder plate erupted beneath her chin, severing her face in two.
She came to me six days after she died, I thought she a dream, one shredded from the shock that kneads behind my eyes and steals the moisture from my throat, but I could smell her blood as it soaked into the sheets. I could smell it and I smiled. I knew it was her but I didn’t reach out. I didn’t want her to scare and leave, and though the next day she was gone I knew she would return.
Her body lays still on the sand upon which she fell, forgotten, her suit still transmitting data as she rots in the sun. I watch the incoming feed every day, noticing the subtle changes as she gently breaks away.
I search for her every night, lost and tangled in the sheets. She is always there, though her skin is now stretched and purple. I hold her close and I weep as I feel her bones afloat in a sea of petrifaction ooze… Our marriage was far from perfect but she loved me… right?
She wouldn’t have come back if she didn’t love me. If she knew about what I did… she wouldn’t have come. She’d have stayed there crumpled and dead on that stained desert plane of a seven hundred and thirty-five gralloched souls.
But she came back, she came back for me.