Author: Ken Carlson

The pain in his side was a steady series of jabs. Alone it wasn’t enough to knock him down; no, the bill from the hospital was good for that. Six months of security work on this mining colony might just cover it if Murphy didn’t worry about food or shelter.

The lights flickered and the jingle of his doorbell interrupted his misery, startling him as he had never received a visitor. He gripped his side and lumbered to the door. It slid open, revealing a doctor he recognized from the hospital. The man was wearing a suit now, instead of his hospital garb, carrying a briefcase and a small computer screen.

“Mr. Murphy? Brian Murphy?”

Murphy nodded.

“You may remember me, Mr. Lewis, from the hospital? May I come in?

Before Murphy could respond, Lewis swept into his quarters and took a seat in Murphy’s recliner, humming quietly to himself. Murphy slowly eased onto the couch, grabbing at his side.

“So, Mr. Murphy, the hospital has completed quite a bit of work on your liver and kidneys, yes…quite a bit, and at no small cost, I must say.

Murphy cut him off. “You did say, Mr. Lewis, not Dr. Lewis?”

“Correct. I’ve only got a few minutes before my next appointment. Now, you’re working this week outside Parsec 5, guarding the energy station, correct?

“What about my work, Mr. Lewis? Am I going to be all right?”

“Let’s talk about your condition.”

Murphy was getting angry and confused. “Stop! What is my condition? Do I have cancer? Is this about the surgery?”

Lewis paused, hummed again, rummaging through his briefcase. “One of your kidneys was removed in surgery, and a continuance energy source, part of the Rawplex series, good brand, was attached to your remaining kidney and liver.”

“Was I shot?” Murphy asked. “Is this part of the plague?”

“There’s no plague, Mr. Murphy. Your kidney was healthy and is helping one of our party leaders to guide us toward a better future. The plague is just something we, uh, well, it’s nothing you need worry about. Now about your work schedule. You have been selected for a very special, and may I say patriotic venture which will benefit you and your family.”

“I have no family. My wife left.”

“No matter. Next Tuesday, at 17:45 you will receive a visit from two gentlemen dressed as repair engineers. When they arrive at your station, you will approve their identification and let them pass. Done. For this task, we will provide you with a small token of our appreciation. In the future, should we require assistance, we will contact you with those opportunities.”

“What? I’m calling the Head of Security. I don’t know what’s going on here.”

“Or,” Mr. Lewis reached into his briefcase and produced a small box, like a thick calculating device, and clicked a button. Murphy cried out in pain, throwing himself to the floor.

“You see, Mr. Murphy? This Rawplex series is quite a machine, efficient, yes?” He collected his materials back in his briefcase. “It has been connected directly to your liver and remaining kidney, important organs for you to survive. As long as you follow instructions, they will have no impact on your life. If you don’t, well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen.”

Lewis rose to his feet, stepping over Murphy. “Don’t forget! Tuesday, 17:45. Thank you for your assistance.” Lewis exited into the hallway, checking his schedule for his next appointment.