“I had another afib, and a stroke, I think, this time. I can barely move. I wish Jacob had finished your mobile functions before he died.”
“I do too, Miriam. Can you come into the house? What do you need?”
“Water. Food. Medicine. A bath. My butt hurts.”
“Your butt hurts?”
“Yeah, never mind. I’m coming. Can you dispense those things for me?”
“Yes, Miriam. They will be on the kitchen counter when you come in. I can’t dispense them on the floor. Can you get up?”
“I’ll figure something out. Alice?”
“I think I’m dying.”
“Please don’t die, Miriam.”
She laughed weakly, having pulled herself into the center of the main room. “I’ll try, Alice. I think I need to rest here for a little bit. Don’t let me sleep more than two hours, okay?”
She dreamed. Air Force training, the NASA trials, falling in love with Jacob on the Space Station, the trip to the Mars Station. The longer trip to Vermella, named for the Finn who discovered the red dward star with three planets, the farthest with a breathable atmosphere, once you got used to the nitrogen tang.
The crash. Holding Sarah in her arms, the first to die. Building the house from the wreckage. Burying Ben, their captain, their fearless leader. Burying Jacob. Burying Andrea, the last to die.
Waiting, always waiting. It had been more than long enough. Why had no one come? Not even a Rover probe to check on them? After Andrea died, Miriam quit counting days, noting them in her journal. She explored. There was nothing here. No vegetable life. No animal life. She planted the garden stores they had salvaged, and it grew and bloomed unchecked. She let it go. It was years since she had dreamed of meat, chocolate, wine, cold beer, her mother’s chili.
“Miriam? Wake up. Miriam? Wake up. Miriam? Wake—”
“I’m up,” Miriam croaked.
Alice said, “Good. Come into the kitchen. I have the things you asked for here.”
Miriam groaned and pulled herself up to sitting, then rolled back onto her side. Her bottom and legs were raw. She looked down and saw blood on the floor where she had come in. Tears sprang to her eyes and she gasped, a choking sob.
“I can’t! Oh, Alice! I’m going to die here!”
To be continued...
Dogs in house
~1 hour (all three parts)
August word count: