This is the eighth part in a serialized story. If you’ve missed any of the rest of it, you can find it here.
Even before her eyes opened, Avdonina felt her muscles contracting from the electric stim in her sleeping pod. How many days had she been told the stims would be applied before she fully awoke?
She drifted in and out of sleep. Each time she woke up, the stims were less than the last time, until the last three times she woke, they weren’t on at all.
At last, she opened her eyes and the heavy blanket of sleep was gone. Her eyes stayed open. Moving slowly, she struggled upright, stretched and climbed out of the coffin-like pod. Standing, she took a step and fell to the floor, flat on her face. Around her, the world seemed to be spinning wildly, first one direction and then another.
Elsewhere, other members of the crew emerged from their pods. Some sat quietly, waiting for their equilibrium to stabilize. Others sprawled on the ground like her.
Most were parents, awakened a day before their children. The stasis chemicals for children had been mixed differently so they wouldn’t cause permanent damage to the fragile epiphysis of the bones, yet retard them sufficiently to keep the children from growing. Families made better Terrafarmers: they worked harder and were more focused.
Avdonina snorted. Shihs had no interest in Terrafarming. Mining was his interest. All the people she’d researched that had “won” the lottery on board the Palindrome either already worked for one of Shihs’s many corporations or were hired shortly after.
Suddenly, her stomach rebelled against the chemicals that had held her in stasis for so long. Retching again and again, she vomited up a thick, green-yellow mucous. The rank rotten stench of it made her retch more. With a violent shove, she fell backwards away from the puddle, gulping in deep drafts of canned ship air.
A medic appeared, shooting a drug into her neck with a hypo. “Sit still until this takes effect.” He stood and walked to the next vomiting person, refilling his hypo as he went.
This would be horrible for Quenden. Vomiting terrified him, only making him vomit more. She’d have to warn the medic when it came close to time to wake her son. Another thought hit her. Would the little bit of Quenden’s Praccin she’d managed to smuggle aboard have an adverse effect with the chemicals in his system? How would she find out without letting anyone know about Quenden’s diagnosis?
Shihs. He knew about Quenden already. He could help her.
Avdonina struggled to her feet again, ignoring the medic’s advice. Clutching her rolling stomach, she staggered toward the showers.
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If you don’t want to wait to read the whole story, it’s available in “Sunlit Night, Coffee and Sweet Dreams“.