Security Blanket

Summary: Her mother only wanted her to be safe.

Her mother only wanted her to be safe. Her father came around eventually. She was riding the bike she got for her twelfth birthday, when a drunk driver almost hit her. After that, her parents made her take classes online, by means of a new telepresence robot. Her friends grew tired of it quickly, and she tired of her social media.

It was just as well, for her parents worried about her posting pictures online. They started home-schooling her, much to her annoyance. Her parents reacted as though she'd committed some unspeakable offense when she questioned their assumptions. A slap to the face sent her down the stairs, and into the emergency room.

The doctors were suspicious, but the police could not prove anything. So, her parents restricted her outside privileges even more. There was to be no more bike riding or walking without one of them present. Gradually, she withdrew into herself, turning to art, poetry, and writing. Without a confidante or friend, she sunk into depression. She kept it at bay, however, with her dark humor.

When her parents found such a poem, they took it out of context. They did not buy her excuses, and they instead wanted to protect her from herself. They wanted to remove all media, all movies, all music, and all games that might cause her to think so darkly. So, their final solution was the most drastic, but it was not without precedent in her era. It was at this point she realized how removed from sanity her parents were.

The company called it the Security Blanket. Its critics called it the living tomb. It was intended for patients with compromised immune systems and otherwise terminal disorders. It was an external life support system, a water-filled tube where the patient was kept immobilized, but alive. Thanks to an automated surgery, the patient would be subjected to nasogastric intubation, to feed them through their mouth and nose. On the other end, a catheter would remove waste. Her mouth and nose would be attached to a ventilator, keeping her lungs pumping. Wearable sensors would track her vitals, and alert caretakers if something was amiss.

The device was originally intended to be mounted on a mobile chassis, controlled by a brain computer interface, and able to communicate with a virtual keyboard. Such things would give even the most critically injured some sense of normalcy. Those options, predictably, were disabled by her parents. Removing the wheels and interface from the tube, they inserted their daughter, their joy, into their Security Blanket.

They kept her locked in the basement. They were so worried about burglars or errant family members finding her, that they saw fit to hide her behind a false wall. In that unlighted cell, she had her own imagination for company. The first days brought for the hallucinations of a sensory deprivation tank, but the following days turned into a timeless stretch between tedium and terror.

As her sanity waned, her body withered. Her immune system, unexposed to common bacteria and allergens, became a shell of its former sell. Her legs, lacking the resistance of the ground, became as brittle as glass. Her body continued growing, until her skeletal limbs pressed against the walls of her translucent cell. Her parents shaved her hair before inserting her into the tube, but she resembled a pickled old woman more than a teenage girl.

That was how she spent the rest of her days, for her mother only wanted her to be safe.