Chapter One – Kanna Grace aka Sleeping Beauty
Dear Dr. Ukeda,
I know it has been a while since I have last written, but no worries, I am doing quite well. How have you been? Well, I hope. How is your daughter, is she still wanting to be in the GPF?
Anyway, I just thought that I would drop a few lines and update you on my condition. Everything is doing well, I can see more and more colors everyday, and for that I'm thankful. It has been a while now since I have mismatched my socks and trashed my fashion sense.
As for my arm, the regen was a complete success from what I can tell. I still have problems with controlling the strength in my hand. I think I have crushed all the glasses in my kitchen, so I'm sticking to plastic cups instead. But all in all everything is going well.
You asked about my job in your last letter, and I will say that I enjoy what I am doing, even though it does cut me off from associating with the others on campus. But I like my little niche in the back of the library just fine. No one bothers me all that much and Professor Pulsen has been a dear.
Its hard to believe it has been over seven years since you first treated me, like I always have said, it just seems like yesterday that I woke up and found you smiling down on me. Of course then, my eyes were clouded and all I could see was what was in two or three inches in front of my face. So I suppose you were smiling very near to my face.
You also asked about my social life in the last letter… Well, I have a new boyfriend now, so no need to worry so much.
His name is Paul, and he's a fellow grad student. He works in the Language Department. Paul is very quiet and backward so I guess that makes us two of a kind, eh? He can cook much better than I can and he is more responsible than the last guy I was seeing. I think he might be a keeper, but who knows for sure.
Well, I suppose I've rambled on enough. I hope to hear from you soon, and perhaps when you're in Terrasan again you will give me a call.
* * *
She turned from the screen and sighed. Another lame letter, another lame lie… She wasn't sure if she were doing the right thing by making up half of what she wrote or not.
It was true that her eyes had improved and her arm was working well. It was also true that she was working in a small niche at the University's library, but the rest about Professor Pulsen and a boyfriend were pure fiction. Professor Pulsen was a crusty old bastard, and she had never had a real boyfriend, just the occasional acquaintance but no one to bump uglies with… She didn't think she could handle having any kind of relationship no matter how trivial.
Her letters to Dr. Ukeda were becoming shorter and shorter and full of more and more lies. But what could she do, she thought. If Dr. Ukeda knew how it really were, he would take her from Terrasan and make her live with him in some suburban house with him and his daughter, playing the older sister and the older daughter….
Dr. Ukeda was a fifty six year old regen surgeon, the best in his field, expensive and revered. Dr. Ukeda had saved her seven years before, giving her back her sight and the use of her right arm.
She groaned, rubbing her face, refusing to let her memories take hold of her thoughts again. She turned back to the screen floating in front of her chair and reread her letter. It all sounded so juvenile. Hi, how are you, I'm fine…
"Send email," she said aloud.
The screen flashed blue and the word 'Sent' flashed twice. She swiped her hand through the holographic screen and it disappeared from her sight. Standing from her chair she rubbed her bare side. It had been two days since she had lain down to sleep and the nagging haziness over her mind was closing in.
Stepping soundlessly across the plainly decorated room, she fell into bed face first and quickly slipped into a deep slumber.
* * *
The room was cool; the buzz of an air conditioner was all I could hear in the background. It was dark too, too dark for my eyes to see. I could only feel the tiled floor under my feet and the metal chair under my body.
Slowly as if stage lights were rising to reveal an elaborate scene, a blue light illuminated the room. I was alone, I thought, but I soon remembered… I had been brought to this room to be questioned.
The doctors had kept me in a much nicer room, everything white and clean. And there was a window as well, showing me clear blue skies of a world I did not know at the time. But I know now…
"You have said that your name is Kanna, Kanna what?" a voice said to me, as if trying to deafen me.
I saw then in the shadows where the light above me could not quite reach, a mirror… Two way glass, something like I had seen on old television police shows. I couldn't help but feel a little nervous. Even though I knew the voice belonged to a doctor, it still had that demanding tone. As if I were being questioned for committing an unspeakable crime.
"Kanna what?" the voice said again. It was a male voice and I wondered which doctor it could be that was asking me a question that they knew the answer to. It was not Dr. Ukeda, his voice was too gentle and smooth, as if he were about to cry or sing.
"I don't remember," I said, my voice betraying my strong composure and revealing my uneasiness. God, I just wanted them to turn the volume down on the speakers and talk to me face to face.
"Can you tell us when you were born and where?"
I knew the answers, I knew them all, I should know, but my tongue would not move the right way and I mumbled. But did I know the answers?
"What was that?"
"I said, I don't remember," I snapped, somewhat agitated. Damn, they didn't have to be so rude. They knew what I was going to say.
"You don't remember who your parents are? Where they raised you?"
I never lied to them, why are they questioning me like this now? I don't remember ever having a mother or father, or ever living in a nice house with a backyard or my own room. I don't remember anything like that. What do I remember then? I don't know that either.
"What do you remember then?"
I feel my arm twitch and my fist clench. I have to watch that arm, sometimes it has a mind of its own…
"Dr. Ukeda, I remember Dr. Ukeda."
I feel my fingernails dig into my palm. Damn arm…
The voice has changed, no longer demanding, but soft, almost relaxing.
"Kanna, is your arm hurting, why are you clenching your teeth?"
The lights hum, the room is lit and a door opens. A short man with dark hair enters the room and I'm saved. No more of the third degree, no more stupid questions…
Dr. Ukeda… He was nice to me, so kind. Watching over me like a father should, I supposed. My arm had tensed up from my nervousness and slowly as Dr. Ukeda massaged the synthetic muscles my fist unclenched. My palm was bloodied and Dr. Ukeda had nurses clean the wounds.
I just wished they would be straight with me, and tell me what they knew instead of asking me what I did not know…
They moved me back to my clean white room with the large window looking out onto blue sky. I liked this room, though sterile; it was more comforting than the dark.
I had a soft bed and a warm blanket; all in all I was comfortable.
Dr. Ukeda had seen to everything of course, primarily concerned about my comfort and my comfort only.
"I want to know, why can't you tell me yourselves?" I asked as Dr. Ukeda looked at my arm again, rubbed the muscles until my synthetic skin turned red.
He sat on the edge of the bed, smiling slightly. "We want you to be able to remember on your own, Kanna. But I suppose, as the other doctors do, that your injuries were more severe than we thought. Not only were you physically injured, but you were injured neurologically as well."
I sighed. I knew what that meant, that I had amnesia caused by a severe trauma…
"But tell me again, how did I come to be here? What do you know about me?"
I had asked that question over and over again. I was always answered of course; they did not deny me that much truth. But I think the doctors were getting tired of repeating themselves. But not Dr. Ukeda, he always told me the story, perhaps embellishing it for my sake to make it less gruesome.
"Kanna, you already know how, do you really need to hear it again?" Dr. Ukeda said, removing his gentle hands from my fake arm and patting my head like a good pet of some sort.
"I want to hear it again," I said sternly, wrinkling my brow.
Dr. Ukeda only smiled and closed his eyes for a moment, as if trying hard to remember all the details.
"Two years ago, the GPF tracked an object falling through the atmosphere of this planet. It was not a ship or meteor, but a life pod from a ship. It crashed in a residential area outside of Terrasan. It landed in an old man's back yard. Of course the pod made a big hole in the man's prized rose garden, but…"
"You're lying about that part…" I said smiling a bit.
"Oh, but I thought that sounded better than landing in the man's kitchen…"
It was true… I had landed in an old man's house, burning the place to the ground, almost killing the invalid. I still felt oddly detached about that aspect of what I remembered.
"Well the GPF came in a few minutes, put out the fire and studied the pod. They could see you inside from a small window. You were unconscious, covered in blood, and dying…"
Dr. Ukeda always fell into a serious tone when he got to that part of the story. Very detailed almost to the point where I could see myself in the pod, dying and bleeding.
"You were brought here, to this hospital, where the doctors studied you and nearly pronounced you dead."
"But I didn't die."
"No, you were very strong…"
I remembered. I think I woke up in the emergency room, suited men all around me, mentioning something about quarantine. I had tried to move my right arm, but nothing moved. I tried to see shield my eyes from the blinding light, but I had no hand to shield it…
"You lost your arm, it was damaged beyond repair…"
"You mean, it was gone."
Dr. Ukeda smiled weakly; I could tell he still felt awkward telling my all the gory details.
"Yes, and you had lost a lot of blood. But not only that, your eyes were blinded, as if you had looked at the sun too long."
Yes, as if I looked at the sun too long. If only I could remember why…
"What made you decide to take care of me and give me an arm and eyes?" I asked quietly, looking down at my lap.
It was the same question I asked over and over again. Why was I saved and treated? I had no money, no family, no one to take care of me…
"Because you are special, that's why. You might be the daughter of some king in another system, you might be a princess…"
I laughed aloud. No, I would have remembered that if I were…
"How am I special?"
Dr. Ukeda stiffened. It was the taboo question of my life, what I could remember of it…
"Kanna, you know I can't discuss everything… When you're older…."
I snorted. I was seventeen. I was not a child.
"So what else happened?" I said side stepping the question I had asked before.
"Well we fixed you up with new eyes and an arm. We healed all the other small wounds… And we let you sleep for a long time so that you would heal."
"And when I woke?"
Dr. Ukeda smiled fondly at this part, almost like a father…
"I was there, and you said, 'Who are you, my name is Kanna,'" he said chuckling.
I smiled. I remembered. I was so fuzzy headed that my words came out like a child's. Dr. Ukeda had been there, looking down at me, his face very close to mine so I could see him.
"And you've been with us ever since. You are healing more and more every day and very soon you will be able to leave the hospital and have a life of your own on Balk."
Balk, the planet I had been living on for two years. The name made no sense to me at all. Terrasan? Balk? GPF? I did not understand a lot of things when I first woke from my pained slumber. I had to be taught what those words meant soon after waking.
Terrasan was the main port city of Balk. Terrasan was where I landed, or so they told me. Balk was the forth planet from a yellow sun. The Balk system has four planets, two of which were big gaseous giants and the planet Balk a terra-formed colony in the beginning…
The GPF is short for the Galactic Protective Forces. From what I understood, the GPF acted as the police force and military for a group of planets in alliance with each other. I had never heard of the GPF, Balk, or Terrasan. Those words were foreign to me for a very long time until Dr. Ukeda explained it all to me one day.
"But until you heal completely and your eyes continue to improve, you will be here. And you have plenty of time to decide what you want to do with your life… You are still very young, Kanna, you have a whole galaxy at your fingertips."
* * *
She opened her eyes, the room was too warm and sweat had wet the sheets under her bare body. Rolling over she gazed at the plain white ceiling of her apartment wondering if she had dreamt or not.
"Too hot…" she groaned moving her body to sit in the bed. She looked around her bed clearly seeing where her sweat had stained the sheets.
"Holo-screen," she said aloud and a screen appeared in midair a few inches from her face.
A screen came up telling her that the temperature in her room was eighty plus degrees Fahrenheit. Slowly she turned the thermostat down and she heard an air conditioning unit kick on somewhere.
She ran her hand through the holo-screen, swiping it to disappear. She sighed, moving to her feet. The sweat was starting to dry on her body, making her feel dirty.
Within a few minutes she was under a showerhead, washing the filth from her body. Her long dark violet hair lay heavy against her back. Her pale skin glowing under the light of the bathroom, wet with clean water.
She sighed as she turned the water off. Such a mundane life, she thought to herself.
Then the phone rang, a holo-screen appearing at the bathroom door, waiting for her to answer.