Left Broken Among the Stars – An After Terra vignette


A fictional parallel to the author’s real life… as author and protagonist, for different reasons and in different times, deal with the fallout of someone they love being ripped from their lives.

You never forget your first heartbreak, they say. It never hurts as bad as it does the first time, they say.

Matt Garrison stuck another round of stims into his arm, relishing the rush delivered into his bloodstream. For a moment, the fatigue and the pain subsided from his flesh. His tired mind was given another boost, another run around the track, as it were. His eyes lingered on the stars, on the twinkling lights reflecting from Saturn’s icy rings below. The Phoenix promenade glittered with life and this light. Sights such as this were the only calm he could find in the storm that was his life and his mind. He shut out the noise, the clutter of people around him, their thoughts pressing on the air of this space station like hands beating on the glass, demanding to be let in.

He watched his hand tremble as he held it out toward the window, stretching his fingers to see the electrical burns still peppering the flesh between them. He’d been told before the torture started that he’d be introduced to a new concept of pain. He didn’t believe her, his torturer, but he should have. The feeble experiences in his life before Mars, that wasn’t pain, he knew now, but mild discomfort. A piece of debris placed in your course, a moderate inconvenience. Now he knew what one human being was capable of doing to another. Now he understood the depths to which his fellow man could truly sink.

“Your body will heal, chap,” Morphine said to him. “You’re a might bit tougher than folk expect you to be. You’ll recover.” Indeed, already his skin and joints looked and felt a modicum better than they did yesterday. But the stims helped, the stims, he wasn’t going to go far without having them handy. The rest of his friends could have their alcohol, could have their partying and their sports, all he needed was something to keep the pain at bay, keep the body going so he could find a way, somehow, to right the seemingly insurmountable wrongs around him. All that mattered was that he not sleep. Just don’t sleep, don’t dream.

It was in dreams where the greatest dread, the worst pain lived. It was there that his heart was untethered by his mind, free to indulge in its torment and its longing. It was there that he saw the smile, heard the laugh, felt the warmth of his dark haired muse, her intoxicating presence and her sweetly, indulgently deep mind and soul beckoning him to embrace it with his entire being. It was in the well of his longing for her where his heart met with its judge, with guilt, castigating himself for loving and lusting after a taken woman, while himself being involved in mind and body with another woman altogether. I do love her too, he’d say to himself in such a dream, but in a different way. It’s not the same. Someone called it puppy love, once, though what a puppy is who knows. Like I only feel the way I do with Jes because she’s my first lay, that I’m trying to make it more than just someone to fuck in the long nights between planets. And now maybe I know he was right.

He felt his heart pounding against his ribs as he wrenched himself from this reverie. He looked up as a ship dropped out of magceleration, way too close to Saturn for safety’s sake. Out there, I need to be back out there. No matter how dangerous space is, I need to find answers. I need to know why Lilith had to leave. I will find out why she turned on us. Even if it kills me. He tapped on his wrist device, calling up a holo of the last real night he’d spent with Lil on his ship. He smiled while shedding a tear as he watched her dance again, swirling in the most graceful, floating way only she could, as a blackened wisp twirling about as if she only had to obey her own force of gravity. To see the shimmer of her pale skin against her black dress as she moved to the music of the long gone human world, Terra, he felt his heart begin to empty itself again just when he thought it had been bled of all that it could bleed.

I will find my answers. Even if it kills me. I will always love her, no matter what… no matter what horror she might have just forced me through.

I will not give up. My ideal is out there somewhere.

He shut down the holo, clenched his fist, moving his way back into crowds of Saturners, who gave him a wide berth as his black jacket billowed from his brisk steps. This strange man to them, this cropper suddenly turned media celebrity, a seeming nobody who dared spit in the face of the corporations who ran the future of humanity, he filled them equally with wonder and caution.

They knew not what truly lay behind his emerald eyes, the fire burning in his heart that refused to yield.

To be continued in After Terra: Lunacy

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