Nika Veresk
In the shadow of the stolen light

“OK, let’s begin by seeing how our patient is doing,” Paul nodded apologetically.

They passed through the hall, which flashed with images of a beautiful sunrise and soon they entered the doctor’s office.

“That was fast!” the doctor smiled, welcoming them inside.

“Thank you for telling us immediately,” nodded Lora gratefully.

“So, I need to warn you that the patient is still very weak. Furthermore, his memory has been tragically letting him down. I think we’ll be able to restore it, but it will take quite some time.”

“I get it.”

“Does he remember anything at all?” asked Paul when they stopped in front of the ward door and, looking through the glass, saw a motionless man in bed.

“He remembers his name, Derek… I have firstly conducted the biological tests to examine his physical condition. A psychologist is on his way.”

“May we go in?” asked Lora, not letting the patient out of her sight.

“Of course. The quarantine has already been lifted. But please be careful with information as he is still suffering greatly from post-traumatic stress.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“After you,” he smiled politely in response.

Lora slowly entered the ward and approached the bed. The dim lighting inside didn’t prevent her from examining the rescued earthling. Still very pale he was lying on the pillow, with his eyes closed. He had a thin face with harsh features, and his breath could hardly be noticed. If not for his dark hair, he would be invisible in the whiteness surrounding him in this dimly lit ward.

“Is he sleeping?” whispered Lora.

In response to her question addressed to the doctor, the patient moved and Lora stopped talking, frightened.

“No, he isn’t. He’s just too weak. Every move demands a lot of energy from him. Sound and light seem too strong. But there is no doubt that his young body will be able to cope with all this.”

A quiet voice pierced the silence of the ward.

“Who are you?”

Lora approached the bed and turned to see the doctor. He nodded in agreement.

“My name is Lora,” she said quietly, and carefully touched his hand when he turned his head to see her.

“Where am I?”

“You’re in a hospital. This is also Doctor Borshchevsky and the shuttle captain, Paul Stones.”

“Shuttle? I’m in a shuttle?”

“No, you’re on…” she hesitated not sure whether to tell him about the artificial planet. “You’re on board a spaceship. Do you remember anything? Do you remember what had happened to you before?”

The young man winced.

“The lights are too bright here.”

“Reduce the lighting by 30 percent” said the doctor to the space in front of himself and the ward lighting became very dim. “Is it better like this?”

“Yes… a little…”

“I’d suggest that you wear protective lenses,” added Borshchevsky.

“Will I be able to open my eyes then?”

“Well, you could at least try.”

After the patient nodded lightly, the doctor carefully put a pair of sunglasses of some sort on his eyes.

“Everything is floating…”

“This is temporary,” Borshchevsky reassured him.

“If you find it difficult to talk now, we can come later…”

“No!” the young man moved his fingers and touched Lora’s hand. “Don’t go. Silence is more deafening than sounds.”

“Alright, just take it easy.” Lora tried to calm him down. “Is your name Derek?”

“I think so. That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I was asked. But what ship is it? How did I get here?” the patient tried to turn his head but stopped wincing in pain.

“We’ve found your rescue unit in the open space not so long ago. You were in stasis. We also know that your ship was launched from Earth.”

Millions of questions troubling Lora were about to burst out, but the realization that this man was too weak and probably didn’t know the answers even to one tenth of them helped her control her emotional avalanche.

“I remember Earth… But everything is so vague. Like flashes, different disconnected pictures…”

“Try to relax,” said the doctor. “You’ll remember everything. Just give yourself some time.”

“Also, I remember that I have very little time…” added Derek quietly.

The next day a truce was announced on Taria allowing the ’Solar Flotilla’ to slow down the evacuation pace and to give a break to all those involved.

Chapter 3

“The hospital is not the most suitable place for a man in his condition,” said Doctor Borshchevsky confidently when Lora showed up at his office the next morning.

“Does he need anything special in order to get better?”

“He needs company,” clarified the doctor. “Thanks to our know-how, his physical condition is improving incredibly quickly. In the last 24 hours he has shown unbelievable progress. However, his memory and some brain functions’ recovery is a more complicated process. Medicine plays an important role, no doubt; but in my opinion, his integration back into the society will prove to be even more significant. Unfortunately, we’re unable to return him to his normal life, which is the generally accepted method… But what we can do is to accommodate him in an apartment, show him Titanium, tell him about the life of ‘Solar Flotilla’.”

“But what we have to show him may shock him.”

“It’s quite possible, but keeping him in ignorance of it all can be even harder. I think it’s best if we tell him the truth, but carefully.”