part 6


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There's a feeling. Waking up, knowing the mind has been active, churning on images and problems and nothing is remembered but the hangover of fatigue remains.

Waking up not rested. The last traces of a dream slipping through the porous membrane between sleep and wakefulness.

Sit up. One image I don't want to lose. If I could keep it. If I could I'd put it in a locket on my chest so I could see it any time. Like the Bible--the medallion that stops the bullet. Stops the death that should have come.

It's hard to sit up when you're laying flat, legs straight out. They don't move without complaining in sharp bursts of pain.

I roll onto my side. See red crosses on small white boxes on tables around me. There's the military drab x-ray machine. There's the chrome bed rails. Rows of brown bottles. Pills. Latex gloves. Boxes with the words, "injectables".

"There are no spiders," comes a voice.

Though it's calm and low, I wasn't expecting it so there's a jolt in my spine that brings me to sitting.

She's behind me. I can't turn my head far enough. There's a brace. A collar. My arm's plastered. A cast. Leg's bandaged.

In front of me now, she's there. Like trying to focus on smoke.

And everything floods back. There's this feeling from being tired. I'm still angry.

"Where's McAllister?" I ask her. I'll get the station manager to change my rotations. I thought I'd done that. She's supposed to be sleeping when I'm awake.

"He's still in his office trying to get a radio to work," Jana says. Down vest. Couple of layers of poly pro. Her hair short. She cut it for him. How come I'm hurt so bad? This was the problem they should have weeded out at outward bound. It was only at dinner, around a camp stove where one of the repeat offenders, a veteran w/o told us what you do not bring to the ice.

But we think we know better. They don't know us. We're different.

Dear God. Could we have been bigger idiots?

Bring survival gear. Lose the spouse.

"They're in your head," she says. "The spiders. They aren't any spiders." Sitting on the chair in the corner. Knees clamped together.

What's wrong is what's always wrong with me listening to her. "Look at me. How can you see this and not believe? If I hadn't gone out and shot them, you'd all be dead. I should have let you all die."

"Nobody's going to die."

"You're in a dream world, Jana. You don't see what's happening. Take a look. They're materializing fucking, fucking purple dragons. They're burying the spider bodies with the goddamned bulldozer. We're surrounded by them. Wake up. Will you? Wake up and help for a change."

"It's not your fault," she says to me. God damn it. Why is she crying all the time? Is it because she thinks she can get to me this way?

There's something near my hand. Small and round. I don't care what it is. I like the sound of breaking glass when it hits the wall. I like the way she flinches.

"Why are you torturing me like this? We're in goddamned neverland, and you're killing me."

"What do you want me to do?" she says, between tears. Hands folded in her lap.

Now I remember. Everything. How could I have forgotten?

"I want you to go back on first shift rotation so I don't have to see you till the end of the season. I want you to get out of our room. Move in with him."

"Can't we put this--"

Goddamn it. I hurt and she's taking advantage. I can't move. Poisoned by spiders and beat senseless and she wants to use the fact I can't move to get me to roll over on the whole--on everything she did.

"No."

Now, almost hysterical, "You have to forgive--"

I am not listening.

I am not hearing this.

I am not.

"Where the hell is the switch to AMANDA? It's supposed to be here."

"Greg, please."

"Stop calling me that. It's not my name."

"There is no switch. It's in your head."

There isn't enough air in me to yell this as loud as I want. "GET OUT." You're distracting me from my mission. I have to shut off AMANDA and fix the radios.

"Please."

Why does she never listen to me? "Get out. I do not forgive you. I am not a big man. I do not have the capacity to forget and I can't get away from you. We are at the fucking south pole. There is no forgiveness here. Ever. Now get the fuck OUT."

Somehow, Zoey is here. Somehow Jim. Harlan.

Where the hell did she go?

Harlan says, "Glenn. What's the problem, homie? We can hear you clear down the hall."

Then Jim, "Who are you yelling at? Who's here?"

Why didn't I see it before? The plane. The mid-winter insertion. One way trip. Who did he think he was fooling? Now I'm stuck here forever with the two of them.

"You son of a bitch. Next time you hand me a gun, you'd better have one pointed straight at my skull because you won't live long enough to find it."

Harlan plays stupid, says, "What guns? What's he talking about?"

"I dunno," the fucker plays along. Bastards. I want you all dead.

What's Zoe got? Let go. Goddamn you all I do not want to sleep. "Son of a bitch. Let GO." You wouldn't do this to me if I wasn't broken. I'd show you all. "Put you all in the fucking hospital."

Zoey: "Glenn, you've got to rest. I keep telling you."

See? See what they're doing? Once I'm out, it's over. Goddamn fuckers.

"I'm not doing it. I'm not shutting down AMANDA. You bastards can die. Let the spiders kill you. I'm not going out again. Send him. Send her, my goddamned whatever wife she's supposed to be."

"Don't you believe it," I say and I don't know why I'm helping him. When she says she loves you, don't believe her.

"Don't look in her eyes," I say because it's all I see. Don't let her suck the life from you.

Don't become like me. Don't save her life. Just die when you have the chance. Just die or wind up like me. I have nothing. Close the goddamned door. I love her too much and I can't have her in here

anymore.




previous episode: amanda speaks
next episode: the sound of something precious breaking
first episode: stendec