Day 2

What most people didn’t realize is that manufacturers always appealed to the lowest common denominator. This was often in part due to the harmonized regulations they would have to adhere to, and/or to reduce production costs, and/or to accommodate TTP (EDIT: TTP is Time to Penis, or the amount of time it takes a user to do something completely and utterly stupid and depraved. A much smaller number than most think).

I learned this early on in the drone business the hard way. People not reading instruction manuals then blaming the manufacturer; people not learning about battery care then wondering why the fusion based core exploded, wiping out their family and neighbourhood. I also learned about the challenges of quality control on product, and how no matter how much effort my team applied, there would always be defects that made it to end users. That is where our high level of customer service came into effect, making sure that each and every irate customer was satisfied. And insurance. Lots of insurance.

It’s important to understand the challenges retailers and manufacturers face, trying to keep up with the impossible demand the marketplace put on us. Never happy, always wanting more – consume, consume, consume.

“I feel so bad leaving you like this.” she said to me. “It makes me feel like a bad life partner.” I sniffled, my chest hurting with the effort, and replied, “How is it your fault that I’m sick?”

It had been nearly a week leading up to her departure, and I just couldn’t shake this head cold. It left me sneezing so often that I was fearful my lungs might come out with the next exertion. My head ached and was full of cobwebs and fog. I couldn’t sleep for aching joints. I was freezing all the time, yet my eyes burned as hot as a star. I had no fever though.

“Who’s going to take care of you when I’m gone?” she asked, sadness pulling at the corners of her mouth. “I can take care of myself, you know.” I replied, both of us knowing we were dependent on the other to a large degree. That was the beauty of relationships, the magic of routine and comfort. You each started to fall into the comfortable trap of depending on the other. Each of you knowing your role, your place, your happiness. Or so I blindly thought. She had changed all of those perceptions for me, teaching me the joy of dynamic growth as a couple, but that’s a story for another time.

“Still, I worry. If you’re not better soon, go see a doctor.” she pleaded. “Of course I will.” I said, and I meant it. Sort of.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wanting to call BS. Capsuleers can’t get sick. How is that even possible? I had never thought it possible either. Re-read that initial rant about consumerism and manufacturing. Pod pilots weren’t meant to live long. It’s a false immortality. Our clones weren’t designed for normal life. We were expected to die, clone, die, clone, repeat ad infinitum. Our bodies began to break down, perhaps even faster than normal humans. The nanites in our systems had failed me a couple of years back, becoming toxic in my blood. What an ordeal that was. I hadn’t switched clones in years, something the manufacturer never accounted for. Why would an immortal want a normal life when they were living and all powerful gods in space?

“And hydrate. Drink lots of fluids. And rest. I’ll worry about you”, she said. I put my forehead to hers.

“I’ll be fine, baby. Stop worrying.” I smirked with false confidence she saw right through.

“It’s probably just stress from me.” she replied. “I know it’s been a lot on your end helping me get ready. Thank you for being so gentle. I appreciate you.” she smiled.

“I appreciate you, and I’m not stressed about you. You’re the one thing in my life that doesn’t cause me stress. I love you.” I replied.

“I love you.”

I needed to get to a doctor. I could hardly stand, let alone make it out of bed the day after she left. Things were getting worse. What a way to spend my vacation, watching my best friend leave for a year while becoming increasingly more ill. Still, I was a Brutor and good health wasn’t about not getting sick. It was about how quickly one recovered. And yes, I wasn’t recovering quickly, but that mindset could change. I was done focusing on the negative. Done letting the fears of failure and loss consume me. I was Roc Wieler. Destiny bent its knee to me. A little man-cold wouldn’t slow me down any longer. Well, maybe a little while longer. I just wanted to sleep. Under a comfy heat blanket. Curled up in the fetal position. Yes, that sounded like a good plan.

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