Eulogy for a White Rose - Chapter 10
"When one realizes one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake."
― P.D. Ouspensky
Yattaran was busily engaged with a large plat of the area within which they were currently searching for Harlock. One hundred and fifty nautical miles may seem like a large area, however when one is discussing an entire planet, small as it might be compared to a gas giant, the distances were still beyond the ability of the chip to pick up the Captain's implant without a lot of effort, and time.
They had reasoned that if Harlock had been able to direct his flight at all, he would most assuredly try to head for his homeland of Heiligenstadt, near Thuringia. Since the space string he had been on, that the last projected course they had known about, would potentially place him along that general course, they were searching that region first.
From there, as they had not discovered any trace of the implant signal within any of the initial target checks of one hundred fifty nautical miles, they were expanding their search, one radius at a time, in all directions. Yattaran indicated the next area to be searched, and communicated the directional to the search team in that area.
He stood up and stretched his arms behind his back. The work tedious, but necessary, if they were to not miss the Captain's actual location. There was also question if Harlock was injured, or otherwise unable to communicate with them. Mimmee seemed to think that he was badly injured, and unable to contact them. As time went by, this seemed a likely explanation.
As more negative confirmations came in, Yattaran patiently gave out new headings to the teams. Having Harlock in an unknown situation, possibly injured, was not something he wanted to see go on for any length of time. The longer this went on, the more likely someone who wished him harm, would be able to find him. The sooner they found Harlock, the better. Yattaran was wondering if they should find a way to keep him aboard the Arcadia at all times. Having the Captain away, and in danger, was very nerve-wracking.
The teams themselves were all working under stealth, as the SpaceWolves flyers were somewhat distinctive, bearing the pirate sigil of Death's-heads and crossed bones. They were disguising themselves as best as they were able, staying within normal flight lines, so as to not draw attention in case someone should spot them on tactical. They stayed invisible, so that even if briefly spotted on radar, physically no one could see the flyers themselves. It was a bit tricky, and they were doing their best to stay invisible and silent on radar.
They had no idea that they were searching on the entirely wrong continent.
Doc Thea was exhausted. It had been three weeks since the unknown pilot had barn-stormed into their midst. She had done most of the watching over him, catching some scattered cat naps along the way, but no real sleep. She had asked Hiram, on one of his many joy-riding trips about in town, when he had come to see if she needed anything, to ask Widow Schulte to help her watch over their unconscious guest. Hiram had taken the message back, and she hoped that the Widow could help her. Then, she might be able to catch some real sleep. She knew that farm life was hard work, and that Jakob and Rachel would need to stay on the farm, but maybe they could do without Jakob's mother for a bit.
She blearily looked up at the screens in front of her. Much had improved from the first night. The ribs and lungs were well on their way towards being healed, the contusions of the internal organs were almost completely healed, the spleen was also mostly healed, and the pericardial sac was back to being within normal limits. His facial swelling was almost gone, the bruising retreating along with the swelling. As good as all of that was, the pilot was still comatose, as his brain was much slower to heal from the trauma he had endured. Anything in the neurological healing was always slower than that of the rest of the body. Time, he needed time.
She adjusted the rates for the parenteral nutrition, as the indicators stated that he needed more protein, and vitamin D3. The EEG reading was stable, but still depressed. The brain had taken a real beating, and while it was improving, it was obviously not yet complete. She rubbed her very tired eyes, sighed, and shifted in her chair. She felt like she was a hundred years old from her fatigue.
Jakob Schulte sat at the kitchen table with his wife, Rachel, his widowed mother, and young Hiram Yoder, Rachel's younger brother. They were discussing what to do about Doc Thea's request for help. And also what to do about a certain flyer encased in loose hay in Jakob's hay barn. Jakob had hoped that the uninvited guest would have awakened by now, and take care of the plane for him. However, it seemed as if their guest would be some time in waking up, from what young Hiram was reporting.
Jakob sat with a pensive look upon his face.
"We'll have to tell the Elders what is going on," Jakob said gravely. "We've gone far enough now; they may not be happy with our interventions already. While 'tis well to aid the Samaritans in distress, more help is needed."
Rachel looked at him with a troubled face. "Twill they call the Authorities? I doubt they will be pleased with this particular English."
Widow Schulte, pressing her lips together, folded her hands in her lap, readjusted the fold of her shawl, and looked up at both of them.
"Tis a wounded man, English or nay. He hath need of us. Regardless, Doc Thea hath been good to all Amish, and needs succor this night. We have a duty to her, along with the wounded English. 'Tis Biblical, and Canon."
She looked far away, inside of her heart, "Looking at the flying machine, there are symbols on its flanks that do not speak to Government."
She shook her head slowly. "I remember upon my Rumspringa time many years past, this symbol. 'Tis piratical, but some fighter pilots use it as their symbol." She smiled gently. "'Twas considered, "cool."
Jakob goggled at his mother. He had never heard her speak of her own time away from the Amish, many years past. He suddenly wondered at her adventures, and where she had gone to even have knowledge of such things. Pirates? Fighter pilots? "Cool?" Whatever did all of that even mean? He obviously should have asked a few more questions of her, far earlier than this.
Widow Schulte smiled internally at her son's stunned expression. It was as if she was a totally new and different person than what he had any notion about. She had never told him about her time apart. 'Twas likely a good thing, as she had had some interesting experiences that no one in the Community had ever heard of. Not even her dear, departed husband, Seth, had any knowledge of her time away. Once she had returned home, nothing more was said of it, and she had kept those experiences in her heart. Once she had committed herself to the Amish way of life, there was nothing more anyone had needed to know, and it didn't have bearing on her life's future. Except for now.
"We need to support Thea, she hath been good to all of us. Let us do as she asks. It shouldn't be that hard of a task, to watch over a man who sleeps. If you want to let the Elders know, by all means, do so, but press upon them that the safety of the town, the Amish, and Doc Thea, may well depend upon their silence. Likely this needs to remain in our Community. We shall have to pray that they agree."
Jakob nodded his head. "This seems the wisest course of action." He turned to Hiram. "What else might Doc Thea have need of?"
Hiram brought out the list she had given to him. "She said these things would be useful."
The four of them perused the list, and the women began to gather the needed items, as Jakob and Hiram called them out to them. They packed what had been asked for, and also a small bag for the Widow to keep her change of clothes, and other small items she needed with her.
Hiram brought around his large, black truck, and Jakob handed her up into the tall cab. Her bags were placed inside, by her feet.
"Goodbye, mother, we shall see thee on Saturday. Get word to us by Hiram if aught else is needed." Jakob said to his mother. He was a bit emotional. In his memory, the times that his mother had left the homestead were few, and very far between. He was going to miss her stabilizing influence.
Rachel smiled up at her mother-in-law. "Tell Doc Thea that we pray for both her, and her English patient."
Hiram revved his engines slowly, then pulled out at a very sedate pace, for him. Widow Schulte looked at him, once the bend of the road had obscured them from the view of the farmhouse. She turned towards him and said, "Why Hiram, I had a notion that this truck of yours could move ever so much faster than this!"
He looked at her and grinned. "Dost thee want me to put her through her paces?" He asked with a large grin on his face. He patted the dashboard, as if the truck were a fine, mettlesome mare.
"Well," she replied, "I might as well get the full experience, don't you think?" She had a twinkle in her eye, as she looked at him with a straight face.
Hiram saw the twinkle, and said with a grin, "Okay, then, here we go!"
With that, Hiram put the truck into full gear; it leapt forward as if it were a racehorse, released from a starting gate. The Widow Schulte settled her shawl around her shoulders more firmly, and then leaned forward to turn the music up higher. Hiram's eyebrow rose in surprise, but he didn't say anything.
The bass drum beat, timed to the beating of a racing heart, the odd wailing noises of the singers, and the alien words, filled the cab of the truck, and beat at her ears. She leaned back, closed her eyes, and suddenly thought of herself, all those years ago, a young teen, running down the road in a Mustang convertible XI, singing at the top of her lungs, some long dead song that had been popular with the English at that time, wearing cut-off blue jeans, flip flops, and a halter top. She smiled to herself. She wouldn't give up who, or what, she had chosen for her adult life, but the memory of her own Rumspringa was sweet indeed.
Doc Thea was slumped over the Surgi-Bot console, mostly asleep, when they got to town. They had parked in the car stable, as they had the night the English was brought to town, in such desperate condition. Hiram looked over at the man recuperating in the machine, and then looked in total fascination at the machine itself. He could hardly imagine the internal workings of such a thing, and it was a marvel in what it could do. His fingers itched to be able to take it apart, and to see how it worked inside. He brought in the bags that held what both Doc Thea and Widow Schulte needed.
Doc Thea barely lifted her head up. "Oh, I am so glad that you are here. I'm losing it, I'm afraid."
Widow Schulte laid a calm hand on Thea's shoulder. "I am here now, what must needs doing?"
"This needs to stay here, between this, and that." Thea pointed at the gauges for clarity. "This gauge says how fast he's breathing, and what his vital signs are. He runs about 110 over 68, most of the time. His pulse rate, or how fast his heart beats, tends to run around 55. I've set the upper and lower parameters, so that if anything changes too much, it will beep at you. This button here, turns the beeping off." She looked over at the Widow, realizing that she was likely speaking in gobblety-gook to her.
"And this bumpy line, here?" The widow calmly asked.
"That is his brain function. Right now, it shows that he is in a coma." She paused. "So far, nothing much has changed on that. Will you be okay if I get a few hours of sleep? I will be nearby, you can call for me, and I will hear you, but I am dead on my feet, and need some sleep."
The Widow nodded. "Seems fairly simple. I think that I can see if wavy lines and numbers change their patterns too much. I will call for you, if such occurs."
Thea sighed in relief. "Thank God you are here." She struggled to get up, and Hiram supported her weary body on one side, as she vaguely helped to guide him with hand signals and monosyllables, towards her sleeping quarters.
In a few moments, Hiram returned to the room where the Widow had seated herself, next to the sleeping man. He looked at the man, and could see that his face was much less bruised and swollen, and his breathing seemed much easier than the last time he had seen him. He looked with curiosity at the man's wavy lines and numbers. It occurred to him that the machine ought to have some sort of a technical manual to go with it, like his truck did. He started to hunt around, and found a book that said "Technical Specifications, Surgi-Bot 5L, with Interpretations of Functions," and seated himself near the console, and began to read the three-inch thick manual.
It was a long day, and at least he had something interesting to do with it. He liked Widow Schulte, and after the truck ride in, he was beginning to appreciate that she wasn't just some old, dried up old woman, who had lived a good Amish life. There was more depth to her.
That thought stopped him for a moment.
Were all old people like that? He wondered. Maybe, all people had that urge to go, and do, and to have adventures, early on? Was the Widow one who had had youthful adventures, and had enjoyed them?
He pondered this idea as he read about the Surgi-Bot and its capabilities.
He couldn't help but to wonder what she had done on her Rumspringa, wherein she had apparently liked loud music, and a fast vehicle? That had to be, well, at least fifty or sixty years before. Ancient history!
So then, did all people yearn? He glanced sidelong at the old woman. She hadn't always been old. Logic told him that, and the thought struck him very hard. What would he be like in another fifty or sixty years from now? He would have wrinkles, and sagging skin. His hands would be weathered with age. He might have grandchildren. He... would be old.
Hiram didn't know it, but he was beginning to grow up, and see things outside of his own experience. While these musings and discoveries were a little discomforting, they were also oddly comforting at the same time.
He felt groggy. And slow. And... something else, like he wasn't totally connected to himself, somehow. He tried to move his hand, to move the heavy thing sitting on his head. Nothing was happening, and this bothered him somewhat. He wasn't certain as to why it should bother him. And he went black again, down into oblivion, not caring.
"The wiggly line moved differently, I saw it!" The Widow said to Hiram. "But now, it is like it was before. What do you suppose that was?"
Hiram turned to her. "Which line was it?
"This one, the one that says EEG." The Widow replied.
Hiram flipped the pages of the manual to look under that section. There were lots of pictures. Mostly of how to hook up a patient to the machine, but also pictures of many kinds of different wavy lines with labels underneath of them. He showed the pictures to Widow Schulte. "Did the line look like any of these?" He asked.
She looked at the various pictures. "This one, a little bit. It only did it for about a minute and then went back to this one." She pointed at the current pattern.
They both looked at the one that she first pointed to. It said "Consciousness." They both looked over at the man, who was back into the wavy line pattern that was labeled "Coma."
"Does this mean that he started to wake up, and then went back to unconsciousness?" Hiram asked.
"I know not, we need Doc Thea to tell us that answer, young Hiram." Widow Schulte smiled at the dutiful young man before her. "Awaken her we should, perhaps? She's been asleep for twelve hours now."
Doc Thea ran to the infirmary when Hiram came to awaken her, and excitedly told her what they thought that they had seen.
Thea had been getting worried that the man wouldn't ever awaken; it had been three weeks since the crash. The longer he went without consciousness, the worse the prognosis would be.
Doc Thea looked at the manual, and what they had described, as they showed her what they had seen.
She looked up at them and smiled. "He is beginning to awaken. Sometimes coma patients go back and forth a bit before they fully awaken. This is a really good sign."
The three of them grinned at one another. Doc Thea waved the two of them to go off to sleep, as she would take the next watch. Widow Schulte smiled, went up to the kitchen and fixed all of them a good Amish dinner, with slippery pot pie, applesauce, sausages and green beans, and fruit bread to finish. Then, they each chose a guest room to sleep off their dinners.
Today had been a good day, Widow Schulte thought, as she said a prayer for the young man in the basement of the "Inn" and his terrible accident of three weeks ago. Perhaps God would grant him more life, and a life of wakefulness and good purpose? She hoped so.
She smiled. She had seen the looks that young Hiram had given her, both on the ride here, and during their vigil below. He was beginning to awaken to young manhood, and she wondered what he had made of her actions this day.
She looked down at her aged, spotted and wrinkled hands, hands that she still sometimes didn't fully recognize as her own. Her heart was glad, though; that hadn't changed over the years. She still firmly believed that God was in control, knew of all the troubles of the Earth and her people, and had a plan. A still small voice inside of her told her then, that the young man in the basement, fighting for his life, was a large part for the restoration of what was proper. They would do what they could to help him return and achieve that, so that their own lives would return to normal.
God often chose broken vessels through which to work, she remembered. She yawned, and wondered just how broken this particular vessel in the basement might be, as she drifted off to sleep.