#TeamSFHorror - Part Three: Recover - @Red_Harvey

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To Distraction - Part 3 - krazydiamond

Hale thrashed back to consciousness, mucking up a smooth re-entry as she gagged on the feed tube sliding out her nostril. The remnants of cool liquid trickled down the back of her throat. Between the unsettling sensation and the flashes of Nina making her brain spin, she barely managed to throw herself out of the pod before she started heaving.

There was nothing in her stomach to vomit. Bile burned her throat. Her eyes watered, salt stung and blurry. She coughed up a stream of acidic yellow fluid, mucus dangling from her lips. Hale scrubbed her hand over her face, letting the artificial gravity drag her to the floor. She pressed her cheek against the smooth surface, trying not to smell the small puddle of upchuck. The floor grounded her.

"What the fuck was that?" She mumbled. Her voice cracked apart on the words.

Shit, she wanted a smoke so bad, needed one, but no one in space can hear your cravings. When she could no longer stand the sight and scent of her sick pile, she peeled herself off the ground. Black spots tangoed through her vision, though whether that was a result of the VRIs ever growing list of lovely after effects or her severe lack of actual sleep and nutrition was anyone's guess. Never mind that 'Event Horizon' style acid trip she just experienced. What the hell was she doing to herself? Even through the dizziness and the blank pieces in her vision, her eyes slid toward the empty VRI pod.

For a long moment, Hale knelt there, swaying. Should I stay or should I go now? She sang it under her breath before the sharp tang of bile slapped her upside the head, jump starting her neglected common sense. She had to get out of this room. Now.

Hale half crawled, half stumbled from the rec room, eventually reaching her quarters. She didn't bother heading for the console station. Those readouts weren't going anywhere. The popsicles weren't going anywhere. The robots could handle it for a night. Normal, they were always normal.

Hale collapsed like a wet sack of cement on her bunk, the room spinning and tilting no matter how often she told it to knock it off. Just a couple hours. That is what the doc ordered.

She choked on a giggle. There was no Doc here. Just little lonely Hale, with no one to play doctor with and no one to doctor her.

Through her gravy swirl of thoughts, she had a brief stroke of realization, or feeling similar sensations like this before, feeling like this before, but the epiphany fizzled and sputtered against the rising tide of blackness that took her under.

It was a relief not to dream.

What Hale lacked for cigarettes, her mouth certainly felt full of ash when she finally woke. Ash and cobwebs, stuffing her skull. That groggy feeling clung to her as she rose. She ran a hand through her grease saturated hair, catching a whiff of herself that demanded hygienic action. The Ulysses used a reserved and recyclable water system, designed to burn hot, efficient and fast. Hale stood in the three sixty spray, trying to ignore the shivers running through her limbs. Trying to ignore the subtle sharper angles to her body.

How long had she been under this time?

Dressed and damp, she snagged another protein bar, promising herself a real meal later. Later, she'd feast in the empty dining hall. Built for dozens, used only by one.

Hale slumped in the chair, leaning on the console to rub her temples. What was the point? The numbers never varied. The bots never faltered. They were certainly built to last far longer than her.

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