Shepard Hospital and LSA Control Centre: 16 June 2120
"Now!" Melissa shouted down the communicator.
"Started," Janet said at almost the same second. She recorded the time on her pad. On her screen the wave rolled across the face of the Earth as Paradise replaced the more common Black Earth.
"It's definitely Paradise again," Janet added. She could hear the cacophony from L-Squared coming from her daughter's end of the communicator. It matched exactly with the time the wave was observed.
Thirty-seven seconds later Janet and Melissa said 'End' simultaneously as the next wave swept across the Earth. Janet logged the time again, bringing the total to seven sets of start and end times, each one coinciding with the babbling of the two patients.
It had taken Janet a few days to convince the authorities at L-Squared to run the experiment after Melissa had come home from the school trip bubbling with her mad idea. Janet had been reluctant at first but Melissa had been persistent with her theory. And now they had some rather convincing numbers.
An hour later they both returned home to compare notes.
"I was right. They match exactly, don't they?" Melissa enthused.
Her mother nodded. Without a doubt, her daughter was correct. How did two apparently senile and otherwise moribund women, buried in an institution many metres below the Moon's surface, time their outbursts to coincide exactly with when Paradise Earth appeared?
Janet used her LSA authority to request personal details on the two women. Nothing much was revealed by the exercise. One, Amelia Alice Nunn, aged sixty-eight and British by birth, had been on a business trip for an undisclosed reason to the Moon at the time of the disaster. She had been married to a Mr R Nunn, who was presumed lost on Earth. The other was Emily Dorothy Martin, born in America, aged seventy-five and unmarried. After much travel around the Earth along with a few Moon trips, she had taken up permanent residence on the Moon in 2091. She had worked in an office for one the regolith conversion companies. On the surface there was no connection between the two.
"Hmm. Does it say what the 'R' stands for in Mr Nunn's name?" Melissa asked. "One of the women kept repeating a name. I think it started with 'R'."
Janet dug a bit further. "Ah, here we are. Ross Nunn."
"Yes, that was it, exactly!" Melissa said, clapping her hands in glee.
Janet reeled off some of the other information revealed. "Born 2051, married Amelia Luckin in 2079, no children. Both came to the Moon in March 2107."
Then she frowned. "That's a weird change of occupation."
"Apparently, up until 2090 he was a ward companion – that's someone whose job it was to sit with terminally ill people in hospitals."
"Sounds fun," Melissa snorted, a grimace passing across her face.
"Yes, back when I had my appendix out most of the hospitals had nothing but robotic nurses. Their bedside manner was, er, somewhat lacking." Melissa giggled at her mother's expression. Janet continued, "I heard later on that ward companions were introduced to put a human face back into the system. Especially in places where patients were dying. You had to be a really empathic people-person to do the job."
"So, what did he do after that?"
"Came into money somehow and headed up his own business called VisionPsy. Scientific research mainly. It's all a bit vague." Janet tried a few more searches. "Nope, there's nothing more. I'll see if I can find out anything more on our two old ladies."
Janet ordered the computer to run a deep analysis on the data supplied about the women. After confirming her authority, it took a few seconds to return the data. The only extra it revealed was that Emily had belonged to various organisations called xMind, Cognizant and Cerebralta at different times of her life. There was an unverified note that suggested that these were possibly different names for the same outfit. It also added that Amelia had attended restricted meetings of something called The Wider Consciousness, which promoted yoga and mental fitness.
"A right bunch of weird headology!" Melissa snorted. "Well, that probably accounts for them both ending up in L-Squared."
"I've heard of xMind," Janet said, frowning. "Something controversial back when I was about your age."
Her fingers danced through the holographic interface until she located the reference. They both read the short report about an explosion in a block of offices in Poland in 2089, in which xMind was implicated. The exact cause of the destruction was never determined but several people, mainly workers in adjacent offices to those occupied by xMind, had died mysteriously, many without any detectable physical trauma. No one from xMind itself was afflicted and it was rumoured that their offices had long been empty. There were no later references to xMind – it was as if the accident had wiped out the organisation completely. The authorities, after several false leads, failed to get anywhere at all.
Janet shut down the interface.
"So, what now?" Melissa asked.
"Well, there are other institutions similar to L-Squared on the Moon. I wonder if they have any patients with a similar problem?"
Melissa smiled, "Can I use your authority codes?"
Janet nodded, "Be discreet."
Thank you for reading Splinters. Do please vote and/or leave a comment to tell me what you think.
YOU ARE READING
The Moon colonists watch in fear as an asteroid, far larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, plummets towards the Earth. The collision leaves the planet blackened and lifeless. Can the colonists survive their sudden en...