The Things I Saw
“Dr. Branner? I have a case for you.”
“Let’s hear it, McPherson.”
McPherson took a deep breath. “Your patient was shot in the calf while busting out of a POW camp with his cellmate. Their escape was successful but all they had with them were a stolen bayonet and some water. Eight days into their march they came across an abandoned barracks that provided them with food, tools, a radio, a camera , and two standard issue first aid kits. They do not contain antibiotics.”
“Two days before finding shelter, your patient developed gangrene. Here are some photos of what it looks like now. What do you recommend?”
Dr. Branner scrutinized the pictures and smiled grimly. “Another stumper. Given the circumstances, I would amputate below the knee, right about here.”
“Can you write down the procedure in detail? Remember that your patient’s partner is an infantryman, not a surgeon.”
The doctor covered four pages with instructions, and illustrations, and notes. He passed his clipboard to McPherson.
Private McPherson gulped. “Well, then. Let’s get started.”
Dr. Branner limped to his cot. Outside, a siren wailed.
Holly pressed her forehead against the observatory window.Her hands left smudges on the cold glass.
“Daddy, I can see it! Is that where we’re landing?”
“That’s our new home, yes. We’ll be there in no time.”
“How soon? I want to go now.”
The colony ship silently careened at a cool 80 percent of lightspeed. Only a handful knew about the meltdown that had wiped out the deceleration engines two months ago.
The globe swelled at an alarming rate. Within minutes, the backdrop of black was no longer visible in the triangular window. Blue and white, then red, then a blinding white. Holly took her hands off the hot glass.
“Close your eyes, Holly. When you open them, we’ll be home.”