[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 43
Joey sat up, banged his head against the upper bunk’s metal frame, and fell back down.
“Joey, are you awake?” June asked from another bunk.
“No, I always bump my head and curse in my sleep.”
He shouldn’t have snapped at June like that. She’d been so nice to him since he’d been here. He just wasn’t handling this situation as well as he thought he might be able to. The worst part was he discovered he was prone to passing out under duress. That sucked. June must think he was such a wimp.
June’s face appeared from the top bunk. “Did you stay awake long enough to see what happened to Vic?”
That’s right. Mike, the big spider thing, had bitten Vic. Maybe even killed him! “Yes.”
“You’ve been out for a long time. A few hours. We’ve already stopped and gotten the anti-venom for Vic. He’s still out cold.”
“Did a doctor see him?”
“We didn’t have time to stop and see a doctor. I know Vic put a lot on the line for this and we just stopped and got it. I think we’re only about fifteen minutes off schedule. Argmon made great time stopping and getting us back on course.”
Joey leaned up on one arm. His face got closer to June’s than he intended. He scooted back slightly. She frowned slightly.
“So, um, how is he?”
“He’s still out.”
“What about this trip we’re taking. Can he handle it?”
“The person I got the anti-venom from said it’d be a few hours before we see improvement. He’s got to pull out of this and soon. We’re only about thirty minutes out from Raado. He needs to wake up and take care of this.”
“Why can’t you or Argmon take care of it?”
“This is his deal. He’s the captain of the ship. That’s his job.”
“Can’t you pose as the captain and just take care of it? Who’s going to know?”
“Do I look like a Vic? The ship’s manifest is broadcast to the planet before we land. They’ll know what’s going on.”
“So just get Tootsie to change it. Didn’t Vic do that before?”
June mulled the idea over for a moment. “Let’s go check on Vic. If he doesn’t wake up in the next fifteen minutes, we’ll do just that. I just feel weird making myself captain of the SS Acid Rat with Vic incapacitated.”
Joey got up and followed June out of the sleeping quarters. “Someone’s got to do it. Argmon will only scare people we deal with. Who better to do it?”
June stopped and put her hand on Joey’s shoulder. “Thanks Joey.”
Joey couldn’t help but flush. June’s touch felt good. He’d never had a girl, let alone a woman, be so nice to him. What a change from Earth.
“Sure thing. Let’s go check on Vic.”
June’s smile faded and she turned and sighed. “Yeah, let’s.”
Vic’s lifeless body had been laid out in the kitchen. His face was pallid and sweaty. Either side of his neck had been heavily bandaged and spots of red soaked through. Until this moment Joey had almost thought of Vic as invincible. Stupid thought. No one is invincible. Seeing Vic like this ran the point home.
The only other person in the room was Dexter who stood vigilant over Vic’s body. His three independently blinking eyes looked fretful.
“Isn’t there anything else we can do for him?” Joey asked as he sat on the bench next to Vic but far enough away from Dexter.
“Nope. It’s a waiting game now.” June fixed two glassed of steaming liquid. She offered one to Joey.
“Don’t ask. One thing you’ll learn out here is that the less you know about what you put in your mouth the better. If it smells good and tastes good, eat it.”
The liquid’s black surface swirled and streaked. A sniff reminded him of solder flux, but in a good way. It didn’t sting or burn. A sip and his tongue came to life; the metallic taste a pleasant surprise. When he swallowed his entire insides warmed.
“This is good. Thanks.”
June only smiled and took a sip of her own.
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
June looked at Vic.
“June,” Vic said weakly. “June, I need a hangover pill. Quick.”
June stood up and hovered over Vic’s face. Her smile fled and she spoke matter-of-factly to Vic. “It’s not a hangover. Mike bit you.”
Vic opened his eyes. His green eyes were no longer green. The pigment form his eyes had been replaced by a steely gray. “Bit?”
“Yes. I told you Mike was trouble when you brought him onto this ship. Do you remember what you told me?”
“Mike’s just a little off kilter. He’s not any danger.”
“That’s exactly what you told me. Now what do you think?”
Vic closed his eyes. He looked like he was sleeping, but he still spoke. “He didn’t mean to do it. Mike’s not a bad guy.”
“You stubborn idiot. Is Mike going to have to kill you before you’ll accept that he’s dangerous?”
“Why do my shoulders hurt so bad?”
“I told you. Mike bit you.”
“His teeth. Are you paying attention?”
Joey put his hand on June’s shoulder. “He’s delirious.”
June pulled away and left the room.
Vic took a haggard breath. “Kid, what happened?”
“It’s like June just told you. Mike built the strange web…”
Vic’s eyes snapped open and he lurched forward. His scream brought June back into the kitchen.
“What happened?” She asked, frantic.
“I don’t know. He just asked…” June pushed him away.
Her touch, so tender just a few moments ago, pained him. Sure Vic was hurt, but he’d get better. Vic had already adjusted to this place. Seeing June and Vic from the corner of the room Joey felt alone. Very alone. Nothing but a third wheel. Why did he ever push that button? Why?
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