Botany 5oo: Starblind


Ida Lee watch the binary sunset beautiful- twin stars setting in the sky, scorching streaks of rainbow at an azimuth simultaneous, crossing each other, chasing, defying, the lush white clouds soaking up the sinful color seeping: deep purple and orange juiced, true blue and pink too soft to make a baby cry.

She rubbed her belly, hoping that something was growing inside, hoping the seed had taken root. She was three days late for her monthly cycle-

The radio crunch incoming communication: "Ida get the triage!" It was Jody, and Jody wasn't joking around. Things start to happen fast: Myia running up the ramp of the ship, the footsteps of her metal boots against the tritanium tiles giving Ida butterflies in her stomach. Myia ran past Ida straight to the cockpit, begin to initiate launch. The woman didn't panic but she sure was in a rush.

Ida pulled the bed from Med Central & Jody came walking up the ramp, Malcom in his arms beside him. Her brother’s steps were healthy but deliberate and Ida had to ask, had to ask because she had to know: "What's wrong with him?"

Jody Varona lay his Captain on the gurney & pulled no punches, looked Ida between the eyes and tell her: "He's starblind."

Malcom Myles, remembering it like it was yesterday, or maybe a very long time ago. He was a child, a little boy with absolute knowledge, and he’s in the meadow, looking at the luminous starbloom, the plant that blossoms only once every three thousand years, only after the great rains of neon and a particularly sunny summer season. This is the bud that actually absorbs every ounce of sunlight that touches its petals and then, magically, at dusk on the summer solstice, released all the light stored within, in a glorious burst of beam and shine. Even as the heat crows sang away Malcom remembered the childhood rhyme… 

Starbloom, star bright
Look inside & lose your sight
Is it day or is it night
Now you’ll never know… 

And so Malcom had done it, become a boy again, crawled through the meadow, green grass warm on his arms and on his knees, and he promised himself not to look, no, he wouldn't look at the luminous starbloom, he would close his eyes when the time was right. He wouldn't weaken, and even if he did all that nonsense was just a child's nursery rhyme, without meaning, and he remembered the flower- more beautiful than any face he'd ever seen- and his father above him, long shadows and a trusting voice. And just like the rhyme the suns began to fall, and the sky went bright with white light, and the starbloom spread it's petals, and Malcom just had to see inside, and he heard the children's voices warning stay away, and he promised he'd only look long enough to get an idea, and as the flower unfurled, as the flower unfurled...

Inching his way through this meadow he felt brand new, all over again, a feeling he thought he had lost forever. There was nothing behind him, everything ahead, and there was Lumisidia, the aching starbloom, rising up above the blades of grass before her, yawning and stretching, preparing herself to be awake, and to pay back the light she’d been living on for the last three thousand years, and Malcom hurried, made his way closer, saw the buds peeling back and the bright white beneath and she was beautiful, goddess, in the moment of her nova, reaching a climax of light so pure it spilled out of the vines and occupied the sky…. and this… this… is happiness.

Malcom took in the beauty at her heart as the binary suns said goodbye and the plant released all the light it held inside. And his eyes went bright in the process, and he was blinded for life and beyond.

Malcom back on board the ship, Jody’s muscular arm holding him up as he felt his feet step and stagger, reeling, at a loss for not just sight but for words, ideas. Who are you when you can no longer see?

He felt some relief in Ida’s hand around his back, leaning him downward and onto the trundle, and as his muscles finally relaxed his mind began to panic. ‘Am I still the Captain? Am I still who I am? Am I still alive or is this the way we’re processed into death?’

He felt the ship quaking on takeoff and the rumble nearly knocked him to the floor. Little Fury: “Initiating stasis field” and he had never been more happy to hear that bastard’s voice as his bed was graviton-locked to the wall in Med Central. Why were they running? Didn’t they realize their Captain was blind? Or were there bigger problems?

Malcom raised his head, listening close, could hear Ida & Jody at the cockpit, Jody low and centered, “I see them.”

The ship rocked as it fired a bolt of beta into the surface below, sending shockwaves through the surface of the planet like stones skimming on a pond. Malcom, who couldn’t understand, didn’t ask. His ears were focused on the soft sighs of energy hitting the ship’s hull: someone or something was firing on them.

Malcom opened his mouth to speak but there was nothing to say… he couldn’t ask them to describe the situation, couldn't ask if his expert opinion was needed- there was surely no time. He lay back on the bed, ceding control of the Botany 500, if only for the moment.

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