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©1999 Jari Komppa

"Doc, my feet hurt. Really. I've got to get these shoes off.", Shun said before even letting the medical section door open before him.

"Strange. Well, it's been quite silent here..", doctor Flohr said, crossing the med section in couple tall leaps, then tapping security code on one quarantine cell. "In you go", he said, pushing Shun inside just after the force field shut down.

Shun sat down and waited for doc to talk. This all was in the training. They were the fifth generation on this colonization ship bound for Alpha Centauri.. one of fifty ships sent out. Life back on home had degenerated so much that life on these technological miracles was preferable. Moving slower than light it would take them forever to reach wherever they were going.. they might not find anything there, but who cared, it would be countless generations away in any case.

"No strange toxins.. no radiation.. your DNA checks out.. it seems like your shoes are just too tight or something. Feel free to take them off."

Shun pulled his shoes off carefully, feeling relief.

"Your feet seem to have expanded a bit or something.. have you spent too much time in free-fall or something?"

"Not that I know of"

"I'll tell someone to check the logs in any case. Take off the socks as well."

Shun complied, pulling his socks off. His feet were full of what looked like mushrooms, but they were all skin.

"Oh my god!"

"No-. No, don't panic."

"What is this?!"

"Don't touch it!"

Shun gripped the bench with both hands, trying not to panic. He felt like screaming. Flohr was talking to intercom.

An hour later he was still sitting in his cell, sipping water from a glass. That was all the quarantine got if it wasn't programmed for anything else. Through the field he could see five docs marveling the medical specs and talking, perhaps arguing about things. He had never seen all five in the same room before, or even the same cluster before.. Originally there were six clusters, but one had been shut down soon after leaving earth to stop some disease from spreading.

"Hey! Mind sharing something with me!!", Shun tried again, waving. Sighing, he looked at his feet. The mushroom-like growth looked odd but somehow natural. It effectively flattened his feet completely, like soft shoes without shoes.

"Oh well, perhaps trying to walk on them will grasp their attention.."

Shun tried couple steps, and it felt more natural than he had ever felt in that suit. He could feel the little elevations on the metallic floor, but it didn't feel cold.

"Ahm.. sorry Shun. Good that you try walking, we were just about to ask you to do that.", Flohr said, throwing some knowing glances at some of his colleagues.

"We've been discussing what could possibly have caused that. You felt completely okay this morning? How long since your last real sleep?"

"Can't you check the logs or something?"

"It's harvest time, Shun.. and there's nothing wrong medically as far as we know.. you're not in any danger."

Sighing, Shun sat down.

"I don't know. Four days or so. I was planning to go under after one day or so. But yes, I felt just okay when I took that nap.. seven hours ago. Then I just went on my rounds, ate a bit, and walked here. No, I didn't eat anything special."

"We've got to have someone design you new footwear. Just in case. We can't leave you there forever. You'll have to spend the night there in any case. I've set the foodisp to give you whatever food you wish. Don't overdo it."

"Thanks doc."

"Hey Shun!"

"Uh, what?", Shun said, trying to rise up from the hard bench just to get hit by a pillow.

"Just thought you might want something soft to lay your head on.", Flohr said, and closed down the field again.

"Gee thanks.."

"Just if you're curious, we left two hours ago. We're dumbfounded. We sent specs and all relevant info to the Echo.. it'll take a year for us to get answer from anyone even if they have direct answer."

"You think there's something wrong with me?"

"That's curious, really. Those.. pillows seem to fit your feet almost like they were designed or something.."

"Yeah, I've been thinking the same. What if it was designed?"

"Pah. Our genes have been studied for so long.."

"..just to find that two-thirds of it is gibberish. Maybe it isn't."

"So? You mean we're naturally space bound species or something?"

"Well, I've been thinking.."


"Well, I'm just about as white as humans can be."

"That's plain racism. Something we don't do in this ship."

"Yeah, I know, but think about it. For no apparent reason pale people have been elevated in history. Maybe it's some racial memory thing or something."

"That's plain gibberish. It's just as possible that that is some kind of genetic disease you've inherited. After all, we only have about twenty thousand people awake here. I'll have to check how your parentages have mixed."

Shun shrugged, and laid back on the bench. The pillow really helped.


That's what you get when you fall asleep right 8pm with your socks on and teeth unbrushed..

oh dear.

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