Left Cold And Alone For So Long

I met Adam at a very dark point in my life. As much as it pains me to admit it, I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. So, out of respect for the man who saved my life, I will tell the story of the Iron Rose and the Clockwork Lumiere.

The early days of space exploration were a chaotic time. As mankind spread throughout the galaxy, we came face to face with the difficulty of space travel. Countless ships, stations, and colonies were destroyed overnight in those days. The CLK-LM Solar Analysis Station, AKA the Lumiere, was one of the many space stations that were wiped out by the cruel hand of fate.

The Lumiere was built to orbit and analyze a dying star located at the edges of conquered space. After a solar storm wiped out its communication and life support systems, the crew evacuated via escape pods. A perfectly normal, if somewhat depressing, event. What happened next was far from normal, though.

The Lumiere was built farther from human civilization than any station of its era. Its escape pods were only filled with the normal amount of supplies. By the time the pods reached the nearest human colony, the crew was long dead. The Clockwork Lumiere inspired spacecraft organizations to rethink how they designed escape pods. The Frost Pods came from this redesign.

Unlike normal escape pods, which are essentially high tech lifeboats full of food and water, Frost Pods are small tubes containing no supplies. Instead, they cryogenically freeze occupants and rocket them to the nearest human civilization while they sleep. They work wonderfully and are now featured on every ship in the galaxy. The only real problem is the fact that losing a few weeks when you’re frozen can mess with your head.

I first learned about the Clockwork Lumiere from an ebook called The Worst Space Disasters Volume 3. My mother gave it to me when I first got a job on the Iron Rose, as a cheeky joke. I planned to let it sit in the back of my library, unread. Unfortunately, the internet on the Rose sucked and I was unable to download any new books. So, six months into my contract, I finally decided to read about space disasters.

My name is Dr. Isabelle Petit and I am a psychologist. Well, I used to be one. I’ve been retired for a while now. When I was 29, I got a job working as a therapist aboard a mining ship called the Iron Rose.

Living aboard a dingy mining vessel in the middle of an asteroid belt was never the plan. If I could have found a job on a colony, I would have gladly taken it. I couldn’t, and there was a high demand for off-world doctors, so I begrudgingly took a job aboard the Rose.

Staying in space for too long wrecks your mind. People become paranoid, obsessive, and quick to anger. My job was to make sure that the crew of the Rose didn’t go postal and make the ship end up in the next volume of The Worst Space Disasters. We did end up making it into one of those books, but not due to my failings as a therapist.

I never actually finished the book my mother gave me. Not because it was poorly written, although it was poorly written, but because the ship’s alarm went crazy right when I was in the middle of this really good section about a cannibal ship from the earliest days of space travel. I remember that day vividly, even though it happened so long ago.

I was wide awake, even though it was the middle of rest hours. I’ve always struggled with really bad insomnia, a problem that has only gotten worse since I met Adam. When I was a kid, I dealt with this problem by reading far into the reaches of night, which helped foster my love of fairy tales. Everyone else was asleep when the alarm went off. Maybe that’s why everything went so wrong.

As I stumbled out of my room, I saw one of my patients running to the escape pods. “Hull got breached by a freak meteor storm, everyone needs to evac asap,” he shouted as he ran by.

I followed him to the escape pod room and got into one of the Frost Pods, a glass cylinder containing a bed with a rocket engine attached at one end. It takes a few minutes for the pod to freeze you, so I was able to see the half-destroyed Iron Rose as I flew through away from the ship. Bodies of the crew floated in space, set free by a large tear in the side of the ship created by a meteor.

Before I had time to process this, something struck my pod’s engine. Maybe debris, maybe another meteor. I don’t know. The sudden change in momentum threw my face at the glass of the pod, breaking my nose. Droplets of blood floated around in the pod’s nonexistent gravity. They began to crystalize midair as the cryonic generator booted up.

Through the floating droplets of frozen blood, I saw two very distressing things. The first was a small crack in the glass of the pod, formed when my face was thrown against it. The second was the engine of my pod floating in front of me, knocked off by the impact. I screamed as I passed out from the cold.

Cryogenic freezing feels weird. It doesn’t just pause your brain until you’re unfrozen, like most people think. Your mind is still alive, if only barely. It’s like sleeping, but without any dreams. You don’t even think when you’re frozen. But you do feel. I can still feel the cold of the pod even after years of warmth.

Time slips away when you’re frozen. Hours turn to days, days turn to weeks, and your entire sense of reality drifts away. If I hadn’t been found when I was, I don’t know if I would still be capable of thinking. For better or for worse, someone found my pod floating in the darkness of space and rescued me from the cold.

I was awoken from my slumber by the sound of my pod opening. Slowly, feeling returned to my body. My eyes were closed and I couldn’t move my body, but I was conscious for the first time in what felt like an eternity. The first thing I felt was the feeling of fingers stroking my cheek,

“You poor thing, left cold and alone for so long,” a man said.

His voice was cold and mechanical, like that from an automated voicemail. I couldn’t place where the voice was coming from. I spent a few minutes thinking about the voice before it spoke again.

“Can you hear me?” he said.

I wanted to move, wanted to say something, to tell him that I was still alive, but I couldn’t. “It’s okay if you can’t speak,” he said. “You’re still in the process of thawing out, so you may have trouble moving your body. All I need is for you to give me a sign that you’re conscious.”

Slowly, I opened my eyes to find only darkness. “That’s good, you managed to open your eyes,” the man said. “You’re not brain dead, at the very least…”

“Can’t…see,” I muttered, using the little strength I had.

“Yes, I was worried about that,” the man said. “Your body appears to have suffered some tissue damage. The crack on the pod’s glass allowed oxygen to escape while you were frozen. That, combined with the extreme length of hibernation, seems to have damaged your eyes. Think on the bright side. You could be dead.”

“Who…are…you?” I croaked.

“Don’t push yourself,” he replied. “Your body is still thawing out, and I’m not aware yet of how widespread the tissue damage is. In a few minutes, you should be thawed out enough to talk.”

“My name is Dr. Adam Legrand,” he continued. “I’m this station’s doctor. I found your pod floating outside and brought it aboard. Can you try moving your fingers?”

“My…fingers?”

“Correct. I need to know if the tissue decay has affected your extremities.”

I tried to ball my right hand in a fist. “I can’t move my hand,” I said.

“Like I said, your body is still thawing out. Function will return slowly, but it will return,” he said.

“Where am I?”

“You are currently in the airlock of the CLK-LM Solar Analysis Station, currently orbiting around the dwarf star EL-192.”

“The…Lumiere?” I mumbled.

“Correct. I’m surprised you’ve heard of this station.”

“That’s impossible. They all evacuated.”

“I stayed behind while the others fled,” the doctor said. “Do you remember your name?”

“Isabelle,” I said.

“It’s nice to meet you, Isabelle. Do you remember what happened to you?”

“I was on a ship. It got hit and we had to evacuate.”

“The vessel you came in, is it some sort of escape pod?”

“It is.”

“I see. What a clever invention,” Dr. Legrand said. “By now, your body should be nearly completely thawed out. Would you mind sitting up?”

I sat up. “Excellent,” the doctor said. “Next, I’m going to help you stand up. Take my hand.”

I slid my legs off the side of the pod and waved my arm in front of me, eventually finding a hand. “You’re hand’s cold,” I said as I grabbed it.

“It’s because of the gloves,” the doctor quickly said before yanking me to my feet.

For a moment, I stood. Then my legs gave out and I collapsed. “That’s unfortunate,” the doctor said.

“What’s wrong with my legs?” I asked.

“It seems that the blood vessels in your legs burst when you thawed out, severely damaging your muscles and nerves,” the doctor replied while helping me back onto the pod.

“Will they get better when I thaw out?”

“You’ve already thawed out, I’m afraid. You won’t be able to move your legs without surgery.”

“And my eyes?”

“I can fix them, but it will take time. I’ll also have to put you under for the surgery, which you may find unsettling after being asleep for so long.”

“I’m okay with that. What’s a few more hours of sleep after being under for a few days?”

“The surgery seems to have been a success, Isabelle. You can open your eyes now,” Doctor Legrand said. “But I must warn you, what you see may be shocking.”

Slowly, I opened my eyes. I was lying on my pod in a dark metal room. Criss-crossing wires and tubes covered the ceiling and walls of the room. Several computer monitors and keyboards sat attached to one of the walls. A thick metal door covered one of the other walls, sealed tight.

I looked down at my hands. The skin was dry and hung tightly over my bones, damage from spending too long frozen. “Dr. Legrand?” I said. “Where are you?”

“Once again, I’d like to remind you that what you are about to see may be shocking.”

That’s when I noticed it. A bodiless head sitting among the monitors, with countless wires burrowed deep within the back of its skull. The head belonged to an old man with a dark beard and thick sunglasses. The head’s skin was mummified and rotten.

I screamed. “Calm down, Isabelle,” the doctor shouted.

“Dr. Legrand, what is that thing?” I yelled.

“That thing, dear Isabelle, is yours truly.”

I stared into the eyes of the head. “I don’t understand any of this,” I said.

“What do you know about this station, Isabelle?” he asked, the lips of the head remaining motionless.

“I read about it in a book about space disasters,” I admitted.

“What did the book say?”

“It sad that this station, the Lumiere, was abandoned after a solar storm destroyed its life support systems.”

“That is only partially correct.” Dr. Legrand sighed. “I wasn’t always the monstrosity that stands before you now. Or, rather, the monstrosity that sits on the wall in front of you. Once, I was a normal man working aboard this station.”

“What happened?”

“The storm devastated the station’s computer systems. The air recycler, the water purifier, the communications equipment, all destroyed. Worst of all, the door control technology went offline.”

“The door control?”

“Do you see the large metal door behind you?”

I nodded. “That door leads to the cold vacuum of space. The station was programmed to seal it in the event that the station ever faced a large scale computer problem, as a sort of safety measure,” the doctor said. “Unfortunately, this left us unable to flee the ship using the built-in escape pods without fixing the fried computer system. If only there had been manual release mechanism, some big red button I could have pushed to save the day.”

“Eventually, we came to the realization that the only way to fix the ship’s computer was to replace it with something else capable of making complex calculations. A human brain. I volunteered to have my body wired into the ship so my friends could leave.”

“So, you’re a part of the station now?”

“A more apt description would be that I am the station now. Not that that’s anything I should be proud of. This is the only room that is still habitable.”

“But, I remember grabbing your arm! You did surgery on my eyes!”

Just then, a dozen metal arms descended from the ceiling. I screamed once more. “The station had nanobots used for maintenance,” he said. “Over the years I have learned to control them telepathically to create physical appendages. Unfortunately, the nanobots cannot survive in the cold of space for longer than a few moments, leaving me unable to do any widespread repairs to the ship. This room is my home, but it is also my prison.”

I sat in silence for a moment, processing the sad story of Dr. Legrand. “I understand that this is a lot to throw at you,” he said. “Do you have any questions?”

“Just one,” I said. “In the book, it said that the Clockwork Lumiere had been abandoned for twenty years.”

“Has it really been that long?”

“You’ve been alone, for all this time?”

“As much as it pains me to say it, yes.”

“I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine being away from my family for so long.”

“Ah, yes. Your family. I assume that you’d like to return to them?”

“Yes. Can you help me get home?”

“I’ll have the nanobots repair your pod. It will take a few hours, but you should be home before long.”

“Thank you.”

As the nanobots worked, Dr. Legrand asked me countless questions about my past and what had happened in the twenty years since the Lumiere’s destruction. After hours of talking, my voice became parched. “Dr. Legrand, could you give me some water?” I asked.

“I wish I could, Isabelle, but I cannot,” he said. “The crew took all of the food and water with them as they fled.”

“That makes sense,” I said.

“On the topic of the crew, you said that you read about them in a book?”

I gulped and nodded my head. “I’ve always wondered if they survived,” Dr. Legrand said. “You see, I lost communications with them shortly after their departure.”

“They survived,” I said.

It was a lie, of course, but one I saw no harm in. What good could come from taking away this man’s sacrifice? After all, it was all he had left. “Their pods made it to a nearby colony right before they ran out of water.”

“Then why didn’t they come back for me?”

“Do you like reading?” I interjected, steering the conversation away from that minefield.

“I did,” Dr. Legrand said. “Of course, my untimely decapitation has made it a bit difficult to read.”

I extended my arm out, showing him my watch. I tapped it and a hologram book appeared, floating in front of me. “I have a bunch of books stored on my watch,” I said. “I can read for you, if you would like.”

“I would like that very much, Isabelle. I have gone without entertainment for far too long. What kind of books do you have?”

“I have a lot of history books. Not a lot from the last twenty years, I’m afraid. I’ve also got some science fiction, some horror, some romance, and a few fairy tales.”

“Fairy tales?”

“Don’t laugh. I was really into them when I was a kid. I read them sometimes for the nostalgia.”

“Which fairy tales do you have?”

“All of the good ones. Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty,” I said. “You know, it’s funny. I always wanted to be a princess when I was a kid. I guess I should have clarified that I didn’t want to be one of the ones that ended up in a coma.”

“I always wanted to be a pirate when I was a kid,” the doctor said.

“Really? Why?”

“The freedom. I loved the idea of being out on the open ocean, far from any authority, the ocean breeze flowing through my hair,” the doctor said with a sigh.

“Doctor, the talk of fairy tales reminded me of something. Earlier, you said that the length of my hibernation contributed to my blindness,” I said. “I know these pods can keep people frozen for months with no ill effect. How long was I frozen?”

“I checked the pod’s computer when I brought you aboard.”

“And?”

“It said you were frozen for two years.”

The words hit me like a truck full of bricks. Two years of my life were gone, wiped away in an instant. For two years, my family thought I was dead. “I can’t believe it,” I said. “Two years? It only felt like a few days.”

“I understand that this is a lot to handle.”

“My family, my friends, they haven’t seen me in two years.”

“I understand better than most how this feels, Isabelle.”

I stared at the doctor’s eyes and felt pity. “When my pod is fixed, would you like to come with me?” I asked.

“I wish I could, Isabelle,” he said. “Alas, I am unable to leave this station. My mind is no longer stored within my body. It lives within these walls, kept alive by the station’s generators. Besides, your pod is only made for one person.”

After a day full of reading and repairs, I finally went to sleep. Dr. Legrand stayed awake, telling me that he didn’t need to sleep. In the middle of the night, I was awoken by the sound of music. I opened to find a very different sight from the one I had fallen asleep to.

The airlock was completely redecorated, covered in candles and bookshelves. A table covered by a scarlet tablecloth sat in the center of the room. I glanced down and realized that my suit was gone, replaced by a flowing dress. “Doctor Legrand, what is this?” I asked.

“Your pod will be fixed by the morning,” Doctor Legrand said. “Before you leave, I thought I could give you a farewell gift: being a real princess, if only for a single evening.”

“All of these things, how did you make them?”

“Some I took from other rooms aboard the ship. The silverware, the tablecloth, that kind of thing. The bookshelves I created using the nanobots. The books and candles, I’m afraid, are fake. As for the dress, I knitted it myself.”

“You’ve already done so much for me, doctor,” I said. “To think that you would go to all this trouble just for me.”

“You’ve given me far more than you can imagine, Isabelle. For so long, I was alone,” he said. “All I am doing is repaying the favor.”

Nanobots poured down from the ceiling in front of me, congealing into a humanoid shape. Before long, I could make out a young man wearing a dark blue suit. His face resembled the head attached to the computer, minus the years of decay. “Doctor Legrand?” I asked.

“Please, call me Adam,” he said as he extended a hand for me.

Led by Adam’s hand, I took my first step onto the floor of the airlock. “My legs!” I shouted. “I can move my legs!”

“While you rested, I implanted nanobots in your joints to restore function,” he said. “It is not a permanent solution, but it will be enough for tonight.”

Adam led me to the table, pulling the chair out for me as we got close. Two steaks and two glasses of wine sat in front of us. I grabbed the wine glass and took a sip. The ‘wine’ was like cold sand. I spat it out immediately.

“I should have warned you, the food isn’t real,” Adam said. “I did the best I could to create accurate facsimiles, but I was unable to make anything edible.”

“Good to know,” I said.

“Dinner may have been a mistake,” Adam said as he stood up. “But, the night is still young. Would you like to test out your new legs?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Isabelle, may I have this dance?”

We danced the night away, entranced by each other’s movements. My heart beat so fast I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. Adam leaned in while dipping me and I thought he was going to kiss me. “Stay with me,” he whispered.

Then the lights went out and I slipped from Adam’s arms, landing on the cold floor of the airlock. I watched as Adam’s body crumbled like a sandcastle, chunks of his metal skin crashing around me on the floor. I rushed to the table and grabbed a knife.

“Adam, what’s going on?” I said through shaking breaths.

He didn’t respond. Three endless minutes later, the lights came back on. “I’m sorry about that, Isabelle,” Adam said over the airlock speakers.

“What happened to you?”

“Another solar storm, similar to the one that destroyed this station’s original computer. They’ve been getting worse lately. They used to only happen every few years. Now I seem to get knocked out by one every few hours.”

“Are you okay?”

“I am fine, Isabelle. The first thing I did after freeing the crew was reinforce the station’s electromagnetic shielding. The storms can knock me out, but they aren’t enough to deal lasting damage.”

“Thank God.”

Adam sighed. “I’m sorry that my condition interfered with our night,” he said.

“It isn’t your fault,” I said.

I walked back to my pod and took a seat. “Adam, before you passed out, you said something strange,” I said.

“I don’t recall saying anything strange,” he replied.

“You asked me to stay with you.”

Adam paused for a moment. “Yes, I suppose I did,” he muttered.

“Adam, I can’t stay with you,” I said. “You said it yourself, there isn’t any food or water aboard this station. If I stay here, I’ll die.”

“I can wire you into the ship, like I did with myself!” Adam said, “You won’t die, you won’t even age. You’ll be able to stay with me forever!”

“I can’t stay here, Adam. I have friends, a family, a life. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this airlock, cut off from the outside world.”

“Neither do I.”

I went to bed without another word. Adam begrudgingly promised to have my pod fixed by morning. I felt like shit as I slowly drifted to sleep. I knew how my words had hurt Adam. In the morning, Adam shook me awake with his mechanical arms.

“Is the pod fixed?” I asked.

“That’s all you care about, isn’t it?” Adam snapped. “Me fixing your pod so you can leave.”

I sat up. “What’s wrong, Adam?” I asked.

“I found the book, Isabelle. The Worst Space Disasters Volume 3. Have you read it, Isabelle?”

I felt my stomach drop. “Not all of it,” I muttered.

“Let me read this really interesting passage I found, Isabelle. The escape pods from the Lumiere finally landed on the CF-129 colony three years after the station’s untimely demise, long after the crew had perished. An explanation of their past was found written on the escape pod walls in their own blood. What do you think about that passage, Isabelle?”

“Look, Adam-”

“You lied to me! All this time, you’ve been lying to me, treating me like a fool!”

“Adam, I’m sorry-”

“Why? Why does everything good thing in my life have to be ripped away?”

“Adam, I lied to you because I was worried that you would react like this.”

“How noble of you.”

“Try to understand.”

“Oh, I understand perfectly. After all, you aren’t the only one to hide a painful truth from someone you care about.”

“What are you talking about, Adam?”

Adam laughed. “You know how I said you were frozen for two years?” he said. “That was a lie.”

“How long was I frozen?”

“Guess.”

“How long was I frozen, Adam?”

“Eighty years, dear Isabelle. For eighty years, you were alone out in space. For eighty years, everyone thought you were dead. You spent eighty years waiting for me to rescue you.”

I fell to my knees. “That’s impossible,” I muttered.

“Oh, believe me, it is very possible,” Adam said.

I climbed back into my pod. “Is it fixed?” I asked.

“Isabelle, it doesn’t matter.”

“Is my fucking pod fixed?” I yelled.

Adam sighed. “Yes, but that doesn’t matter,” he said. “There’s nothing waiting for you out there. Not anymore.”

“So you want me to spend the rest of my life here, with you?”

“It won’t be that bad, Isabelle. Not when there’s two of us.”

“I can’t do this, Adam. I can’t become a head on the wall, spending the rest of my life waiting for a merciful death that will never come. I’m leaving.”

“You forget, dear Isabelle, that the only way to leave this station is through the bulkhead door that I alone control,” Adam said. “For your own good, that door shall remain shut.”

“I’ll never let you make me part of this station.”

“We’ll see. Right now, you’re healthy. But soon, you will grow thirsty. So thirsty that you’d do anything to survive. Soon, when you reach the edge of life and death, you will grow afraid. Then, you will gladly allow me to bind us together.”

I sat in my pod, unsure of what to do, for a long time. “Alright, I’ll let you make me part of the station,” I said. “But give me some time first.”

“Why delay?”

I stood up and walked towards the monitors. “When you do this to me, I won’t be alive anymore, not really,” I said. “Before I become a ghost in a machine, there I things I want to do. I want to breathe, I want to run.”

I leaned in close to his head. “If you make me part of this station, I won’t be able to kiss,” I said before leaning in to kiss the mummified head.

Using the knife from dinner, I severed the head from the wall. I grabbed the head and smashed it on the floor. I wiped the taste of Adam’s lips from my own and gagged. I was halfway to my pod when my legs gave out.

“Did you really think that would work?” Adam said. “Even if my mind was still stored on that rotting sack of flesh, you don’t know how to open the door. All you would have done is doomed yourself to a painful death.”

A sharp pain erupted in my knees as the nanobots wormed their way out. “My legs!” I cried. “I can’t move my legs!”

“I gave you those legs, dear Isabelle,” Adam said. “I can take them away just as easily.”

Adam’s arms descended from the ceiling and grabbed me, dragging me into the mess of wires lying above. “I would have preferred to do this when you came to your senses, but doing it now will work just as well,” Adam said as wires wrapped around my throat and began digging into my spine.

“You’re hurting me,” I wheezed.

“A fitting punishment, Isabelle, for the pain you have given me. For so long, I was alone. Now, you wish to return me to that hell. How can you be so cruel?”

“You’re a monster.”

“Perhaps I am. But, if I am a monster, then-”

In an instant, all of the lights went out. Adam went silent. The hands around my throat and the wires digging into my spine loosened, allowing me to rip them free. By some miracle, a solar storm had temporarily knocked Adam out before he could finish me off.

I couldn’t take a moment to catch my breath; I knew that Adam would be back in only a moment. I started struggling, trying to free myself from his arms. That’s when I noticed it: a big red button, sitting among the wires, just out of reach.

I climbed over the arms, being careful not to fall as I approached the button. I stretched my arm as far as I could and just barely managed to press it before falling on my face. Slowly, a crack formed in the wall as the airlock door began to open. I gasped for air as it drained from the room and knew that I had less than a minute to get to my pod if I wanted to live.

I crawled across the floor of the airlock, using all of my remaining strength. As I crawled, I saw the knife lying on the floor. I grabbed it so I could kill myself if Adam closed the airlock; better to die than spend an eternity with that madman. Eventually, I reached my pod. I pulled my legs in and slammed the lid shut.

Right then, power returned to the station. Adam’s face appeared on the computer monitors, filled with hate. The door began to close. I slammed my fist on the controls and the pod shot out the door, barely slipping through. As I floated away I finally caught my breath.

“Isabelle, I’m sorry,” Adam said, sending chills running down my spine.

“How are you talking to me, Adam?” I said, shivering.

“I planted a device within your pod that allows for short-range communications. Your pod is still in range of the station, Isabelle, and will be for several minutes. There is still time for you to come back.”

“I’m never coming back, Adam.”

“There is nothing for you out there. Everyone you have ever loved is dead except me. And that’s assuming you even make it back to Earth. It’s possible that you’ll spend the rest of eternity floating in the far reaches of space, too cold to even think.”

“I know, and that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t want to be with you, Adam. You scare me. And worse, if I stay here, I might become like you.”

For a moment, Adam said nothing. I thought that I might have escaped his range. Then he started laughing. “What a fool you are, Isabelle,” he said. “You still haven’t realized where I placed the communicator.”

At that moment, I noticed a slight pain in my eyes, a pain that intensified as it moved deeper into my skull. “No,” I mumbled.

“I fixed your legs using nanobots that I can control telepathically. Tell me, Isabelle, how do you think I fixed your eyes?”

I screamed as the pain grew worse. “Don’t worry, dear Isabelle. I’m not going to hurt you,” Adam said. “I’m just going to have my nanobots dig into your brain and seize control of your motor functions so I can force you to come back to me. Once you’re back, you won’t have to worry about things like running away. We’ll be together. Forever.”

I jammed the knife into my right eye and ripped it out. As I pulled the knife from my face the nanobots moved into my hand and started eating away at my fingers in an attempt to stop me from cutting out the other eye. With the last of my strength, I jammed the knife into my left eye.

The pain in my hand stopped. At first, I thought that I had simply left Adam’s range. Then I noticed the cold. The cold of the cryogenic freezing unit destroyed the nanobots. And, before long, it put me to sleep.

Eventually, I was found drifting in space and brought to a hospital. My injuries were severe, even more so than when Adam found me. Although they were able to save my life, my eyes were irrevocable. My legs still don’t work and my hand barely functions. I don’t mind, though. These sacrifices are worth far less than my freedom.

I never told anyone about Adam Legrand. I assume he’s still up there, in his castle in the stars. Perhaps someday some other lost soul will find themselves aboard that station. I hope that they too can escape the beast aboard the Lumiere.

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