The cannister was almost empty, but the precious oxygen was almost in reach…
The lights came on automatically. The proximity alert sounded for a person approaching the door and Drick sat bolt upright in the bed. The sheets fell down around Drick’s waist as they stiffened in surprise. There was a flash and a chime as someone touched the courtesy call outside the doorway.
“Enter,” said Drick and flashed an alert to the room sensors to put the lighting to dim. A hand readied the small plasma ejector that was in the thigh holster, bringing it out to point at the doorway from under the covers.
The doorway opened and Drick made out the shadow of Marsh before the programmed lighting effect lit them clearly while leaving the room in a haze. Always disorientate anyone walking through a doorway. “What’s the matter, Marsh?” asked Drick.
“Can I come in?” The voice was soft and a little hesitant.
“Sure,” Drick flicked the weapon back into its holster and signalled the room to put the light to ambient evening. Drick got out of the bed. They were naked and they noted that Marsh averted their gaze. “You don’t have to, you know?”
“I know,” he said, “I guess it is a programmed response. The me, this me, is based on, would respond this way.”
“Really, “ Drick was pulling on cotton shorts and a vest top. “Why? I thought they were ex-military?”
“They were,” Drick noticed a slight blush, “we still only had semi-mixed barracks and clearly defined, if sometimes self-declared, gender divisions.”
“Well, that’s fine for a regimen. But in society, was it still really that way? Also I have no clearly defined gender. Is that an issue?”
“In some places society still had a problem.” he looked around the room quickly, “not for me, obviously, though since I said call me he…” Marsh left the statement alone, he smiled and made a slight cough of nervousness? “I have no issue. As for gender, well it’s a part of things but it isn’t everything that makes up a person. I guess you all have moved past that, but in my time, or the time I am made to be from, sex and gender and who you were, they were still wrapped together like melted toffee. People didn’t know how to separate attraction of a person from desire entrenched in physiology. The fluidity wasn’t there. Begs the question though, do you have any monogamy, or long term mono relationships?”
“Sure we do, in fact we have as much as any other form of relationship. I am not an expert but I suspect everything is represented in one quantity or another, we just don’t have any reliance on any one being superior or a normal. Not even a comaniality. Depends on location sometimes, or the latest media sensation.”
“Anyway, not a problem, just being me I guess.” He laughed but Drick could hear the nervousness, he was trying not to offend. Not that he held a contrasting opinion, but that he was unsure of what was right.
“Going to fill me in on what that means then? Is this why you woke me up? I am really not an expert. Or is there something else, you did wake me from a rather challenging dream.”
Marsh stared at Drick for a few moments, “maybe I am not the only one who should elaborate. You okay?”
“If that means, am I good, then yes. If it means that I have a rather annoying residual memory, then also yes. If it means do you want to talk about it, then get the heck out of here. Why did you come?”
“Ignore it. A long time ago, a bad event on a space vessel, seems to be haunting me recently. It isn’t an issue. Why are you really here?”
“I don’t know what to do.” Marsh sat on the bed.
“Should I talk to the person who claims to be my mother?”