Listening to the Words
By Joseph Jordan
Part Two of Two
something about David during our trip to the Edwards Spaceport: when the kid gets excited
he won’t shut up.
supersonic transport from Baltimore to Los Angeles, he insisted on
everything about the airplane.
an airplane, Tony.” He
rolled his eyes
to let me know I was an idiot for thinking so.
“Do you realize it takes longer for the
transport to reach cruising
altitude and to descend than it does to cross the country?”
thing I did know was that I wished they still served alcoholic
Once at Los
Angeles, we grabbed one of those new trains, the kind that hover over
tracks with super-cooled magnets.
trains can do almost a thousand kilometers per hour since
there’s no air
resistance in the underground tunnels,” David explained as we
buckled up in our
seats –- sitting backwards, no less.
understand the preoccupation with speed.
I mean, Edwards would still be there if we traveled at a
Spaceport passenger terminal turned out to be the old Dryden Flight
Center –- or so David claimed.
waited about an hour before a uniformed attendant gathered up David,
the other six passengers for preflight instructions.
They took a half hour telling us all the things we should
should not do during the flight. The
most important thing I got out of the presentation was to follow the
space-flight attendant’s lead.
they herded us into a van that lumbered away from the terminal. Looking out from the
spaceport, we seemed to
be in the middle of nowhere: blue
above, beige-colored dirt all around, and nothing else in between but a
concrete road that stretched out across the desert like a white ribbon.
a road, dummy,” David informed me.
“That’s Runway 22 where NASA used to
land the old space shuttles.”
the AeroSpacePlane itself came into view.
shouted as he pointed out
the van window. “That’s
was indeed a larger version of David’s model, although not
nearly as big as I’d
talking as we poured out of the van.
“There it is, Tony.
aerodynamic vehicle designed entirely by artificial
should have known that was a stupid
thing’s got three different types of
engines. There are
turbo/ramjet engines on the wings that will get us off the ground and
about Mach three. Underneath
really cool-looking scramjet engine that will take us up to the edge of
atmosphere at almost Mach fifteen.
finally, there are three rocket engines in the back that will boost us
orbit. Could you
imagine a regular
human trying to figure out how to build an airframe that supports all
I had to
admit that I couldn’t.
plodded closer to the vessel, Tony pointed.
“The hull’s made from a special alloy
that was molecularly assembled to
be stronger than titanium yet lighter than aluminum.
It’s rumored that, if you remove all the fuel
and strip out the
electronics, two people can actually lift the nose up into the air by
the engine parts are made out of a special alloy that can withstand the
incredible stress and heat of hypersonic flight.
Those parts had to be fabricated in microgravity.
sounded like he was the engineer who’d built the damn thing,
for cryin’ out
loud. About all I
could do was admire
the pretty midnight-blue color.
So much for
becoming a rocket scientist.
walked up the gangway to the AeroSpacePlane’s entrance, David
of the internal space is
taken up with hydrogen fuel.”
explained why there wasn’t much room for passengers. The interior looked a lot
like a regular airliner except that
everything was so goddamn small. Only nine of us had
boarded, but we kept bumping
into each other and stepping on the toes of the space-flight attendant
tried to get us seated.
babbling about the fuel. “The
hydrogen and oxygen are stored in super-thin polymer bags that contract
fuel is consumed, so there’s no sloshing and no leakage as
the airframe expands
and contracts from changes in temperature.”
were heavily padded, but there was hardly any legroom.
The attendant wrapped me up with so many
restraining straps that I knew what a bug feels like being caught in a
long wait, the astropilot captain announced over the intercom that we
ready to depart. I
couldn’t hear any
engine noise, so I was surprised when the AeroSpacePlane started moving. I didn’t even
know we had lifted off until
the captain told us so.
was sitting beside me, mentioned that we probably needed the entire
thousand foot runway just to get airborne.
After that, he shut up.
excited, I guessed.
sensation of movement, and no windows to look out, I quickly became
bored. I remembered
one of the astropilots
announcing that we would soon transition from the ramjet engines to the
scramjet engine, but I slept through most of the climb.
reached through the web of
restraining belts to shake my arm.
rockets are about to fire.”
still groggy. I
didn’t understand the
significance of David’s announcement.
“So. . .”
all I could say before something slammed against my entire body.
David cried out. “Two
I felt like
a very fat person had just sat down on me.
The only intelligible sound I could make was a grunt. The invisible fat person
stayed on top of me
for about two minutes. Afterwards,
felt –- I don’t know:
David exclaimed as he struggled against the restraining straps. “We’re
in freefall! Isn’t
this great? Tony?”
“Uh -– uh
-– I think I’m gonna throw up.”
another five hours for the AeroSpacePlane to catch up and rendezvous
Hope Space Station. I
never did throw
up, but I felt queasy for the longest time, even after we climbed
docking hatch between the plane and the station.
thing I noticed about the Hope Space Station was the bright light
the white walls. Then
I noticed how
crowded the place was. Too
floated from one place to another, as though they couldn’t
decide where they
wanted to be. The
final thing I noticed
was the lack of well-defined floors, ceilings, or walls.
call these things walls: they’re
scolded me as though everybody knew
David Johnson and Antonio D’Andrea?”
startled me. I
turned around and saw a
young woman hanging upside down. I
to tilt my head so she’d be right side up, but my stomach
about that.” With
one swift motion the
woman grabbed a handhold on the bulkhead and flipped herself around to
you see that?” David
grabbed a handhold and tried the same maneuver.
He banged his head on the bulkhead.
do that.” The
woman swept David up with
one arm while holding onto the bulkhead with her other hand. “You’ll
get used to moving around up here,
but take it easy at first.”
pushed their way past us. One
bumped against me, knocking me into the bulkhead.
He turned and said something that sounded apologetic, but
didn’t understand the language.
used to that, too.” The
laughed. She had a
cute laugh, the kind
that made you think she had something to hide.
She wasn’t the prettiest girl I ever saw. Her nose was too large for
her face, and she had an awful lot of
freckles. The ugly,
jumpsuit she wore and the way she had her hair tied up in a bun
much. But I really
liked her laugh.
La Station Spatiale Espoir,”
name is Wanda. I’ll
be your guide while you’re up here, and
I’ll be assisting Dr. Nakayama with the medical procedures.
was your trip?”
answered before I could say anything.
“It was the most fantastic thing you could ever
someone had a good time.”
at me and winked. “How
Antonio? You look
surprised she noticed. “Yeah,
haven’t needed to -– uh -– you
medicine prevents you from vomiting even if you feel like you
didn’t give us any medicine.”
unzipped one of the many pockets surrounding her jumpsuit. “It’s
mixed with the air on the
it doesn’t last
pulled a packet of pills
from the pocket. “Take
two of these if
you feel ill. Vomiting
discouraged up here.”
So much for
Wanda was a
medical technician. Seemed
like a fancy
way of saying nurse, but I figured if you could get a job on a space
you deserved to be called whatever you wanted.
I asked her
to call me Tony, but she objected.
“Antonio D’Andrea is such a pretty
telling her my family hadn’t had much to do with the Italian
culture for quite
a few generations, but she didn’t care.
Besides, I kind of liked the way she said Antonio. The
word rolled off
her tongue with the authentic Anton-yo
pronunciation, instead of the
ridiculous Anto-nee-o sound that all
other Americans made.
“I have an
hour before going on duty,” she explained.
“So I can show you around a little.”
crawled down a long tube leading from one compartment to another. David and I followed
behind the best we
things you need to know,” Wanda said as we traveled. “Courtesy is
rule number one.
Always offer the other person the right of way. It’s easier to
stopped long enough
to glance at me, as though she expected trouble.
Or maybe she just liked looking at me.
“Emergency crews wear red, and they always have the right of way.
They blow whistles when rushing to an emergency.”
continued our journey through the station.
I kept thinking the next compartment would be a little
larger than a
bathroom, but I was always disappointed.
the hang of moving around before I did.
He started doing crazy things like spinning around and
backwards while staring me straight in the face.
lost my concentration and
slammed my knuckles on the next handhold.
So much for
made it to a compartment that didn’t disappoint me. The room was a bit larger
than the others, but the thing that really
caught my attention was the large dome-shaped structure that covered
bulkhead. The dome
multiple windows that made the entire structure resemble a honeycomb.
windows I could see Earth.
dizzy at first. I
hadn’t really thought
about where we were. Crawling
narrow corridors and cramped compartments had not prepared me for the
impact. We were in
space. We were four
hundred kilometers away from
the Earth. Four
above the ground. Four
hundred goddamn kilometers from
where we should
“I need to
sit down,” I said.
David propelled himself inside the
dome. He rotated
his head to take in
all the windows. “The
Cupola Grande Observatory! Do you realize
how much this thing
cost? The windows
are made of
borosilicate glass, with gold particles mixed in to block radiation. The Observatory costs more
than an entire
Wanda and I
drifted up to David inside the dome.
She ran a hand through David’s hair and gave me
another one of her
friend knows more about
this space station than I do.”
out one of the rhombus-shaped windows.
I could see other sections of the station off to the side. Undoubtedly the sections
were huge, but
against the blue and white background of Earth they looked like puny
what?” David suddenly asked.
tell by the tone in his voice that he was about to enlighten us with
bit of his knowledge. “The
Cupola Grande is a super-sized
of the Cupola Observation Modules
used on the old International Space Station.
They were built by your countrymen back in Italy, Anton-yo,”
threatened to slap the kid all the way back to Earth, but he just
laughed along with David. “Boy,
see spending a few weeks with you guys is going to be a blast. But I must go to work
soon, so let me show
you to your living quarters. I
break in four hours. I’ll
take you to
the cafeteria then. I
think you’ll find
eating up here interesting.”
wasn’t the word for it.
came in plastic pouches and tubes, with a taste that matched its
table we ate at was
coated with some kind of adhesive that held the plastic containers in
place. The coating
wasn’t supposed to
stick to anything else, but the skin on my hands felts strange whenever
touched the tabletop.
this, David.” Wanda
took the tube of
food from David’s hand and squeezed from the bottom. David’s eyes
widened as he got a mouth full of the food.
So much for
grabbed the napkin that was clipped to her wrist and wiped her mouth. “Are you two
related in any way?”
related,” I said. “Just
be a good friend to come all the way up here just to be with David
“I -– uh -–
do volunteer work at the foster group home where David lives.”
clapped her hands together. “I
guys your age couldn’t
care less about helping others.”
David on the head. “Yeah,
I just like
kids a lot.”
giggled, but he didn’t give away my secret.
you do for a living, Antonio?”
odd jobs. Whatever
I can get my hands
nothing that would
interest someone like you with a medical career on a space
For a brief
second I thought David would open his mouth and tattle on me, but he
didn’t know why I was so
conscious about my conviction and the truth about being sent to the
station. Usually I
didn’t give a damn
what people thought about me. But
couldn’t bring myself to tell Wanda that I was criminal, that
association with the group home was a court order.
grabbed an empty food tube and spun it above the table.
The container took off like a
ducked as air from the
vents pushed the propeller by my head.
“Way to go,
kid,” I said.
understood David’s prank as a sign of boredom.
She stuffed our food containers into a plastic bag and
left David carry
the bag to a disposal unit.
are probably exhausted. You
to get some sleep.” She
led us back to
our quarters. “David
has tests at the
Microgravity Hospital at eight in the morning.
Why don’t you come along, Antonio.
I’ll take you both for a tour of the medical
don’t think I’ll get a better
everything else on the space station, sleeping was interesting.
David and I
shared our own compartment, which had about as much room as a closet. The beds were nothing more
than sacks strung
up along the bulkhead to keep our bodies from floating all over the
climbed into our sacks fifteen minutes ago and I was nowhere near
your mind, kid?”
she likes you, Anton-yo.”
strange to be in bed and unable to toss and turn.
“What are you talking about?”
She likes you.”
had crossed my mind. I
what kept me awake when I should be tired as hell.
Was it the excitement of being at the space station? Was it the relief that
David would soon get
the treatment he needed?
David. Why in the
world would she be
interested in me? She’s
technician on a space station. I’m
a criminal, Tony. You
just made a
mistake, that’s all. You
anything like that again, will you?”
I opened my
mouth to respond, but stopped. It
suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t know the answer to
David’s question. All
this time I’d assumed I would go right
back into business selling bootleg media content.
I mean, what else could I do?
But now I
had responsibilities! I
had to think of
everything I’d gone
through to save his life, I couldn’t disappoint the kid by
going back to a life
of crime. David
looked up to me.
So much for
At the same
time, I couldn’t understand why I cared so much what Wanda
thought of me. Maybe
the fact I could start from scratch
with her made her appealing. She
know anything about me. To
Wanda I was
just some guy doing a good deed for a fifteen-year-old boy.
would a girl in her position do with a guy like me?
There must have been dozens of men up on the Hope Space
who were much better looking, much more intelligent, and much more
got no reason to like me,” I said.
know girls like guys for the dumbest reasons.
They don’t care about what or who you are. They care about how you
feel about them.”
considered what David said, and it may have made sense.
Wanda seemed anxious to see me
something wasn’t right -–
it just didn’t click. Besides,
this kid become an expert on the opposite sex?
morning Wanda took a sample of David’s blood –- one
of many samples that David
would be forced to give during his stay at the Hope Space Station. He seemed confused when
Wanda handed him a
funny looking container for a urine specimen.
I burst out laughing as Wanda explained how to use the
examination seemed normal till Wanda took a bone marrow sample. I almost freaked when I
saw the needle she
was gonna stick in David’s backside.
David looked unhappy, but not surprised.
He’d obviously been through these things before.
strapped him face down on the examination table.
I tried joking with David when Wanda pulled down his
exposing his butt, but he didn’t seem to appreciate my
attempts at humor. He’d
been given a local anesthesia, but he
winced with every millimeter of the needle that slid into his body.
about that, David.” Wanda
what she needed and removed the needle.
“You’ll have to give a few more of
these samples before the actual
marrow harvest begins. Dr.
needs to monitor the status of your leukemia before the treatment
do we meet this doctor?”
I figured the
guy was getting paid enough by Hope for the Children that he should be
while David was being examined.
Nakayama is still on Earth. He
he doing there when he should be here
know? The treatment
won’t start for
about a week. First,
David’s body must
adjust to weightlessness. All
bodily functions that normally support him against Earth’s
have nothing to do. The
heart shrinks. The
amount of blood decreases and moves to
different parts of the body. . .”
David had a bored expression on his face as
he rubbed his backside. He
interest in discussing his own condition.
“I thought you were going give us a tour of the
mostly rooms where technicians and doctors performed research and
biological cultures. We
infirmary but couldn’t enter.
told us the place accommodated up to forty patients, and as usual it
a hospital had not been planned when La
Station Spatiale Espoir was built,” Wanda explained
as we pulled ourselves
along a corridor. “Only
research and pharmaceutical manufacturing was to be done here. But doctors discovered
that could be performed only in microgravity, so they added more
and started accepting patients.”
infirmary and the examination room where David had been given his
only other parts of the hospital used for treating patients were two
rooms, a radiology laboratory, an oncology laboratory, an emergency
and a monitoring room where nurses and computers kept an eye on the
patients in the infirmary.
the one Wanda called the biotechnology laboratory, contained so much
equipment that the place looked more like a music recording studio than
medical lab. Wanda
pointed out things
like nanofiber array systems, bioreactors, and high-resolution
scanners, but I didn’t know what the hell she was talking
that thing?” David
pointed to a large
stainless steel cylinder buried deep within a maze of wires and hoses. Two computers straddled
the cylinder, each
computer with its own large monitor attached to the bulkhead.
have an eye for things that are important.”
Wanda pushed herself towards the cylinder.
“That’s the protein synthesizer.
It’s the heart of our cellular engineering
treatment would not be possible without
her hand around the compartment.
David, some of the medicine you received on Earth came from this
anti-idiotypic antibodies that are purified using electophoresis
that can’t be duplicated in gravity.”
the same drugs that couldn’t cure David?”
The bitter words escaped my mouth before I could stop them. It was unfair to ask Wanda
such a stupid
question -– especially since I wanted her to like me.
credit, Wanda didn’t get upset.
“Antonio, the chemotherapy and immunotherapy
treatments David received
on Earth prevented metastasis -– that’s when cancer
cells spread to other parts
of the body. If
leukemia reaches the
liver or central nervous system, the patient dies.” She looked me straight in
the eyes. “According
to David’s medical records, he would’ve died last
without those treatments.”
I turned away. “It’s
just hard to watch someone you care for suffer so much.”
placed her hand on my arm. The
her skin surprised and pleased me.
“I know how
you feel,” she said. And
believe she did.
there wasn’t much to do on the space station, the week
didn’t drag by. David
and I hovered in the Cupola Grande
Observatory for hours at a
time, each for our own reason. I
to watch the Earth rotate below, so beautiful it almost hypnotized me. From up here the world
looked peaceful, like
a giant beach ball. David,
on the other
hand, didn’t find the Earth so captivating.
He spent the time watching technicians working outside in
extra-terrestrial -– I think that’s what he called
them -– suits.
black panels extending from the station over on the right, behind the
engineering section?” David
impatiently, not believing that I couldn’t see the things
all right. Now I
photovoltaic arrays, for collecting sunlight to make electricity. When the Hope Space
Station was first built,
those solar arrays were the only source of power.
Then nuclear fusion came along.
They’ve got a fusion power plant on the other
side of the station.” David
smiled with that stupid
you-heard-it-here first expression.
fusion came along, too,” he added.
what Wanda said about the Microgravity Hospital is true, this station
is a lot
bigger and heavier than originally designed.
Without fusion power, they wouldn’t be able to
produce the propulsion
needed to keep this place in such a low orbit.
We’d all fall into the atmosphere and burn up
like toothpicks in a
So much for
feeling safe and secure.
I bored him. I
listened to everything
David said, and I even understood some of it, but I couldn’t
add anything to
the discussions. After
a few days,
David found a couple of engineers -– a wife and husband team
from South Africa
-– who were impressed with David’s knowledge and
eager to teach him more about
the space station.
felt glad for David -– hell, I did feel glad.
But at the same time I also felt -– I
don’t know: jealous?
her time with David, too. For
one hour every morning she kept him in the examination room. She pumped him full of
phosphorous supplements. She
his bones with what she called “low-magnitude, high frequency
made both of us exercise on a treadmill.
She did the
same damn tests every damn day, pulling so much blood out of David that
feared I’d be able to see through him before long.
“Now I know
what a porcupine feels like,” he complained one morning while
rubbing his arm.
be well, though,” I said.
Wanda and I
spent many meal times in the cafeteria together, alone -– one
of the benefits
of David having found new friends.
day at lunch, a tall, blond-haired man floated up to our table.
allezvous?” he said to
in my stomach tightened.
Et vous, Roine?” she responded.
lost my appetite. While
Wanda and the
other guy talked, my stomach bounced around like it had a mind of its
didn’t feel better until the guy wandered
your boyfriend, is it?”
unsuccessfully to keep the bitterness out of my voice.
asked the same thing about you.”
Frenchman asked if I was your boyfriend?”
laughed. “Yes. But he’s
Swedish, not French. And
no, he’s not my boyfriend.
He works in the hospital and had a question
about some equipment in the biotechnology lab.”
My face felt hot. Was
I blushing? Man, I
couldn’t remember the last time I’d been
a minute. You two
were speaking French, weren’t you?”
don’t speak Swedish, and he doesn’t speak
English. To be
assigned at La Station Spatiale Espoir,
speak either French or Russian. English
is becoming more popular as more Americans and other Europeans come up
but originally neither NASA nor the European Space Agency wanted
anything to do
with this space station. Espoir started out as a joint venture
between the Centre National D'Etudes
Spatiales -– that’s France’s
space agency -– and the Russian Space Agency.
want to learn Russian.”
you learned French just to come up here?”
thought was a big deal, but Wanda looked embarrassed, almost ashamed. “I wanted to do
something worthwhile. I
really wanted to be a doctor. My
mother died of cancer when she was
thirty-eight years old. She
been saved, but her doctor was an incompetent bastard.
I swore I would make up for that horrible
mistake by becoming a doctor. A
her eyes so I couldn’t look into them.
“My intentions were greater than my abilities. I couldn’t
handle the course work. I
dropped out of medical school.
Instead, I went for a biotechnology degree.
biotechnologists are a dime a dozen these days.
They get sucked up by pharmaceutical companies and wind up
creating drugs that have the greatest profit-earning potential. I wanted to do something
learned about the
Microgravity Hospital three years ago, during one of Dr.
Nakayama’s lectures in
Los Angeles. After
the lecture, I went
up and asked him if he needed any staff members at La
Station Spatiale Espoir.
His English interpreter told me that Dr. Nakayama always
personnel -– people who spoke French.
So, I went back to school for two years and learned French. True to his word, Dr.
me. Now I spend six
months out of every
year up here.”
understand why you sound so disappointed by what you’ve done. I think it’s
amazing. You should
shrugged and still wouldn’t look at me.
“I should’ve been a doctor.”
know how to console a woman who had done so much with her life
when I’d done absolutely nothing with mine –- but
Wanda certainly needed my
help now. I put my
hand on hers and
forced her to look at me.
me, I know about not living up to expectations.
And you have done a hell a lot better than most of
I guess she
believed me, because she held my hand and smiled.
“It’s nice to know someone thinks
the day I’d been waiting for.
up on me at the Observatory and poked me in the ribs.
“David’s body has
Her voice sounded excited.
contacted Dr. Nakayama. He’ll
great! When does
the treatment begin?”
finally there, so much time and so much pain later.
Then I remembered some of the things I’d heard
Wanda, what’s it going
to be like for David?”
turned serious. “Antonio,
understand that a bone marrow transplant is tough.
David is going to feel very bad for the first few weeks,
the transplant takes hold. He’s
to need you more then ever.”
up to me and put her hands on my shoulders.
“Are you up to it?”
I tried to
make my voice sound firm. “I’ve
with him this long.”
She turned to go. “I
must get back to work.”
Wanda could spin around, I reached out and grabbed her.
I pulled her close for a kiss.
I’d meant it to be just a small kiss, but we
lingered together for quite a while, much to the surprise of another
who’d been hanging out in the Observatory.
did pull away, Wanda stared at me.
thought she wanted to say something, but she caressed my cheek instead. Then she slid to the
hatchway, glancing back
one more time before disappearing into the next compartment.
Nakayama was a short fellow, about fifty years old, with only a few
hair on his greasy head. He
he’s pleased to meet you,” Wanda translated while
introducing us. The
scowl on his face told me
offered me a small hand
that I shook gently. I
was glad he
didn’t bow, because I wasn’t sure how I would have
reciprocated in freefall.
still tied up in her sleep sack, rubbing her eyes.
“Calm down, will you.”
just found one sock and
was about to give up on the other when I saw it hugging an air intake
the only one doing
anything for David. I
never see that
Jap doctor doing anything. Why
is he up here?”
pulled herself out of the sack. I
known her legs were so long and slender:
they’d always been covered up by that awful
Nakayama is doing the important
I’ve done is get David ready
to receive the bone marrow. Dr.
Nakayama has been preparing the bone marrow cells for the
you tell me he was all ready working on that?”
the procedure is new. It’s
doesn’t always work.”
the search for my clothes. “Damn,
Wanda. I thought
this treatment was a
“I know you
reached up to the air vent
and grabbed my sock. “I
didn’t want to
scare you. But
nothing in medicine is a
sure thing, especially in cellular engineering.
The only reason I’m telling you now is because
Dr. Nakayama has
for not scaring me.”
the sock at me. “Get
dressed and I’ll
show you what the ‘Jap doc’ has been up
Dr. Nakayama was glad to see me. I
could tell by the way he glared at me when I followed Wanda into the
behind the doctor, far enough back so he wouldn’t think I was
peaking over his
shoulder. He was
anchored in front of a
computer monitor full of impressive looking graphs and histograms.
doing?” I whispered to Wanda.
purging David’s bone marrow.
antibodies are being
used to track down and destroy any remaining cancer cells. Since we’ve now
cleaned out all signs of
leukemia inside David’s body, it wouldn’t do to
reintroduce the disease when we
transplant the bone marrow.”
at the mere suggestion.
did say that all the leukemia is out of David’s
smiled hopefully. “So
basically he’s all ready cured.”
her lower lip before continuing.
“Antonio, it’s not that simple.
Look, David’s leukemia was nothing more than a
regular bone marrow cell
that somehow got damaged. This
cell -– called a lymphoblast –- reproduced rapidly
and grew out of
lymphoblasts prevented the
normal bone marrow cells -– called hematopoietic stem cells
-– from doing their
job, which is to create blood cells.
the drug regimens given to David over the past three years failed to
leukemia into full remission, we had to totally destroy it with the
chemotherapy and radiation treatment that we gave him this week. We got rid of the
lymphoblasts all right,
but we also wiped out pretty much all of the good stem cells as well,
means David’s body cannot produce new blood.
He is not yet cured.
you following me so far?”
good news. Even
though there has never
been a suitable donor to provide David with good bone marrow, Dr.
developed a way to repair lymphoblasts -– as well as other
types of cancer
cells -– through DNA reconstruction and
the protein synthesizer David noticed the first day you two were in
pointed to the stainless steel
Nakayama uses that device
to create special enzymes that, with the help of nanocrystals and
arrays, can actually reconstruct the damaged DNA of a cancer
recognized the blank look on my face.
She waved her hand though the air as though erasing notes
have traditionally focused on killing the cancerous cells so that the
cells can survive and do their job.
in David’s case, there weren’t enough good bone
marrow cells to work with. So,
Dr. Nakayama took the leukemia cells
that we harvested from David’s bone marrow last week and
them, turning them into healthy, blood-producing hematopoietic stem
we’ll pump the repaired stem cells
back into David’s body.”
gave an explanation even I could understand. “Wow!
Nakayama turned and looked at me.
first I thought he was angry because I had raised my voice, but much to
surprise he said, “Yes, is fantastic.
But can only do in microgravity.”
stared at the doctor with her mouth hanging open.
to her and, for the first time that I had ever seen, he smiled. “Yes.
I learning the English.
Americans up here now, and you Americans speak terrible
looked at me again. “With
nanotechnology and protein synthesizing I cure many blood cancers. Is -– is
-– uh, comment dis
‘puissant’ en anglais?” He kept staring at me but
pointed to Wanda for a translation.
“Puissant? Oh, powerful.”
© 2007 Joseph Jordan
Joseph Jordan is a 47 year old defense contractor who has served
in such places as Germany, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. When not wondering
around these exotic locations, he tries to keep up with his wife, his
daughter 24, and his son 21, who live in Naples, Italy. His novelette,
At the Gate of God, won third place in the Writers of the Future
contest for the third quarter of 2005.
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