There are things that anyone would do to save their children. Of course, everyone says that, but when the time comes, there is never a real percentage when it comes to an individual person. Perdita had spent six months in the wing with her daughter, Ophelia, doing everything she could think of to save her daughter.
All parents would say that when they talked to their friends. They would say “We’ve done everything we can think of” except that they didn’t think of a lot of things because they were not doctors. They were living their lives outside of the hospital with their children not worried about the invisible things that tend to sabotage one’s DNA until they’re eaten up and soulless husks in a cold morgue.
Perdita, on the other hand, could do something about it. When someone had called her the smartest scientist of her generation, they were wrong. She was the smartest individual in the last sixty years. Cancer had been eradicated, renewable resources had been put into place, and the middle east had benefited with her diplomatic skills. Out of all the people that should have received accolades and rewards, it would have been her. But the world was at it’s edge and there wasn’t time to rejoice.
There was no time to spend on the planet anymore. Everyone, including Perdita knew it was a sinking ship. The only difference was that she was trying to save everyone while the upper echelon of class and power were trying to save themselves. Because of this, she was threatened with violence and financial ruin if she would not comply and fix the problem that they knew she could do.
Instead of doing that, she had come up with a plan to fix it from the start. She would go back before it all started and change things like she had in her own time, but before the world started burning for good. She knew there was a possibility that she couldn’t come back to see her daughter, so she had made her a bracelet to go with her just in case. There were worries that she quieted about both being out of time, but she was sure that it wouldn’t have mattered much. She would make sure that she fixed it where the machine would change any money, they had to the current timeline, and they could settle anywhere they wanted.
But then whatever happened to Ophelia happened.
One day she was in her mother’s lab watching mice be transferred from one tank to another with a twenty second delay and the next she was bedridden, in immense pain, asking her mother to save her.
In her most fevered moments she would open her eyes so wide it looked like they were going to crack open and she’d shout for her mother to come find her someplace else, because everything was as circle. That there were more chances than this.
It was fever talk, or so she thought, at the time.
Like every other parent, even if the world was burning, Perdita stopped what she was doing and decided to spend all her energy and time on making a cure. And for six months her daughter laid in a bed either pumped full of the latest pain reducers that she herself made or screaming in utter pain. But she worked and knew that she was close.
The powers that be, those in charge of the hospital, laws, and government caught wind that she was no longer working on a cure to the world. She knew this because there were a group of armed soldiers that came into her lab and shot all her workers and friends claiming that they were terrorists against the nation. She had screamed and pleaded as they locked her up with her daughter.
They separated her and Ophelia in two glass rooms with an interrogation room in the middle. It had two plastic chairs and a metal table. The pain reducers wore off quick and though she couldn’t hear her daughter screaming, she could see her screaming and thrashing around in the bed until fatigue would take her and she would pass out. She beat against the glass walls until the bottoms of her hands split, then the glass just became slick, crimson marks all over the walls until she couldn’t see out.
The door hissed open, and two soldiers came into the room, picked her off the floor and locked her into the chair and table. A man in a suit was waiting for her with two files in front of her. One was labeled YWHTDTA and the other CURE. He took off his glasses, took a drink of water and cleared his throat. Behind him, she could see Ophelia started to convulse.
“Your daughter’s death is inevitable at this point,” the man said.
“She would have been cured if you wouldn’t have stopped me,” Perdita screamed and yanked at the table. A soldier responded by striking her across the jaw.
“Either way,” he raised a brow, looked back at the now lifeless form of her daughter. “It seems that she’s no more.”
“You son of a bitch,” she roared through broken teeth and bloodied lips.
“Now this is no longer useful,” he held out the folder that said CURE and dumped it onto the floor.
He took a moment and allowed her to rant and yank at her restraints as grief and rage began to tear her apart. She roared and kicked and spit and shouted. He held up his hand to stop the soldiers from hitting her again and waited until she fainted. Then he let them hit her.
“So, you’re going to tell us what these notes mean,” he said. “And you’re going to continue to work on it so you can save me, I mean save us.”
Perdita didn’t tell him that whatever her daughter had, the remaining population was about to have as well. She was, in fact, halfway through saving the world, but right then, she didn’t care what happened to anyone or anything.
Ophelia was gone.
“Let it all burn, then,” she said.
“But Perdita,” he opened the folder where there were circles that her daughter had doodled all over the front page before she fell ill. “Just tell us your code and we will be able to continue your work.”
She stared at the circles.
“Let me finish my own work,” she said.
“And why should we do something like that,” the man asked.
“Because you won’t be able to,” she replied. “Afterward, I will accept execution.”
The man stood up and walked out of the room.
It was an hour until he came back. The soldiers being bored, had took turns beating on her until she passed out. When she woke up, she had pissed herself and some of her teeth were on the ground. The problem with interrogation was that everything could be fixed so quickly, that the government no longer worried about what they did to a person.
“Very well,” he said. “We will get you repaired, and you will go back to your work. If you attempt to leave your home or station, we will kill you immediately.”
“Fair,” she said.
In two hours, they drove her back to her residence. Unlike most people living in stacked trailers, she had large underground complex where she did most of her research and experiments. It was empty now, there was no Ophelia, none of her research friends, everyone was dead. She had spent the first two weeks weeping into her pillows. When they came to inspect her work, she would lie and tell them that everything was fine, and everything was okay. The world was getting closer to the end, and everyone was getting nervous.
Then, she remembered what Ophelia said, that there are more places than this. And though her daughter hadn’t said anymore, she took it as inspiration and decided that she would not use her machine and talents to save the people in this world. She would allow them to all die because they deserved it, because they needed to see what they could do to themselves without her.
The problem was that the machine would not work exactly as it should and she knew why. Normally, everything that she ever made operated on an already viable power source. But the machine she had, these two bracelets, the one she wore around her wrist and the other on a chain on her neck, need something more.
The next weeks when the government came to ask, they would find her frazzled and working over formulas that none of them could decipher, but they would take pictures and then leave. Then one night, while she was drinking cold coffee and going over all her notes, there came a knock on the door. When she answered, she found nothing out there. Just a small envelope. When she opened it, there was a note that simply said, “This is your first warning not to do this.”
There was no one around and no traces of anyone, just the smell of ozone.
She shrugged and went back inside and mulled over her notes. And that moment of rest allowed her to realize that she could power the bracelets like normal off sun, body temperature, and movement. That it would work halfway, but it needed something more, a human component that had never been tapped or used.
The brain. No. Her brain.
She would have to use her brain to power the machine.
She went to work modeling how the thing would work. When she made the calculations, she realized that once she activated this, she would lose a lot of her memories, mental abilities, and cognition for a bit. There was a chance she would be paralyzed and die on her floor before anyone found her.
Two things were for certain: her IQ would drop drastically and her short term memory may begin to fail. She looked around the room and took a deep breath.
There are parents that say that they’ve done everything that they could. Or there are some that claim that they would sacrifice everything to save their child. Perdita gathered her notes and research in a bag along with all the cash she had stored away into a black bag. She was sacrificing the fate of an entire world and part of her brain. Just at the chance to get her girl back again.
Before she fired up the machine, she went through the pictures of her daughter again and noticed something odd. There was nothing before the age of four. And when she thought about it, there were no memories coming to mind of her daughter before then. No birth, no first steps, no nothing.
As she sat there trying to pull up those memories the government came with their guns and demands. They shot through the doors and windows shouting that her time was up and that she needed to save the world.
There was no time to question anything, so she activated the machine.
And destroyed half of her brain and an entire world.
All in the name of love.