The door slid open without a sound. Even though it was dark outside, the windows were shaded as they usually were. The occupant never liked her view of the enclave. The room was pitch black except for the small flashing status lights from the auto-med; a monstrous spider-like android that hangs above the patient’s bed. The lights in the room began to illuminate and Luanne could discern objects in the room.
On the far wall, there was a bed with the black multi-armed robot tending to a small, frail, elderly woman who was sleeping despite its best efforts to treat her. The robot paid no attention to Luanne as she walked into the room and sat next to the bed. She took the woman’s hand in hers and it grasped hers as if by instinct. Wiping errant tears from her eyes, she looked at the auto-med.
“How is she doing?”
“Lady Rhineshire, her vitals are within normal parameters and her pain is under control. Her wakefulness cycles are becoming shorter and she did not eat all her dinner; a trend that I find concerning. I estimate she has at most a week if this continues.”
“Thank you. Please continue to keep me up to date.”
“If I may make a recommendation, my Lady?”
“The blanket is not of a medicinal quality and I believe it to be harboring bacteria that could be detrimental to her health. I can provide a blanket with the same thermal and tactile qualities.”
Luanne studied the multi-colored knitted blanket covering the woman. Marie-Camila had just finished this blanket right before her diagnosis of cancer; rare in the enclaves but common among dregs, at least the ones who were fortunate enough to live long enough. When the auto-med determined that the disease was too advanced for treatment, Marie insisted on having it with her in hospice.
Luanne found it amazing that Marie could make blankets such as this. Nothing was handmade anymore, at least in the enclaves. As a child, she watched with wonderment as Marie used a pair of odd-looking wood sticks and yarn to make her fascinating blankets. Each interlocking loop of yarn joined with another and those joined others to form this blanket and the dozens before it. It was a lost art and the world was about to lose another person who knew its secrets.
“No, I am not the one to make that decision.”
“Lady Rhineshire, you do…”
“I said, no!” Luanne said to the auto-med through clenched teeth, “I do not wish to discuss this again.”
“As you wish, my Lady.”
Luanne continued to hold onto Marie’s hand. She wanted to be there completely, but her mind slipped back onto the topic of the raids that someone conducted without informing her or her security officer. She thought it was odd that Senator Stutz contacted her from the Denver Enclave. Usually, he waited until he was back in the Chicago Enclave to give her news.
She began to wonder if it was not a threat but a warning. Did he know that these raids were coming and he could not tell her directly? She did get a sense that there might have been something more. If that was true, then the raids are the threat. The news agency was already asking if Denver should take enclave security from Rhineshine Hospitality. Of course, if there was any conspiracy, Black Guard would certainly be a player. They have been trying for years to take over security but the ownership of the land by the Rhineshires always blocked their attempts; a deal that her great-great-grandfather arranged.
Luanne looked at Marie’s face. She looked older than she really was. Marie was only 60; too young to be dying like this. Even when she first met Marie out in the blazing Nevada desert, she looked older than she was. Everybody was shocked when they found out she was only 19 at the time.
Marie was such an influence in her life that she wished that could have done more for her. When she expressed that to her shortly after the prognosis, Marie smiled at her and told her that dregs get 50 years, at most. She added that she got an extra 10 years in this world and to her, that was priceless.
Luanne took a deep breath and stood. She leaned over the bed and gave the woman who she had known most of her life a kiss on her forehead. After vowing to visit tomorrow, she walked out of the room. Tomorrow was going to be a long day but Luanne would make the time.