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[2003: SEP-OCT] The Logical Conclusion of Life

Kaedyn Zehn

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The hot Vulcan sun shining through the large window had gently warmed the floor beneath him. The warm stone under his bare feet provided a pleasant sensation as he paced back and forth along his large study.

“It makes no sense,” he muttered and continued to pace, “no sense… no sense at all.”

A slight breeze passed through the window, moving the long white fabric that covered it and giving flight to the ripped pieces of paper that littered the floor. He smiled as the thin curtain touched his face; the material on his skin was another pleasant sensation.

With the curtains parted by the wind, he stared at the arid desert that stretched for kilometres outside his home. He had looked out over this landscape many, many times in the two hundred and six years that he had lived in the house.

“Good day, Wife,” he said, aware that he was no longer alone in the room, “I trust you are well?”

She crossed the floor, her long robe making an audible “swish” as she walked.

“I am,” she said, “and you?”

He turned to face her and smiled.

“My disease continues to have an affect on my emotional state. I am feeling… I am feeling…” He struggled for the word that adequately summed up his inner turmoil. “I am feeling.”

She moved forward and wrapped her arms around him. He moved his own arms around her and returned her embrace.

“This must be hard on you,” he said.

“Don’t worry about me, I can handle it.”

She let go of him and looked around the room. It was not uncommon for him, in his current state, to throw chairs around or even upturn his desk but in addition to both of these he had torn apart much of his extensive book collection.

“My temper appears to be getting worse,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter, they are just things,” she said with a reassuring smile.

In an instant his mood changed. He grabbed the curtains and ripped them down.

“It does matter, they are my things,” he yelled, “don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.”

She took a step back and watched as he again began ripping at his books. In the first few months of his illness she would probably have tried to wrestle the books from his hands. The sight of him in his current state had often reduced her to tears as she tried to stop him destroying their possessions.

It was hard for her, as a non-Vulcan, to view her husband’s Bendii syndrome without emotion. Typically, the family of a sufferer would be spared the emotional strain that she had been feeling. Although she had come to appreciate, in the five decades she had lived on Vulcan, that Vulcans did not lack emotions they simply attempted to suppress them.

“It makes no sense at all,” he shouted, “I told them it makes no sense but no-one listens to me… they have to listen.”

Almost as abruptly as his anger had started, it subsided again. He lay on the floor, curled into a foetal position and began to quietly weep.

She kneeled down beside him began gently stroking his hair.

“I ruined my books,” he cried.

“That doesn’t matter,” she replied in a soothing tone, “I will get you new books.”

As she cradled her husband in her arms, she remembered how he had been when they had first met. She had been a young, eager human scientist in her twenties whose academic achievements won her a job at the Vulcan Science Academy. He was head of the Temporal Mechanics Department and at the forefront of theoretical and practical Physics.

She had been so intimidated by the Vulcan, who was already more than a century old, his intellect was formidable and his commitment to his work was admirable. He had virtually single-handedly changed his field with his theories into space-time.

It broke her heart to watch as his once great brain slowly betrayed him. The man who had been one of the great thinkers of his generation had not only lost control of his emotions but also had lost the ability to reason, to think clearly.

He had decided, during the earliest onsets of the disease, that he didn’t want any of the new treatments that were available for his illness. Bendii Syndrome was still fatal; the new medication could only prolong his life.

Eventually his crying stopped and he stood up.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he said.

“Are you sure you are up to it?”

“I don’t have long left, I don’t want to spend the rest of my days in this house. I am fully capable of walking.”

She smiled and stood up next to him.

“Okay then, I would love to go for a walk.”

Vulcan is a hot, dry planet. For some humans, it was almost intolerable and if she were to be completely honest, she too had found it almost unbearable, at first. Fifty years later and she had become so accustomed to the conditions on Vulcan that on her return to Earth for her father’s funeral she had felt her homeworld was too cold and damp.

They wandered along the sandy dune hand in hand in a way they never had before he became ill. There was no logic in walking hand in hand simply for its own sake. She felt closer to him now than she ever had because of the very thing that would once day take him from her, it was a bitter irony that stung her very soul.

“There is one positive symptom of my disease,” he said in a calm voice.

“What’s that?” She asked, giving his hand a slight squeeze

“I have never experienced such intense emotions as I am now. Everything I feel is unburdened by my years of emotional suppression. My love for you has always been present but only now am I truly experiencing the full weight of it. I apologise for all the years that I didn’t.”

She stopped walking and he turned to face her.

“There has never been any doubt in my mind that you loved me,” she replied.

“You deserved better, you deserved a husband who didn’t try to suppress his love for you.”

She stared deeply into his eyes; they were full of pain and guilt.

“Don’t talk like that. I adore you and I have been happier living with you than I believed was possible. And I’m sorry to tell you; you were never that good at suppressing your emotions. Your love of me, your love of our children and your love of your work were always there, bubbling under the surface of your Vulcan calm. I got the husband I deserved, I got the husband I wanted.”

He began to weep again. She sighed and closed her eyes briefly as he fell onto the sand.

“It makes no sense. No-one will listen to me anymore,” he wailed.

Helpless to stop the inner turmoil he was experiencing, she stood next to him and watched as he struggled to control his emotions. As recently as few weeks before, he would have experienced such an episode perhaps once or twice a day. It seemed that his illness was progressing much quicker than they had expected.

He pulled himself to his feet and began emphatically waving his arms above his head and cursing the sky.

“Stop it,” she whispered as he began throwing handfuls of sand into the air and screaming obscenities from at least three languages.

“Stop it, stop it, stop it!!” she yelled, her voice building to a crescendo.

The sound of her shouts took the wind out the sails of his rage and he looked over at her. They were both breathing heavily from their respective emotional outbursts.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.

“No, I’m sorry,” he replied.

“You are sick and I should be supporting you… I shouldn’t be yelling at you.”

“It is not simply my emotional state that suffers as a result of my illness,” he said softly, “I wish you didn’t have to go through this.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I know but I am also aware of the strain it is putting on you.”

They stood in silence for a few minutes. Both knowing that things would only continue to get worse and that there was nothing they could do about it.

“Come on,” she said after a while, “let’s go home, it’s almost time to eat.”

He dusted some sand from his robe and in silence they walked home.

Like her mother and her mother’s mother, the centre of her home and her family life was always the kitchen. Brought up in a house where replicator use was frowned upon, she had spent most of her life cooking meals from scratch on a stove rather than replicating meals. She had many fond memories of her children sitting at the large stone table in the kitchen, doing their homework or telling her about their day while she cooked the evening meal.

Vulcans have strict rules and customs regarding food. Their vegetarian nature meant that she had been forced to install a replicator in order to replicate meat for her children. Her husband had called replicated meat a “logical compromise” to their children’s mixed heritage eating customs.

Her kitchen seemed empty without one of them sitting at the table as she cooked or them all coming in to eat and having lively discussions over their meals. Her half-Vulcan children weren’t particularly logical. She knew her husband blamed her for that, she was a very emotional mother, but she also knew that he bore her no malice because of it. Despite his outward appearance of Vulcan stoicism, she knew that he adored his children.

She smiled at the memory of their noisy dinner times as she absent-mindedly chopped some vegetables. Her flock had grown and flown the nest, making it seem empty and unnaturally quiet now. With her husband illness he had become less and less of a companion for her. She often mused that memories seemed to provide her with her only company these days.

“It’s ready,” she called, placing the last of the salad into the large salad bowl.

Bringing it over to the large table, she placed it down on the table and called again. There was no response from her husband.

“Not another episode, he’s been through enough today,” she thought to herself as she headed into the next room.

He sat cross-legged on the floor, as he always did when he was meditating. For a brief moment she could smell the musky aroma of the incense that he had burned in the small meditation lamp that their son had made for him in school. In his current mental state, it wasn’t safe for him to have a naked flame near him. At any moment he could have an episode and cause a fire so he couldn't use the lamp while meditating.

“Didn’t you hear me calling to you, dinner is ready,” she said from the doorway.

“I apologise, I was deep in my meditation.”

“Well, I’m sorry to disturb you but you have to eat,” she smiled.

He gracefully stood up.

“My wife, join me. I wish to speak to you about something.”

“We can talk over dinner.”

“I would prefer to do it here.”

She nodded and entered the room. He indicated for her to sit on the under-stuffed couch next to him. She looked confused but complied; thesedays it was rare for him to seem so calm and collected.

“I can’t go on like this, I could have completely lost control of my mind within two months. I may not even know who you are before the end. I would like to end my life with dignity,” he said as he sat next to her.

“You may still have a few years, yet,” she said quietly. They both knew it wasn’t correct but she didn’t like to articulate just how little time he had left.

“I will not see the beginning of a new year.”

She stared at him; her deep brown eyes were filled with tears.

“I know.”

“I have been successful in my career; I have been successful in my personal life. I have lived to see our children grow into fine individuals, I have lived to see our grandchildren born.”

She smiled and nodded.

“We have had a good life, together.”

“My time has come.”

There it was. The thought that kept her awake at night and that provided her with so much heartache, worded in a matter of fact, Vulcan way. There was nothing she could say; no words could sum up what she felt. In the face of her husband and life-partner dying, any words seemed too small.

“I am suffering now,” he continued, “my suffering is causing you pain and it will only get worse between now and the end. There is no logic in me continuing to live.”

“Don’t say that.”

“If my life is to end shortly as a result of my illness, I would like it to end while I am still in control of my mind. I would like it to end before I cause you any more suffering.”

“What are you saying?”

“I have recorded messages to our children and our grandchildren. Please ensure that they receive them.”

There was finality in his voice that chilled her to the bone.

“You can send them yourself, you still know how to work the computer.”

He placed his hands on hers and spoke softly.

“My wife, while you were preparing our meal I ingested a high dose of metorapan, I will be dead within the hour. This was not an easy decision to come to but I believe it is the best decision for us both.”

Again, she remained silent. There was nothing she could say in response to his bombshell.

“I love you,” she said after a few minutes.

“I love you too,” he replied, “thank you for sharing yourself and spending your life with me.”

She placed her hand on either side of his head and leaned her forehead against his.

“What am I going to do without you?” she whispered.

“I do not know. Perhaps you could visit Trill or learn how to play the piano or any of the things you have always wanted to do.”

“It won’t be the same without you by my side.”

He wrapped his arms around her.

“My life is over, yours is not. You must continue to live after I am gone.”

“I’m not sure if I can, I am scared.”

“Death is nothing to fear," he said, "it is simply the logical conclusion of life.”

She squeezed him tightly.

“I will miss you.”

He didn’t reply. Instead, he kissed her and they held each other until the end came.

After what seemed like hours later, she eventually released her embrace with her dead husband and stood. His head was slumped to one side, one of his arms was by his side and the other was hanging over the side of the couch.

“That won’t do at all,” she muttered and began moving him, “you don’t want anyone seeing you like this.”

Once she had finished putting him in a more fitting position, she leaned down, kissed him on the forehead and left their living room. In a state of shock and confusion, she wandered around their home until she reached his study.

She looked around the room, at the curtain ripped from the window, the upturned furniture and at the torn books and pages that littered the floor. Wiping away a tear from her eye she picked his chair off the floor and placed it next to the window.

“Goodbye my husband,” she said quietly and sat down at the window to watch the sun as it set.

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You should be posted on the same ship with the guy! Man! He's setting the bar so high for the rest of us that we're banging the tops of our heads on it when we walk under it!

(doesn't do much with his own character, but his extra-character stuff is amazing!) :P

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