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“My Dearest Love:
Twenty-two years ago you willingly gave your love to me, knowing full well the lengths to which those who were not fortunate enough to be chosen by nature would go to stop me. You understood the risks then, and I also hoped you understood the desperate straits that drove our family and our colleagues to the despicable, and heinous tasks that were required for the salvation of man. I know you understood that I never enjoyed my job, and it was my love for the people that kept me going through the pain and misery.
You were honest in your love for me. You never judged and you never blamed. Even when it turned out that your genetic predisposition for ALS meant that you and I would never have any children, you stuck by me. For that, I thank you. I have cherished every minute of every day with you and loved you with all the power in my soul.
Today I learned that what we feared would happen someday, has come to pass. The Freebirthers have struck at you and I with their last breath. Although they are no longer a threat to us, they have visited their vengeance upon you and I with all their stored up hatred for a billion unredressed murders.
They have introduced into my bloodstream a reagent, that when combined with a catalyst, will cause a nuclear reaction. The catalyst is in your bloodstream. If you and I should come into contact in any way, the resulting explosion would mean death and devastation for all those near us. We can’t live together, and we can’t touch each other…ever again.
I know that this must crush your heart, but please trust me; I have gone over the reports a thousand times. I have consulted every scientist available to us and pulled in the best minds of our age to find the answer. There is none.
We can converse everyday, like this, we can share our thoughts, and our feelings. We can send each other video and photos of ourselves, and be with each other in spirit every day, but we will never feel the warmth and the beat of each other’s heart again.
I have loved you with all my soul since the day we met, Mandy, and I will continue to love you until the day comes when we can shed our poisoned prisons and this earthbound existence.
Never forget that, please dear. When the loneliness gets too bad, call me. When the isolation becomes overwhelming, write me. And when your heart feels like it’s breaking, remember that some day, we will be reunited forever.
Your Loving Husband,
The months passed slowly. For two lovers apart, each day is a terrible eternity of wanting and needing. It’s said the absence makes the heart grow fonder and for Joseph and Mandy, it was doubly true. They wrote to each other every day. They conversed constantly by phone, they taped their days and adventures for each other to watch and sent each other presents at every opportunity.
Joseph had thought that after a time, the pain of loss would lessen and become more distant from the memory, but unlike a deceased loved one, Mandy was there each day to remind him of his sorrow.
Some of their less close friends thought that they might try to find another mate, someone to take the place of the lost love. But such was not the case. Those closest to the two knew that they could never abandon each other.
The months turned to years, and then the years to decades. Then one day, as Joseph sat in his living room, staring at the most recent pictures that Mandy had sent him, he heard the soft beep of the cochleal implant. He reached up and touched the spot just behind his ear to activate it.
“Hello, my love.”
Joseph smiled in the half-darkness. “No matter how many times I hear it, Sweetheart, I never get tired of your voice.”
“ And I never get tired of yours, dear.” Mandy replied softly.
“What’s the news, have you been to see the doctor?” He asked in an expectant voice.
“Yes,” she replied. “And there’s no doubt, I have pancreatic cancer. It’s terminal”
Instead of sorrow, a smile spread across Joseph’s face. He sat back in the chair and laughed. “Then it’s time! Thank God, it’s finally time. Do you still remember how to get there?”
“Yes, honey. Your directions were very good; I’ll be leaving here in a day or so. I just have to finish up some paperwork.”
“I’m ready to go, I’ve been packed for traveling for a month now, just waiting. I’ll meet you there. I love you Sweetie, soon now, the loneliness will be over.”
Joseph tapped the touchspot and got up from the chair. He looked around his room for a second, thinking of all the things he would miss, but his gaze settled again on the pictures he had been looking at when the call arrived. He picked them up, kissed the top one softly, and put them in his pocket.
He tapped the touchspot and spoke again, “This is Joseph Bane, 225698 E. 20,301st street. I’ll be needing a long distance shuttle to pick me up right away.” He hung up, humming a very old tune happily to himself.
Hours later, the shuttle put him down on a dry, sandy plain. Dozens of miles off to the South, a few small mountains rose up half-heartedly. Small mounds of desert grass and a few sagebrushes were the only visible life forms. It was hot and there was no breeze.
The pilot was skeptical about the spot. “Are you sure this is where you want off? You understand it’s a long way to anything from here. If you get into trouble it could take a while to reach you.”
“That’s OK, this is the place I want. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” Joseph placed his thumb on the scannerpad and a green light winked back at him.
The pilot acknowledged his payment with a wave of his hand, looked at him curiously for a second, then climbed back into the anti-grav shuttle. There was a whine of engines and the shuttle floated off the ground. Then it accelerated greatly and in a second had disappeared over the horizon. A faint sonic boom carried back to Joseph’s ears.
Joseph scanned the horizon and turned around. Another shuttle was fast approaching from the West. It came to a halt about 100 meters away from him and settled to the ground. A small woman, stooped over, slowly got out of the passenger compartment. The pilot helped her to the ground. Joseph could see the pilot arguing with her, but it was clear from her body language that she would not be persuaded.
Finally, the pilot climbed back into the shuttle and quickly sped away.
She stood there for a minute looking in his direction. Joseph had to stop an urge to run as fast as he could to her. “I have to be careful,” he told himself. He began to walk to her and she to him. They stopped when they were about four feet apart.
Tears came to his eyes, she was already crying too. “Mandy…Oh Mandy, It’s been so long. I’ve missed you so much.”
“Yes dear, and I have missed you and loved you. It’s our time now, sweetie, I’m very tired and this sun is so hot, please Joseph, let’s leave this place.”
“Yes dear, but first, we have one last thing to do…”
Joseph stepped forward. He held her gloved hands for a moment, and then he reached his gloved hands up and held her face. “It’s time to go now, honey, but we’ll be together on the other side. I’ll never leave you again, Mandy, not even when the mountains erode and the seas dry up forever. We’ll have all the time we want now. All the time of eternity.”
Then he kissed her. As the two elements combined on their lips they felt a split second of heat, then for the second time in history, a blinding light illuminated the desert of the old Trinity site.
First version – 05/09/2006 All rights reserved