Emma sits herself down in the sarcobox, carefully pulls the netting into place around herself. She leaves one arm free, in order to to pull the prep unit into place and fits the upper part of that arm into the shining band of the gripper.
She can just flex far enough to flip the lever. The thing hums faintly, and her left eye sees the shining column of a syringe move past, feels the delicate bee-sting as it lands in her neck. Perfect, it’s hit the big vein exactly. She waits, feeling the ambient temperature going up– that’s because, she knows, her inner furnace is banking. Pretty effing stupid, to set oneself up this way, actively participate in freezing oneself. But Emma’s bones tell her exactly what’s going on during every second of the process. She feels confident in that at least– even if the world is falling into sand in every other way, this box will work this time, this once.
Dispassionately she judges her own paralysis. The second injector makes its presence known by sight and sound. Emma lets her eyelids fall closed.
Comfortable, baby? says the voice. It’s a long ride. You make sure you get comfortable first. I’ll wait. We got time.
Who are you? There is no one left with the clearance to be in these rooms.
Oh, me? I ain’t nobody who matters, you know, when you’re counting heads for doorlocks and guards and brass-type folks. They don’t need to know. People forget I’m here all the time. You can call me teslamomma, if you like. That’s how you wanna get in touch later, after we both retire, baby. Boy, I been looking forward to this for such a long, long time. You and me, girl–we gonna go to concerts, we gonna go eat ice cream and wear straw hats and frilly white dresses and laugh and laugh until we hurt, baby. You just wait.
Who are you? Emma demands, with her hand coming up. But there’s the prick, and the hiss of the third injector, and her arm doesn’t move.
I’m the momma of your new memories, I’m gonna make you a new person, somebody besides Wojo’s best gal Friday. A nice job, but a bit limited in its future prospects, you gotta admit. Well, they all like to pretend upstairs that it’s all done clean, by some computer, but it ain’t. I just don’t tell ’em I never did need all that shiny stuff. It’s all human, that’s me, that’s me having a conversation with you, talking about what you are, what you done, what you think about why you done things. It ain’t gonna be any nicer than giving birth. It’s messy and it hurts and if you’re lucky it makes you very happy when we get you all cleaned up. But you won’t remember it, done right. You’re just gonna be learning a new job. You’re gonna love it, I know you will. And some day we’ll meet for lunch, and we’ll laugh a lot. I promise.
And don’t you worry none about your pretty little naga, I got him safe too. He’s a sweetheart. There’s a boy whose momma raised him right, not like some of those poor motherless babes died in those damn boxes. If they can’t trust nobody, then I can’t help ’em, I just frighten ’em, and I don’t wanna do that. You lay back easy, gal, you in good hands, you know we got your boy too. We gonna take him home with us too, don’t you worry. You been working so hard, girl, your corns got corns. You just lay there and take the load off those dogs for awhile. I got both of you, nice and snug, and we goin’ for a little ride. You might hear some noise, that’s just my little private freight elevator, down where nobody know we get them deliveries going out. You safe with me, baby.
But– Emma starts to say, but her mouth only opens on a puff of air.
Oh, girl, you ought know better than anyone, tons of stuff those fools don’t know about happens down here in the pipes, where they never come visit. Trust me, you safe. We know all about you and the things you done, getting help to people, making sure those troops get what they need, get them home in one piece. WE know. You safe. Get some rest now, baby. You got time to rest now.