Just then, Pem came swimming in. His arm appeared to be in some kind of cast and he had brownish bandage wrapped around his head. “Relax, Frank. Everything is fine. The Sheriff and his deputy made it back fine and Lowarden, as of yet, haven’t tried to retaliate.”
Retaliate for us having invaded their lands and destroyed their city, I almost replied, but I managed even in my mental fog to keep my mouth from going off with out me because I was much more interested in why they kept saying I had an injury but refused to tell me what kind.
“What happened to me?” I demanded, getting straight to the point. I was in no mood to play around.
“My…” I tried to maneuver myself in the water so I could see it – I couldn’t feel my right leg at all! – but I had trouble maneuvering.
“There was a lot of blood. I was surprised we were able to keep you alive all the way back here.
“My leg!? What about my leg!?!”
“Gone?” The word made no sense to me. “No. How can…How can that be? How can it be…?”
“You lost it in the explosion. When we were trying to escape, we entered the tunnel…You remember that, don’t you?”
“There was a torpedo…”
“Right.” I remembered frantically swimming away from it. “It exploded behind us.”
“We got caught it in its blast,” Pem continued. “We all were thrown about and took our bumps and bruises.”
I nodded again. Sure, that made sense.
“You were the closest to it, Frank. You got hit hard. You lost your leg. It was all we could do to keep you from bleeding out.”
I glanced down at my feet and there appeared to be two. “Lost? But I see it right there.”
Pem shook his head. “That’s a prosthesis. We were able to replace your lost limb with a cybernetic limb. It may take some time for it to sync completely to your brainwaves. It is, however, a Merapolian limb, so while it will drastically increase your maneuverability here in the water, up there on the land, it may not function as well. But it is all we have. We don’t get many landbreathers down here, but I’m sure it will be fine.”
I looked at the robotic limb. It ended with more of a flipper than a foot and it seemed to be a dark blue, though it was hard to tell under the sea. I traced it from the foot to the ankle to the calf up to where it connected to my thigh. This was all rather discombobulating.
“Maybe you should give it a try, Frank? We should check to make sure the interface is running efficiently.”
“Sure,” I said, uneasily. I just couldn’t believe it was real.
“Ok,” Pem said. “Just move slowly. Just slow, deliberate movements. First thing, just try moving the foot. Just wiggle it.”
I moved my robotic foot up and down.
“You’re awake!” Tam said, quickly paddling into the room. “Finally! Maybe now we can get out of here!”
“I don’t think that would be wise,” Pem said. “We haven’t finished calibrating…”
“I can take care of that. And don’t worry, Frank, I have a few ideas for how we can upgrade it.”
“Upgrade it?” I repeated. I was still getting used to the idea that I needed to have some kind of prosthesis. I wasn’t ready to start thinking about modifying it. I was barely ready to admit that I was even awake.
“It’ll be great, but we can worry about that after we leave.”
“He really shouldn’t…” Pem tried again, but Tam wouldn’t be dissuaded.
“Come on, Frank. We don’t have time for this. I have things to do. You have things to do. The Sheriff and his deputies have things to do. They have a village to get back to. We all have important things to take care of.”
“But what are you even doing here?” I asked, recalling the last time I had seen them. “You were supposed to have taken Gnomenasher out of here.”
“I did, Frank. I took him to the dimensional gateway with that habitat we mobilized and I dropped him off on the other side. And I waited, Frank. I waited a long time and you didn’t show up, so I came back to get you.”
“You waited?” That was a shock to me. He waited ‘a long time’? “How long was I out?”
“Not long at all,” Pem assured me. “Less than a day.”
“A day! A whole day!”
“Not a WHOLE day.”
“What does that mean? How long even is a day on this world? Can you even tell all the way down here?”
“Yes, Frank, we’re capable of telling time,” Pem said, sharply. “Maybe your friend is right. Maybe you should leave.”
I opened my mouth to apologize, but Tam jumped in. “You’re very right. It’s time for us to leave. Come on, Frank. Let’s get moving!”
Tam grabbed me and pulled me out of the room. “What are you doing?” I yelled.
“I’m getting you out of here, Frank. I’m getting us all out of here. We’ve all wasted too much time in this world. It’s about time we finally moved on to the next thing, back to what we set out to do.”
to be continued…