The John Nimerc Website

The Hospital Ship - Page By Page

Chapter 3 - Released from Hospital - Page_41

And so, Functionary when to work in the mortuary. He was the chief administrator amongst the stench of death. While others prodded and cut away at the dead or physically boxed them and dispatched them into the ship's incinerator, Functionary recorded and arranged the entire process of death.

But, for the time being, life with Judith had it's compensations. There was plenty of sex. At this most basic of levels, the existence of Functionary was significantly more rewarding than if had ever been. At a more cerebral level, life upon a new ship and amongst new life forms provided it's own stimulation, no matter the immediately evident humdrum nature of the alien lifestyle. Work was punctuated by days off and these were often spent meeting other inhabitants of the Hospital Ship. Frequently, social gatherings took place in the vast atrium where Functionary had met a number of the friends of Judith on his first night after being released from the medical centre. After, the low corridors of the ship and the cramped individual living quarters, the atrium was awe inspiring. Standing at one end of this huge room, it was as though one found oneself inside the rib-cage of a massive mechanical beast. It was a long rectangular hall, around the sides of which, were various rooms fulfilling the function of shops or of bars and restaurants. The massive hall itself was empty save for few benches and the innumerable individuals, chatting in groups or staring into shops and bars along the side.  These being would slowly drift from the broad stairway at one end, which formed the entrance, towards the exit at the other, as though some digestive detritus slowly being consumed in the stomach acid of the beast. High above, hovered a huge transparent ceiling which provided a window on the universe through which the ship endlessly traversed. Anchoring this roof in place were numerous metallic columns which regularly grew upwards from the floor before loop over the hall space, high above. If this structure formed the upper torso of the beast which was the hospital ship, Functionary was to increasingly perceived of the individuals who slowly flowed through the space it formed, as being gradually digested by the beast as though through some institutionalised alimentary process. Several hundred yards on from the atrium exit, were the boilers into which Functionary oversaw the regular ceremonial dispatch of many boxed, lifeless beings, who were in practice no more than yet more recyclable waste to be used to fuel the ships processes..

<Toc | Previous Page | Next Page >