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U3A Writing: Love At The Last

…Puzzled, she came to him. Placing a hand at either side of her face, he drew it towards his. ‘In olden times they called this a kiss,’ he explained. ‘It’s what lovers used to do together.’…

In this vivid sci-fi tale Patrick Hopton tells of an explosive love-making farewell in a future time.

The door of the ascent capsule slid open and Danor entered the chamber. ‘All set for, immediate separation, Commander,’ he announced. ‘The craft’s on the launch pad, fully loaded; the passengers are assembled; the crew at their stations.’

Voran looked through the window, across the bleak landscape towards the ring of ancient stones: his chosen spot. Beyond, flickering red glows of fire danced on the horizon beneath a layer of murky yellow, a stratus of cloud impregnated with foul gases impatient to blanket and wipe out this last vestige of civilisation. The valves spurting counter gases into the atmosphere, that ringed the perimeter of the Command Centre’s safety zone, would not keep the inevitable at bay much longer: an hour at best Voran calculated. ‘Separation in ten minutes,’ he ordered.

‘But sir, the defence shield here is already failing. We should go now.’

‘Ten minutes,’ Voran repeated, in a tone that brooked no argument. ‘See to it. Oh, and Danor, there’s been a slight change of plan.’

‘Sir?’ was the puzzled reply.

‘Yes, Vice Commander Kallan will be leading the mission in my place.’ He heard Meryn gasp beside him and clutched her arm, a signal to stifle her spoken dissent.

Again Danor tried to protest, ‘But, sir, my instructions are . . . ’

Voran cut him short with an impatient gesture. ‘Your instructions, Chief Engineer, are to obey my commands.’ Unclipping a disc from his tunic he handed it to him. ‘My recorded orders are in here. They will absolve you of all responsibility.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Meryn said when they were alone.

Voran smiled grimly. ‘I’m not sure that I do either, my dear. But your technical qualifications are the equal of mine, your skills probably surpass them. In the new community on Zethon you will be a valued member. It was just luck that my name was drawn to pilot the final craft and not your own. I want you to take my place.’

‘But why? I am quite prepared to remain here and die.’

A distant explosion shook the building. ‘There’s no time to explain it, even if I could. Suffice to say my decision is all to do with the feelings I hold for you.’

She sighed in understanding. ‘Ah, so you have feelings too. But why only now do you speak of them, Voran dearest, when it’s too late?’

‘I’ve long held those feelings, but such things have had to be suppressed, as regulations state. Now those laws are meaningless. Anyway it is not altogether too late. We still have nearly ten minutes. Long enough to share a special moment before we are parted: a moment to treasure always.’

‘You mean you want to . . . ?’

‘Yes, dear Meryn, I do – we’ll share an O lozenge together. But first things first. You have your kit packed?’

‘Yes of course.’

‘Your full kit, with your ova vacuum phial?’

She blushed. ‘Yes.’

From a bag on the desk beside him he withdrew a small silver cylinder and handed it to her. ‘This is my sperm phial. Put this in your bag and use it once you’ve settled in Zethon. Make sure that specimens from your phial and mine – and only your phial and mine – are fed into the Repro Machine together. Within a day or two of your arrival it will produce a child of ours for us to share forever. Boy or girl; I leave the choice to you.’

‘Oh Voran, my dear,’ she burst out, her voice choked by tears.

He placed a finger gently across her lips, ‘Sshh now!’ he said. ‘It makes my fate here much easier to face knowing that something of me will survive up there in Zethon. I’m one of the fortunate ones. Not many left down here will be able to say the same.’ Suddenly his voice was businesslike again. ‘And now, the lozenge.’

He bit it in two, placing half on her tongue and half on his. Their bodies touching lightly, he took her right hand, placing it against his left hand, finger against finger, thumb against thumb. The lozenge was already doing its work. His fingers were tingling; his palm warming. His arm, became a fuse that primed a glow; the glow fanned a flame that pulsed through the length of him, intensifying, consuming him with fire to a pitch of white heat, finally to explode in noisy passion at the precise moment that Meryn’s body against his was exploding too.

‘Wow!’ she exclaimed when the moment had passed, her eyes wide with wonder.

‘Wow indeed,’ he breathed. ‘They don’t call the Orgasma lozenge the Oh Wow pill for nothing. But I’ll tell you this Meryn, my darling. It has never worked for me before as it just did with you now.’

‘Me neither, Voran, my love.’

An intrusive shriek from outside shattered their idyll. ‘The five minute signal,’ he said sadly. ‘You must go. But first, come and stand against me again.’

Puzzled, she came to him. Placing a hand at either side of her face, he drew it towards his. ‘In olden times they called this a kiss,’ he explained. ‘It’s what lovers used to do together.’ Their eyes open, as though gazing into the very soul of the other, their lips touched tenderly - warm, soft, moist. Physically their bodies had been drained by the Oh Wow pill, but this mental union was an experience new to them both, one beyond their comprehension hitherto.

‘Wow!’ Meryn said again.

Gently Voran pushed her from him. ‘Now go,’ he said.

She looked up at him tearfully. ‘But I can’t leave you to face alone the horrible end awaiting you. Let me stay here and die with you. Someone else can pilot the craft.’

‘No one else is capable of piloting that craft and you know it. You have to go; the future of humankind depends on it. And you don’t need to fret over my last moments, Meryn my love; I will have the happiest death that any man ever had. Now dry those tears, Vice Commander Kallan, and go. That is an order.’

Sulphurous gases had already breeched the safety screen and wisps were snaking between and coiling around the ancient stones by the time he reached the ring. The gaunt giant monoliths towered above him, timeless, eternal as he lay down at their epicentre. Staring defiantly up at the deadly ceiling of yellow cloud pressing down to smother him he tossed a handful of Oh wow pills into his mouth, closed his eyes and smiled. His last thoughts were of his lover already hurtling through space to a new and better world, and the child that would be theirs.

* *

Author’s note:
Oh Wow pills are not available on the NHS.

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