They both stared at the other.The visitor managed to smile but said nothing as if allowing 67-9 the courtesy to continue his examination. With some difficulty, he stood and then reached out his hand. 67-9 received it, though hesitantly,
"I can get you some water."
“No. It does no good. I apologize. As you can see…I have yet…to overcome some…nasty post suspension disorders. I trust that yours...are few. Have you suffered…PSDs?”
"I was informed the gravity well fluctuated within our EDT."
"Yes. A hundred years’ worth of fluctuation… I feel as if my legs were made of lead.” The visitor seemed to pause for a reaction, studied 67-9’s expressionless face. He continued when one was not given. “No brain tumors, happy to say…no... No serious calcification either. Just minor bone melt in…rather odd places.”
The visitor released the bed sheet and clutched it again, took a moment to regain a sudden loss of his breathing rhythm. His wheeze harmonized with the whistle of chilled air injected from the vent above him.
"They will stop at nothing.” You weak, you foolish…
Bergman’s true voice came through clearly and strikingly youthful. 67-9’s arms fell to his side as he remembered that voice and as he watched Bergman straighten up higher than he had yet, but then collapse forward. Too much. Bergman looked at the floor between his feet; stared at the metallic floor that mirrored the man's reflection but, strangely, nothing else. Bergman steadied himself on his protruding knees with his emaciated arms; the blue hue about his body lessening in intensity. Somewhere in there, under his flesh, was the young man, the friend, that 67-9 remembered.
67-9 responded with a single nod, but refused to take Bergman’s hand.
“Still," Bergman continued, drew his hand back, "I am more pleased to know that you are in good health.” Bergman then placed his palm on the scanner. The door opened and Bergman took cautious steps towards the hall. He dragged his crooked fingers along the door's edge and turned with a grin; a grin that 67-9 did not believe was legitimate. “There will be many more missions…coming your way. I am certain of it. Yet, I fear…the same cannot be said of me.”
The lighting in the room reduced to half strength.
The door closed and the light from the corners of the small room grew to annoyance. Then the vent cracked open and more air injected into the room. Cold, cold air.