Many years later Kyra claims to have no memory of the dash from her quarters to Trev’s lab. Everything Papa had ever taught her about here and now abandoned her in that short sprint. She remembers Goldie waking her and she remembers the look on Trev’s face before those first fateful words reluctantly flowed forth. The short period in-between is forever blank.

The Interview (from earth):

T: Kyra, what went through your mind when Goldie woke you?

K: Fear. Disorientation. Need for action, need for information, but mostly a sense that the worst had happened, that Kieran had passed away and I had been helpless to do anything about it.

T: What was the last thing you remember?

K: I remember seeing the monitors’ flat-lining, calling for help, realizing that the door was locked and only Trev had the ability to open it, throwing myself, repeatedly against it, blood everywhere. My last memory before Goldie woke me was that damn door that wouldn’t budge.

T: Any memory of seeing Trev?

K: None.

T: Let’s get back to the window. More emotion than we’ve seen from you before. Can you tell us what was going through your mind?

K: You have to remember, our homeworld was no more. What was left of our people were scattered to the winds of the universe and we, the eight of us on Bravo-Four-Zero, were heading into the uncharted territories. We had no contact with any other Hynerians and no expectation we would ever see any of our kind again. Now think about that for a minute.

T: Sobering. Please continue.

K: Well, I was a young female Hynerian. Had no desire to live my life alone and of the four males onboard Kieran was the only one I had feelings for. Rog was a great guy but not my type. Trev, heart of gold and sweet as could be, but again, not quite what I needed. But Kieran was different. Kieran was . . .

Editor: Kyra’s eyes started to water and she asked for a short break.

T: Kyra, are you ready to continue?

K: I’m sorry, even after all these years the emotions of that time still have the ability to overwhelm me.

T: I understand.

K: Kieran was special. Unlike any other Hynerian, well, except one [ed: we see the first smile from Kyra], that I had ever known. He could be so many things. Within his hands he could hold good and evil, strength and weakness, power and humility, all in equal measure and be neither deceived nor seduced by those concepts—almost as if he could stand outside the reality all the rest of lived in.

T: When did you learn he was a child of the shells?

K: I never knew till . . .

T: Do you need another break?

K: No, no, it’s ok. Just been awhile since I’ve recreated these memories. I had no idea until I walked, or was that stormed into Trev’s lab. Kieran had never spoken to anyone about it. Then again, that’s the way he was.

T: Let’s get back to the window. Tell us how you cut your hands. Trev said they were in pretty bad shape when he got to you.

K: Well, I was standing outside the iso room. There is a window to observe the patient. Kieran appeared to be resting peacefully, the incongruity of which only further fueled my emotional state. We had lost contact with Rog and Emy, the Tear had closed and there was every possibility they would not arrive back with the medicine in time. Remember, Kieran had reached stage two, which meant he had an estimated forty-eight hours and I have to emphasize estimated because no one really knew. I think the uncertainty combined with the sense of helplessness created a unique emotional situation.

Kieran was such a handsome young Hynerian. And he looked so peaceful standing bravely on the edge of death, and there was not a damn thing we could do but wait. Then it hit me. This could really be it. He might never come out of the peaceful drug-induced slumber. He might never see the sun again. Actually, I thought he might not ever see me again and, as a result, would have never heard the words I had so longed to whisper quietly in his ear. I felt a surge of regret I’d never felt before.

Then, almost as if my body acted on its own, I remember seeing my hands ball into fists and hurl themselves in frustration against the glass. The rings I wore just sliced through my flesh and blood went everywhere. Really was quite a mess I made.

T: Did Kieran have any idea how you felt about him?

K: None.

T: None?

K: Never said a word, never showed my hand in any way. I may have even subconsciously acted a little cold toward him to cover the approaches of my heart. Who knows in matters such as these? I may have been Zeke’s granddaughter, but I was no Papa at this stage of my life. You know, Goldie was so right. I did miss Papa.

T: What do you think Papa would have said to you if he had been there at the window?

K: Papa would have hugged me, told me not the resist the flow of energy but to embrace it. Then he would have told me how proud he was that there was so much love in my heart. Then he would have found a way to bust down that damn door. [much laughter]

T: So you “storm into” Trev’s lab. What’s the first thing he says to you?

K: Sit down.

T: Okay [interviewer smiles], so you are sitting down . . .

K: Oh no. I didn’t sit.

T: Oh.

K: I stood in front of his desk, put my bandaged hands down like a cat ready to pounce and said . . .

T: Yes?

K: I said Trev, no pampus-shiott. What happened.

T: And.

K: He said in a voice I had never heard before—SIT DOWN.

T: Sounds uncharacteristic of Trev.

K: It was.

T: So did you sit down?

K: Yep, although my eyes never left his. And then he started from the moment he got my distress message.

T: What did he say about his delay?

K: He said he never got my first messages.

T: Did you believe him?

K: Didn’t matter. Water under the bridge at that point.

T: But you don’t remember him arriving?

K: Nope, he says I was unconscious when he arrived. Apparently, on my last attempt to bust the door down I knocked myself out. He did say he was initially terrified when he saw me lying in a bloody mess unconscious.

T: And then?

K: And then as soon as he realized I was going to be okay he called Mel to come look after me.

T: So now he’s in the room with Kieran.

K: Yes.

T: You saw Kieran’s life support monitor’s flat-lining. Did Trev verify that fact?

K: Yes.

T: From the time you first saw them to the time he walked in the room—how much time had passed?

K: Trev estimated five to six minutes.

T: Could a Hynerian live that long? Do you know what I’m asking?

K: You’re asking if Kieran could live or survive for more than five minutes without blood flow.

T: Yes.

K: No.

T: Did you blame yourself for his death?

K: I think I would have had a great deal of guilt, if he had died at that point.

T: So he was still alive?

K: [smiling] Yes. I told you he was one of a kind.

T: Was he just that extraordinary, just that much stronger than the average Hynerian?

K: Stronger, no. Extraordinary, yes.

T: Please explain.

K: I didn’t know until Trev told me. Kieran was a child of the shells. Remember my shell story?

T: Yes, every school child had to build a shell collection of both regular and irregular shells. Hynerian culture valued those that were different.

K: True. Remember, Hyneria was on an elliptical orbit. Twice a year the planet approached the sun and the extreme radiation caused birth defects in all life forms. Most were rather cosmetic, not too severe. Just as shellfish were deformed so too Hynerian babies. One of every seven Hynerians were affected. Hence, we developed a deep sense of compassion for those that were different.

T: So the babies that were born with a defect . . .

K: Yes, they were called children of the shells.

T: What was Kieran’s birth defect?

K: He was born with two hearts.

T: No shiott?

K: [more laughter] No shiott, as you say.

T: Was this common?

K: Extremely rare. Kieran was the first double heart shell child I ever met.

T: So the life support monitors . . .

K: They were wrong. The equipment we had was not calibrated for a dual-heart Hynerian. When one of his hearts shut down the monitors malfunctioned, but the beauty of two hearts is the other can keep you alive. And so it did.

T: You must have been relieved.

K: Yes and no. Relieved he was alive, yes. But the basic situation had not changed. Kieran was down to one functioning heart, the virus was having an impact. The clock was ticking. We were down to perhaps hours and still we could not establish communication with Rog nor did we know if when we did whether it would be too late.

Lesson of the Shells

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