Nursie Dear

"Are you comfortable?" Her voice was female, her chassis was human-shaped enough to be comforting while falling outside the 'uncanny valley'. "Can I get you anything?"

His voice was a whisper buried in loose gravel. "…Has anyone called?"

"No, I'm sorry. Is there someone I can call for you? Someone you want to see? I can ask them to—"

"No, no. I thought, maybe… but, no." He winced, shifted his weight, trying unsuccessfully to redistribute the pain.

She turned to the monitor display, took in all the information at a glance, and then began adjusting the life-support array, a little more here, a little less there, an increase of dosage, a decrease in light level. She reached for another control, but stopped, as if pausing to remember something, but stayed frozen there, a sudden statue.

"What is it?"

She didn't respond. He realized the low hum that usually came and went with her was gone.

"Broken down?" He coughed a wracking spasm, turning his head into the pillow until it was done. "Ran out of juice?"

The call button was out of his reach; in an emergency, she was supposed to hit it.

"Here I was sure I'd go first."

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