December 4, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: Heart removal/containment

Defman Balasubramanium leaned back in the chair bolted to the floor. He touched the control panel under his fingers and the walls of the ship seemed to dissolve around him and he floated above the Rings of Saturn without a suit or a ship.

It had taken two years for him to reach this orbit, anticipation high the past three months as the Democracy of Saturn had grown in his view screen. He was eligible for membership in the most advanced culture Humanity had ever created.

If his cargo had survived intact.

“Speaking of which,” he said. He joined the talk stream between Earth and Neptune and talked with his gfs and bfs until he reached the Heart Garden. “Listen, I got work to do.”

“What? You and Rosie Palm gotta catch up on the broadcasts of ‘Prostit...’” Def shut down the entire link, cutting everyone off as he touched down in the microgravity jump shaft that ran the length of the ship.

The inertia drive had shut down once the ship had decelerated after boosting for nine months. Except for the virtual concerts he ran in the holomovie theatre with his friends, the parties he hosted the same way and the...ahem...he often turned everything off and listened.

In the silence that ensued while the ship had drifted into Saturn’s orbit, travelling millions of kilometres per hour, he heard the Hearts in the Garden.

Since he was sixteen, he’d tended the Heart Garden. The cargo was vital to the Democracy as it seemed to be necessary for vital Human organs to grow in one Earth G when they were outside a body. There was a plague that caused profound damage to the heart.

He swung out, ran a program check of the myocardial stimulation unit that tied all two hundred hearts together, making them beat as one, then started a routine he’d followed since the day he and the organs had been launched from Space Station Courage.

The normal intrinsic electrical conduction of the heart allowed electrical propagation to be transmitted from the Sinoatrial Node through both atria and forward to the Atrioventricular Node. Normal/baseline physiology allowed further propagation from the AV node to the Purkinje Fibers…

He managed to stop himself. He’d gotten into the medical end of his job, eventually taking and passing the various tests until he reached a point where he was an EMT now. In fact, he’d gotten smarter than he’d ever expected himself to be. Earth and Saturn pretty much left him alone now to work with them. In fact, once or twice they had asked his opinion of treatment of the organs.

It had proved devastating to the health of the hearts if they were frozen. Even with the help of Democracy physicists combined with Earth’s best doctors, the number of hearts that were revived unharmed once they completed their journey was less than four percent. That number combined with the cost of the journey was unacceptable to either Earth or Saturn.

The only call his link allowed when he banned everyone else was his best friend, Jyotsna Tamang.

He wasn’t sure what he’d have done in space if it wasn’t for the Democracy’s instantaneous communication. He accepted the call and said, “What? I’m busy working!”

“I’m on the tractor, too!” Jyotsna’s family had emigrated to the central plains of Brazil, the breadbasket of the world, where she was a simple farmer’s daughter.

Well educated, though, “Well, I plant and harvest hearts while you plant and harvest...whatever you plant and harvest.”
“Jojoba,” she said. The possibility of educating himself if he felt like it, limitless access to entertainment and absolutely no supervision at all – with the understanding that if he really screwed off, he’d probably die – sent him to Saturn with two hundred beating hearts at an acceleration of one G. Sometimes, he thought that all he could hear was them beating. Even when he played a transuranic concert; even when he blared Bach’s Concerto in D Minor into sound-proofed headphones.

He could always hear the hearts…

India boy’s name
Nepali girl’s name

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