Gods of War Part II
by Steve Pantazis
Part I of "Gods of War" appeared in issue 65 of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine
"I've never seen anything like it," Dr. Angela Roberts says.
Blake is on a bed in the small building we've set up as a clinic, still unconscious, and
hooked up to an IV. It's the closest thing we have to a hospital, four beds total. Dr. Roberts is the
only MD in town. Luckily, we have a nurse as well, Mark Stevens, who's busy attending to Liz
and the other kids.
"Can you get him out of his . . . ?" I can't find the strength to say coma.
Carl and Janet are with us, talking off to the side with Sheila and Luke. I wish Sharon
were here to see Blake, but she'll just have to wait.
"Honestly, I can't tell what state he's in," Dr. Roberts says. "I can't do a PET scan to see
if there's any brain damage. I don't know how we're going to get this apparatus off of him
without understanding the mechanics. It might be keeping him alive."
Doc Anderson had said the same thing, but I didn't want to believe him. "Can't we find a
way to just wake him up?"
Dr. Roberts retrieves a vial and syringe from a medical cabinet. "If anything will wake him,
it's this. Mark, I need you over here."
Dr. Roberts plunges the needle into the vial and extracts whatever serum is in there. She
rubs the crook of Blake's arm with gauze soaked in rubbing alcohol and sticks him. Barely a
second later, he inhales loudly, and his whole body shudders awake.
Everyone stops what they're doing.
"Blake!" I grab his hand. "Hey, bub, can you hear me?"
He's slow to respond. "Uncle Jed?"
"That's right, buddy. It's me. Liz is here, Aaron and Kelsey, too."
Liz squeezes his arm. "Hey, Blake."
"What's happened? Where am I? I feel . . . " He reaches up and touches the black beetle
thing clamped over his head. "What the hell is this? Get it off. Get it off!" He thrashes his legs in a
"Whoa there, buddy," I say, trying to calm him down with a steady hand. "Easy now.
"What is this thing, Uncle Jed?"
"I don't know. We're trying to figure it out. You remember anything, like Doc Anderson
putting it on you?"
"Is he here?"
I wish he were so I could punch his lights out. "Sorry, son, he's dead." I give Blake a
moment to process the information before asking, "You remember anything?"
If Blake's rattled by the news of Doc Anderson's death, he's hiding it. "I was with Liz, we
got out of the truck, and then, and then . . . I don't know, Uncle Jed. What happened to me?"
"A lot, but don't you go thinking too much about it right now." I give his hand a pat like I
did when he was a kid. "Dr. Roberts here is going to figure out what we need to do to get this,
um, helmet off. Ain't that right, Doc?"
"We're going to do our best," she says.
"See, Blake? You've got a lot of support." I look over to Liz, who's wiping tears away. I
feel them coming on, too, but I have to be strong for the boy.
He touches the black plugs plunged into his eye sockets. "I can see."
"What do you mean, 'see'?" Dr. Roberts seems as surprised as I am.
Blake pushes himself upright. He swivels his head around the room. "It's strange, but I
can see all of you." He starts pointing at people. "Luke, Sheila, Carl, Liz, Aaron. But it ain't right.
I'm seeing your shapes, almost like outlines, but I'm seeing something else. It's like . . . noise.
And I hear it, too."
I get a sudden case of the shivers, like back in the field when we shot that snapper. "Hear
"It's . . ." He slants his head. "I don't know. They're all talking at once. I can almost see
them talking." He looks up at the ceiling. "It's like watching a stream of sounds. Sorry, I can't
explain it, but I swear it's--I don't know how else to put it--beautiful and terrifying at the same
time. I'm scared, Uncle Jed."
"You're home now, you hear? You've got us, so we're going to work through this." I
squeeze his hand. "Talk to Liz for a minute. I'll be right back."
I have Luke, Sheila, Carl and Janet follow me outside. When I'm sure we're out of earshot
from the kids, I speak up. "He can hear them!"
Janet raises her eyebrows. "The machines?"