After the Storm

Postscript to Into the Storm
Not to be read by romantic types

You would have to be numb from the waist down not to feel the sexual tension in Lydia and Michael’s common flight.

How did you react to it; what did you think of their respective personalities? Is Lydia the perfect victim-heroine from romance literature, who will be the making of Michael – eventually? Is Michael the wounded warrior whose soul Lydia will save?

If you read Into the Storm that way,
you might want to avert your eyes
from the rest of this postscript.

For me, Lydia is a wimp and Michael is a jackass with a mommy-take-care-of-me complex. I couldn’t imagine spending further time with them if they were not going to change. In the original concept for a novel, Lydia was going to change a lot, as Michael’s true character was revealed.

First a bit of backstory. Their communion is not telepathy; it is technologically enabled transmission of thought and feelings, an offshoot of the memory taping technology of A Fond Farewell to Dying (short version, To Go Not Gently). Each person has to choose to be implanted. Michael has browbeaten Lydia into doing so, working on her guilt that she can walk while he can’t. She is kind and naive; he is ruthless. Living in each other’s heads, she has fallen completely under his domination.

He wants to go to live in the Martian colony where the lower gravity will allow him greater freedom. Lydia does not want to go, but shortly after Into the Storm she gives in. Her futile resistance to the move and her resentment begin to grow her a backbone. On Mars she works to support them both, and begins to find independence as Michael turns his attention elsewhere. She is fascinated by her work and he is bored with it, which gives her respite from his continual prying.

As she grows apart from Michael, she wants to have the transponder removed, but the surgical techniques that were readily available on Earth are not available on Mars. She literally can’t get Michael out of her head.

Time passes. Lydia’s importance grows and Michael’s childish need for thrills does not abate. He is exploring Phobos in a powered spacesuit, the celestial equivalent of the powered wings,  when he crashes. Lydia, in her new executive position, is coordinating the response to a Mars-wide crisis. She has access to ships which could rescue him, but she cannot spare them.

She has to save Mars with Michael’s dying voice crying in her head. Then she has to face the honest fact that his loss is less tragedy than relief.

Not quite a romantic ending.

#              #              #

I still think it was a good story, but it would have been no fun to write, and no fun for any reader who didn’t have her own hated Michael to make it meaningful. If you have a Michael of your own (or a Michelle, it works both ways), you have no doubt already fleshed out this outline in your own head, and are voicing an evil laugh under your breath.

For the rest of us, all that is left is Michael and Lydia’s flight, which is physically exciting, sexually arousing, and more than a little creepy.

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