Transhuman

Transhuman by Ben Bova Read Free Book Online

Book: Transhuman by Ben Bova Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ben Bova
burger and bread in a slimy green liquid.
    â€œWater,” Tamara snapped at Luke. He ran into the bathroom and fumbled with the plastic-wrapped paper cups on the sink. He could hear Angie gagging and moaning.
    By the time he came back into the bedroom with the water, Angie was sitting up, her thin pajamas a foul-smelling mess. But the coughing and upchucking had stopped. Tamara sat on the edge of the bed, gently massaging the child’s back.
    She looked up at Luke and reached for the water. Holding the cup to Angela’s lips she said softly, “Take a sip, Angie. It’ll take the sour taste out of your mouth.”
    Angela sipped. “I’m okay now,” she said weakly. “I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry.”
    â€œNothing to be sorry about,” Tamara whispered. To Luke she said, “You go to your room. I’ll clean her up.”
    Feeling useless and grateful at the same time, Luke went to the door that connected the two rooms. “I’ll come back to say good night, Angel.”
    Angela nodded and tried to smile.
    As he fidgeted in his room, unable to concentrate on the movie the TV was showing, Luke heard the squeaky wheels of the chambermaid’s cart, then muffled sounds from Angie’s room. Changing the bedclothes, he figured. Then the cart squeaked past in the other direction.
    At last Luke heard a tap on the door. Pulling it open, he saw that Angie was sleeping peacefully, as if nothing had happened.
    â€œShe’s all right now,” Tamara said as he stepped into the room. The bed was freshly made. Luke wondered what his granddaughter was wearing beneath the covers. We didn’t bring that many clothes for her, he realized.
    Tamara wiped the back of her hand across her forehead. “I shouldn’t have let her have a hamburger. That was stupid of me.”
    Luke asked, “Should we feed her intravenously?”
    Tamara nodded. “For the time being. We can give her broth, gelatin, things that are easy to digest.”
    â€œYeah.”
    Tamara saw Luke’s unfinished hamburger, still resting on the night table. “Are you going to eat that?”
    He shook his head.
    â€œDo you mind? I’m starving.”
    â€œGo right ahead.”
    Luke almost grinned at her. Slim as she is, she’s a real carnivore, he thought. Must have a high metabolic rate.
    â€œDid you have enough to eat?” she asked.
    â€œYeah. Plenty.” He realized he was very tired. And he felt chilled, achy. “I’m going to bed now.”
    Tamara nodded. “It’s been a long day.”
    â€œTomorrow will be easier.”
    â€œHope so.”
    He left her chewing on his half-eaten hamburger and closed the door that connected the two rooms. Stripping quickly, he rummaged in his suitcase for the one pair of pajamas he had packed. Prison gray. Could be appropriate, he thought.
    Once he stretched out in bed, he still felt cold, even with two blankets over him.
    This isn’t going to work, he told himself. I’m too old to do this. I’m already falling apart.
    Then he realized, I’ll have to do something about it. In his mind’s eye he saw the mice he’d experimented on in his lab, scampering in their cages youthfully in spite of their advanced age.
    If it works for the mice it ought to work for me. Same genes involved. Get me to start producing telomerase the way I did when I was a teenager. The freaking fountain of youth.
    He fell asleep and dreamed of the day he’d met the young beauty who eventually became his wife.

 
    Lucas Theodore Abramson
    â€œ Y OU HAVE GOT to be the stubbornest SOB I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to educate,” his biochemistry professor once told Luke.
    Twenty-two-year-old Luke stood in front of the older man’s desk and bit back the reply that came to mind.
    â€œYou think you’re so goddamned smart, you don’t give anybody else any credit for having

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