Too Short a Visit

Catalina thought she opened her eyes but it was hard to know for sure. She was suddenly blind.

She held up her hands but couldn’t see so much as a shadow of a shadow. Vertigo swirled in her head like a vortex. The ground was solid beneath her feet but she could’ve sworn she’d been launched from the Earth and set adrift in the cold blackness of infinite space.

A pinpoint of light grounded her once again. It seemed very far away, but it was getting closer. How fast, she wasn’t certain. It was hard to gauge the passage of time without a reference point. At last the light expanded and resolved into a column, like a sunbeam without the sun. Or perhaps a spotlight was a better analogy, for she now saw a person in the light, walking towards her.

It was Gavin, Catalina’s grown nephew.

He waved and smiled and jogged the remaining distance until he stood before her. “Hi Aunt Cat. Do you remember me?”

She screwed her face. “Do I re—of course I remember you. Hell, I still remember changing your diapers; no baby on Earth ever blew out a diaper like you could.”

“Aw, c’mon. Not again with the diapers. That was like twenty years ago.”

“Gavin. What’s going on? Where are we?”

The joy in his eyes hardened to steel. “Do you remember…the accident?”

Catalina’s heart quickened. Accident? No. She couldn’t recall any accident, and her face must have told him as much.

“Don’t freak out or anything, but you died in a car accident. It was almost two months ago.”

Catalina freaked out. It was the only appropriate response, and her nephew let her have her moment.

“It’s okay though,” he said sincerely. “I had you uploaded. I know it’s kind of empty right now, but I’m saving up for some add-ons; a bedroom at first, but then a house and maybe a little lake for you to walk around. I’ve been working my ass off—”

“Gavin!”

“Sorry. I mean I’ve been working a lot. To afford it. I’ve actually got to get to work now—double shift today—but I’ll be back to visit soon.”

“What? You tell me I’m dead and now you’re going to work?”

“That’s the whole point, Aunt Cat. You’re not dead. Not anymore. I promise, I’ll visit as soon as I can.” He gave Catalina a hug, and then promptly dissolved in her arms, leaving her again in solitary darkness.

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