azombiewrites: (Lost in Space)
[personal profile] azombiewrites
Title: Lost in Emotion
Fandom: Lost in Space
Genre: Sci-Fi, Hurt/Comfort, Angst.
Rating: PG
Main Characters: Don West and Judy Robinson.
Secondary Characters: John Robinson, Maureen Robinson, Will Robinson, Penny Robinson, Doctor Smith and the Robot.
Disclaimer: Based on the characters created by Irwin Allen.
Challenge: Written for [livejournal.com profile] 10_hurt_comfort.
Prompt: #1 Emotion
Author's Notes: Set after season 3.
Chapter Word Count: 5,289
Status: Complete

Summary: Dragged down into a deep hole by the black dog of depression, Don West struggles to maintain a facade of his former self, but when Doctor Smith causes more harm and injury, West loses control, his facade crumbling in front of everyone.





Lost in Emotion

Chapter One


Unbearable heat, thick and heavy, dominated everything and everyone. Emotions ran high and low, nerves frayed, personalities clashing. Crammed into the Jupiter 2, the hatch to the outside world closed, bodies struggled to find an area that wouldn’t suffocate or irritate.

Personal space difficult to find, Major Don West found solace in the space pod; body slumped against its door, knees drawn toward his chest, grateful for the momentary peace and quiet. He tilted his head back, a soft thud sounding when the back of his head hit the door. Closing his eyes, Don let his mind drift and his mood wander. He had no idea what was wrong, only that something wasn’t right.

An ache, heavy and strong, now lived deep in his chest and nothing he tried would shift it or relieve it; a physical aliment he couldn’t diagnose. Smith was a doctor but Don refused to subject himself to Smith’s personality, worried the doctor’s traits would cause him to react, not only physically but also emotionally, in a way that would differ from his normal reactions, alerting everyone else that something was wrong.

He’d been too emotional lately, part of his problem. The anger and the frustration no longer there, instead replaced by something that worried him, scared him. He felt low and unmotivated, drowning in a sea of emotions he’d never experienced before, his way lost, unable to find the shore.

Don took a deep breath, the ache in his chest growing, the grip it held so strong he refused to deflate his lungs, fearful something was about to break. He waited, lungs struggling, the pain finally easing. Breath released, he raised his hands, covering his face. His thoughts stalled, unwilling to admit that deep down, somewhere in his subconscious, he knew what was wrong.

A knock on the door, a soft voice calling his name. Don considered ignoring her, waiting a moment to see if she would leave. She was persistent, knocking louder when he didn’t answer. He still waited, unsure if he wanted to talk, to share his solitude. His support suddenly gone, Don fell back, head smacking against the floor. He grimaced in pain, hand rubbing the back of his head.

“Hey you,” said Judy Robinson, her smile genuine.

“Hi,” said Don, laying still, lacking the motivation to do the simplest of things; get up.

“You’re in hiding?”

He wanted to say no, but he couldn’t lie to her, “Yes.”

“Mind if I join you?”

He couldn’t say no.

“Sure.”

Judy stepped over him, moving gracefully into the pod. She sat down and tucked her legs beneath her, “Are you going to stay there, or come back in?”

He forced himself upright, shifting his body so he sat opposite her. Reaching upward, fingers stumbling over the handle, he pulled the door closed, shutting them away from the outside world, her family. Drawing his legs back up toward his chest, Don laid his forearms on his knees, interlacing his fingers. Allowing his head to fall back, his gaze found the roof of the pod. He knew he was hiding himself from Judy but she knew him too well, able to read him like an open book; in front of her, he always wore his emotions on his sleeve.

Watching him, her gaze now anxious, Judy reached forward, her own fingers gripping his, her touch gentle, her concern visible, “Are you okay?”

His response succinct, “No.”

“Do you want to talk about it,” said Judy.

“No.”

She nodded, “Still feel the same?”

“Yes.”

“Don, you really should talk to Doctor Smith. He could help you.”

“Smith’s a quack,” said Don. “He couldn’t diagnose a cold if it coughed in his face.”

“There’s the man I know and love,” said Judy, a smile drifting across her features.

Don lowered his eyes, his gaze finding hers and in a voice cracking with emotion, said, “Not anymore.”

.
.
.

As the days passed, the ache in his chest grew stronger, his mood collapsing even further. He was in a hole so deep, the walls lacking any grip, falling and slipping back down every time he tried to crawl out; each fall more painful than the last. Something held onto him, pulling him down, its weight too heavy to carry on shoulders already burdened.

It became a charade, Don West keeping up the pretence that everything was right in his world. He smiled when expected, laughed when it was appropriate and argued with Smith, his retorts lacking their usual malice, all in the hope that no one would notice that something was wrong. It was a physical effort that left him exhausted and his nerves on edge.

Unable to sleep, exhaustion a sleeping pill that didn’t work, Don dragged his body from his bed, dressed and made his way to the upper deck. His feet dragging, his shoulders slumped, head hung low, he pressed the button to open the hatch that led to the outside world, still dark. Uninterested in his surroundings, he walked to the chariot, the vehicle in need of repair. He turned on the industrial lamp, illuminating the front of the chariot. Don lay down on his back, finding the flashlight and toolbox, dragging them along as he found his usual place beneath the vehicle. So much work.

Closing his eyes, he took a breath, a moment. Alone, he didn’t have to hide; he could allow himself to feel the single dominating emotion that had been cramping his chest for several weeks. Melancholy his mother had called it, the affliction that had ailed his grandfather. As a child, he hadn’t understood but now...

Fear gripped his heart, stopping his breath in his throat. His eyes snapped open. Unwilling to visit the past, he pushed the painful memory to the side. The answer was obvious but he didn’t want to travel that road, refusing to acknowledge that his grandfather’s past may become Don West’s future.

His heart not in it, he began working on the chariot, once again fixing a faulty air-conditioning unit; the amount of times it had broken, he’d lost count. Time passed, the minutes lazy, daylight drifting toward and eventually past the chariot. Soon the others would be joining him, calling him to breakfast, and the charade would begin again.

“Don?”

Sooner than he’d expected.

Not answering would be rude, lack of response hurtful.

“Will,” said Don, pushing his way out from beneath the chariot. His smile forced, he stood up, standing over the boy. “You’re up early.”

“Dad wanted us to get a head start,” said Will, bending over and looking at the undercarriage of the chariot. “Air-conditioning unit?”

“Again,” said Don, nodding, wiping his hands with a dirty rag. “A head start on what?”

Will stood up and frowned, “We’re all heading out to the new drill site this morning. You didn’t forget did you?”

“No,” said Don, hoping Will didn’t catch his lie.

They’d had the family meeting last week, a discussion that concluded with John Robinson deciding the trip to the new drill site would involve everyone, including Doctor Smith. A family vacation, he had said. Mind jumbled, emotions controlling his thoughts, Don had forgotten they were leaving today, Will’s reminder jarring him.

Will put his hands on his hips, his face turning serious, and said, “What’s wrong?”

Don paused, his heart pounding, his forced expression falling beneath the realization that Will had seen through his false facade.

“Is it the cooling system?”

Looking away, hiding his features, Don said, “I’m not sure. I think I’ve lost the knack of fixing things.”

“Do you want me to have a look?”

“Sure,” said Don, turning back. “Knock yourself out, Will.”

Will smiled, grin so wide the ache in Don’s chest pulsed, beating in time with his heart. Lifting his hand, Don rubbed at his chest, heel of his palm pressing deep, the action painful. It didn’t help. He felt a hint of guilt, jealous of Will’s ability to be so . . . cheerful. When Will disappeared under the chariot, Don turned and lent back against the vehicle, folded his arms and lowered his head. He could hear Will tinkering, muttering to himself. Don smiled, the expression overcoming his features with ease; the kid was a mechanical genius.

.
.
.

Breakfast was . . . difficult.

The pretence of being excited about the trip was tiring. All around him, voices full of cheer and excitement grated on his nerves, rubbing them raw. Inner turmoil wanted them to stop, to grow quiet, sombre, much like his own mood but he couldn’t dampen their joy. They got very little of it these days, always wary of trouble, danger, lives at risk every day.

Even Smith, usually adamant, had agreed without argument to go on the ‘family vacation’, citing a change of scenery was good for the heart and soul. Don wasn’t so sure, knowing he would feel the same way in any location, the ache travelling with him, sticking close . . . too close.

Stabbing at a lump of scrambled egg, Don pushed the food around his plate, memorized, his thoughts drifting. Beneath the table, Judy held his left hand, squeezing it when she felt it necessary; her support was his only comfort in an emotionally dark world. He wanted to get up, walk away, hide himself from prying eyes and curious words.

When Judy squeezed his hand harder than necessary, he looked up. Those prying eyes stared at him, expressions questioning him. He glanced at Judy, his own expression asking her a question but her gaze was elsewhere. She was looking at her father. Question answered.

“Sorry, John,” said Don. “I was thinking about the trip.”

It wasn’t a lie. He was worried, knowing he wouldn’t be able to hide, his facade requiring more time and energy when huddled together around a campfire. He didn’t want to go but he couldn’t stay. There would be no reason that would allow him to stay, any excuse picked apart, scrutinized and questioned. He had no choice but to go.

“You look worried,” said John.

Not a statement, a question and Don knew that John Robinson expected an answer. A lie was required, one that would satisfy and subdue any further questions.

“The air-conditioning unit on the chariot,” said Don.

“The one you were supposed to fix last week in preparation for our trip today?”

“Yeah, that one,” said Don, pausing, unsure how to go on.

He couldn’t think. His mind, usually focused, intelligent . . . he just couldn’t think anymore, concentration lacking, thought process focused on one thing only. His heart began to beat faster, pounding against his ribcage, an animal attempting an escape. His ribcage held firm, the ache in his chest growing.

Will stepped in, saving Don from embarrassment and explanation.

“It was acting up again. I fixed it,” said Will, his shoulders straightening with pride. “I bet Don is worried about it breaking down again . . . again.”

Everyone laughed, Don forcing himself to react.

Doctor Smith, eyes sparkling with intent, said, “Dear William, if it weren’t for you we would all be travelling in this dreadful heat without respite.”

“Need I remind you, Smith,” said Don, snatching the words from a mind heavy with doubt. “The chariot’s air-conditioning unit is usually broken because you take vital parts to satisfy your own selfish needs.”

“Indeed,” said Smith.

“That’s enough,” said John. “Don, I want you to make sure the chariot is in working order. I don’t want it breaking down on us at a crucial time.”

“But dad,” said Will. “I fixed it.”

John looked at his son, “I’m sure you did, son, but I want Don to check it. Make sure it’s working.”

Will, looking despondent, looked down at his empty plate and said, “Yes, sir.”

Don knew how Will felt. The boy’s ability questioned, doubted. Don felt his own confidence drop every time someone questioned his ability, poisonous barbs – as Smith called them – piercing his soul, causing it to bleed. Self-doubt filled him, now unsure of himself, his own inner voice sending his confidence into a downward spiral.

He had to keep the charade going.

“Why don’t you show me what you did, Will,” said Don. “I’m sure I’ll mark your workings with an A plus.”

Grin wide, Will nodded, “Sure. We can do it now.”

John shook his head, Will’s smile infectious, and said, “Let the man finish his breakfast first. Then you can get to work.”

“It’s fine, John,” said Don.

He squeezed Judy’s hand, smiling at her when she looked at him. She smiled back at him and nodded. Don stood up and walked around the table, past Will and toward the Chariot, calling back over his shoulder, “Come on, Will. No lazing about.”

Will jumped out of his seat, running after Don, catching up and passing him.

Don let him go, in no hurry to catch up.

.
.
.

Maureen Robinson watched as Don walked away. His shoulders were slumped, his gate awkward. She knew something was wrong but couldn’t determine what was bothering their pilot. Sure that it was something more than worry over their planned trip, she looked toward her husband, noting that he too wore an expression of concern.

“Penny,” said Maureen, “could you start clearing away the dishes, please.”

Penny nodded and stood up, gathering her plate and her brother’s. She moved around the table, hesitating at Don’s plate, the food barely touched, “Mother...”

“Yes, dear.”

“Is there something wrong with Don?”

Maureen smiled. Penny, always inquisitive had also noticed that something was wrong, “I’m sure he’s fine. Now, go on and clear the table. Doctor Smith, why don’t you help?”

“Madam, even a plate is too delicate for my aching back,” said Smith.

John Robinson stood up, “Smith!”

Smith obliged, gathering an armload of dishes and walking quickly into the Jupiter, Penny not far behind.

Alone with their eldest daughter, John and Maureen gathered their thoughts. Maureen was unsure where to start; unaware of how touchy Judy would be in the discussion of Don West. The best thing, she decided, was to be direct. A straight question might result in a straight answer.

“Judy,” said Maureen. “What’s really bothering Don?”

John, allowing his wife to take the lead, sat back in his seat, his gaze steady, his posture authoritative, ready to intervene when necessary.

Judy, body shifting with guilt, shook her head, “He’s just tired. Worried about the trip.”

Maureen glanced at her husband, “We don’t think so. There’s something else. And please, be truthful with us.”

“He really is worried about the trip. If the chariot breaks down or the air-conditioning unit stops working, we’ll be stuck out there in this heat. Honestly, mother, he’s just worried. I’m sure when the trip is over he’ll be back to his normal self.”

There it was. An answer that wasn’t very straight . . . but it was enough to satisfy Maureen Robinson and her husband.

John nodded, “I’ve been worried about trip too but it has to be done. We need to gather enough deutronium to get off this planet and the way things have been going lately, I don’t want to leave anyone here, especially Doctor Smith. That man draws trouble like--”

“Won’t he bring trouble with us?” said Judy. “Maybe we should leave him behind.”

Maureen frowned. So unlike Judy; usually she stood up for Doctor Smith, it didn’t matter what he’d done, who had been injured as a result of his carelessness.

“No,” said John. “If we leave Smith here, he’ll order the robot to stay with him and we’re going to need the robot. Besides, if we leave them both behind, what will we come back to? Another holiday resort?”

Maureen smiled and noticed that her daughter’s mirrored expression was forced. Something nagged at her, a small voice telling her to keep a watchful eye on their pilot. She would obey, motherly instinct strong; Don West, not her son, but she felt the need to take care of him as if he were her own.

.
.
.

They set up camp at the base of a rock formation large enough to block out the afternoon sun, the new drill site a few hundred yards away. Four tents had been set up, Will deciding he would bunk with Don. Don didn’t understand Will’s decision, the boy always preferring to bunk with his second best friend, Doctor Smith. He couldn’t argue. Will’s enthusiasm would be difficult to bare but as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t shut the kid out.

When things settled, the camp work complete, a simple but warm lunch was set out on the table. Don wasn’t hungry or interested, Judy dragging him to a seat at the table. Letting them think he was worried gave him a small bit of leeway, allowing him to drop his guard, if only for a short time. The pretence not taking as much effort, the act less tiring. He forced himself to eat; unaware of the concerned glances sent his way. He stayed quiet, not wanting to talk, answering only when expected. Finishing the meal quickly, he gave his thanks before explaining that he should get started on the drill site. Don stood up and walked away, Judy mirroring his moves, his explanation.

John, Will, the Robot and Doctor Smith – on John Robinson’s orders – quickly followed, leaving a worried Maureen and Penny behind.

Don worked on the drill site quietly, slowly, the heat and exhaustion sapping his strength. Judy followed his every move, always two steps behind him. He didn’t mind, drawing strength from her but he knew her father was suspicious; his constant glances telling Don that John knew something was wrong, that it might not be a simple case of worry. Until John confronted him with his suspicions, Don would say nothing, keeping his secret to himself, Judy his only confidant.

Smith as always, a hindrance, causing more problems than not, the work taking longer, until John finally listened to the man’s insistent need to rest and allow his back to recuperate. Smith had since sat under the shade on a rock a few feet away watching everyone else work.

Judy stepped away, picking up the container of water and a cup, making her way around the site, offering water and little else. When she reached Don, she took his hand, pressing the cup into his palm.

“Drink this,” said Judy. “And please, take a break. You must be exhausted.”

He knew not to argue, Judy the only thing keeping him going. She took his other hand, leading him to a small out cropping, pushing him down. Unwilling to let him go, Judy sat down beside Don, keeping her words to herself, wanting him to lead the conversation.

Don looked toward Judy’s father, catching him taking another glance, his expression one of concern, “Your father knows something’s wrong.”

“And mother,” said Judy.

He turned toward her, Judy’s face so close he could feel her warm breath on his skin, “You spoke to them?”

She nodded, “This morning. They asked me if I knew what was bothering you.”

Don drank from the cup, the moment allowing him to gather his thoughts, his fears, “What did you tell them?”

“That you were worried about the trip,” said Judy, smiling, assuring him. “I also told them you were tired.”

“Did they believe you?”

Judy glanced toward her father before turning back to Don, “I thought so. But I’m not so sure now.”

He nodded, keeping quiet, unsure what to say.

“Being tired will give you an excuse to turn in early tonight. If you don’t want company that is?”

“You or Will?” said Don.

“I can ask him to stay with Doctor Smith.”

“No. The kid will get suspicious.”

“Penny’s worried also.”

Surprised, Don looked at her, “I thought I was doing okay. Hiding everything.”

Judy squeezed his hand, “It’s not something you can hide, not unless you’ve had a lot of practice.”

“My grandfather was good at it . . . most of the time.”

“Your grandfather?” said Judy.

“I better get back to work.”

Judy refused to let him go, “Don, your grandfather had the same affliction?”

There was that word again. Affliction. He didn’t like to use it, the word an indication that something was seriously wrong. He wasn’t going down that road. Pulling his hand from her grip, he walked away, joining John, Will and the Robot at the drill.

“Everything all right?” said John, glancing up over his shoulder at Don.

Don bent over, hands on his knees, eyes staring into the drill hole, “Everything’s fine.”

“Uh huh.”

He wasn’t going to push it, shutting his mouth against the words that wanted to tumble out.

“Judy doesn’t look happy,” said Will, pulling his gaze away from his sister. He looked across at Don, “Did you two have an argument?”

“Something like that,” said Don.

Will shook his head, not understanding, too young, “Girls.”

The work continued on, the heat of the day abating, the cooler temperature making things easier. The only sound, the drill and Doctor Smith’s complaints, his voice aggravating, his words irritating. Anger that he hadn’t felt in a long time was beginning to churn in Don’s gut, body and mind welcoming the much missed emotion. Judy’s close attendance kept his tempter at a manageable level. If it weren’t for the overriding emotion of something dark, foreboding, the ache that had settled in his chest . . . he could have told himself he’d felt better than he had in long time.

John stood up, stretching his back, grimacing, “We’re ready for the explosives.”

“I’ll get them,” said Will, eager to move, just waiting for his father’s permission.

Shaking his head, John said, “I think it’s about time Doctor Smith did some work.”

“You can’t be serious,” said Don. “He’s likely to blow himself up and the rest of us with him.”

“I think Doctor Smith can manage a stroll, and the bag isn’t heavy.”

Don shook his head in frustration, his lips thinning as he clenched his jaw. Throwing up his arms in surrender, he gave in, “Sure. Why not. Who wants to live to a ripe old age of ninety-two? Go ahead. Send Smith.”

“Don.”

Judy’s soft voice tore at his heart. He lowered his head, reaching up and rubbing his hands through his hair leaving a mess of spikes angled in different directions. Taking a deep breath, his anger settled, the dark emotion trespassing on the edges of his vision. He felt faint, dizzy, ready to collapse. He’d been working too hard, not enough rest, very little nourishment. He had to stop. Walking away, he sat down on the ground, leaning back against a rock, closing his eyes against the world and everything in it. How much longer could he keep this up?

“Will,” said John. “Go and get the bag of explosives. Take the good Doctor with you.”

The Robot turned its upper body, lights flashing, “I will go with Will Robinson to keep a watchful eye on Doctor Smith.”

“You do that,” said John.

Pulling his worried gaze away from Don, Will and the Robot walked toward Smith, waking the man from a sudden case of ‘falling asleep syndrome’. John waited patiently, watching as his daughter walked slowly toward Don. Judy knelt down next to Don, whispering his name.

He couldn’t hide. They wouldn’t let him. He opened his eyes and lowered his head, gaze taking in Judy’s worried features. Behind the worried expression . . . she was scared. For him? Of him? He couldn’t be sure. Not anymore. He could feel the ache in his chest turn sharp, his breathing becoming difficult.

“I’m sorry,” said Don.

“It’s okay. It’s nice to see some of that anger come back.”

He whispered, tone grateful, “I couldn’t do this without you.”

His mood becoming calm, Don watched as John walked toward him. Best to jump in with an explanation, a lie to cover his current condition . . . stay off that road. Don stood up, the movement too quick, his body tilting toward the woman he loved. She took his elbow in a strong grip, keeping him steady, on his feet. He couldn’t help but notice that John had noticed.

“I’m sorry,” said Don, stepping forward, showing a facade he had difficulty keeping. “It’s the heat, that’s all.”

“If you can’t do this,” said John, hands on his hips. “Tell me now.”

“Do what?”

“If you’re sick--”

A good an explanation as any . . .

“He’s not sick, dad,” said Judy.

Don couldn’t get angry. She thought she was helping.

“Don’s had a long day. He’s tired and the heat isn’t helping.”

“We’ve all had a long day, Judy. It’s no excuse.”

“I’m not making excuses,” said Judy. “You work him too hard.”

Don took her arm, his touch soft, “It’s okay, Judy. Your dad’s right.”

“Not this time.”

Surprised, Don pulled Judy away from her father, out of earshot. He leant in close, her hair brushing softly against his face, the smell of her shampoo calming him, “You’re going to say something you’ll regret.”

“He can’t treat you this way,” said Judy.

“It’s better than him knowing the truth.”

“Is it? I think you should tell him. He might be able to help.”

An emotional slap in the face, Don stepped back, away from Judy, “No.”

“Don, it was only a suggestion. If you don’t want to tell him . . . it’s okay.”

Wiping his hands on the back of his trousers, Don nodded before turning away, making his way back to the drill. He stopped short, the expression on John’s face halting his steps. The man was angry. Not sure what to do, but knowing he wasn’t ready for a confrontation, Don continued moving, stepping past John, stopping once again at the drill. He reached out, taking a firm grip on the three-pod structure supporting the drill, the metal tubing a crutch to keep him upright, his body ready to collapse.

He was so tired, his emotional battle taking everything he had and more. If only he could find a dark corner, hide in its comfort until he felt better. A small part of him wanted to be honest, to tell John Robinson the truth. But what then? Would they cradle him in cotton wool, taking care of his every need? Bombard him with him humour in the hope it would cheer him up? Would they look at him differently, treat him differently . . . would they think he was crazy? No. He had to keep going with the charade, no matter how taxing it was on his physical and emotional well-being.

“Don?”

“I’m just tired,” said Don, refusing to look at John. “I’m sure it’s the heat.”

“If you need a break,” said John, “take one. I’m not going to hold it against you.”

Don turned his gaze toward John and said, “No excuses, remember.”

A confrontation he didn’t want.

But John surprised him.

“I’m sorry,” said John, stepping closer to Don. “Judy’s right. I have been pushing you too hard. Both Maureen and I have noticed you haven’t been yourself. You and Judy go back to the camp. Will and I can manage.”

It would be an easy thing to do but it would also be admittance that something was wrong. As much as he wanted to find that dark corner, he knew if found, he would never leave it.

“No, it’s fine,” said Don. “We’re almost finished.”

“If you’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

John looked like he wanted to say more, hesitating before moving away. Don watched him go, envying the man’s ability to stay so strong in a world full of danger, the threat of death always there . . . waiting for its turn.

The idea sat on the edge of his soul. The thought of . . . death. It would take away the pain, the ache in his chest, relieving him of a burden he no longer wanted to carry . . .

Realization dawned on Don. He was losing the will to live. Judy, his only reason to keep fighting an exhausting battle he was sure he could no longer win. The morbid thought caused the ache in his chest to grow, the weight of the emotion heavy, his back bending. He wanted to give in. Give up.

A soft touch at his elbow drew his attention, pulling him back from a road he’d begun to travel.

More than anything, he wanted to draw her close, wrap his arms around her and never let go. He wanted to apologise, tell her of his thoughts, his fears, his grandfather. The sound of Smith’s voice snapped his head up, gaze finding the man who had once been able to set Don’s anger on edge; no more, the sight of Smith dragging his feet, his expression of outrage, his voiced complaints did nothing to Don’s mood, it’s level drifting further down.

Looking at Judy, Don whispered that it was okay. It was a lie, not yet wanting to reveal his true feelings. He hadn’t told her everything, only enough for her to understand that he wasn’t feeling himself; his mood low, no longer cheerful, his need for solitude strong. He didn’t admit the truth, not wanting to admit it to himself. He was depressed. His biggest fear; depression had taken his grandfather’s life and now, it may take Don West’s.

“We’ll talk later,” said Judy.

He nodded in agreement, not actually sure if he would tell her his thoughts, worried she would tell her parents, sure that if they knew how bad he was feeling, they would lock him away in his cabin, making sure all sharp instruments were removed. Walking away, he joined John a short distance from the drill, waiting for Smith, Will and the Robot.

They moved slowly, Smith in no hurry to return to work, the bag of explosives held away from his body. It happened before Don could do anything to stop it, Smith stopping in mid-stride, throwing the bag of explosives.

“There,” said Smith. “I hoped you’re satisfied. My back. Oh the pain. The pain.”

This was why he had argued against Smith . . .

The Robot became agitated, arms flailing, warning system out of control, “Warning! Warning! Danger! Explosion imminent!”

Already aware of the danger, Don and John ran toward Judy, who stood too close, her life threatened.

The bag landed against the edge of the hole containing the drill, some of its contents falling out, enough to cause an explosion if it fell into the working drill hole. Don didn’t wait to find out, drawing close to Judy but not close enough.

The explosion was deafening, its concussion throwing him to the ground, his breath ripped from his lungs. His heart, beating too fast, pounded within his chest, his fear strong. The only sound, a ringing in his ears . . . Judy.

Forcing himself up onto hands and knees, Don’s gaze searched through the settling dust, becoming frantic when he couldn’t find her. He stood up, his balance broken, stumbling as he found his way, his stride short, his steps unsure.

And then he found her. An unmoving lump of tangled limbs.

No.

No. No, no, no. Please. He shook his head, unable to do anything else, too afraid to move. If Judy were dead . . . his only reason to keep going . . . his world shattered, the pieces sharp, jaded, the dark emotion taking control.

His emotions overwhelming, his voice a soft whisper, “Judy.”






Part One | Part Two


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