Honor in the Night

by Scott Pearson


Nice, France, 2366

Nilz Baris, his white hair bright against the dark blue pillow like clouds in the night sky, rolled over in his deathbed, all elbows and knees and other stiff joints, a careless collection of fragile bones shifting under the light covers.
       The rustling of fabric, even from across the room, was enough to wake Leonard McCoy, who had nodded off in the window seat overlooking the Alée du Palais toward the Mediterranean Sea. Awakening at the slightest sound was a doctor’s talent he had perfected decades ago, back when he was still practicing, and somehow, against all common sense, the ability hadn’t faded as much as his hearing. He shifted toward Baris with careful turns, swiveling his whole torso to avoid aggravating his neck, which had grown stiff while he dozed. There were no lights on in the room, and it must have been well past midnight, but enough light spilled in through the open window for him to see the bed. With a squint he saw the covers rising and falling, just barely, with each shallow breath Baris took.
       McCoy sighed deeply, running a hand over his wrinkled face. He felt old tonight, like the ancient willow trees he often saw in cemeteries in Georgia, their trunks gnarled and their branches drooping to the ground. Certainly much of the reason he felt old was simply because he was old, ancient even, at 140 years; but it didn’t help that Baris would likely not make it until morning, or that he was about the same age as McCoy. . . .

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