Here you go, anon!
Days on base were always long and mind-numbingly dull, but for Gene, the day after his punishment was the longest one yet.
He had lain awake the entire night, trying not to move and aggravate the fresh welts spanning his back. Getting dressed in the morning had taken twice as long as it should have done, and he was trembling by the time it was over.
Then came the usual routine: paradeground duty, followed by classroom lectures and prep in the medic’s quarters. The day was hot and muggy and sweat trailed down the back of Gene’s heavy uniform, touching at the welts and making them sting and burn.
Gene said nothing. He knew better than that.
Judah and his squad returned from PT in the late afternoon. By that time Gene was dizzy, exhausted, and nauseous. He’d managed to choke down a few bites of breakfast but had skipped lunch altogether. The slightest movement hurt now, and he could feel blood, warm and sticky, trickling down his back.
He excused himself from dinner early and went to the medbay. As he fumbled with the keys to open the door, a voice called out.
Judah loped over, back in his uniform, dark curly hair slicked away from his forehead. His brows were furrowed. “What’s the matter with you? You’ve been acting weird all day.”
“I’s busy.” Gene’s accent thickened, and he snapped his mouth shut in exasperation. The bunch of keys felt cool and slippery in his clammy hands.
“You know you only talk like that when you’re upset, right?” Judah’s slight grin faded. “What’s going on, Gene? Talk to me.”
The ground shifted under Gene’s feet as a wave of dizziness crashed over him, and the keys fell from his fingers. Without thinking, he bent down to pick them up.
No sooner had he done so than he realised his mistake. There was a horrible tearing sound, and a strangled cry, little more than a whimper, wrenched itself from his lips as the buzzing in his ears became a roar. He heard someone—Judah, probably—shouting his name, and then unconsciousness took over.