What I thought was the end, was only the beginning.
|My last moment alive went pretty much as I expected.
I was sitting in the drivers seat of the tan interior vehicle, but instead of driving like I had always assumed I was doing there, the minivan was driving itself. The trees along the left side of the road were not in spring bloom, they were that shade of green because I had my vision upgraded along with my hearing. The palpable 3D sound really was The Offspring and it was made possible by a brain implant processing the sound for me and making it real in a way, my brain never would have done for me. The cars parked along the right side of the street were mostly newer models, which I had never noticed before. The old fashioned looking baby carriage was a popular design available freely from multiple 3D model sites on the web, so that too was not as incongruous as it seemed to be. The full body covering Easter color dress worn by the lady pushing the cart was out of the ordinary though.
The swerve to the left into the trees was expected, but it still came up so quickly it was a shock. Then nothing.... Or so I assumed.
"Grandpa? GrandPa? GrandPA! I need your help!" came the young frightened voice that reminded me of my son when he was four.
"Please state the nature of your emergency." I found my self saying through no input of my own.
"That isn't what I meant to say." I began. "Whats wrong. How can I help?" I say to the scared kid who somehow summoned me.
"We were on the ship going to see the new place and then something hit the ship and all of the air started hissing out. Mom shoved me into an escape pod and went looking for my sister when the door slammed shut and the thing exploded away from the ship. I don't know how any of this works and nothing will talk back to me." He finishes before the tears overwhelm him and I can't understand anything for the next few minutes.
"Alright, I can't see anything so I need you to look around slowly and start describing everything you see." I say to him to keep him from falling apart further in this very stressful situation.
He starts describing the panels and displays around him and I do my best to guide him to investigate things that sound helpful. We discover the bathroom hose and he admits to needing to go. I walk him through testing it and then using it. With that minor emergency dealt with, we continue exploring and find the water supply and emergency rations. He then finds a clipboard tablet with a checklist for the pod we were in. He can read and manages to get through most of them without me needing to help out, but he needed me to fill in the meaning and importance of many of them. Luckily the tablet also happened to have some handy guides on the use and maintenance of the pod we were in. There was even a tutorial section to certify oneself in the various abilities of the pod. Everything seemed to be logically laid out and designed to not let morons kill themselves yet train any half capable person to use the pod to their maximum advantage.
Within a week, we had gone through every scenario and had unlocked all of the abilities in the pod, enabling us to control the inside, outside and signal lights and start printing things via the repair printer. The best find by far though, was a partial copy of my ebook library. Tens of thousands of public domain books and stories. Somehow the person who created the software for this pod anticipated the need to fill boredom and included some of my favorites.
We spent weeks filling nearly every waking hour either going over the pod checklists or reading hundreds of books. We would discuss them and I would explain what some of the out of date phrases meant or talk about the symbolism and foreshadowing that many of the greats used.
One morning when he woke up though, there was a change in one of the displays. A light that had not been there before, was now blinking to alert something. As we discovered this new alert meant that a rescue vessel was within 48 hours of our location, I had to explain that he was going to have to never tell anyone about my help. If people found out that he had a copy of a persons mind in his head, they might be mad at whoever put it in there. I assumed that laws were never retracted preventing minds from being copied and run virtually so my presence would get someone in trouble. Instead we rehearsed the events as they happened, but omitted any reference to me or my help. It sounded impossible even to me as he reiterated everything that he had done and learned during his time in the pod yet I had ridden shotgun on the whole thing and it forced me to realize how incredible this kid really was. Even with my help, most people would be unable to ever do what this four year old had done.
"When the rescue ship reaches us, some of the people are going to realize how well you did in this emergency and you are probably going to be offered scholarships and special schools. Hopefully we will be able to find out about your mom and sister right away, but remember even if it isn't great news, thank them for the information." I say to him trying to prepare him for the worse.
"There is a new message asking for a handshake confirmation." He says excitedly.
"Go ahead and approve then." I say.
Less than five minutes later, he hears thumps and clanging coming from the outside of the pod and the light over the door changed from the steady red it had been the entire time to a bright green before he hears the three knocks that I know to be Shave and a Haircut, but he knows as the secret knock of his family. He raps out the response before the door opens and his mom and sister greet him with open arms.
"Emergency pod ready for inspection." Says the boy with pride in his voice.