You awaken from a cryo-sleep tube to find yourself in a whole new world.
|You wake with a start. The glass casing above you is clouded over with ice, and you are freezing cold. But nothing is quite as bad as the tube down your throat- It is too large, it feels like it is choking you rather than helping you breathe. With a choking gasp, your pale-blue hands rip it out of your throat and the casing pops open with a hiss and blaring alarm. The first thing you do is vomit over the edge onto the ripped tile flooring. The cryo-machine sounded distressed, putting out a pitiful wail and blinking red lights. You probably weren't supposed to remove the tube. Oh well.
The next thing you do is realize just how cold you really are. It’s like that feeling of extreme cold, where what you’re touching almost feels like it’s burning you, except on your entire body. You’re like a freeze-dried human popsicle.
When you finish vomiting and generally feeling sorry for yourself, wondering if the $15k is worth it, you finally notice... there are no doctors, no nurses, no staff recording what was happening or getting you water. The only light in the room is from a hole in the roof, where something is watching you.
That something fled. With a whisper, they are gone, like they had never been. You didn't even really get to see who or what they are-- your eyes are still blurry from the tears.
Slowly, ever so slowly, you climb out of the cryo-sleep tube. Your whole naked body is a strange pale-blue, and you still feel like utter shit. It’s like one of those mornings where you had gotten hammered the night before, slept fourteen hours, and woke up still tired and with a massive headache. Like that, except you are also freezing cold, naked, and in some fucked up laboratory.
The whole room is ransacked. Everything metal has been stripped and stolen, and most everything is missing, except for the tubes. The cryo-sleep tubes have been strangely untouched, as if the looters dare not mess with the sleeping ancients. How odd. There are five other tubes in the room, excluding yours, and four of them are open. One is still closed, the cloudy, icy glass obscuring whoever is inside. The light is green on the machine, so evidently, it is functioning. Best leave them alone for now, you think.
You pop open the hatch that you had been laying on in the tube. They had designed these so you could keep things stored inside the machine, only openable once the occupant has woken. In yours was a simple set of clothes, a t-shirt and jeans; your phone, the battery dead; some sneakers, no socks; and a note. In neat, flowery cursive, someone had written:
I know you don't feel so good right now, but you'll be okay. I promise, when you finish waking up, just call and we'll all be there. When you're allowed out of the doctors’ sight we can all go to your favorite place to eat.
After reading the last line, you feel tears welling up. Not because you miss your mom, or fear that you will never see her again, no; you weep for someone which you do not remember. For in the moment of reading that note, you realized the true depths of that which is fucked up. Not just the lab, your situation, but your memory as well.
Despite the heart-rending reality the author of that note inadvertently brought down, it also instilled a sense of mystery. You feel as if you really enjoyed mystery, once.
Fighting through the stiffness, the pain, the cold, and the dehydration, you slowly get on your clothes and make for the door. The next room is no better; it was likely some kind of monitoring station, but all the electronics have been stolen. The only thing remaining is the traces of where they would all plug into the wall and the extensions from the wall they would have rested on. Even the wood, however, is busted in places and falling.
Eventually, after some light exploring (as in, trying to find the way out) and wishing for water, you wound up outside. The sun is unbearably bright after emerging from the dark lab, but once your eyes adjust and you can see again, you wish you couldn't.
There are no people. Trees and plants own the streets and the buildings. Some are crumpled piles of steel, rebar, and concrete, and others stand tall, molested by the vines and the birds reclaiming what had once been theirs. The pavement and sidewalk are cracked in places, and brave trees and grass shoot up from the rotten carcass of civilization. Slowly, but surely, the plants are returning the steel jungle to simply the jungle.
A particularly brave crow swoops down to squawk at you, flutter its wings, and fly away. It seems almost... angry at you.
How odd. That’s the second time you’ve thought that. That’s some sort of crude joke, to be thinking of the oddness of a crow when you are presented with the reality of a destroyed, overgrown city that you have never seen.
You turned around to study the building you have emerged from. The west wing, where you came from, was mostly intact save for some roof damage. The east was collapsed, like many other buildings, but had long been overgrown and reclaimed. A cat sits on a moss-covered piece of concrete, under a tree, watching you as you take in your surroundings. Somehow, you feel as if it knows. It knows who you are and what you stand for, the era you emerged from, what you mean.
You mean trouble.
It’s not long before the shock, the heat, and the lack of water get to you, however. Right before your body hits the ground, you can hear the cat in the distance, calling.
You float in the endless void. Much like the stars, you are the only point of light in the darkness. Around you is all-consuming darkness, but your luminescence beats back the unknown, the darkness, the void.
Or so you thought. At first they escaped your attention, because compared to you, they are nothing. There are other lights in the dark, but they are very dim... very dim indeed. Even still, they do combine to amount to something. Then, something else comes to your attention; you, the point of greatest light in the dark, are not alone in your fight. There is another, far, far away, off in the endless distance, in her own battle.
Her? You can’t tell if you made that up or if you somehow instinctively knew. Since you woke up, you have felt as if you somehow knew animals’ feelings, but with them, there isn’t much of a difference between the two. They can't communicate anyway. Here, maybe there is.
Then, you hear a screech. You twist around, and there it is: an eye. Red and intimidating, there is an eye in the void. It is looking at you, and suddenly you know terror. You are not supposed to be here.
Esper? How infuriating.
If you like this, I post firstly on Reddit, to r/vastowen456.