Ch. I, p.2

She laughed brightly. “That’s the spirit! Well, it’s as I always say—when every other approach has been exhausted, only the radical remains.”

“I’ve never heard you say that before.”

“Well, I should have. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”

“Other than that it does nothing to address the issue of when it’s a good time to quit, I’d have to agree,” he replied.

Smiling, she nodded at him to begin. With a deep breath, he cleared his mind and closed his eyes to the world.

At first, chattering layers of overlapping thoughts made it impossible for him to concentrate—dinner with a mysterious admirer of his, tomorrow; failed experiments; bodyguards… was the protection really necessary? He had to focus. Every thought was a pebble, cast into the lake of his mind; rippling waves distorted the reflection of his consciousness, but as he went deeper into his concept of self, the surface began to calm. From the darkness, a single thought seemed to emerge in total clarity…

“It says that each human’s body is linked to a specific energy, a soul, and that by severing this connection we can transcend the physical boundaries we believe exist.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he began to see everything that was wrong with the statement. But Kerry was almost giddy with excitement.

“Extraordinary, isn’t it!” she exclaimed, “At this moment you can feel your humanity, can’t you? I mean, really feel it!”

‘My humanity…’ 

It was such a strange question for her to have asked…

The steady thumping of his heart brought him back out of the past; his eyes shuddered open and he found himself awash in a sea of white, breaking above the surface of his memories.

“In one minute, emergency release procedures will begin. Please be aware that no staff have indicated that they are available to assist you and the Artificial Intelligence unit governing this facility’s functions is currently offline. Genesys claims no responsibility for your safety if you decide to exit the chamber unattended.”

Bright, warm light slowly gave way to form and feature. A pair of curved, metal slats wrapped in vine arced over a broken shield of glass—cracks spider-webbed across the transparent pane where shattered pieces hadn’t fallen away completely, and a tree bark enclosure stretched upwards to meet it, forming the rest of the small tube. Overrun with mossy growth and fragrant plant life, the bio-stasis chamber felt at odds with the dry, artificial voice echoing throughout the room.

”Ten seconds… Nine… Eight… Seven… Six… Five… Four… Three… Two… One…”

With a pneumatic hiss, the cover unlatched and cracked open.

“It seems that help still has not arrived; however, if you wish to exit the safety of your containment cell, you may do so at this time, though I strongly suggest that you stay where you are and wait for assistance.

“If you have any requests, I respond to the name of Calix and operate under the A.I.S. v2.4 user commands system with limited user-control authorization. Thank you for choosing Genesys as your center for personal recovery.”

Light flooded the area, emanating brightly from an unidentifiable material covering the collapsing walls and ceiling of the room. Through the dirt stained glass, it was impossible to tell what lay beyond the chamber, but a vague recognition of his surroundings prodded him to find out.

Gently stretching and craning his neck downward, he took care to notice the feelings in his body. Pumping heart and pulsing blood vessels brought life to his muscles as a slight stinging sensation flushed through him. Breathing fully, he began to feel more at home in his body.

He raised a hand to waist level and allowed it to hover in front of him, phantomlike. His fingers trembled; gently extending them, he felt the smooth texture of curved metal. This is touch, he thought, trying to come to grips with the idea. His lungs inhaled deeply and he put pressure on the door. It moved slightly upward, emitting a high-pitched whirring noise, and slid aside to reveal the world beyond.

The light seemed more intense than it had before. His eyes adjusted, urging a twisted panorama of mutated plant growth into focus. Thick tangles of vine adorned with dark green leaves slithered across the muddy floor, their roots plunging into missing sections of wall and ceiling. Amongst scattered concrete wreckage, massive tree trunks had risen violently from the earth leaving a mess of destroyed tile and rubble, dismal beneath grime-plastered walls that still glowed with unnatural light.

It was not a world that he recognized. It was too chaotic, too uncontrolled. He stepped gingerly out of the chamber, scanning warily for dangerous objects that might be hidden in the ground. Soft, mossy growth worked its way into his toes invitingly as gravity eased him downward; the previously intimidating room seemed to emanate a subtle, lively warmth.

He crouched to rest his shaking legs and looked over his shoulder. Four glass covered cylinders, overgrown, lay against a slanted platform. The word “EDEN” was printed above the large tubes, barely distinguishable from the grime and plant life creeping up the wall.

“Mar dash oh-one…” he muttered, reading the nomenclature adorning the capsule he had emerged from. They appeared as if they had once been trees, now dark and empty, hollowed of life and reinforced with metal.

Abandoned… or maybe they had never been used. An oddly slumping pile of ceiling and debris lay in the corner of the room. A fifth chamber... flattened by concrete and earthy stone, it was almost unrecognizable. His fingers wrapped around a hefty tree root to steady his legs and he leaned forward for a better look. A muddy ooze was smeared around the edges; it seemed to have overflowed from the chamber itself. Blood…

No comments: