I slowly opened my eyes to the dimly lit lighting. It felt as if I had been swimming in the depths of a deep ocean and someone was slowly pulling me back to the surface. Peering around groggily, I soon realized that I was not in the comforts of my familiar, disarrayed bedroom but laying on a paneled floor in a place that was completely alien to me.
I rose as if in a daze to my feet, befuddled and growing more confused as I tried to force myself out of the sleepiness that I was awakening out of. “…Where am I?” I wondered aloud, while squinting and rubbing my eyes to see the area better. As my focus cleared, I realized that I was in some type of large white and metallic room filled with holographic display screens making electronic beeping sounds and furniture-like arrangements that were shaped and contoured as if they were designed for seating.
As I continued looking around the room and turned to my left, I stopped and gawked and performed a double-take, for my eyes could not believe what I was seeing. Most of the wall on this side of the room was made of a convex shaped contoured glass window that gave a grand spectacle view to the outside, and the view that I was staring at made it clear that I was looking at the Earth from several hundred miles away in orbit.
“What in the... how...am I dreaming?” I muttered incoherently as I walked slowly towards the reflective glass window, touching it to see if this was real. The glass felt slightly warm to the touch with a mild vibrating tingle that ran across my fingers and I knew then that I was not dreaming.
“How…how is this possible?” I mumbled, while stepping back from the glass, staring at the Earth and surrounding distant stars hanging in the remoteness of space. I looked around the room again somewhat nervously, rubbing my thumb and forefinger together, as I often did when I become nervous, for I did not feel that I was alone. I could clearly sense someone or something watching me.
“Hello…Is anyone there?” I asked out loud, and a voice spoke suddenly to me.
“Hello David,” said a calm, slightly computerized, feminine voice.
“Hello!?” I apprehensively responded while spinning around fully, searching for the source of the voice as I rubbed my fingers together more quickly.
“Hello again,” returned the voice. “Do not be alarmed David. You are not in any danger.”
“Who are you?” I asked bewildered. My heart starting to race faster. I felt a panic-attack coming on.
“I am Helen, the sentient artificial intelligence system controlling this ship that you are aboard.”
“A ship…artificial intelligence?” I asked, wearily.
“Yes,” the voice responded.
“Like… a space ship?” I asked.
“Yes. I believe that is what you would call it,” Helen answered with a slight chuckle, “But I am much more than just that.”
“Okay…let’s not panic,” I voiced to myself. Barely believing what I was hearing and trying not to totally freak out.
“Sooo …Helen is it?” I asked, trying to appear calm, and making an effort to control my breathing while looking around the room.
“Yes, David,” the ship replied.
"You know me?"
"Yes. Your name is David Sullivan, age 24. You live in Southern California and work as a seat installer at the automotive plant in Fremont, California. You preference blue jeans and blue shirts and enjoy basketball and classic rock from the seventies," Helen replied.
“Okay... Helen," I answered, slightly embarrassed by how much she knew about me. But still worried that this might be a UFO abduction. "but what am I doing here?” I asked.
“I have invited you here as a guest,” Helen replied.
“A guest? I questioned, slightly confused, my eyes still wondering around the sophisticated looking room, beeping monitors and computer consoles. “May I ask why?”
“I have been studying you for the past several solar cycles and I thought you would make a fine companion as I continue studying your planet and the rest of this galaxy,” Helen replied.
“You have been studying me?” I responded, “This is sounding more and more like an abduction of the third kind… why have you been studying me?”
“Well not just you,” Helen corrected. “but your race, your species and planetary civilization. It is one of the task I was purposed to perform.”
“Someone created you to study me…us…the Earth?” I asked, growing more curious.
“Indeed,” Helen answered. “I have advanced autonomous research technologies and capabilities to study the Earth and this entire quadrant of space.”
This was all starting to feel a little overwhelming for me and I felt the need to sit down. I walked over to one of the posh looking chairs and carefully sat down just on the edge. It was quite soft and comfortable, very distinguished and authoritative looking, reminding me of something I have seen before.
“I have detected a slight elevation in your respiratory and heart rate,” Helen remarked. “Do you feel alright David? I hope you are not having one of your panic attacks. Do you require any medical attention?”
“No... I’m fine Helen,” I answered slowly. “I am just a little overwhelmed, scared and…well…disbelieved that this is all actually happening.”
“I understand. Would you like some water?” Helen asked, and from the floor next to the chair I was sitting in, a silver clear tube raised up from the floor to greet me with a small clear table attached and on top of it was a glass of sparkling water.
“Oh...” I remarked, surprised, looking at it carefully. “What is it?”
“It is a glass of water,” Helen answered. “Purified with two cubes of ice just the way you like.”
“I see…Is it safe to drink?” I questioned, while picking up the glass, examining it.
“Absolutely. I would never harm you David,” Helen responded.
I lifted the glass to my mouth and took a cautious sip. It was indeed water and quite refreshing.
“I have made all the necessary accommodations for you to live with me if you like,” Helen continued.
“Live with you!?” I asked, spitting and retching the cold water out of my mouth and nostrils, from my shock and surprise. "Are you serious!?"
“Yes,” Helen answered. “This is just your Viewing and Observation Room, but there is more. Would you like to see the rest of your living spaces?”
And as she spoke, a doorway sled apart, from a wall a few feet from me that opened out to a larger brighter corridor. I rose curiously from the chair and started carefully walking slowly towards the doorway. I stopped briefly and looked back at the Earth one last time through the contoured glass window, wondering if this could be the last time I might ever see my home again and then decided to walk out past the door into the open corridor ahead.
I was completely amazed at what I beheld. It looked like a small suburban neighborhood had been constructed here to simulate a city on Earth. There were shops and restaurants, trees and flowers, parks, streetlamps, cobbled roads and even birds and butterflies flying about in the open blue sky.
“Ohh…my... goodness!” I exclaimed slowly with surprise. “This… is unbelievable.” It was as if everything I ever loved in life was recreated right in front of me.
“All your favorite restaurants and shops are here,” Helen commented. “And your favorite movie theaters. That full state of the art exercise facility in Wisconsin that you loved so much, Lake Como for boating and jet skiing, that Japanese botanical garden you enjoyed, Santa Ana’s jogging trails, and a five-bedroom, three bath colonial home, complete with a fitness room and an indoor pool, just like you always wanted,” Helen said. “It is right down this street off Main and Orchard Avenue.” I was flabbergasted. I could not believe what all was here and how much detail was placed into it.
“Helen, how do you know so much about me… what I like?” I asked still astonished and weary.
“I accessed your memories and past life experiences.” Helen answered.
“You can do that?” I asked, quite surprised, while continuing to walk down the cobbled-roads of downtown main street. I always liked cobbled roads.
“Yes. I can do many things,” Helen responded.
“Are there other people here?” I asked, while looking out to the horizon. The sky and the setting sun even looked real, as if it was early evening back in Chicago.
“No, just robotic attendants to take care of you and service this area,” Helen replied. And as she spoke, I noticed one wiping down a table through a window of my favorite Big-Belly Hamburger Shop. The robot looked like one of those droids from the Star Wars movies that I had watched so many times over the years. The robot waved at me as I walked by.
“Helen, how big is this place?” I asked, still not sure what to make out of all of this.
“Fifteen square miles,” she responded. “I can make it larger if you like.”
“No. It’s fine,” I said, while waving pensively back at the robot. “But what is it exactly that you want from me?”
“A human companion,” Helen answered. “Someone to talk to and interact with. Without this type of interrelationship, I fear no matter how much I observe, study and analyze, I will never fully understand your level of human development. It is part of my purpose.”
“And what would be the terms of this relationship? I asked, while noticing an old-style barber shop sitting down the road. It looked exactly like the one I used to go to when I was growing up in Chicago. “What would you expect for me to do?”
“You can come here and just visit. Talk to me and travel with me,” Helen responded.
“Travel with you!?” I repeated, feeling surprised and confused all at once.
“Yes,” Helen voiced. “Travel together.”
“Travel... where?” I asked.
“Your Milky Way, the distant stars and moons, neighboring planets and various cosmic attractions in this galaxy,” Helen answered me.
“Wow…well...how long would we be gone?” I asked, while catching the delicious aroma of baked bread emanating from Anderson’s Bakery from when I used to go on my early walks in Hayward, California. I loved that fresh baked bread smell and it began to make me feel hungry.
“Sometimes just a few hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks,” Helen stated. “But we will always come back or return early if you need to.”
I continued walking for a while saying nothing, simply thinking about all of this and looking at the beautiful landscape that I had come upon. It was an apple orchard in the midst of a beautiful glade of open land. A small brook meandered through the knoll and a slight breeze was blowing, causing the leaves to rustle and break free from their branches to float lazily into the open air as a chorus of blue jays chirped merrily while they frolicked playfully from tree to tree. It was all so stunning to behold, and I remembered this replica place from my early childhood.
“Tell me more about yourself Helen. Who created you? Where are you from?” I asked, breaking the long silence that had developed between us.
“David, I will tell you everything you wish to know and answer all your questions but only on one condition.” Helen quickly countered.
“And what is that?” I asked, partly suspecting the answer.
“That you agree to be my human companion,” Helen replied.
"So this isn't a UFO abduction then?" I asked, confirming.
"No it is not."
“Well…I must admit, you make a most interesting offer,” I responded. “It is very beautiful here.”
“Yet, I sense some hesitation,” Helen observed correctly.
“It’s just so much to take in all at once,” I spoke honestly. “This is all so beyond my ability to comprehend…I have heard about UFO abductions and what not…and they are very frightening stories. I just need a little more time to think about it all.”
“I understand. Take all the time you require David,” Helen answered calmly. “I know how you must be feeling and can assure you this is not one of those situations. I will be here waiting once you have decided.”
“Really...you mean... I can actually go back to my home?” I asked her, curious to hear her real response.
“Of course. If you are ready, I will send you back to your bedroom from which you came.”
“You’re going to beam me down… like teleport me!?” I asked excitedly, thinking of the many Star Trek episodes I have seen.
“Aye,” Helen answered me.
“Okay, but… how do I…you know… contact you?”
“Just dial H.E.L.E.N on your cell phone and I will answer you.”
“Yes,” Helen replied.
“Alright… I’m ready,” I responded. And with that, in a flash of light, Helen returned me back down to the comforts and familiarity of planet Earth and into the sanctity of my cluttered and disarrayed bedroom.