He dreamed forever.
It was fantastic, important and urgent.
Then there was darkness,
Black silence for centuries, eons it seemed.
The white room is too bright for his burning eyes. He lies on his back, two lights are above him. Clean linens drape his form. His body is too weak to move. He strains to focus on anything within view. Blackness again as he slips from the conscious world, and dreams of two faint points of light.
He awakens to voices, this time. Perhaps, a female is standing near. His vision is still blurry. The words are unintelligible, the accent strange, even foreign. His eyes focus on a form, a person, a nurse? Someone is touching him. Tubes are attached to his body. His arms and legs are heavy, but he can move them slightly. It feels good to move. He remembers moving.
The voice again. A gentle tone, unknown words, but the sympathy is present in her melody. A question? He does not understand but smiles at the figure above him. He wants to speak, to acknowledge that he understands that she is caring for him. He strains to move his mouth. His jaw is tight, his tongue seems thick but he manages to breath out a sound, “thank you”. In shock with wide eyes, she leans in close to his face, as if a man has never spoken to her before.
He dreams each night, but only remembers small splinters of sight and sound. Each awakening and he finds himself stronger, clearer, and more coherent.
Others are examining him, when he awakens next. His eyes have cleared though his body is still weak. He looks around at what appears to be a medical facility. Everything in the room is clean and sparkling. His caregivers are quiet and polite. He cannot determine their ethnicity. He does not understand their language but can sense their good will towards him. They want him to get better.
Awake again, in a different room this time, with a table and chairs. Modern art? The tubes have been removed from his body. He feels as if chains have been removed. He has an urge to urinate. There is a doorway on the wall not far from his bed. He stands and moves toward it. The sensation of his legs moving brings back a flood of memories. How long has it been since he last walked across a floor? He relieves himself in the strange bathroom and begins to examine the returning memories.
He remembers more than just walking. His life memories come rushing back. Sights, sounds, events, names, and faces. His two children, his ex-wife, his brothers, and Beatrice. She must be worried about him. Has she been notified? Does his family know that he is here? What brought him here? What is this place?
The flood of emotions and memories is overwhelming. It is as if he has taken a long vacation, forgotten his own identity, and just now returned home and opened the door to his life. Everything is crashing in. He remembers who he is. He remembers his name, Samuel- Phillip- Smith. He lies back on the bed, weakened by the onslaught of his memories, when someone enters the room.
The past days have been dreamlike, as far as his short term memories reveal. Several attendants, nurses or physicians, have interacted with him, as they nursed him back to health. She is one of them. The face and voice familiar. She speaks softly, looking into his eyes. He stares at her. Examining all that he can
of her. She is of a slim build, with olive skin, not exactly olive. The medical suit that she wears appears to be one solid piece, no seams, buttons, or fasteners. It ends at her wrist and neck. The attire appears to be white and gray at the same time. He thinks that maybe she is Asian, but no, her eyes seem different. She is about five feet tall. Her every move is graceful. He senses kindness and compassion, maybe even excitement in her expression. She is beautiful.
She speaks. It is a phrase that he has heard her speak before. A question? He doesn’t understand, but answers anyway, “Better. I feel much better, thanks to you and your friends.” She offers a few words back, with just a slight smile, but her eyes brightened. He enjoys the sound of her voice. She seems pleased that he has spoken to her. Sam wants to continue this communication attempt, “I guess that you cannot understand me any better than I can understand you? Is there anyone here who speaks English?”
She tilts her head to look at him and motions for him to lie back on the bed. He does and she places small devices on his forehead and wrist. She walks to the wall and a panel opens. Sam had not noticed the panel was there earlier. Lights, buttons and sounds are the contents of the panel’s shelf. She must be recording his vitals or tracking his progress.
Sam ask again, “English? Does anyone here speak English? I need to make contact with my family and let them know that I’m alright.”
She stops her work, and turns towards him. Something in her expression makes Sam believe that she can understand him. A few gentle words are spoken. Sam frowns and shakes his head, frustrated that he cannot understand. Her gaze reveals concern. She approaches his bedside, looking into his eyes. He thinks she is about to say something, and then suddenly changes her mind. She makes a gesture with her right hand. It is the stop or wait hand signal. She smiles then turns and leaves the room.
The wait signal seemed significant. That one movement of the hand seemed so naturally human and so unlike all of her other movements. Who are these people? Their language is not even vaguely familiar.
“Where am I?” Sam whispers.
The nurse returns accompanied by a young male. The young man glides behind a cart of devices that stops near his bedside. The nurse speaks and motions for him to lie back. Sam is not sure why he feels excited, but somehow he knows, this procedure will bring answers. Clamp type devices are placed on his left arm. A monitor blinks different colors on the cart. His nurse speaks slowly, looking into his eyes. The eyes. There is something about the eyes of these people. Each physician with which he has interacted , seem to look directly into his eyes. It’s as if they are wanting to know something. Such a plain and simple human action, and yet, Sam cannot think of anyone who has ever looked at him with such....fascination, curiosity…respect? The clamp on his arm tightens. A needle pricks his skin. Sam pulls away. His nurse places her hand on his arm. Her hand is cool and smooth. Her eyes seem to soften his fear and convey peace. “Relax”.
Did she just speak to him? Sam relaxes and realizes that he has suddenly grown sleepy. His eyes have become heavy. He cannot keep his focus. Has he been drugged? His nurse speaks to him again, gently, so softly. Perhaps Sam heard her wrong, because he thought that she has just spoken in plain English.
“Rest now. Sleep now.” And Sam is dreaming before he finishes that thought.
He opens his eyes to the sound of voices as the dream fades. Sam was dreaming of holding her, a petite woman with olive skin and large eyes. There are medical personnel in the room. They are speaking to one another quietly. One man who is viewing a monitor says, “It appears that the patient has awakened,” and he looks at Sam wide eyed. The female, the one who is always present when he awakens, his nurse, steps up to the bed smiling, “How are you feeling?” Sam is so shaken to hear another human speak English that he cannot contain his excitement. His only reply is an outburst of laughter.
She stands there, staring at him, and smiling at his laughter. Sam, becoming conscious of her stare, forces his laughter to subside. “How is it possible that you can now speak English?”
The nurse replies “We have technology which assist your brain’s ability to interpret language. You have many questions, and we will get to those, but first, I ask for your patience. We must allow the procedure to complete its function.”
“What? Technology to do exactly what? Interpret?” The woman just stares at him, waiting. He is about to ask several more questions, but the stern look in her eyes causes him to pause. “So, you want me to stay quiet for a while, huh?”
“Not exactly. I would like to ask some questions and evaluate your responses.”
“Please, ask away. I’m happy to answer any questions.”
Looking directly into his eyes she ask, “Do you know who you are?”
Sam is shocked, even angered and scared by the question. “What, you people don’t even know who I am?” He wonders if perhaps they found him in such a condition that he didn’t even have any identification with him. And what did happen, that brought him here?
“You did not answer the question” she states clearly, not rude or demanding, but almost in an innocent way. Sam cannot hide his smile. If anyone else had said it, he would think that they were being bossy, but that’s was not what her expression reveals.
Forcing away the smile, Sam says “Yes!“, but offers no more. Why would they not know who he is?
She had waited long enough for him to offer more and ask “Can you tell me your name?”
“Yes.” Sam wonders if he should give an alias.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Sam Smith. Look, I am very grateful to all of you for the care and the treatment that I have received here.”
“Thank you for your answer, Sam Smith.” The personnel record his name. “Leiyana” she speaks and moves closer to his bedside.
“Excuse me,” he thinks that maybe this procedure to interpret has failed.
“My name is Leiyana.”
“I am very pleased to make your acquaintance, Leiyana.”
Leiyana touches a place on the wall near the head frame of his bed and a panel opens. A metallic chair glides from the opening until it reaches Leiyana. The process seems like magic. She swings it behind her and takes a seat.
“You people have some really cool gadgets. Just what is this place anyway?”
Leiyana leans forward in her chair, “This is the Central Biology Facility.”
“And just where is this facility located?”
“Sam Smith, I ask that you be patient while I conduct your evaluation. Later, I will attempt to answer all of your questions.”
“Sam, please call me Sam. All of my friends do, both of them.” Sam winks and smiles. Leiyana does not respond.
“Look, I’m trying to be patient, but I have a helluva lot of questions. I’m worried about my loved ones, my family. Do they even know that I’m here?” He cannot hide his agitation that is building.
“Not all of your words are understood,” Leiyana straightens herself in the chair. “Your blood pressure and heart rate are increasing. I ask that you calm down, let me finish this evaluation, I will try to answer all of your concerns.”
“Okay, Okay! I’ll wait my turn. Go ahead.”
“What is the last thing that you remember?”
“That’s just it” Sam stammers, “I’ve been trying to recall the last thing that I was doing, where I was at, but I can’t quite get it in sight. There seems to be a lot of blank areas in my memories.”
Leiyana waits for him to continue, she even has a look of pity in her eyes. It’s as if, she knows something that he does not, and that “something”, scares the hell out of Sam.
“Okay, let’s see, I remember being at home. It was a week night, summertime, and I was in the yard. The sun was still up, I was watering the gardens. Beatrice was out of town, with her job.”
Sam sighs, “That’s about the most recent memory that I can come up with.”
“Very good, may we continue?” The others in the room are rapidly working to record his answers and comments, all busy with their devices in hand.
Sam nods, as Leiyana begins with a series of medical questions. Diet, exercise practice, family relations, even questions about the last time that he had sex. Sam is intrigued and struggles not to smile when she ask “when was the last time that you had an intimate union?” He soon forgets that he is in a high tech medical facility, these questions have the feel of a visit to his own doctor’s office.
Once Leanna’s question session has ended, all other personnel leave the room. Leiyana adjust herself in the chair, with a friendly smile and even friendlier eyes, “I will now attempt to answer your questions, Sam.”
“Thank you Leiyana. I guess the most burning question is how did I get here? Was I injured in an accident or something like that?”
She adjust her shoulders before answering, “We recovered your body, from what appeared to be the result of a catastrophic event.”
“What event?” Sam is frightened by the thought.
“There was a war. A great war. The majority of the planet’s population died.” The look in her eyes reveal no deception, only pity.
“What? My family, my kids, Bea?”
“Sam, I know this is a terrible shock to you, but everyone that you have ever known is deceased.”
Sam gets out of the bed and begins pacing the floor. “No, no, no, this can’t be right. I would know if something like that happened. I need a phone, I need to make contact with my children, with Bea! Can you provide me a phone to call and check with my family?” Sam thinks that if he can hear just one of their voices he will prove that she is wrong. How long has it been since he heard their voices? When did he last see them?
“Sam, much has happened to the Earth, while you ...slept. I am very sorry, I know that you grieve for your family. ”
“What proof do you have that this has happened? You can’t just come in here and tell me that everyone that I have ever known is gone, dead, killed by some god-damn war? How am I supposed to accept that?”
“Sam, I will do my best to explain. There are difficult things to share with you. We were very concerned that this time of inquiry would come, and you may not yet be ready for it.”
“I’m listening.” Sam replies, but the panic inside makes him want to scream. He isn’t ready to accept this report from some fucking nurse. Send in the president to tell him, show him news articles, there has to be proof. You cannot just tell a man that his entire world, the one that he knows and loves, is dead and gone, without some kind of proof.
Leiyana begins explaining the Great War. Though it only endured for less than a cycle, it had killed billions, and ravaged the earth, almost to the point of complete extinction. She drones on and on about pockets of survivors, refugee cities beneath the surface, in bunkers and caverns. In monotone, she tells her story as if she is reciting a school history book.
Sam begins to lose attention to the specifics of the story, as the reality of this experience sinks in. Leiyana keeps speaking, while Sam is trying to force down this pain that begins in his gut and is spreading out into his limbs.
Gone. Gone! Are they all really gone? She has no reason to lie to him. He wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for the efforts of these people. But this cannot be true.
Silence. She has stopped speaking and is standing next to his bed, her hand is on the back of his head. Sam lifts his head to look into her face. She is crying, tears are streaming down her face. At that moment, he realizes that he is crying as well, sobbing, convulsions rumbling through his chest. He has no proof of this story that she just told, but Sam knows. He knows deep within himself that everyone is gone. He leans in against her, as she cradles his head, strokes his hair, and weeps with him.
When she finally leaves the room, she seems weak, as if sharing in his grieving has required a portion of her own life energies. Sam is drained as well. He ask for a strong drink, she does not understand at first. Then, she ask if he refers to a fermented drink. She explains that it could be processed for him. Instead, she suggest a sedation medication, which Sam finally agrees to. Now he lays alone with his pain, in darkness. He ask Leiyana to turn out the lights. She does as she leaves the room. Though sedated and sleepy, Sam weeps throughout the night, as he remembers the people who had made his life worth living.
Days go by, and Sam is hardly the talkative, humorous patient that he had been at first. Those who attend to him speak little, but show great concern. They seem to understand the great anguish in his heart. So polite and precise, their actions prove them to be the most caring and professional medical team that Sam has ever witnessed. Leiyana comes in daily, but does not pester him with multiple questions.
The food which they feed him isn’t bad. But he’d be damned if he can identify any of it. Stalks that looked like celery and tasted like lemon. Sweet berries of various shapes and colors, he’s never seen before. Green leafy vegetables that look strange but taste very much like spinach and mint. Even what looks like carrots and potatoes, does not taste like them, but Sam is developing a palate for them. And there is the pink square. Some type of processed food. It almost appears to be pink jello, but is of a firmer substance. The first time Sam tasted it, he was surprised that it seemed to have the consistency of meat. He thinks that it taste like chicken.
This morning Sam feels different, decided, stronger, and alert. Wanting to get back to the matters of what the hell has happened to him. Leiyana’s morning ritual of checking vitals is interrupted by Sam’s question. “How long have I been here?”
Leiyana responds, “You have been conscious now for twenty-one days.”
“You didn’t answer the question.” She smiles, glad to see a return of the sly, humorous attitude that she had first encountered in her patient.
Leiyana takes in a deep breath, “You were in a maturation chamber for five cycles.”
“Cycles? Explain that term. Please?”
“Yes, we too do not understand all of the words that you speak. Apparently, our interpretation technology cannot account for cultural differences”, Leiyana explains, “A cycle is the duration of time that the earth makes one full trip, around the Sun.”
“Five years?” Sam is more than frustrated. “How is that possible?”
“Much reconstruction was required for your biological form”, Leiyana says.
“So you are telling me that I was in a coma for five years?”
Leiyana considers his words and says, “Yes, that is correct.”
“It doesn’t seem possible, but I can’t see any reason for you to lie to me.”
“We do not resort to deception in order to progress the path of the people.” Leiyana seems to plead with him. There is so much that she wants to say, and to express. She wants to tell him the full truth. But, he has already shown signs of inferior emotional development. They cannot lose this chance, so much research and resources have gone into this project, this hope for the future. He must remain balanced and healthy. He cannot yet understand the importance that he plays in their society.
“So then, where did you find me?” Sam request, with bright eyes.
Leiyana opens a screen on the wall. “Let me show you.”
The Arctic scene was filmed from above. The flying craft made a slow approach to the surface. The destination of the craft is a large hole in the earth. Strange types of heavy equipment have been used to move the snow and earth away from the vast opening. Several small tent structures surround the mouth of the cavern. The scene changes, and reveals the walls of a constructed tunnel. The size of the tunnel would allow a train passage. This tunnel is a serious and dedicated enterprise. Sam’s immediate thought is a military installation. Later videos scenes will cause a re-evaluation of what this underground operation was being used for. Further scenes display ancient storage compartments, containing only the dusty remains of contents that have long ago, rotted and decayed into powder.
The next scene is puzzling at first glance. A frozen swimming pool. Underground? As the video continues, Sam forgets the pool, as the scene’s focus is on a large block of ice that sets against a concrete wall, surrounded by bright lights. There is something in the ice, a dark form. The scene changes again, and the block of ice is much smaller, the form inside easier to make out. It’s a person, a man, Sam thinks, as he moves closer to the screen, trying hard to see through the ice.
Disgusting view! The next portion of the video reveals an ancient, twisted and wrinkled human corpse.
“Poor bastard” escapes Sam’s lips. He can feel Leiyana staring at him, but he is too engrossed in the scene to care. The ice had been removed from the mummy, “ice mummy” he dubs it. Sam remembers a documentary he had once viewed on the topic.
The body looks as if it has been deflated. The leathery skin pulled tight across the head. Patches of brown and gray hair are still attached to the skull. The scene’s view moves closer performing a slow scan of the entire corpse. Hairs on the sleeveless arms, buttons on the shirt, the brown leather shoes remind Sam of a pair that he has.
A sick feeling churns in Sam’s gut as he can easily view the denim jeans that this dead man wears. His heart is pounding in his chest as he takes a long hard look at the yellow and white striped shirt and wonders why in the hell is this dead man wearing his clothes?
The video ends abruptly. “Hey wait, is there more? I want to see more.” He demands.
Leiyana ask, “Do you understand what you have viewed?”
“Hell no, I don’t! Is this some kind of joke? The facility, the frozen land, the body, it all seems so realistic. But it can’t be?”
“Why can it not be Sam?” Leiyana is speaking in a lower tone, in response to his outburst.
“Because that dead man is made up to look like me, but he’s not me, I’m right here!” Sam slaps both palms into his chest.
Leiyana’s eyes open fully, a look of fear on her face. Sam notices and immediately feels shame. “I’m okay, I’m not going to melt down on you. Please, relax, I’m sorry.”
“Sam your heart rate and blood pressure are increasing.” Leiyana speaks barley above a whisper.
“No shit, sister! My head is spinning as well. So, what does all this mean?”
“First, I must inform you of your condition.”
“My condition is I’m damned confused and scared, that’s what my condition is!” Sam barks.
“We have ceased your medication. You have received a mild sedative each day. We desired that you remain calm as you adjust to your new environment.”
“Okay, so you gave me a little happy pill each day to keep me from becoming a werewolf. I guess it’s worked until today.”
“No, today we did not administer the medication. You have been progressing well. But at the moment, you are very agitated and I recommend an application.”
Leiyana does not seem her normal, matter of fact, pushy nurse attitude self, which causes Sam to relax some.
“No, I’m calming down, I’ll be fine. Can we continue?”
“The remains that were found have been sealed and frozen for over two thousand cycles” Leiyana explains.
“Wait a minute!” Sam interrupts, “What year is it?”
“The dating method that our society uses would not make any sense to you without prior instruction, but to help you better understand, we estimate that this human died approximately two thousand one hundred and ninety-six cycles ago.”
The wheels are turning so fast in Sam’s head that he feels dizzy. “Can we set down? I need a moment to take all of this in.”
The magic wall again opens and produces two chairs that roll within a hands reach of them both. Once seated Leiyana ask again about the need for the sedation medication. Sam waves her off and ask, “So, just how did I get here?”
“The remains were preserved very well by the ice. We located fresh tissue on the spinal column of the deceased individual and extracted the life force pattern. We began a process of reconstruction. This process is delicate and has taken many years. Sam, your presence here is a result of this reconstruction process.”
“A clone? You’re telling me that I’m a fucking clone?” There is panic in Sam’s voice. “But that just can’t be, and there’s a huge hole in your little story sister, because I have my own memories, I know who I am. I was not grown in some damn lab. I was born, in a hospital, in Kansas. I have lived a life time of memories. Memories that I possess right now! If I’m a clone, where in the hell do all these memories come from?”
Leiyana straightens her pose “We cannot account for your memories. I was very surprised when you were awakened and began to attempt communication. We did not expect you to have memories. This discovery has our science community working very diligently, trying to understand how memory could be passed on by a life force pattern. We are still researching this mysterious phenomenon.”
“So I’m a ‘mysterious phenomenon’, a science experiment? The life and memories that I have are not my own but belong to someone else, who has been dead and gone for thousands of years? Nope, I’m not buying it. Tall tale and all, it would make a great little science fiction story, but no way am I accepting this fantasy, I’m sorry, don’t mean to be rude, but do I look THAT stupid?”
Leiyana does not respond, but sets there quietly scanning his face. Under other circumstances, Sam would have found his question, and her lack of answer, hilarious. Instead, he has broken out in a nervous sweat. His mind is playing back dozens of scenes from his life, events, emotions, of times with his family, memories of Bea. These memories do not belong to someone else, but are his own. He will prove it to her, he has to. He cannot accept what she has told him.
“I need time. I need some time to figure all this out.” Sam is drained.
“Sam, may I change the direction of our conversation for a moment?” Leiyana begs.
“Sure, since I’m just about at a loss for words at the moment, sure, what’s on your mind?”
“How have you been treated here, by myself and the other physicians?”
“Very well. I have no complaints. This is a five star operation by my estimation.”
“I am not sure that I understand all of your words, but do you believe that we care for you, and wish you to be well?”
“Well, Leiyana, you’ve got me there. Yes, the hospitality and the concern that all of you have shown, proves that you’re all not mad scientist. It’s evident that all of you have been trying to help me.”
“Then I ask you to consider our intentions toward you, in light of the treatment that you have received. Would we seek your well-being as an utmost important task, and yet still have sinister motives?”
Leiyana’s eyes seem so sincere.
Sam smiles, “Then, tell me about this Great War. It ended the world that I lived in?”
“Not exactly Sam.”
“But you said that everyone that I ever knew...”
“That was almost twenty-two hundred cycles ago, no one from that era is still alive. They all died a long time ago.” Leiyana’s eyes shine with pity.
“Well, one with memories of that era is alive, trying to figure out where in the hell he is.”
“All of our research into the past reveals that your era ended as the result of a nuclear war. We do not have a complete detailed history of the time that you remember. Approximately five hundred cycles after your era, another war was waged. We call it ‘The Great War’. It was an ethnic war, fought with biological weapons. Entire ethnic groups were targeted and exterminated. The attempt to attack certain types of life force patterns, proved as lethal for plant and animal life, as humanity is closely related to all other living things.”
Leiyana tells the tale of her people’s ancestors who retreated to the only safe place left on the planet, inside the earth. For over three hundreds cycles, humanity existed beneath the surface like wounded animals, striving to survive. There are many legends of the first ones to walk again upon the surface. But setting all myths aside, come forth they did, into a world they knew not. “The Ones Before” laid a foundation, a path of progress for the people. This path has been the salvation of all humanity. This culture that is present now upon the earth, is the result of the dreams, efforts, work, and sacrifices of The Ones Before.
Sam learns of the deep respect that this present society holds for their founders. So much history, Leiyana recites, that Sam stays captivated, barely moving a muscle or blinking an eye. Leiyana closes her grand tale with a proverb from “The Ones Before”. She spoke it as poetry and with a solemn note, “Upon the graves of the Great War, we planted a garden, and it grew. All must tend the garden.”
“Perhaps you should rest now?” Leiyana urges.
“Well, I don’t really feel sleepy. I feel agitated.” Sam winks at her.
“You use humor often, I have noticed. It appears that you use it to deflect uncomfortable emotions.” Leiyana states, as a matter of fact.
With a slight chuckle, Sam says” Talk about reading my cards to me. You just said it. My nurse and my psychiatrist.”
She doesn’t understand the terms, so Sam explains them each to her. She listens and then states, “My title is Chief Physician of City Seven. I oversee multiple functions regarding the health of our citizens and the operation of our biological centers. I am also serving as the head of the Reconstruction Process. Since you have awakened, my primary duties have been to oversee your development.”
“Then, my dear Doctor, I must apologize, for thinking that you were my nurse. I’ll have to work on my chauvinistic tendencies, I promise to improve that area.”
“You have not offended me Sam.” Leiyana says.
“Good, good, I don’t want to piss off the main lady in charge.” Leiyana’s face proves that she does not understand. Sam says, “Sorry, there I go deflecting again.” He has an idea, “Is your offer still good for the fermented drink we spoke of?”
“Yes, we could produce some in one of our dietary centers. If you would like, we could use this opportunity to get you out of your treatment room and into a suitable dwelling. I shall obtain some appropriate garments for you, for a tour of the city.” Leiyana stands to exit the room.
“What, you don’t want me running around the halls in this hospital gown, showing my ass off?”
Leiyana thinks about his statement, “Your buttocks? You are referring to your buttocks?”
“Hahahaha! I wasn’t deflecting, just using humor for humors sake.”
“I see...sexual humor.” Leiyana nods in understanding as she walks through the doorway, “I am becoming fond of your humor.”
Sam stands up and walks around, excited for a chance to leave the room and see the sights. He moves closer to the wall and a door slides open. There is a corridor outside the room. Gleaming tile floor, the walls are white and smooth. Sam peeks his head outside the door and realizes it is a very long hall. He steps outside the room, right in front of a young man directing a cart.
“Whoa! Sorry, didn’t see you coming.” The cart stopped in time.
“Are you harmed, Sam Smith?” the young man seems terrified.
“Not at all, I should be paying better attention to where I’m going.” Sam looks at the man and recognizes him from the interpretation procedure.
“Hey, I know you, right? The day that I learned to talked, you were there, with your cart.”
“Yes, Sam Smith, I administered the interpretation device. My name is Hontel, it was my honor to serve you.” Sam thinks that the man is going to ask for an autograph.
“Well, Hontel, thank you very much, I wouldn’t know what’s going on if you hadn’t performed your little magic. I am the grateful one. Hey, you can run over me with your cart any time you’d like.” Sam laughs.
“Humor, you use humor often. I do not understand your humor, but I like it when you laugh.” Sam wishes Hontel would wipe that smile off of his face. These people are so damn nice, they don’t even know when they have insulted you.
“There’s an old saying from my... place, ‘a merry heart is like a medicine’, and it means laughter helps you stay healthy. So, everyone should have some laughter in their life, each day.”
“I agree with you. Your words remind me of some of my instructors.” Hontel has relaxed a bit.
“So, do you still attend classes?” Sam ask.
“I have completed the advanced education level and have begun my career selection process.” Hontel may be expressing just a bit of pride. Sam likes that, it reminds him of home.
“So you get to choose your career?”
Hontel begins explaining that the young adults of their society train in different areas of the City, to discover the career that is most agreeable with them. Sam will come to understand that all citizens are civil servants. He is interested in Hontel’s story but notices a window, further down the hall. He smiles at Hontel and points at the window.
Hontel stops his explanation and ask “Do you wish to look around Sam Smith?
“Yes, if you don’t mind” as he heads towards the end of the hall. “And call me Sam, all of my friends do, both of them.”
Following after him, Hontel ask innocently, “Sam, you have two friends?”
Sam slows down and turns around laughing, “Yes, I do, their names are Hontel and Leiyana! And, I’m not sure about Leiyana, but don’t tell her!”
Hontel actually laughed at that one. Sam is almost to the end of the hall, and he isn’t sure if what he sees is a window or a digital display. The scene is so clear, the sky so blue, with white clouds and the sun. “What a view”, He whispers.
Sam arrives in front of the window which travels the length of this section of the hallway. From waist height to the ceiling, the window appears to have no joining seams. Sam placed his hands on the glass and looks out, and then down. There are clouds below.
“What is this Hontel?” Sam points outside the window. He keeps looking below, and a panic hits him, he watches the clouds roll by, and thinks that he can see land masses below.
Hontel peers out the window, “Sam what are you referring to? I do not understand. This is a window, and that is outside the window”. Hontel touches the glass and points outside as well.
“What do you see?” Sam is so excited. He realized that he has shouted and he tells himself to calm down.
“I see the sky and the clouds and the earth below.”
“Fuck!” Sam jumps back from the window. “We’re floating. The city is floating?”
“What is a fuk?” Hontel ask simply.
“Never mind that, how are we floating, and when were you people going to tell me that I’m on a floating city?” Sam is not angry, but his excitement has him speaking in a loud tone, again. People are coming down the hall to investigate the commotion.
“Yes, Sam, the city travels through the sky. All of the cities travel through the sky” Hontel explains then ask again, “What is a fuk?”
“Hahaha, oh forget that, it’s an old word.” Sam is smiling looking out the window, realizing that this society is more advanced than he had imagined. Pointing outside Sam laughs “that out there Hontel is wonderful, fantastic. Hontel, that’s a fuck!”
Hontel laughs with Sam, which makes Sam laugh ever harder. The others who had arrived in concern, have all returned to their regular duties. Sam is still staring out the window when Hontel announces that he must resume his own duties. Sam also needs to return to his medical room, as Leiyana will be returning. Hontel picks up on his explanation of the career selection process as the men move back down the hall. Turning the corner, Sam takes one more look out the window. He is almost back to his room, when he realizes that he just caught his own reflection in the glass. A phantom outline of his face and eyes. Something doesn’t seem right. Hontel has glided away with his cart. Sam enters the room and begins searching.
He feels along the “magic wall”, looking for the button panel that he has seen others access often. Finally it opens, displaying several dozen or so colored buttons. Each engraved with a symbol that is “Greek” to him. The first few buttons open panels and screens that do not satisfy his search. Finally, not a mirror, but a wall turns a silver metallic color. There is some distortion, but Sam can make out his reflected form. He leans in close, rubs his eyes and says, “This is not my body!” He examines his arms, legs, face and hands. He searches his lower right leg for his scar. There is no scar. He opens his mouth and pushes his face close to the reflective wall. He runs his fingers through his thick brown hair, not a trace of gray. He pulls his gown off and drops it on the floor. He spins around and looks over his shoulder at his back side, then back around, that scar is gone as well.
“Younger! They’ve made me look younger. How in the hell did they pull this off?” Sam thinks that he looks like he is in his mid-twenties. He flexes his arms, squats, stretches, reaches up as far as he can and decides that he has never been in this great of shape, ever. He smiles at his reflection, “not bad, not bad at all.” His disbelief in the fantastic story that Leiyana had told him, is slipping away. He really is in the future. He is looking at the proof. Is he a clone? He can’t accept that, but if he is, with a new body, and his same mind and memories, well, who could complain about that?