I sense a movement, followed by constant inhaling of air. Confused, I squint my eyes and try to focus on something soft and white under my spread out palms. Once the image cleared, I realise it’s a blanket, but a weird feeling told me I didn’t get into this position willingly. In fact, I never sleep like a body in a coffin.
Tilting my head to the side, my heart quickens it’s pace. A man, who seems to be in his early 60’s, smiles and glares even harder, making my stomach twist in rising panic.
“I know you’re scared, but don’t be; Zoey, you’ll be fine.”
How does he know my name? And why does he look familiar?
Swallowing hard, I try to grab a hold on my nerves. “Have we met?” I ask.
His gaze softens. “No, but you’d be surprised how closely related we are.”
“Who are you?” I ask not caring for the harshness in my voice, before looking around at the room and knit my eyebrows. “And what is this place?” I ask, noticing the bunk bed I’m laying on, the squares on the blanket covering me, the shining metallic walls, it is terrifying, I don’t even know how.
He laughed sweetly. “Slow down, my dear. I’m your Grandfather, and your decades back in time, in a makeshift hospital in London. I know it’s a lot to take in, so take your time.”
“Is this a kind of a cruel joke? How can I travel back in time? Because, for your own information, I don’t recall hopping in a time machine, if it exists anyway.”
“Zoey,” he starts, still keeping his unsettling smile, “Let me elaborate.”
“Please, do so.”
“You do remember blacking out, don’t you?”
I recall losing my balance, how my vision blurred before I muttered something I can’t quite remember to Jo and nod lightly.
“Well, that was because of me. When I called you, your body stopped working to allow your mind to travel while you just appear to be in a coma.”
“Okay, but you’re dead. How’s this even possible?”
He snickers and shakes his head. “It’s complicated. You see, at this point in time I’m quiet alive. After my discovery, I found out I can sense other mind readers too. There is a scientist I very much trust who told me that this doesn’t just work with real distances but virtual ones too, like time for instance. A few weeks ago, I tried reaching out for any other mind reader in all possible points of time, but there was none, until I found Max’s. That was when he first landed on Earth.”
“Wait right there,” I interrupt him, “I and Max are alive since seventeen years ago, why couldn’t reach us before? Why now?” I ask, not bothering the distrust in my voice.
“Because you weren’t on Earth.” He replies simply.
“But you said that you can sense it through real distances, why is being on Earth a limitation then?”
“Because you can’t cross both at once, if you choose time, real distance is not an option anymore, unless it’s a few kilometers. Shall I continue?”
“Max was here in this building two weeks ago, so when I reached out for a mind reader, I grasped his mind. But he didn’t accept what I told him, and from the look on your face, I’m sure he never talked about it either. And then here you are today, I couldn’t miss the opportunity. You have to know what your vision meant.”
“How do you know about the vision?”
“Because I showed it to you. Dr. Blanc, the scientist, was able to make me concentrate enough to connect at both distances and I could reach you, I used my own memory to be displayed to you, but of course your subconscious converted it to your own view point than mine. And so, it seemed you’re watching it as a bystander, not a screaming man in a steel chair.”
That’s why he’s familiar!
“It was you, the one being injected with blood, weren’t you?” I ask.
He nods. “Yes, indeed. Now, listen up, we don’t have much time.”
My heart hammers against my chest, and I ignore the churning of my stomach. I never panicked this way in my life.
“The blood you saw was alien, more specifically Xoliner.”
“Why would they inject you with Xoliners’ blood?”
He inhales sharply. “It was an experiment, Zoey, and we were the test subjects.”
“Who were you?”
“1000 London citizens.”
Confused, terrified, I blink at him. “Sorry, what?”
“You heard it, Zoey.”
“But why would they do that?”
“Some scientist wanted to find out the results of being injected with a sample of alien blood. It was viscous and really dark, you’d refuse to get it in your veins, but nevertheless, there wasn’t a choice. And as far as I’ve observed, not being given a choice means the results are unpredictable, risky and worse of all, dangerous. I was one more unfortunate human to be selected for it.”
“Why were you selected?”
“It was random. Anyways, the results were horrifying, 147 immediate deaths and 953 long-term unconsciousness. Those who died were weak, thin and fragile, their bodies couldn’t pump the viscous the blood. The rest lost control, I think the cause was hypertension, but the scientists weren’t sure if the experiment was a success or a fail. Until I woke up and heard voices whenever I glanced at a random face in the hospital room. When the nurse came to my bed, blinking and staring without saying a word, I heard a voice in my head. ‘Can you hear me?’ it said. I nodded at her, and almost jumped when she screamed across the room, yelling the same sentence I will never forget. ‘It worked, Ms. Zendaya! It worked!’”
My heart thumps hard. This can’t be right.
“Wait, you just said that she called Ms. Zendaya, didn’t you?”
“But Ms. Zendaya is still alive and in her mid thirties, how is this even possible?”
He laughs, but it’s a bitter one. “Zoey, my dear,” he shakes his head, “That one is an android impersonating her identity. The real Ms. Zendaya was killed in a revolution we caused.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“Do I look like spilling jokes to you? You seem to say that a lot.”
“I just don’t understand!”
“Look, I get it, Zoey. This is so much to take in, but I have limited time with you and I need to tell you everything, please cooperate with me.”
“There’s more?” I ask, my stomach clenching in fear of what might come next.
He flashes a smile, sweet and sad at the same time. “The hardest to accept is yet to come, my dear.”
A shiver runs down my spine the same moment I feel my heart dropping.