At first all I could hear was the gentle humming of engines, very aware that my breathing was the only other noise. I lay motionless, trying to remember where I was, and how I happened to be here. I felt nauseous and groggy as I slowly opened my eyes. My vision was blurry, but somehow I knew to expect this, I remembered being told this. At some point I must have known why I was in this particular stationary situation. I had to force myself to relax, my breathing had accelerated to the point where I was nearly hyperventilating and my heart pounded loudly within my chest. I could feel the cold beads of sweat, which had formed on my brow, roll down the side of my face. I’m sure I could hear each droplet pound on the metal surface on which I was lying. Closing my eyes I counted to ten. I felt the pace at which I counted slow, as I mentally said each number. Seven, eight, nine. As I reached ten I exhaled. Gradually, re-opening my eyes, hoping that the brief moment of darkness would bring light and clarity.
I became accustomed to the humming noise which was now more ambient and familiar. My vision had also started to clear. No longer were the surroundings blurry, distorted and unfamiliar. I could recognise shapes and colours within the room. With this new perspective I started to understand where I was, and that I was not alone. Memories and the increasingly familiar surroundings helped piece everything together. I started to remember elements of this place.
As I looked around the circular room, I could see several other people, perhaps seven or eight others. We were all lying on identical metallic surfaces, which were positioned at twenty degree angles against a smooth curved metallic wall. We all faced inward towards a circular metal tube with lights and monitors attached to it. Various computer screens were embedded into the wall panels, displaying metrics, charts and various diagrams that looked to be medical in nature.
I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body, as it passed, I seemed to be more in control, being able to flex my muscles in my arms and legs. It was as if I had come out of a deep sleep, and my body was slowly awakening from a slumber in which it had shut down to minimal functionality. I moved my neck slightly from side to side. Again I did this slowly, my neck felt stiff as if I had slept for a long time. As a glanced to my left then right I was able to get a view of my neighbours. They too looked to be in a similar bodily state as I was. My joints eased and I now felt that I had full control of my body. I moved my arms, positioning them at my sides so that I could hoist myself up.
With my new vantage point I had the opportunity to conduct better ordnance of my surroundings. I could see that my fellow companions were starting to stir. A few began to sit up, rubbing their eyes as they looked around.
“Hello?” I heard someone call, it was a young girls voice, I would have guessed early teens, perhaps thirteen or fourteen.
“Hello.” I called back, though my voice was very scratchy, I wasn’t sure if the young girl had heard me. I now realised how hungry and thirsty I was, my tongue was like an arid waste, craving for even the smallest amount of water. Another voice called out, this time a much deeper voice, a boy, probably of similar age to me.
“Is everyone ok?” he paused a moment before continuing. “The post-stasis effects will wear off in time. Though it’s best to lie back and wait until any sickness feeling dissipates.”
Stasis, I thought, and with that I remembered how I happened to be in this room, emerging from a stasis chamber with these seven other people. All of us teenagers, and all of us travellers, or more specifically survivors.
The story behind how each person in this room came to be here would be very different. For some they were refugees from cities long gone, or on the verge of destruction. For others this was the opportunity of a new life. Then there were those escaping prosecution.
After the Global Wars had come to an end, people turned against each other, fighting for meaningless material objects, power, land, anything and everything that anyone else would want. It wasn’t until the new Global Government regrouped, that a sense of civilisation was brought back to the people. Though with many cities destroyed and the global population a quarter of what it was before the wars many new laws were established. At first they were focused on bringing back law and order, then the focus was tuned to re-population.
At the same time, many things became illegal. Many things that had once been accepted, became crimes, punishable by excommunication. That had been my story, falling in love with someone. A relationship that others now thought was unacceptable. I had fallen in love with the wrong type of person and he for me. Our punishment, was extreme, permanent separation.
We had been in stasis for thirty-seven years, although to us it had felt like one night of a deep, uninterrupted sleep. The stasis chambers had induced a state where our bodies were practically frozen in time. We were the same age as when we left Earth. The idea of my punishment sunk in, I was truly separated from Darren, I would never see him again. I was frozen in time and sent far into space, whilst he was left behind on Earth. Seventeen years old at the time, he would now be fifty-four, whilst I remained biologically and mentally seventeen. The intense, emotional feeling of lose spread throughout my body, causing me to wretch. I could feel a pressure in my head. An deep pounding thumped across my head and an intense dizzy sensation crossed over me. I couldn’t think straight, it was too much.
Continue to: Chapter 2 – Arrival