Along the outermost stretch of tainted land, tucked away from the demolished cities, and nestled within the confines of a complex merely kissed by the storms of the past lay a small, oval-shaped compartment out in the complex field. It was the size of a small vehicle and held a dull-amber hue of rust, bearing heavy marks of wear along the top. To the rest of the world, this capsule was just another piece of archaic scrap, but to the young man who lay inside, it had been home for the past two hundred years.
The capsule let out a crunch as a small section ejected a hatch. A small antenna erected from within itself and gave off a homing sound. It retracted itself back into the capsule, and a few moments later a split gave way down the center, releasing a mixture of steam and dust into the air. Although the outside had sustained heavy damage and at a distance may have easily been mistaken for a large rock, the panels parted revealing an inside that looked as clean as a room prepped for surgery.
A clear, dome-like glass still covered where the doors had parted revealing several monitors, all displaying different readouts for vital organs. Below the single row of monitors, laid out in a circular pattern were series of compartments, both small and large; several switches and control panels were laid out at the nose of the compartment.
At the core of this odd vessel, underneath dense polymer film, submerged in stasis fluid with vessel-like tubing that seemed to puncture skin at every major organ, laid a young man, seemingly asleep. His skin held a rosy, peach-like pigmentation; his hair and beard were fire red.
The capsule croaked and moaned as several antennas of different lengths and widths sprang out and began to probe the air around the pod. A monitor within the pod sat itself in front of the horizontal young man and began spitting out large amounts of stringy data lines. Most were in green, and some were in red.
The last line of data came across the screen in the form of a question: activate half-life stasis exit protocol? As if the question had been considered by someone for a moment, the letter ‘y’ was highlighted and the screen went black. It began stringing out more data, streaming across all the the monitors like waves, displaying the makeup of the atmosphere that surrounded the pod on the outer hull.
The bed cradling the young man started to move into a slow raise. As it did the monitor pulled itself at an even pace backwards, leveling off as if it were alive, looking at the man’s unconscious face. The fluids began to drain from the bag and as they decompressed, the bag gave way as one of the compartments were pulled outward and the bag was pulled inside; the compartment closed itself back flush with the rest of the pod. One by one, the tubes began removing themselves out of his skin, seemingly by themselves. All except for two had been removed.
Across the screen came a command titled stasis reawaken protocol: shock resuscitation , asking again for a yes or no. The young man remained still, and after a few minutes the ‘y’ was highlighted again. A small hatch opened on one of the side compartments and a thick probe made its way out. Two needle-like ends snaked around his chest and punctured his rib cage. A red light blinked slowly followed by a high pitch whine. The lights dimmed briefly as the young man’s body convulsed, sounding as if it had been hit with a hammer. Choking a bit at first, he struggled, but he began to breathe.
A small message on the screen appeared as the young man opened his eyes. “Would you like to continue,” it recited in a masculine monotone. There was another yes or no option displayed on the screen underneath the recited question, but he didn’t know what they meant. Everything was a fog, and although the capsule felt familiar, the young man felt as if he were miles, if not, light-years from home. He pondered their meaning for a moment and came up with bare traces of instinct rather that real meaning to any of it.
He continued staring at the screen, puzzled by the letters. He knew they meant something important, but he didn’t know what. A small keypad had flipped itself out from under the monitor; the young man stared at it confused. Dozens of small symbols were scattered throughout and in no particular order, it seemed. He looked back at the monitor, then back to the pad of symbols. A thought came to his mind. ‘Symbol y is for good, but symbol n is for bad,’ he thought. ‘I need good.’
He raised his hand, feeling as stiff as a creaking door, whatever that was. After pushing two keys around the ‘y’ and having error messages followed by the same voice asking the same question (“Would you like to continue?”) twice more, he was able to press the correct key.
Music at a low volume emitted from the speaker as a strange symbol floated, twirling on the screen. The young man knew what this meant, but he couldn’t remember what it represented. He felt sensations of confusion, déjà vu, and motion sickness all at once. The music stopped and the screen was filled to the border with what looked like the background of a small, untidy office. An equally untidy man was sitting at the center of the screen. He looked twice as old as the young man and as if he hadn’t shaved in a week. He seemed to have a kind expression that was pitiable and almost morose. He started speak, and the young man listened.
“Hello,” the man said in an English accent, clearing his throat nervously. “I’m Doctor Isaac, head of engineering of this facility. If your sight hasn’t come back yet, don’t worry. Just listen to the sound of my voice.” The young man did. To him, this stranger may be the last person he would ever get to talk to. Although a bit punchy, his voice was welcoming. He seemed kind, so the young man listened closely.
“The important thing is not to panic. If you’re watching this, it means you made it to the end of the pod’s half-life process. You’ve been under stasis for quite some time. I’m sure you’re wondering what stasis is, but don’t worry, we’ll get to that. I’ve backlogged almost five-hundred hours of refresher courses for such an event; anything that you can’t learn from me or the Horus drive, Ali will teach you. Remember that, A-L-I; it’s an acronym. An acronym means each letter represents something. You used to love them, but you’ll remember everything if given enough time. Until then, it’s important to know who you are. Your name is Sam, Samuel Higgin.”
The young man began to repeat his own name over and over again in his mind. The more he did, the more the name just seemed to fall into place, or rather, back into place. The more the name fell into place the less hazy he felt. He knew now what the symbols were on the keyboard. These were known as letter and numbers. Just then the man spoke again.
“Sam, I need you to pay attention. It’s very important. What you’re inside of right now is called a LARHP. That’s another acronym, like ALI. It stands for Length And Readiness Hyper-sleep Pod. I designed it for such an event. It’ll supply everything you need in order to make it in the new world, but Sam, you have to be careful. I don’t want to worry you because your mind may not be able to even comprehend fear yet, but you need to know that it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to be face-to-face with things that are incomprehensible to the men and women of this day and age. I’ll talk to you more about it through the other message logs I’ve made. For now, you need to stay in the pod and recover; get some rest. If you’re seeing this video, it means the backup power is on and the computer that you’re hooked to can monitor you while you recover and give you the majority of what you would need.”
Sam didn’t know what to think. Half of what this man said was very threatening, and the other half had caused his head to hurt because he didn’t quite remember what it had meant. His head began to ache with questions, a dull pain.
“Sam, I need you to focus,” Isaac said. “What this system is designed to do is bring you fully out of stasis and help you maintain functi—It’s here to help get you get good again. You won’t remember a lot of things until you’ve had rest, but when you do start to remember, you’ll understand why you’re here.”
As he spoke, Sam began to feel his arm grow cold as the light inside the pod began to dim. “Right now the computer should be administering something that will help you sleep; it’ll help you remember a bit more as well, but I have to forewarn you, the first night will be the roughest. Don’t worry about this for now. Just try and get some rest. You’ll need as much of it as you can get if you want to make a full recovery. The computer will let me know when you wake up, so don’t worry. I won’t leave you to go this alone, I promise. I know it’s scary, but someone once told me, ‘we can’t be scared of adventure that’s bigger than ourselves; we must embrace it.’ Get some rest. Tomorrow I’ll explain a bit more.”
As the man’s disappeared from the screen, Sam’s eyes began to feel heavy. The seat began to lean back; A warm sensation came over him. He was being dried off by a pleasing heat that stopped as soon as he had felt comfortable. The pod bellowed for a moment as the lights flicked and fluttered. Sam saw a blanket spring from one of the side compartments and unravel over him.
As the lights faded to black, The computer screen, with its black backdrop and green lettering, began to type out one last thing. Sam didn’t see what it was. As the pod gave a small hum, a flash of stars began to fill the panels above Sam’s head. As he watched, he began hearing pleasant sounds from the same place he had heard Isaac’s voice. As his eyes shut he saw flashes of lights, the stars overhead, and drifted off to sleep for the first time in two centuries.