Wednesday, August 31, 2011

AP: Suspended Animation, chapter 4

Departure date – Wednesday, November 25th, 2037
Ship log – (8 years, 48 days later) Friday, January 12th , 12:30 hours, 2046

I woke up feeling strange and disoriented, a little dizzy and slightly euphoric, as if I was high. I sat up in bed and turned to see Isadora sitting in a chair. She was wearing a tight jumpsuit and it looked sexy on her. She lifted her gaze from a book she was reading and smiled at me, rising up out of her chair. She stooped down and stroked my cheek and said, “Good morning, sunshine.” before kissing me gently on the lips. I reached for her shoulder and held it loosely in my hand, staring at her in disbelief and letting my hand slip away as she stood back up.

She moved to a small table and picked up two sterile plastic bags, then returned and sat down beside me. “How are you feeling?” she asked, pulling a thermometer from one of the bags and putting it in my mouth, and it felt cold and hard, poking the skin under my tongue  uncomfortably. She clicked a button and took an instant temperature and the taste of rubbing alcohol stayed in my mouth after she pulled it from my lips. I only stared at her, my mouth hanging open, and after glancing at the thermometer she reached out and touched my forehead. “Are you all right?” she asked, pulling her eyebrows together with concern.

“I… I think so.” I said softly, staring into her eyes. I couldn’t believe how real she was. Her skin was darker than thought it would be, but I couldn’t remember where she was from. India maybe. Her eyes were such a vibrant green. “What happened? How did you get here? The tarball…” The look of concern didn’t leave her face. She touched my temple and said, “When we brought you out of the suspended animation chamber it took you a little longer than expected to wake up. You’ve been sleeping for a few weeks. You might feel a little strange from the drug therapy.” She smiled and reached down to take my hand, giving it a squeeze. “Do you think you can stand up?”

I nodded, slipping my feet to the floor and standing up, having a hard time taking my eyes off her. “Are we…?” I asked. Too embarrassed to finish the question, I glanced to the bed meaningfully. She raised her eyebrows with a surprised look and asked, “You don’t remember?” I tried thinking back.

“We met in training…” I said as it came back to me. “I asked you out to dinner and…” I looked down at my hand, feeling the ring between my fingertips. “We’re engaged.” I took a deep breath as more memories rushed back, so many good memories. “And that’s why they selected us. To colonize a new planet.” I turned and looked up at her, into her eyes. She smiled and laughed at me. It was too good to be true.

“No shit.” She said sarcastically. “I’m glad you remember. I’d hate to have to look for a new fiancé out here.” She lowered her lips to mine and kissed me, and part of me wanted to grab her passionately and press against her but… I was in such shock I just sat there, staring as she slid away. “Dor has some good news.  Are you ready for this? DOR, play the last order from HQ.”

There was a video feed of a communications officer on earth base, and he was smiling. His voice was light and exuberant with relief, he sounded very happy. “This is earth base to DOR-7. We’ve just received contact from DOR-1. Not only is the crew okay but they’ve begun colonizing. They’ve named the planet Dianath which, heh, some of us might hold a discussion about changing. But they’ve sent pictures.” A picture in picture frame of the photographs popped up, showing a landscape of black rock and azure blue water, and a single tree. “As you can see from the photograph, they’ve managed to get the atmosphere adjusted to support plant life and start producing oxygen. So as far as we’re concerned that’s mission accomplished. DOR 2 through 4 are being sent to assist colonizing Dianath and DOR 5, 6, 7, and 8 have new orders to return to earth. I know most of you thought you thought you would never be coming back, so you’ll have a chance to stay on earth if you like. As for the rest, we’ll be re-outfitting you to transport more colonists and sending you to Dianath. Which should be ready by that point to support human life. We’re all very excited down here and we wish you all a safe return.”

The feed stopped and Isadora turned to me with a bright smile. “We get to go back home.” She said, stepping close to hug me tightly. It took me a moment to hug her back. I was still taking it all in. I took a deep breath then, and pulled her against me.

“Home. We’re going home.” I whispered.

-3:42 hours- “So, what did you revive me for?” I asked. “Since we’re just going back into suspended animation anyways.”

“Dor revived us both automatically when she received the new orders.” Explained Isadora. “When you wouldn’t wake up I began drug therapy. I couldn’t put you straight back into suspended animation because that would greatly increase the risk of you never coming out of it and going into a coma, maybe even dying. Also, you’re the captain hon. You need to put in the new coordinates so we can go back to earth.”

“You can’t do it?”

“Not on my own. We both need to confirm the new coordinates together.”

“But what if I had been stuck in a coma?”

“Dor would have confirmed that you were incapacitated from your ability to perform as captain and I would have been given full authority. But you showed constant signs of improvement so it was only a matter of time before you woke up. So… Dor, inputting new coordinates. Set flight path for 0,0,0.” Setting a path home was always easy, on our coordinate maps Earth was the center of the universe.

“Wait… something still feels wrong. I feel like I’m forgetting something.”

Isadora laughed lightly, then looked at me with a smirk. “What could you be forgetting? DOR takes care of everything while we’re asleep. We just need to put in the new coordinates and before you know it we’ll wake up on earth. Dor, confirm change in flight path-”

“Wait. Those dreams I had. They seemed so real. What if they meant something?”

“They were only dreams. What could they mean?”

“I’m not sure. But, what if there was an alien on the ship? Some kind of parasite?

“Well, even if there was, it would have to be something undetectable. But hon, you might as well be scared of the boogeyman if you are going to worry about undetectable aliens. Lots of people have very vivid dreams while in a coma, some people wake up after having lived a whole other dream life, that seemed more real than the reality they woke up to. There’s actually a name for it but I can’t remember. Confusing dreams with reality.”

“Isn’t it called synesthesia?”

“No that’s confusing one sensory input with another, like seeing music or hearing colors.”

“Oh, right.” I hung my head and ran my hands through my hair with a sigh as Isadora came around behind me to rub my shoulders. “The last thing I remember in the dream was this… blob-like parasite was lunging for my face, trying to get into the suspended animation chamber. And it could take over other creatures. It sort of assimilated them.”

“You were terrified of that movie the blob, weren’t you. Remember that time we were watching TV and there was a show about the secret lives of microorganisms, and you got so creeped out by the amoebas?” She kept rubbing my shoulders and I felt myself relaxing, leaning my head back between her breasts. “I bet The Thing scared you as a kid too. And your mind brought out your childhood monsters and combined them with all your fear and anxieties about traveling into outer space.” She paused, and combed her fingertips through my hair, bending down to kiss the top of my head. “This is real. I’m real. Now let’s go home.”

I hesitated for a moment, the terror of that dream still lingering, a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. But I nodded my head. “Yeah, okay, lets go home. Dor, confirm new flight path set for coordinates 0,0,0.”

Isadora reconfirmed the flight path, then her lips, wet and warm, slipped around the edge of my ear. I whimpered like a puppy. “What do you say we spend one night together before we hit the SACs?” she asked, nuzzling behind my ear. I couldn’t say no, and it didn’t take much for her to get me back to the bedroom. In the morning, we went into suspended animation with a course set for earth. When I woke up, we’d be home. That makes this my last log entry.

Cards and Crisis:
Ø     2 humanity: Stowaway, encounter someone unexpected on your ship (My loyal black lab Sadie, My internet lover, Isadora)
o      Response: Let them stay and risk the mission, discover void (How do I tell the difference between reality and dreams?) discover star (Collect data on how long term and repeated suspended animation affects psychology)
Ø     1 Star: Incoming transmission (Displace or eradicate any life already living there)
o      Response: Accept new directive, discover star (Return to Earth to transport colonists) and lose void (What if the ship is attacked or damaged while I’m sleeping?)
Ø     1 void: Sensor readings (What if the ship is attacked or damaged while I’m sleeping)
o      Response: New danger presents itself, discover void (Is Isadora real?)

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