Gideon and his father walked through bright empty hallways. Gideon was expecting the ship to be full of people, one or two elevators completely full of people had arrived by now and unloaded lots of people into the ship, but they came across no one. After what felt like ten minutes of walking they came to a large door, his father swiped a plastic card through it and then punched a code into the keypad. The red light on the bottom of the keypad turned off and the green one on top turned on. That made Gideon happy, he felt like the red light was staring at him.
His father guided him into the room and the door closed behind them, after a short walk through a hallway lined with pipes and wire conduits they came to a small room, completely barren save two ellipsoid shaped metal objects one smaller than the other. Each hung in the air, supported by a thick metal cylinder that was attached to the rear of the egg shaped thing. Each egg had what seemed to be a computer read out with keypad on the side. One of the metal eggs, the larger one, was giving off an amber colored glow.
Gideon’s father let go of his hand and nudged his son forward. Gideon walked forward slowly, wondering what was causing the beautiful amber glow. Edging his way up to the side of the pod he noticed that part of the outer “shell’ was missing, in its place an oval shaped pool of amber light. Pulling himself up a bit Gideon looked down into the pool and saw his mother, she looked like she was sleeping peacefully.
“Dad, why is mom in this thing? is she ok?” He looked back at his father waiting for an answer.
His dad shook for a second like he had a shiver, “She’s fine buddy.” There was a tremble in his voice, “Her body is just in a stasis field that will protect it. Her mind is with Alice.”
Picking himself up he looked at his mother one last time, she looked very calm and peaceful, he was glad she looked that way. Lowering himself back down he turned and looked at his dad and the small pod, “is that one for me?” he asked, a little wary of the metal eggs.
“It sure is, once we get you settled into it and ready to go you’ll be able to see your mom.” His father typed a few commands into the display and lines of amber colored light traced up along the pod, as if it had come to life. Gideon watched the pod as his father continued to enter commands. Half of the eggs shell slid back and peeled itself away, revealing a dense supporting foam at the core of the egg. Gideon looked back over at his mother’s egg, from this angle her pod looked like a long face. It had to glowing and hungry eyes perched atop its gaping amber maw.
“I don’t think I want to do this dad…” Gideon said, unsure of the entire situation.
“I’m sorry bud, but at this point, this is something you have to do. We don’t have any other options.” His father turned to him, face full of pleading.
“Why can’t we all just go home? You could just wake mom up and we could ride the elevator back down.”
“No buddy, we can’t. The elevator is making one last trip up and then we’re leaving.” His father kneeled down so he was even level with him. He looked weary and weak, it was a strange look for his father to wear. “I know it looks scary bud, and I’m not going to lie to you, it does feel weird at first, but once you’re in your pod you’re gonna love it.” His father hugged him tightly. “All your friends are there, and mommy too.” His dad looked him in the face now, his eyes were wet and red. “So you think you can be a brave little man and do this for me and mom?”
Gideon looked back to the pod and nodded. Taking his dad’s hand he walked over to vertically bisected egg. His father picked him up and sat him on the edge of the egg, the inner material was dense and spongy it felt nice under Gideon’s fingers. A little bit of the tension and anxiety over the situation escaped from his body.
“Alright bud now all you need to do is lay down in the middle of the pod here and get comfy.”
Gideon laid down on the soft inviting material, feeling himself sink into it as it cradled his whole body. The way the material cushioned and supported him it was like what Gideon imagined laying on a cloud would be like. If this is what his mom was laying on he could see why she looked so peaceful.
“Ok you’re gonna feel a pinch in the small of your back in a second do your best not to move.”
His father warned him, and true to warning there was the feeling of a small needle entering the middle of the small of his back. Shortly after that his whole body began to tingle and feel numb, like an arm you had slept on. He heard his father mumbling to himself as he continued to work away on the keypad.
“…system modifications optimal…virtual interface interacting with juvenile nervous system in an acceptable manner….communication with Alice unit confirmed…”
His father looked up from the keyboard and at him, there was a nervous hesitation on his face. “Alright buddy, I’m going start up the stasis field. When I do its going to be like you just suddenly went to sleep, then after a little bit you’ll wake up and mom should be there, ok?”
“It’ll be ok little man, you’re past the worst of it, and you’ll be with mom soon.”
“Dad….I love you.”
“I love you too buddy.” His dad squeezed his hand. “Now you ready?”
His dad let go of his hand, and started to count down. Gideon closed his eyes and tried to be brave. He was not ready for this, he did not want to be inside of an amber egg like his mom, but according to his dad he didn’t have a choice. As his thoughts ran rampant he lost track of his fathers countdown, making him completely unprepared as stasis field came into existence around him. It only took a second for the field to form completely but Gideon could feel it as the field swept up from behind him and over him. He could feel the amber energy enfold and encase him like, and as it swept up over him he had the distinct sensation that he was drowning in the open air. As the last bit of amber energy cleared his nose, Gideons world and mind turned into a black confused mass of overstimulated nerves.
He was not sure how long he lay suspended in this state, it felt like an eternity. Every nerve in his body was firing off simultaneously causing his brain to scramble as it tried to make sense of the onslaught of stimulus data. His fragile young mind gave out under the pressure of too much raw information. On a subconscious level he was ecstatic that he had lost consciousness.
Gideon woke up with a gasp and a start, fearful of the amber bubble that was forming around him. Much to his surprise, he found himself in the middle of a field of flowers, brilliantly colored wild flowers, many of which Gideon had never seen before, swayed gracefully in a fragrant and inviting breeze. The sky was a vibrant and beautiful blue, more blue than Gideon had ever seen before. The playful chirps of songbirds combined into beautiful and relaxing melodies that drifted along lazily on the breeze. Off a little ways in the distance there was a small white house perched on top of a grassy knoll surrounded by a white picket fence.
Gideon had no idea where he was, but he was immeasurably grateful that he was no longer in that golden bubble. He decided the best thing to do would be to walk to the house, he could probably find an adult there, an adult would know where they were. Gideon made his way towards the house, attempting to be extra careful as to not damage any of the flowers as he walked. As he came up to the picket gate the front door of the small house opened, and a very familiar woman stepped out into the soft light of the day.
His mother stood on the porch in a pure white flowing dress. She looked like an angel. A huge smile spread across her face as her eyes met with Gideon’s. She rushed off the porch and and scooped him up in her arms.
“Gideon, my baby! You’re here early.” she relaxed her grip on him enough for him to see that her face was wet from tears. He was going to ask his mother why she was crying but he began to feel heavy. He was becoming unbearably drowsy and his arms felt like lead, and although he struggled valiantly, he was rapidly losing ground. He felt his mother grip him tightly, pulling against whatever was weighing him down. Then as if they were made of loose sand, his mothers arms and body failed against the pull, dissolving into nothingness. Down into a deep darkness, Gideon fell.
When Gideon woke next he found himself laying flat on his back, staring up into an almost painfully blue cloudless sky. He groaned softly as he pulled himself up off the slightly uneven and rough wood deck beneath him. Pulling himself up to the railing he cracked his eyes and squinted to filter out some of the light. What he saw was a familiar sight, he was looking out over the field of wildflowers he remembered just crossing. The telltale creak of aged wood floor boards betrayed someones approach. In a scene that was all too familiar to him, Gideon’s mother stepped out onto the porch.
“Oh look, the sleepy head is up.” She cooed in an all-too-familiar way before she walked over and hugged her son tightly. Gideon hugged back, but expected her to dissolve into a pile of sand again. After several seconds had passed Gideon was convinced she was solid enough and asked her the question that lead him to this house in the first place.
“Mom, where are we?” She looked around and sighed contentedly before replying, “We’re inside of a computer simulation honey. Your father built this place inside of Alice just for our family. Isn’t it wonderful? It’s just like the house I always told him I wanted, but we could never have.”
“It’s ok I guess, its not at all like home. I can’t see another house anywhere.” Gideon replied as he squinted out over the horizon, searching for any other signs of human habitation.
“You won’t find anyone else, your dad made this area private for us, we’re completely alone. Until your father gets here in a few days.”
Gideon was going to ask why they were in a private area, alone and away from the rest of everyone else when the sounds of small feet shuffling and a loud bang caught his attention.
“Well I suppose ‘completely alone’ isn’t the best phrase.”
A small strawberry blonde girl, and a boy with shaggy hair and freckles came out of the front door. “We’re sorry Mrs. Plock, but we knocked over a chair.” The two said in unison.
Gideon immediately recognized his two best friends, Sara Jessup and Harry Crantz. His father had told him they were aboard the ship, but every time he had asked to see them he had been told that he could not, and was asked to wait. All of his prior concerns regarding location and the uncomfortably open surroundings instantly evaporated in the presence of his two best friends.