Stories

Chapter 10: Waking Up

He woke with a coppery tang in his mouth. He could see everything around him still, but the world still did not make much sense to him, he felt very groggy. His lip and both knees throbbed, making it even harder to figure out where he was and what was going on. He was still very tired, maybe he would just go back to sleep for a while longer.

A sudden wrench of pain in his stomach pulled him awake, as he stomach audibly growled, demanding it be fed. Hunger was a sensation he was familiar with, but he had never felt it this strongly before. Abandoning any further thoughts of going back to sleep Gideon sat upright and rubbed his stomach. He really wanted to find something to eat, he could not remember ever feeling this hungry. Looking around he remembered his situation.

“I don’t even know where I am, much less where they keep the food…”

 A friendly female voice replied to him from out of nowhere, but this did not startle him. Voices out of nowhere were a common thing inside the sim. “The nearest food storage compartment is on deck fourty-five, compartment bb115. I can assist you in traveling there if that would please you.”

The voice did not sound like Alice, it was similar, but it lacked a certain fluidity and grace. Gideon did not much care about that though, someone was finally helping him. And they were offering to take him to food! “Yes pleath!” he said, just now noticing his lip was quite swollen. Another strange phenomenon  he had never experienced, this part of the sim was strange.

The disembodied female voice guided him down several long corridors, she even turned the lights on and off for him as he walked through the hallways. After enough walking to acutely remind gideon of his aching knees he found himself in a hallway that was much larger than any other he had been in before. This hallway was huge Gideon was fairly sure he could fit his entire house and the hill it sat on in the hallway. Hallway was not even an appropriate word to describe it, but Gideon knew no other.

“Please wait here while I summon a personal transportation module.” The ghostly woman chimed out. She had not been very talkative but Gideon had noticed her voice never seemed to change.

He sat down and waited, feeling very small in the gigantic corridor. He wondered what the corridor was used for and why it was so big. He had never seen anything like it before. His stomach wrenched in pain again,  he was starting to feel a little tired and his head hurt. Curling up into a ball Gideon tried to comfort himself and quiet his protesting stomach.

He was not sure how long he had been laying like that but the next time he opened his eyes a small three wheeled vehicle sat next to him. It was not much more than a chair and wheels with a few extra parts.

“Please seat yourself in the personal transport unit. It will ferry you to deck forty-five compartment bb115, designated a food storage stasis room.” The ghostly woman told him. Her voice was odd, it did not seem to be in his head like Alice’s was, this voice seemed to follow him around. Doing his best to ignore his aching knees, throbbing lip, and furious stomach Gideon pulled himself up off the floor and into the seat of the strange contraption.

The seat material allowed him to sink into it, adjusting to the contours of his body before it became semi rigid, securing him snugly, but comfortably, in place. Gideon did not like being held so firmly by the chair, but before he could protest the contraption shot off down the long hallway at break neck speeds. As air whipped by his face he was reminded of his chaotic flight from the swing set so many years ago. Maybe being held so tightly was not a bad thing after all.

After a short, but harrowing sprint the chair slowed down, then backed itself into a small alcove. The chair seemed to just sit there and wait, doing nothing. Then Gideon heard machinery clicking and whirring behind him, he was wondering what was going on as the floor dropped out from under his chair and his chair began falling down the shaft that had just opened up.

Gideon screamed as he fell through the darkness, he tried to flail his arms in an attempt to grab something but the chair  held him tightly. Through his panic and terror Gideon felt a small jerk and the chair’s speed decreased significantly. He realized that his fall was controlled and tried to calm himself. Slowly the chair came to a stop, and a door in front of Gideon opened, revealing another gigantic hallway. The chair rolled forward into the hallway again and accelerated down the hall.

After just a few more minutes the chair stopped, he could feel the foam around his body become soft and pliable again. He pulled himself from the chair quickly, almost throwing himself down onto the hard metal flooring. He did not want to go for another ride with that thing driving. Indifferent to his hasty escape the personal transportation unit casually rolled off into the hallway before accelerating down the hall and out of sight.

Pulling himself off the floor Gideon looked at the wall, immediately in front of him was another too-big door with a plaque to its left that read ‘bb115 – Long Term Food Storage’. To the left of the door there was a set of much large doors, big enough to fit his house through, those doors had the word ‘bb115’ written across it in giant letters. He had never seen doors that large before.

Walking up to the smaller door it opened for him with a gentle hiss, warm amber light spilled out of the room, just like the light Gideon had seen earlier. He was somewhat hesitant to go into the room but as if on cue a jab of pain from his stomach seemed to remind him why he was here. Hunger overcoming fear, Gideon walked through the door and into the room the sight that met him had him in awe.

Before him there was a great shimmering amber wall, and beyond that was there was more food than Gideon had ever seen in one place in his whole life. He saw apples, bananas, carrots, and so much more, some of it he had never seen before, and beyond all that there were huge white sacks. Ignoring the wall of amber light Gideon reached into it. As soon as he touched the light he was overcome with pins and needles. The tips of his fingers felt like they were asleep, without thinking he pulled his hand back and the feeling immediately vanished.

“Thats weird” he mumbled to himself as he rubbed his grumbling stomach. There had not been a sharp stab of pain in a while, but a dull discomfort that warned of trouble on the horizon had been steadily growing. It was becoming harder and harder for him to think.  He was so hungry.

Looking at the food, some of it was just beyond the wall of amber light, easily within reach. Looking down at his hand, and then his stomach again he gathered himself. He would thrust his hand into the field and try to grab something and then pull it back out quickly. Opening his hand wide he looked at the amber light one last time and then pushed his arm forward rapidly, like what he thought punching someone would be like, just not with an open hand.

The numbness was overwhelming, the sensation was not at all painful but caused him great discomfort. Surprisingly though, the sensation was not completely foreign to him. He was not sure where he had felt something like this before, but he was fairly sure he had. Gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut he tried to grab something but could feel nothing. The pins and needles were becoming too great, and he had to pull his hand out.  Immediately the pins and needles washed away, but his hand was wildly grasping. Clenching and unclenching in the open air of its own accord.

Finally his hand stopped acting on its own and he remembered what he had been trying to do. Looking around excitedly his hopes were quickly dashed, it looked like his attempt to grab a piece of fruit had failed miserably. His stomach twisted and groaned in his abdomen, expressing its displeasure with his failure. He whimpered in defeat, there was no way he could get to that food with that stupid amber light up. Looking at the arm he had just bathed in the golden glow, something about his arm and hand seemed wrong, but he was not sure what. He wondered about the feeling the light had given him, why did it and the light seem vaguely familiar?

His stomach growled again, it was almost a roar this time. Something inside of him popped and he looked down at his stomach and screamed “SHUT UP! I know I’m hungry! But I can’t get to the food, SO SHUT UP!”

The ghostly female voice reminded him of her presence, “Would you like me to deactivate the food preservation stasis field so you may choose something to eat? You appear to be experiencing extreme hunger.”

His eyes lit up, the majority of the statement was lost on him, he had only heard the parts he wanted to hear. “Yes please! I’m really hungry!”

With that one little request the amber light seemed to bulge for a second before it shimmered and was replaced by normal looking space. Gideon stepped forward tentatively, still a bit wary of the space the golden light had previously occupied. “Thanks lady!” he called out to his invisible friend.

“I am happy to be of assistance” she replied, but Gideon did not hear, he was too busying picking what to eat first.

He selected an apple first, and voraciously bit into it. There was a satisfying and crisp burst as his teeth broke the skin on the apple and its sweet juices bled into his mouth. His lip stung fiercely but he did not care. Gideon immediately decided this was the best apple he had ever bitten into. He quickly finished the apple and started eating another. He decided he might eat until he burst, he had not realized just how hungry he was.

Several apples and a few bananas later the edge from his hunger was gone and he could think much more clearly. His throbbing lip still bothered him, but his stomach was quieted and the energy from the food made a very significant difference. The presence of the ghost lady bothered him. She reminded him a great deal of Alice, but she clearly was not Alice. She did not talk the same as Alice.  As he was pushing a slice of bread into his mouth he asked out loud
“So where am I? And who are you? You don’t talk like Alice.”

“My name is ViVi, which stands for Very Interactive Virtual Intelligence. You are currently on the ship Seraphim which is enroute to planet Vi28-Px22. Specifically you are in long term stasis storage warehouse bb115 on deck forty-five, designated food storage.”

Her name struck a chord with him, when paired with her voice she seemed like someone he should know.  He felt like the answer was tantalizingly close, just on the edge of his mind when a thunderous roar violently shook the room he was in. Time seemed to slow around him as he watched food rain down around him, there were several substantial sounding thuds around him but they fell on deaf ears. Gideon was terrified. More loud thuds, he heard these ones, but he could not figure out what it as.

When he did figure it out it was too late. Bushels, sacks, boxes, and all other manner of food holding contraptions were falling around him, shaken loose by the violent tremor that had just racked the room. He watched in awe as they all tumbled to the floor around him. He watched one particularly large box fall towards the deck in front of him. It’s twisting tumble had a certain grace to it.

The hard edge of the box landed squarely  on his shin and made a bone crunching snap as it shattered spilling its contents everywhere. His vision went white as his mind tried to comprehend the pain that came with a shattered leg.  He desperately tried to focus on anything, but the pain was overwhelming him. Boxes and bags still rained down around him, but his vision was tunneling to a point. The pain of a broken leg was too much for him to cope with and he passed out a shower of food stuffs.

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