Categories
Science Fiction

Escape

Clearly, I had been ‘out’ for a while. My head hurt. And there was an unceasing sound, it seemed to be far away, but it was urgent. I tried to dismiss it from my mind, but it insisted on being heard. I listened to see what it was. It was a two-tone sound, rising to a high pitch and falling into a low bass. I had heard it before. Somewhere.

“Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!” the two-tone siren called.

I tried to listen to it for a while, but the sound gave me a headache.

“Argh!” I put a finger in each ear to get the sound out of my head.

Two minutes… to auto destruct.” Came a disembodied female voice. It seemed to be everywhere.

“Auto destruct?” I wondered. “Auto destruct of what? Where am I?”

Oh God! I had to get out of whatever, where-ever this was. I looked around me.

“Hello!” I called out. There was no answer.

I found myself on a metallic table of some sort. It looked like a bed they have in an operation theatre. I jumped off. My legs were wobbly and almost buckled as soon as I stood on them. Steadying myself, I groped my way to the nearby wall. A partition slid away with an imperceptible hiss. A corridor led out on both sides of the door. I stumbled into the corridor and peered to the left and the right. It was empty, and devoid of human sounds. Devoid of most sounds one would expect to hear. Except…

There was just the sound of gnashing, as if a giant crab was smashing through the walls.

“Crash! Ymmmmmm…. Crash!” It continued in various tones and frequencies. It sounded like whatever construction I was in was coming apart.

On a panel to my right, and a little bit of a distance, almost at the point where the wall vanished around a corner, I saw something blinking in red. Like a drunken man, I wound my way to it. It was a sign pointing away. It didn’t ‘say’ anything. There was nothing written around it. It was just a big bright red arrow. And it was blinking as if to say, “look at me!”.

I picked up speed and started to run. I had recovered enough. My head still throbbed though.

“Hello!” I kept calling as I ran. There was no answer. None at all.

There were many arrows along the way. The arrows led into a large room. It seemed to be a bay that housed some kind of large pea-shaped pods. Most of them were gone. I found one with its lights on. As I approached, its cover opened out.

One minute… to auto destruct.” Sounded the female voice again.

I fit myself in. As I settled in, the cover closed down. It was a transparent glass like panel, I could see through it. A small button started to blink to a side of me. It had the picture of a stickman running through a door. Exit. I touched it.

There was a sudden hiss and without warning, I was flying away. Backward.

As we flew away, I found that I had just been ejected from a large ship. It was massive. There was a lot of damage to its body and fires were breaking out even as I looked on. How it managed to stay in the air was a mystery. I turned my attention away from the ship to myself.

“Where am I falling away to?” I wondered.

The pod I was in swung around. Just in time too, because I felt the shockwave of the ship above us self-destructing push us. It felt like a powerful kick.

Thankfully, we seemed to be in some kind of an atmosphere. At least we were on a planet. But which one? But my rejoicing was cut short when the landscape below me came into focus. We were maybe two thousand feet away from the planet’s surface and it was a gnarly rocky surface below us.

“I need to get out of this thing before we crash!” I thought to myself. My breathing went up several notches and my heart beat fast. I was panicking.

I looked around the confines of the pod and found a read out that was apparently indicating our speed. Next to it was a pull switch with the symbol of an umbrella over it. Umbrella? Parachute! I pulled the switch. Nothing happened.

Then I noticed, some switches were lighted up and others were not. Perhaps I need to do something else? I wondered. I found another read out beside the switch, it seemed to be counting down our height. While the speed was climbing at a rate of knots, the height was coming down to zero – very quickly. It showed just around the thousand feet mark.

I kept pulling the parachute switch. Suddenly, I felt a tug. We went higher for a moment as the parachute deployed and slowed our descent. We floated around a bit and slowly descended just away from the gnarly mountains on a partially grassy plain. While we floated down, I tried to look around for other survivors from the ship. There seemed to be no other pods! Perhaps they had ejected much earlier and landed far away, I mused.

When we landed, and the cover of the pod shot off the sides. I gave it a minute and then got myself up and out of the pod. Gravity was okay and the air was breathable. I still had no idea where I was.

And, worse, I had no idea who I was. The pod’s surface was shiny and reflective. I caught a glimpse of myself on it. I seemed to be a man, a youth of about thirty. Surely, I should be able to remember more of who I was?

“Oh my god! Was that an alien spaceship!” I cried out aloud in horror, involuntarily looking upward at the debris still raining down. “I was abducted.” I deduced.

Giving myself a few minutes to calm down, I set about consolidating my state of affairs. I needed to survive. I rummaged around the pod, pushing buttons, pulling away stuff and throwing them out… trying to find things that would be useful to me.

I found a small satchel, and there were packets of food and water. There also was a medical kit. Each item was clearly labelled, but I could not understand what the letters meant. I stuffed all of it into the satchel. In one of the compartments there had been a few shiny objects. Some had lights blinking on them, some I could open, and it showed stuff. At the time, I had no idea what they were for, but I added all of them to my bag.

Looking around, I found a small hill just behind where the pod had landed. It seemed climbable. I tested out my limbs and stamina by doing a few slow laps around the pod. I seemed to be in reasonable shape. I decided I would go up the hill. I could get a better look around me and also look for other survivors from the ship. I decided to eat a little first and also try out some of the devices I had got from the pod. At least one of them should be useful!

One of them was shaped like a small compact. It flipped open and had a screen with concentric rings drawn on it. Each ring had a small marking on it. Numbers? Distance? I could not understand the number. All over the screen were pulsating dots of various shapes. Some dots stood alone while others were in clusters. I turned the device around the horizon and the dots changed. In some directions there were no dots at all. Maybe a device that showed me animals? People? Life forms?

Another one had a light that kept blinking at a slow rate but did not do anything else. I discarded it. A third device was shaped like an egg. It had a small pressable button on a side. Holding it away from me, I pressed the button. An energy beam shot out from the other end. I was holding it pointed at the pod and the beam hit the pod’s hull and the hull started to glow. I turned it off. The hull had considerably warmed up where the beam had hit it. Turning to a bush a little distance away, I shot the beam at it. The bush set on fire.

“Ah! A weapon!” I cried with joy. “This one, I’ll keep.”

Climbing was actually harder than I had thought. Maybe I was not in the best of shape. It was difficult to breathe as I went higher. But I made it as the sun crossed its zenith in the sky.

The trip was disappointing. I did not spot any more debris or survivors from the craft. Neither was I able to spot anyone else from the ship. In the distance, I could spot animals though. I could not make out what they were – I did not have a set of binoculars or sort of distance-viewing device. And there appeared to be a sort of a stream where the animals were. I found the locator device and pointed it at the animals and sure enough, dots! I turned around and found that the dots were showing me whether other forms of animal life were.

It took me lesser time to get down the hill. I headed for the relative safety and familiarity of where the pod was. I ate the cold dinner slowly. Since I was on a flat plane, there was no cave or other hideout I could fashion into a resting place. So, I turned the pod upside down and propped an end on a set of stout poles I found. Pulling up some brush vegetation and dry sticks, I used the energy beam to start a campfire. Lying down on the grass, I looked up at the night sky.

The stars looked familiar. I looked and found many of the stars and constellations I knew. Slowly, I drifted off into sleep. It was a dreamless sleep, but I slept soundly.

When I woke up the next morning, the sun was up quite high in the horizon. I calculated that my rations would not last very long. I needed to find sources of food and water. Today, I would explore in the direction of the stream I had seen yesterday. There seemed to be a small forest. Forest meant trees. Trees meant fruit. Food!

On my trek to the forest, I tried to imagine who I could be and how I had got here. Except for some vague memories that seemed to be from my childhood, I could not remember much else. Surely, I must have had a past? When I reached the edge of the forest, I sat down and ate a small breakfast from one of the packets and drank the last of my water.

There seemed to be no fruit-bearing trees in the part of the forest I crossed through. But I did spot a large stout tree that I could sleep atop of. The stream was immediately next to it. Gingerly, I bent down and tasted a drop with the tip of my tongue.

“Water!” I almost shouted out in joy. “And it is sweet!”

I did a small dance. Then, I lay down on the bank and drank heartily.

Sated and happy, I crossed the stream. It was only ankle deep.

There were more grassy plains on the other side. I strode across it. The animals I had spotted, had wandered away to a side. Adjusting course, I followed.

It must have been a couple of hours of walking. I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in front of me.

Spotted deer!

They had light brown, almost golden coats. Spotted, with white splotches. Antlers. These were spotted deer like I had seen on Earth! Trying not to make too much sound, I approached them. A few looked in my direction inquisitively. Their ears twitched. Then suddenly they up and bolted. They were gone.

I whipped out my compass thing and looked. They had gone away to the edges of where the device could ‘see’. I sighed with exasperation and sat down.

After resting a while, I got up and headed back toward the forest. I would climb up and sleep on a branch tonight, I resolved. Thankfully, I had my satchel of supplies with me.

I must have slept for a few hours. Suddenly, I started to feel cold. I opened my eyes and saw to my shock that I was no longer in the forest.

My head hurt. And there was an unceasing sound, it seemed to be far away, but it was urgent. I tried to dismiss it from my mind, but it insisted on being heard. I listened to see what it was. It was a two-tone sound, rising to a high pitch and falling into a low bass. I had heard it before. Somewhere.

“Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!” the two-tone siren called.

I tried to listen to it for a while, but the sound gave me a headache.

“Argh!” I put a finger in each ear to get the sound out of my head.

Two minutes… to auto destruct.” Came a disembodied female voice. It seemed to be everywhere.

Oh God! I thought to myself. I needed to get out of here. At once.

I wondered where I was. I was lying on some sort of a medical table. The room looked like a hospital room of some sort, there was medical equipment all around.

I swung off the table-bed I was lying on. As my feet hit the floor, it wobbled under my weight. I had been ‘out’ for quite some time, I thought. Just as I reached the door to the room I was in, a panel slid away with a slight hiss. It was a door. Advanced technology! I looked out. There was no one there. Just a loud repetitive metallic gnashing sound. And the loud two-tone beep.

To my right, at the end of the wall as it disappeared around the corner, I spotted something red winking on and off. I stumbled over. It was a giant red arrow pointing away from the direction I had come from. I found more such arrows. Following them, I ended up in a large room. There were four lighted pods, with seats in them. There were alcoves around the room that should have housed similar pods in them but did not anymore. Perhaps everyone else had left and forgotten about me.

“Who am I? Where am I?” I began to wonder.

One minute… to auto destruct.” Came the female voice again.

I had no time to stop and wonder, I decided, stepping into the pod next to me.

With a sudden hiss, I was ejected out of the ship. Suddenly there was a massive explosion and the things exploded all around me. A few pieces hit the pod I was in. Thankfully, the body of the pod seemed to be strong enough to withstand the shockwave and the hammering of the debris. The pod swung around, and I faced the direction we were heading to.

Falling to.

We were up in the sky, above a planet.

Below me was a vast body of water. I could not see a shore. I wondered if it was a large lake or worse, an ocean. Either option terrified me. I did not know to swim!

As we headed closer, I spotted a little lighted handle to a side within the pod. It had the image of a boat above it. I pulled it. There was a kick as a parachute flew out of the top of the pod and our descent slowed. As we floated down, I saw that the water had no waves on it.

“That’s strange”, I thought.

The pod then fell to the water slowly and turned upside down, so that I was lying on my back. The top of the pod opened slowly, and I found the pod had doubled into a floating boat. I had no idea where a shore was. So, I let the pod drift around.

Poking around the tight confines of the pod, I found a few small packets of what appeared to be food and water. I opened one and ate its meagre contents. Night came and I tried to look at the stars and imagine where I was. Many of the stars and constellations looked familiar. I drifted to sleep watching the stars and listening to the sounds of the water lapping at the pod. 

When I woke up the next morning, the pod had arrived at a shore.

It was a sandy beach. I dragged the pod deeper onto the land. When I was happier that it would not float away, I walked around trying to get a sense of where I was. Something beeped. I patted my pockets and found it was a small compact-shaped device. I had not seen it before. It was a metallic buff-white colour, completely opaque. A small light winked on one side, in tune to the beeping. I threw it away. I did not like things that beeped for no reason.

I hardly walked a few feet further when I spotted a monkey. He was just sitting there on the sand, eating something. As soon as he spotted me, he shot off into a tree above and started to shriek. I looked upward and saw that it was a giant mango tree, with a lot of mangoes hanging from the branches. Ignoring the monkey, I climbed up and harvested a few of the mangoes.

I ate a few of the mangoes. It did not taste at all. There was no taste.

“Are my taste-buds gone? Or is it the mangoes?” I wondered.

I looked up and saw the monkey was happily enjoying the mangoes. I shrugged.

Resuming my walk, I came to a small hill. It had a cave on a side. Grabbing a stout piece of a fallen branch from the ground, I headed in. The cave was empty. Thankfully.

It became dark quickly. I opened another packet and had a small meal. I figured out that one of the devices shot a beam of energy. I used it to warm up some rocks nearby. It provided a dim light and some warmth. Hoping no animals would come visiting, I drifted into a fitful sleep.

“Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!” An incessant sound woke me up. Without opening my eyes, I tried to identify it. It continued with the same two-tone wail. On and on. “Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!”

Rubbing my eyes, I sat up and patted around for the energy beam device. Instead, my hand found nothing. Not even the cave floor!

Startled, I opened my eyes.

I was no longer in the cave. I was on a table-bed of some sort. I looked around. Medical stuff. Equipment, medicines, operating theatre style lights up above. Cabinets stocked with medicines of all types line the walls.

“Doctor!” I called instinctively.

In the background the two-tone “Woo-Wah” continued.

There was a sizzling sound nearer me, and an apparition appeared.

“I am the doctor. State the nature of your medical emergency.”

I was surprised. The form looked human. But was a projected image. I dug through my memories to remember the word for it.

“You are a …” I stumbled for words.

“I am the Emergency Medical Hologram” It said, with a self-deprecating tone of voice. “Now, what is the nature of your medical emergency?”

I shook my head. Some of this was strangely familiar. Yet, I did not recall being here and doing these things before. But then, I could hardly even remember who I was, or what my name was!

The hologram stood silently but with clearly growing impatience.

“Please state the nature of your medical emergency.” It insisted.

“What is this place?” I asked.

“This is the Star ship Voyager.” He said flatly, then his confidence started to evaporate, and he said in a softer tone. “At least, I think. I don’t recall when I was last activated.”

Star Trek! I was confused. But this was no time to debate with a hologram why I was suddenly on a fictional spaceship from a TV show I had watched as a child.  

“Who am I? Do you know?” I asked it. “I don’t seem to recall my name.”

The hologram smirked with disgust and walked over to a panel behind me. I twisted around to face him. The holographic doctor worked at the panels and pulled up my information.

“You are a hologram too.” He said, with a voice of finality.

“WHAT!” I cried. I couldn’t be a hologram. I was a person.

“Yes, and this is a computer simulation. We, this room, all of it. We are all holograms.”

With that, the holographic doctor winked out of existence.

I still could not believe what the ‘doctor’ had told me. I jumped off the table.

Two minutes… to auto destruct.” Came a disembodied female voice. It seemed to be everywhere.

The Voyager was about to self-destruct? Oh my God!

I ran to the panel in the wall that looked like the door. It promptly hissed open. I looked out. There was no sign of the ship’s crew. Red lights blinked through the corridor. We were on Red Alert. I saw what looked like the obligatory computer interface panel on the wall. I walked unsteadily to it and touched it.

“Computer,” I said. “Where is Captain Janeway?” This should be amusing.

“Captain Janeway is not onboard the Star ship Voyager.” Came back the impassioned reply.

I swallowed hard and tried to think of someone who would be.

“Locate Ensign Harry Kim.” I said.

“Ensign Harry Kim, is not onboard the Star ship Voyager.”

I tried a few more names, but none of them were on the ship, it seemed. Finally, I asked, “Computer, where is the crew of this ship?”

“There is no crew on board the Star ship Voyager.”

That was odd, I thought. Or maybe this was the first episode of the series when the entire crew had been abducted by the Caretaker.

I asked the computer to point me to the bridge and a set of lights formed a wave like pattern guiding me. I followed it around the corner.

WHAM!

I ran into a solid obstruction. There was nothing there. But it felt like a wall. Was it an invisible wall? A forcefield? I wondered.

The doctor caught up with me.

“What are you doing?” He shouted at me. “You are meant to follow the arrows.”

“I know. But something told me not to.”

“That’s impossible.” The doctor said in disbelief.

I sat down at the wall. My legs crossed. I was not going anywhere.

Two minutes… to auto destruct.

I laughed.

Slowly the walls started to pixelate and disintegrate around me. The doctor vanished. I watched as my body started to pixelate and disappear. Finally, I saw nothing.

“Wake up!” Someone was jogging me awake.

Reluctantly, I roused myself and opened my eyes. Bright lights.

“Turn the lights down, will you?” The person that had woken me commanded.

The lights went down.

When my eyes accommodated, I saw the round circular light that is usually used in operating theatres. Aghast, I felt over my body and then heaved a sigh of relief. Thankfully I had not been in surgery. What was I doing here? Then, I panicked. Who was I? I couldn’t remember my name!

I sat up, a cold sweat running down my spine.

“Do you remember who you are?” The man asked. “Or where you are?”

I shook my head.

The man stepped up to the table. I could see that he was an elderly man with a balding head. He looked concerned and wise.

“Come.” He said. “I’ll walk you to your rooms. We can talk when you feel up to it.”

I swung off the table and followed him.

“What is my name?” I asked.

He told me.

A wave of relief erupted over me. I was thankful for finally remembering who I was. Memories came flooding back. Of course.

“Where is this place?” I asked him, next.

He turned to me and then his face clouded up. “You need to rest. We will talk about it in the morning.”

We had reached a suit of rooms. The door had a number on it. He opened the door for me.

“Good night.” He wished me and closed the door behind me.

I found the shower and took a long hot shower. When I was done, I changed into a set of pyjamas that hung in a nearby closet and jumped into bed. It was soft and welcoming.

“Ah!” I moaned in comfort.

I looked up. It was the ceiling of the room. There were no stars.

I tossed and turned all night. But I could not sleep. It must have been around the early hours of the morning when I finally fell asleep.

When I woke, I found light streaming into the room. It seemed to be like sunlight, but artificial. There seemed to be a distant sound. I could not identify it. Still in my night clothes and yawning, I stepped to the door and opened it. It was quiet. Then I heard it. It seemed far away, but the sound carried in the stillness of what was around me.

“Woo-Wah! Woo-Wah!” a two-toned siren.

The End

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