Awakening – Episode 2

In the strange waking dream it seemed I was in, it was like one of those nights where you drank too much, and went in and out of sleep as you attempted to quell the vertigo, and unstick the sheets from your skin.  This stifling and spinning flip-flop through semi-consciousness was odd to say the least. I couldn’t feel anything except occasionally introductions of sensation.  Sometimes pain… I could see flashes of blue light… Sometimes I swore I could see a sunset, or a room, or a person.  It was literally like a dream you have when you have a high fever, and your mind is just misfiring ideas left and right in a dreamlike coma.  Occasionally I had the lucidity to try to push outwards, but there was nothing there where I was.  I strange weightlessness encompassed these feelings… it was like a random flash of places, images, textures, smells, and sensations moving so quickly through my mind that I didn’t have time to absorb any one of them.  I was flailing in the darkness, unable to think clearly, unable to speak, unable to understand what was happening to me.  All I remember was the blue, warm, prickly sensation that permeated every single moment.  Oh, and, of course the smell of O-zone.

I couldn’t tell the passage of time, it just felt like an endless static fog in my mind.  And suddenly, I started to awake… The static began to dull.  I begin to feel a dull ache in my limbs, and my head… Kind of like someone tased the hell out of me.  There was a sense of slight numbness with it. I felt as if I was sliding.  Suddenly I felt something cold and wet at my toes, and I began to feel gravity again.  As I did the cold wetness seemed to seep up my feet and across my shins.  As gravity got stronger I felt my body slump down, where I was sitting on my feet, and back flipped backwards a bit as my knuckles touched the dampness.  The floating sensation ceased and my head bounces off something solid while my body in this awkward position.

My first breath… It hurts… The air is cool, and my sinuses burn of the O-zone present.  I smell moisture, what smells like the remnants of a campfire dosed in water, and other subtle earthy mold smells.  I can feel a draft blowing against my thigh as my skin begins to become less numb.  All my limps feel like they are awaking from sleep.  I begin to feel my body again, and I can start to move, if only subtly at first.  I can’t yet open my eyes.  i start to try to use my legs, folded the way they are to lift me to a sitting position, but all I do is succeed in doing is arching my back.  Now pushing down with my elbows against a nearly unbearably rough surface, I push my self forward slowly.  My eyes begin to open, but it’s dark.  Extending my arms I irk forward, and finally balance is met and I slouch forward.  I try to speak, “Hello”.  But I can’t seem to get the word out, “Hello, hello, is anyone out there”.  It’s little more than a few seldom squeaks and whispers.   “Ahhhhh,  ahhhh… Ohhhhhh…. EEEEEEE!”, I scream but little more than airy, wheezy sounds come out.

I hold my hand out in front of my face, and very blurry now I can see its fuzzy silhouette.  My vision is returning, I can see spots of light in the distance, and lots of tiny spots of light within them.  The place I am is very dark, but there seems to be wind blowing through this “structure”, and light coming through holes.  As my vision clears more I can see I am in what appears to be a room.  There is debris around, and the remnants of some kind of “bed-like frame” next to me.  It’s wet, and I can hear rain through the holes, sometimes the whistle of air traveling between them.  Leaning forward and getting on all fours, I crouch to check out a square object in the corner.  As I do, I feel the sharp and piercing sensation of something penetrating the skin in my hand.  I jerk my hand up to my face, and see a small sliver of glass dug into the heel of my hand near my thumb.  I sit back and scream, “FUCK SHIT!” as I pull the sliver out.  The subdued color of red in the darkness begins to pour from my hand.  The water from the puddle I am sitting in burns painfully in the wound.  “DAMN IT!”, I shout, and a sense of shock hits me as my voice finally chimes in, but it sounds “strange”.  “Hello”, I say, and at the sound I slap my hand over my mouth.  Even that feels strange, “What the hell is going on, what… What the crap… Holy shit, fuck… I, uh… Holy hell… Is this real, WHAT THE FUCK”…

Now stunned in silence I realize my voice sounds like a child’s voice.  And suddenly I look at my hands… They are so small.  Everything in the room, with my now cleared vision seems to be “bigger” in scale than I am.  I touch my face, and body… I feel soft, and small, underdeveloped.  In fact, my body is that of a child’s… “WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL IS GOING ON!”, I shout to myself when suddenly a noise in the distance startles me.  “Is anyone there?” I speak softly looking towards the doorway closest to the sound.  I hear the noise again, and then another banging sound, this time closer.  Then through the only apparent doorway I can see, I see the passing cone of a flashlight’s beam.  A feeling of dread has intensified in me, as I attempt to stand to find somewhere to hide, however, I can’t yet stand.  So I climb backwards out of the puddle up against the wall.  I see more flashlights now, as well as the beams of laser pointers streaking across the wall and burned out door-frame.  I hear the low murmur of male voices, and combat boot laden footsteps.  “Check here”, I hear one of the voices, muffled as though wearing a mask.  “Rodger, Alpha!” repeated back to him.  The flashlight beacons and lasers become affixed to the half-opened rickety door barely hanging from the frame.  I can’t breathe, I am beginning to panic.  One of the beams converges on the door more than the others, and with a “Hhhhhh!” scream from one of the men a foot comes forward and kicks the remnants of the door across the room “KRRRRRRRRTHAAAAAACK! THUD…. FLITRRRRPOP”.  I scream loudly, sounding like a little girl would, as the impact sends particles of material falling to the floor from the ceiling, and splinters of rusty metal onto my face.

Men in full-up SWAT like gear come bursting through the dust falling from the shattered door frame, and terror and fear clenches me tightly.  I can’t breathe and I am sliding myself up against the wall as much as humanly possible, flailing a bit.  “HOLD IT!  DON’T MOVE!  HOLD FIRE, MEN, HOLD!”, says one of the soldiers with different markings than the others.  Flashlights shining in my face make it hard to see anything other than their militaristic silhouettes, a few times I feel a laser hit my retinas.  My heart feels as though it’ll explode, and I am shaking so much that you can hear the tremble in my voice, “Don’t hurt me!”  The one with the blue markings reaches out his arm and pushes the barrels of the assault rifles towards the ground.  One man in the corner still has it pointed for a moment more before lowing it.  Dropping the weapon to his side on its sling, the man pulls a flashlight from his pocket.

“Stay back”, I say while kicking myself back to the wall.  As I kick I slide my foot across something cutting my foot causing painful squeal to come from my mouth…   The man points his flashlight at me, and he can tell that I am shaken.  The anxiety builds in me, until I feel this unbearable burning in my chest.  “GET AWAY FROM ME!”, I scream at the top of my lungs and as I do this green flame like energy erupts from my hands creating a wall of flames in front of me.  Shock takes hold, and the men raise their weapons and prepare to shoot.  “HOLD YOUR FIRE, HOLD YOUR FIRE!”, the man realizing they are green flames, says.  The men are hesitant, but they slowly lower their weapons.  The wall fades, and I stare at my hands covered in green flames… It doesn’t hurt… It’s not even hot… In fact, it feels good.  The wound on my hand is gone.  “I’m not going to hurt you, little girl”, he says to me.  Letting the flames fade and disappear, I turn up to him… “Excuse me?”, I say then quickly slap my hand over my mouth.  He looks a little befuddled by my response, and I tense up again realizing I was smarting off to men with guns.  I pull my hand away, and touch to check again, against my cheeks and body.  “This is real then?  What’s going on?  Where am I?  What am I?  What’s going on?  What happened to my body”, I ask the man quizzically.  Slapping his flashlight against the Velcro on his leg while shutting it off, he reaches toward me.

“Pardon me, ma’am!” he says putting both hands under my arms, around my ribs, then picking me up.  Now held up against his side in one arm like a child he hops to situate me where he can better hold me.  He doesn’t look like a big man, in fact, he is shorter than the other men, but he is more than 2 times my current height.  His uniform is rough and rigid of body armor, and covered in strips of soft felt for hook and pile fasteners.  It’s black with blue stripes, and all the other men are straight black.  I am wearing an over-sized set of hospital pajamas that are tattered, and burn hole riddled.  Pulling his breathing mask back, and his helmet with it, the man asks, “And who would you be?”

“Alira”, I said trembling against him.  “That’s a pretty name.  Do you know what year it is?”, he replies in a softer tone.  “2014, I think…  I am having trouble remembering…”, I say while trailing off.

Turning his face away from me towards the other men, “OPS CLEAR, we have found the target”.  Then speaking into his watch, “Control, TANGO-BAKER-TANGO in custody.  I repeat, TBT in custody.  It’s a girl, she appears to be between 5 and 7 years old, small stature, retrograded, and Class-3 TBT, over”.  A voice from the watch, “Rodger, ZETA Team, we copy you 5 by 5.  Sending a dust-off to your location.  Is the roof top still accessible, and the LZ clear?”  I can hear digital noise at the end of each transmission that stops after a second.  “Bravo, Is the LZ clear, and the pad still stable?”, the man says into a mic pressed against his neck.  I can hear a “Rodger” echo softly through his ear bud.  “CONTROL ZETA, the LZ is clear, and stable, send in the pick-up”, he than belches loudly into his watch.  “ZETA CONTROL, ETA 5 minutes, stay hot till dust-off’, the watch says as the man presses a red button and confirms the order.  The men with weapons now stowed carry me up to the roof.  We are on the top of a burned out hospital, and I recognize nothing in the skyline.  We are a few miles outside of an incredibly bright city in the distance.  We are in the middle of what looks like the ruins of a city.  Burned-out, destroyed buildings, and a few fire-lights doting the dark, sharp landscape in contrast to this amazingly brilliant city in the distance.  I’ve never seen buildings that tall before.  Structures and types unknown… I feel like I am watching a science fiction story unfold in front of me.  I see streams of flying lights going between the buildings and leading away from the city in various directions.  It’s sprinkling lightly, and the man is holding me while shielding his eyes to search the skies.

A bright blue flashing light departs one of the streams and heads towards us.  As it gets closer a bright white like turns on.  I can hear a whistle coming closer, which as it gets near sounds like the noise of a jet turbine.  Turning it’s light away as if searching, the craft approaches, it looks like a large wedge-shaped car with two stationary jet engines mounted on the side in orbital sockets.  The blue lights are like the lights of a cop car on the top.  It’s landing struts extend, and they have tiny wheels on them.  The vehicle is the size of a station wagon.  The 5 man team climbs in, the man carrying me last.  He sits me inside first, climbs in then fastens a seat belt around me and him.  The craft takes off, as I stare at the city through the slightly blurry window only stopping to watch the wipers clear it clean.  I can hear a police radio in the front seat that is petitioned off by glass.  The vehicle has two front seats with a strange-looking computer, then two more rows of seats behind it and an iron-barred area behind the last row.  I sigh and look up at the man, “This is so cliché, you know that?”

“Cli-what?  What are you talking about, little girl?  Sorry, ma’am”, he says.  “Cliché”, I repeat again, “You know, something that is well…. Never-mind…”

I look out the window around him as the craft banks and I can see the building we were at… It looks like a burned out version of the hospital I was in.  “What the fucking hell!”, now with a firm sense of shock taking over.  “What year is it”, I ask as he responds, “It’ll all make sense in a few hours, but for now I am restricted from discussing any more information with you.  If you’ll please be patient all will be explained.”  “By the way, my name is Patrick, Sergent Patrick.  I am the commander of TBT team Zeta”, he says looking down at me intently.  “Sorry that we frightened you, but all the gear and weapons is for our protection as much as it is for yours”, he continues, “We got your signal and we came out to get you.  Everything will be okay now though, we’d only shoot if you proved to be dangerous.  I’m glad that wasn’t the case.  We lost 2 men last week because that wasn’t the case.  You should feel blessed by Mother Mary that we found you first.”    I look down at an emblem on his shirt… It looks like a Catholic Cross with Army ranks across the top.  “Mother Mary”, I ask really confused with a sense of dread about his statements.  “We’re almost at our destination, you’ll be allowed to make… I mean, retrain anything that you lost.  Memory loss is quite common in a case like yours.  There is nothing to fear, God will watch over you”, he says only deepening my sense of dread.  “Prepare to disembark”, says the pilot from the front seat as the man points forward.  There is a gigantic building lit up like stained glass in front of us.  It looks like one of the great Gothic cathedrals of the world merged with a few skyscrapers, while on top of another.  It’s a huge structure, adorned with religious artifacts galore.  If I wasn’t scared before, I certainly am now.  Me and religion have a tragic history…

Fear turns to horror as I think about the reversion of my body… Slowly, without anyone noticing I reach between my legs pressing the tattered, over-sized pajamas down over my crotch… Nothing is there… I let out a silent sigh of relief.  A moment later, I see a big steel and stained glass adorned door in front of the craft and I feel the sudden jolt of touch down.  All but Sgt. Patrick burst our of the doors, and run into the building.  It’s raining harder now, and there is lightning which startles me.   Patrick helps me out and I attempt to stand and walk on my own, but I can’t.  As I am falling he grabs me by the arm and yanks me up and cradles me in his arms.  I am getting soaked by rain as he trots inside with me to the sound of his helmet, gun and mask banging together against his side.  From under the over hang I open my eyes and this place looks like a church/hospital.  He carries me inside, now walking.  “Room 3”, shouts a strange-looking man in a white medical suit and mask at the counter.  He sets me down in a medical bed, and a nurse immediately comes it to check me out with a towel and fresh garments.  “Could you please leave us, Patrick”, the nurse says.  “Don’t forget about dinner”, he harps scowling at her.  She playfully kicks the back of is calf with her foot, “Get out, we can talk about this later”.  “Fine, fine”, he says.  “Look Alira, she’ll take good care of you.  You’ll be fine”, he assures me with a mischievous smirk crossing his face, “but don’t let her cook dinner for you, it’ll kill you”.  He chuckles as she stares at him head-cocked to the side with her hands on her hips.  She shoos him out of the room, and returns to the blood pressure cuff and strange cordless stethoscope.

“Hmm, your pulse is a little slow.  And your blood pressure is too low.  Considering your frame, I’d say that you were 7 years old, and it’s still low for that. However, your color is good, and your vitals are strong.  Show me your tempest”, she says.  “Tempest?”, I reply with furrowed brow.  “Your power.  They wouldn’t have brought you here unless they thought you were a cleric candidate”, she chimes with arms crossed.  “Oh, you mean this”, I say igniting both of my entire arms in that green flame.  “Oh, holy mother!”, she blurts while taking a step back, “Hold that right there.”  She runs a piece of paper through the flames, but it doesn’t burn, “Well, that explains the blood pressure, and pulse.  Your body is producing a tremendous amount of healing energy, and thus it doesn’t have to work as hard to provide for your tiny body.”  “About that…. What is going on? What year is it?  What happened to me, what is this?”, you explain exasperated holding your green flaming hands out at her, then extinguishing them.  She looks off to the side, “Well, uh… I am not permitted to discuss that with you without the presence of a member of the Dioceses with an X-2 rank or higher.”  She stutters a little as a clergy man pops through the curtain behind both of us.  I am still partly naked and pull the covers up over me.

“Arch Bishop Francis, you scared the ghost out of me”, she say to him sternly.  Putting his hands together, with a look on his face like a dirty car sales man about to make a sale, he says, “Forgive me, sister.  I do not mean to fright.  I hear we have reasons to rejoice a blessing this night?”

She points to me gesturing with her eyes that I should show him, so I hold up my left hand and make the flames appear.  “Excellent”, he says with the air of a dubious arch nemesis out of some Japanese anime.  “How long has she been out of the breach to have such a brilliant flame?” he asks with his hands formed as if to pray now.  “Total… it would appear to be about 30 minutes total”, she says as the Francis stops dead in his tracks and shows a look of concern.  “How can this be?”, now rattling around his hand in his inside pocket then pulling out a PDA.  “Honestly, I don’t know.  According to the report from Jenkins, they responded to a TBT event on a sudden ad hoc basis.  At the epicenter they found her, and she has all the signs of Blue Tempest breach lag, or deficiency in physical functions that tends to follow a breach”, says the Nurse with a firm confident tone.  She takes her digital clipboard and presses it up against her breast and turns towards the Arch Bishop.  She takes a few steps back towards the bedside seeking shelter from his piercing glare.  He approaches her and rubs her shoulder in a creepy way, “Not that it matters, but it’s highly… irregular.  We’ll want to get her into the academy as soon as possible.  She looks physically as if she is near the cut-off, so the sooner the better.  I look forward to your report on this matter.”  He smirks at her as she closes her arms across her chest even more, then he walks away.  After he leaves, she lets out a sigh.  “This place scares me”, I mumble, and she accidentally hears.  She presses her lips together while breathing deeply and caresses my hair… It’s… strangely calming.  “Feel better now?”, she inquires.

“Yes… What did you do?”, I ask back calmly.  She holds out her hand and I can see small green flames billowing from her fingertips, “I’m a healer too, though I am nowhere near on par with you.  I’m also a lot older, which has something to do with it.”  I reach out my hand to gesture that she let me touch her face, and she leans in.  I ignite my right hand and touch her face, and while it’s touching her the flames seem to flow into her skin.  I can feel the tension in her face melt away, and the clamminess of it from light perspiration.  Her skin warms and dries, and I can see a scar on her cheek glowing, and then it just disappears.  “Wha… “, I say now pulling my hand away to see her now smiling warmly.  “You had a scar on your cheek, and now it’s gone”, I continue.  Her brow crinkles and she rears her head back a little while looking at me.  She then looks around through her pockets, the drawer next to me, and then spots a mirror on the wall next to and below the advanced looking medical machines over my head.  “You’re right… Is that even possible… I’ve never seen anything… Like…”, she stops suddenly to look around for other scars, “Good Lord, all my scars are gone.  I can’t find any of the normally noticeable ones, and the sunspots on my skin are also gone.  What in the world are you, kiddo?”  “I’m 32 years old”, I say defensively.

“So you remember that much, eh?  Well, you aren’t 32 years old anymore.  Physically you are 7 based on the decay rate of the particles in your tissue.  As for the rest…. (she sighs)… Okay, I’m going to let you in on a little secret… The Arch Bishop left already, and he was supposed to be here for this…. But, you are actually over 150 years old, technically…  The year is 2133, and you are what we call an angel class cleric.   Which means you were taken by The Rapture, and have been supposedly returned to Earth by God to reinforce the 1000 years of peace he promised to us in the holy texts.”

“A what…  But I am a…”, you stop abruptly.  ‘I can’t tell anyone about that’, thoughts racing,  ‘Either about being an atheist, or anything really’, you think to yourself.  “How…  Wha…”, you shake your head in dumbfounded confusion.  “We don’t know anything about it, it’s only by the graces of God, ‘supposedly’, that we had a prophet come to tell us about Gods plan.  You are ‘apparently’ a part of that plan”, she adds and is then interrupted by you, “You seem to have trouble believing that, if you ask me.”  Leaning over me with dismay on her face, her hand over my mouth and her pointed finger over her lips, “Shhhh, be careful about who you say that to.  It can cause…. Problems…  Please, just don’t do it”, she pleads.  She is shaking a little, and looks very concerned.  You touch her face again with the green flames, and the warm smile comes back to her face.  “Thanks”, she says while rubbing your head.  I sit there thinking to myself, and I can’t help but be concerned about what I’ve heard and seen.  I feel disembodied by the shock of today’s events, and my head is spinning a little.  She helps me pull my shirt over my head now.  Suddenly and abruptly the men with white contamination suits come into my room and through the curtains with a strange-looking gun-like device.  You can hear them breathing through the re-breathers, and they quickly place the gun again your arm.  You hear a pop of air, and feel a sharp pain in your arm.  It happened so fast, that I didn’t know what to do.  “Leave please, sister”, one of the women in those suits says.

“What did you give me”, said as I start to lose consciousness.  The nurse makes you feel safe, but these people in suits scare you to the core.  The nurse is being pulled out of the room by one of the men, and you reach out to her for comfort and safety.  She looks back at you as your vision blurs and you go to sleep.  As your thoughts fade, you wonder why it is that everything seems to be so out of your hands, and why every change in this bizarre event seems to involve you being unconscious, or made so.

You awake hours, maybe days later, in a dim, candle-lit room that looks like the inside of an old-time Catholic Church.  You only awake because of the sound of a metal cart slamming against the door to your room.  “Ah, you’re awake!”, says the nurse as she turns on the light by your bed.  Still groggy you can’t say much of anything, “I’ll get your food for you.”  She bends over and starts rustling through her cart, grabbing a few items and placing them on a metal tray almost gently enough that you can’t hear them.  She rolls the tray over to you, with a plate of rather standard looking hospital food on top.   With a swift grunt she pulls a tray table up from the side of your bed, and flattens it out over your body.  Pressing a button on your bedside the servos activate lifting the head of the bed so that you are in a sitting position.  “Here drink this…”, she says handing me a greenish 8 oz, plastic cup of some sort of green drink.  Placing it in my hand she pulls the aluminum sealed lid off the top, “Drink all of it, otherwise I can’t let you eat yet.”  You drink the concoction, and it tastes a little like apple juice and a sports drink.  “Your electrolytes are still too low, otherwise I’d let you pick what you wanted to drink”, she says while setting the tray in front of me.  She grabs another green drink and sets it on my tray after removing the top.  Reaching out, she pulls this strange diamond-shaped adhesive dot off my forehead, and it is still glowing.

“You are remarkable.  I’ve never seen a BTTG come out this brightly.  You can still see it glowing, even when I pulled it off while you were sleeping.  It was like a damned nightlight in here when I came to check on it”, she chuckles to me.  “Glowfly”, she says while looking at me with a content, warm smile, “That’s your new nickname.  Oh, by the way… My name is Danielle.”  “My name is Alira”, you say as she smiles and pets your hair again.  “You know, you’re older than me, so I guess I shouldn’t be treating you like a child… But you’re so damned cute”, she insists still petting you.  You just smile and sigh at her.  You hand her the empty drink container, and she tosses it in a chute by the bed.  The food is bland, as some no-sodium food is.  The only good part was the drink, the gelatin, and the corn.   As the food hits your stomach it’s as if you haven’t eaten in a century… Which is well… partly true.  Oh, the dinner roll was amazing as well, might I add.  But then again, I’ve always had a thing for bread, almost any kind… Well as long as it was soft and squishy in my mouth.  I could practically live off the stuff.  Having a full stomach now it becomes apparent that the drugs are still in your system.  You see a shadowy form pass the blinds over your window, and enter your room.  A man who looks like a pastor, with long garbs is standing at the foot of your bed looking imposing.  He has a cross around his neck, and a bible tucked under his folded hands.  He doesn’t look mean, but that feeling of dread comes over you again…  The smell reminiscent of a church billows through your door, and you can’t help but wonder to yourself, ‘will this ever end, please, if this is a dream let me wake up’.