We left Jerry on the Bridge and stopped by the Med-Bay to pick up our new feline friend who has been diagnosed with a bronchial infection. Zap-Zap is now in charge of making sure that he gets his meds and Dr. Sophia said both of us should be feeling better in a few weeks. I hope she’s right about that because I’m really tired of feeling like I just fell down a flight of stairs. Keep going, that’s what you do, everything now is just a survival game show where crossing the room sometimes feels like forever. Caught in a quicksand no one can see. Deep in the slow time.
The elevator ride back to the Bio-Lab was quiet. My mind was racing with all manner of insane questions that were too much work to say out loud. A tiny cat is curled up on my shoulder and I’ve got a handful of mysterious burrito that is starting to smell pretty good. It’s all too much to process. Hell, I had too much to process before ever I woke up here, this is just the icing on an insane cake baked by strange gods with ingredients taken from a jar labeled “Property of Pandora”. If this is all just occurring in my mind then what does that say about the state of my mind? But if this is really happening then everything I thought I knew about how the world works was possibly a delusion anyway. The whooshing door brings a momentary peace to the maelstrom in my mind.
“You are starting to look a little pale. Let’s get you settled into your new cabin. It just on the other side of the stream and a few minutes down the path on the right,” said Ensign Cole who looked more than a little worried as we crossed the stone path in the stream.
Good thing it was a short trip because things were getting a little fuzzy as we reached the top of a short rise overlooking the stream. On top of that rise sits a dark green futuristic looking bungalow. It was barely visible in the trees as the color blended perfectly with the background foliage. Huge windows face the stream which now looks more like a river and a wonderful symphony of rare bird songs and falling water play around us. There is a strange magic to this place. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is an electricity in the air that dances around you, just out of reach. Whispers in the wind, unheard, yet comprehended in curious new ways. A door slides open silently in front of us.
“No whooshing? This has got to be the only quiet door in the whole place so far,” I said amazed.
“This used to be a door that dinged, not whooshed, the doors that dinged were replaced with whooshing ones after everyone complained about the dinging. The whooshing tested more positively in most focus groups. I disabled the dinging mechanism in that one myself. Ghastly bit of business with all that dinging,” said Cole shaking his head as we proceeded inside. “You two should have everything you need here. I’ve got to head back to the lab and check on something. I’ll have a rocketbike sent over to you later today. There is a new meditation headset prototype we are working on next to your bed. Give it a try and let me know what happens. Might help you find some answers.”
He turned around and left the building before I could ask more questions. Any deep thoughts I was going to have about door mechanisms were wiped away as I turned the corner into what appeared to be the kitchen. Placed neatly on the table is a slice of cherry pie, a hot cup of coffee, and a bowl of cat food with the words “Shadow” printed on it. I set the kitten down next to the bowl and pull up a chair. It feels good to finally sit down again. Every part of my body is screaming stop at this point. As the warmth of the coffee begins to spread through me I recognize Zap-Zap’s handy work. Another damn fine cup of coffee.
“Might be a good name for you,” I said to my new feline friend while pointing at the name on the bowl. He turned to look at me, squawked like a bird in approval, and went right back to consuming cat food at an alarming rate. “Nice to meet you Shadow, maybe you can help me find my name.” He let out another one of those strange squawks and began heading for the burrito as the bowl of food was already empty. Picking up the burrito I began to unwrap it while Shadow watches with his glowing yellow eyes and an intensity that was a little unnerving. It suddenly felt unsafe to be between him and the burrito. I broke off the end of it and tossed it into his bowl which got me another squawk before he attacked the bowl. What a strange cat.
My first bite of the burrito was both delicious and terrifying. Fried chicken, bacon, praline sauce…..and waffles. Panic-stricken trembling hands began rifling through the file drawers of the mind trying to remember exactly what happened when I was talking to Jerry. How could this have happened so quickly? And the pie, did I talk to someone about pie? Everything is just so fuzzy and difficult to locate in there and some of the drawers are missing. It’s like someone has installed a curtain on my mind or scrambled the signals somehow. I hope they can help me fix my brain. It was a very odd meal but Shadow and I finished the burrito and the pie. The only thing stranger than the origins of the meal was Shadow’s ability to consume it. It’s not really clear where he put it all.
I sat him on the floor and we wandered around our new digs for a few minutes. The view of the river from the large windows is awe inspiring. Someone must have spent a lot of time here because everything seems to have been perfectly placed. There is a sort of futuristic zen vibe to it. Pillows which look they are for meditation are placed in front of the windows. A very large library of books which I would assume is not so common in this time. We found a piano and some guitars along with what appeared to be a home theater room. It was perfect, almost too perfect, but I’m not going to let that ruin it for me. Just go with the flow I tell myself. It sure beats a hospital bed.
Shadow and I rounded the corner into the bedroom just as the vertigo was starting to get hold of me again. I laid down on the bed while I still could and let it enfold me. Shadow let out another squawk and then I could feel him climbing up the side of the bed. He climbed up onto my chest, bit me gently on the chin, and then immediately fell asleep. I can see the meditation headset prototype that Cole was talking about sitting on the side table and I reach over to grab it. Its compact frame is made of a thin, flexible metal with small electrodes that rest on the forehead along with what look like earplugs. I place it on my head and position the earplugs. A slight buzzing can now be heard. I wonder how this thing works……..