You Will be Dead in Two Days
“You will be dead in two days,” declared one of the Eight. “You are not one of the five hundred eighty five the planet has chosen.”
“Sorry. You must realize that I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t know anything about this five hundred eighty five stuff,” I replied.
“The planet chose five hundred eighty five human inhabitants. You are not one of them.”
“That, sirs, should prove to you that the planet did not choose five hundred eighty five, if I make five hundred eighty six. I assure you that I am quite alive and that I am more than two days old.”
My statement appeared to perplex the Eight. They whispered among themselves for a few minutes, then one of them spoke.
“You said you woke up in a stasis chamber just yesterday. Correct?”
“Not exactly,” I answered. “I woke up probably four or five days ago. After I woke up, I had to figure out what had happened to everyone else. The people in the laboratory had all disappeared. I was unable to reach anyone by any means of communication. The entire world seemed to have gone silent. What happened to everyone?” I asked.
“The planet selected five hundred eighty five people. Everyone else died.”
“Well, I’ve been here all along, so the planet can’t count. Why did you think there were just five hundred eighty five? Is that some sort of magic number?”
“We don’t know anything about it being a magic number. As we understand it, that is the number of people needed to maintain the necessary diversity in the human race.”
“Who told you that?” I asked.
“The Supre….” One of the Eight began to answer, but trailed off in the middle of the second word. “Our scientists have determined that is the optimal number,” he continued.
“Your scientists?” I asked. “Are they the ones who killed off the billions of people who were living on the planet the day I entered the stasis chamber?”
How Long Were You There?
“How long do you figure you were in that chamber?” asked one of the Eight.
“Remember? I already told you I don’t know. But maybe we can figure it out together. Obviously I entered the chamber before everyone else died. When did that happen?”
“People began dying three years, four months and thirteen days ago,” replied the man sitting next to me at the head of the table.
“Everyone on the planet with the exception of the five hundred eighty five who remain died within approximately a three month period,” chimed in another of the Eight.
“Just curious, but what did they die of?” I asked.
“At first we all thought it was some sort of virus, maybe a virus that had lain dormant in some African jungle for a thousand years. Whatever it was, and no one ever figured it out, it acted very quickly. No one ever lived more than a few hours after they started showing symptoms,” said the man seated next to me.
“Our scientists tell us it was some sort of process of natural selection. Apparently the human race had some sort of inbred weakness, but now has preserved itself by eliminating all of the weak links,” added another of the Eight. “That leaves you and where you fit into all of this. You said that together we would figure out how long you were in that cave.”
“Right,” I answered. “You said that people began dying three years, four months and thirteen days ago. The records I found when I woke up showed that the researchers monitored me in the stasis chamber for six days. Then the records abruptly ended. I’m guessing this plague of yours came along and everyone in the laboratory ran for home. So I’m guessing I was in the stasis chamber about three years, four months and nineteen days.”
“How long were you supposed to be in there?”
“Fifteen days,” I replied.
“What woke you up?”
“I have no idea. I just woke up.”
“How did you get out of the chamber?”
“There was a fail safe on the inside so that if I did wake up I could open it from the inside and get out.”
Why Were You in Stasis?
“Why were you placed in a stasis chamber? What was the purpose?”
“Medical research of sorts. They had the idea that if humans could be placed in a state that basically amounted to suspended animation, maybe the cure for the terminal disease they had would be discovered while they were in the chamber. Then they could be woke up and their disease cured. It was similar to the previous idea of freezing people when they died so they could later be thawed out and cured after the cure for their disease had been discovered, although that idea never worked.”
“Why have we never heard of this stasis chamber research?” asked one of the Eight.
“Probably because it was a new thing. Since everyone else is dead, I guess I can tell you that it was really a business venture by a medical research company. If they could show that they could place a terminally ill person into suspension for a prolonged period of time, they figured that there were certain people who could afford a hefty price tag to be kept suspended until a cure for their disease could presumably be found.”
“How long could someone supposedly be suspended?”
“They didn’t know. Before me, they had one guy partially suspended for a couple of days. If they could suspend me for fifteen days, then they planned to try someone for maybe a month, maybe three months.”
“Why were you selected to be suspended?”
“It was a paid gig. They decided I was in excellent physical condition and I needed the money. I guess that’s a paycheck I’ll never collect. Too bad. They owe me for almost three and one half years instead of for fifteen days.”
Where Have You Been?
“If you woke up four or five days ago, where have you been? You didn’t show up in Our Destiny until yesterday afternoon?”
“I figure it took me a few hours to completely wake up. I was in a cave. The lights had gone out. I was in total darkness. I freaked out, like maybe I was dead or something.
“After I got out of the stasis chamber, I had to feel my way around the lab in total darkness. I finally found a working flashlight. Then I found an emergency generator and figured out how to turn it on.”
“If there were no working generators, what kept you alive in that chamber?”
“I wondered that too. My guess is that there was some sort of generator keeping me alive. It finally quit and I woke up. They never told me before I entered the chamber what the power source was. I didn’t try to find it when I got out.
“I wanted to find out where the people had gone. I found several computers, but most of them were filled with technical stuff. I couldn’t make any of them connect to the internet. I couldn’t find any phones. Is there still an internet?”
“No,” one of the Eight replied. “There is no need. So what did you do?”
“Well, the elevator didn’t work, but I found a pitch black stairwell. Thank goodness my flashlight still worked and the stairwell went up to the surface and I got out of there.”
“Where is the place?” asked on of the Eight. We don’t know that place.”
“Not too far from here, but I’m not sure exactly where. When they took me there, we traveled in a four-wheel drive over not much more than a hiking trail. When I got out of the cave, it was night.”
“You walked out?”
“Yes, there was no other way.”
“On a road?”
“No. It was dark. I couldn’t even find the hiking trail or whatever it was that we drove there on. I walked off the mountain and through the forest. When it started to get daylight, I was off the mountain and out of the woods. I laid down and slept awhile.”
“Where were you?”
“In a fairly flat open area. No trees. Just grass. It looked to me like it should have been a field of vegetables, but there was only grass.
“I walked most of that day and the next, zig-zagging around looking for some sign of civilization, but couldn’t find any. I slept in the grass. When I woke up yesterday I walked some more and found the road that passes by the front of this place.”
Why Did You Come Here?
“Why did you head this direction?” asked one of the Eight.
“I had to pick one direction or the other to go.”
“You headed toward the mountains. Were you trying to get back to your underground laboratory?”
“No, not yet anyway. I was just hoping to find people. I didn’t have a plan for where to go if I didn’t find anyone.”
“Do you think your laboratory is in the mountains you were headed toward?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. I didn’t see any mountains in the other direction. But I wasn’t planning to look for it just yet. I was looking for people.”
“You’re telling us you’ve been outdoors three nights and two full days and today is your third day?”
“Extremely improbable. Then again, everything about you is extremely improbable,” commented the man sitting next to me.
Once again, the Eight whispered among themselves for a few minutes. Then the man sitting next to me, apparently their leader, chairman, or whatever spoke.
“If you will excuse us for a few minutes, we will adjourn to private conference to decide what to do with you. You have presented us with a significant problem.”
At that, the group rose up, the door in the wall opened and they filed out of the room, leaving me alone.
I wonder if they bought one word of what I said. I hope so. I’d really like to find out what happened to the rest of the people on the planet. Should I stay here, or try to get out of here while I’m alone? Are these the people who will be my friends or are they planning to kill me? The man on the rock told me to be careful.