Future Shock

“Wake up.”

“Wake up.”

“I don’t think she’s survived.”

My eyes blink open, taking in the blur of blue, pink and black above me. The fuzzy shapes slowly merge into a face and body, black hair and pale blue clothing. The face seems a little surprised, although happy.

“She’s alive. 21st century cyro was better than I thought, maybe. Hey. Can you hear me?”

I nod.

“Good. So you can understand what I’m saying? If I remember my history lessons, you should be hearing English or Mandarin right now.”

It take a moment for me to realize the sound of the blur’s words aren’t coming from their mouth, but almost from the inside of my ear. I close my eyes to better concentrate on the person’s words.

“I can hear English”, I reply. “But whats happening to my hearing?”

“There’s a ryth-yk-is-tchn in your ear. Umm, I don’t think it’ll handle that word actually. I think the closest concept you may have is a ‘babel fish’. I speak nyth-en-Yth, and it translates it into late 21st century English so you can understand.”

“Right -“ I start thinking. “You talk in a diffrent language, and imply that 21st century English isn’t recent. So, I’m not in the 21st century, am I? What century am I in?”

“The 29th.”

“Ah. This isn’t going to be very simple, is it?”

“I’m afraid not. A couple of the others we woke from cyro-sleep… went uthr-ni-kr - umm, ‘time and culture shock’. The good news is, so far, that you seem to be handling it a lot better than they did.”

“Right. I’m getting up.” I reopen my eyes, and this time they quickly adjust. In front of me is a dark haired girl, wearing a pair of thin rimmed glasses and a light blue shirt. Beyond her, a small white box of a room, brightly lit but with no visible light source. I’m too busy wondering why I’ve just woken up from 8 centuries of cyro-sleep to take in more information about the room. I push forward, realising that all I can do is strain against the straps around my torso and limbs. “Can you take these off me?”

“I think so. You seem sane enough.”

She has something that looks like a ridgid peice of paper in her arms, upon which she uses her finger to click on it. The small chamber that contains me beeps, and the straps fold back - I realise that I’m in a chamber thats probably older than me - small patches of rust and streaks down the side indicating leaks. I hate to think about my own condition. One step forward, and another. And a third. After that, my legs decide that they don’t like having to move and ungracefully dump me on the floor in a messy pile of limbs.

The girl puts her paper in - I think that it just became part of the wall when she put it there - and leans down to pick me up. I’m lifted like a feather, and gently placed into something thats somewhere between a chair and a coccon. A plain white room, with this chair, a cyro chamber against one wall, a blue line that I assume marks the door on the opposite wall - I’m beginning to wonder if I’m inside a really advanced sci-fi sensie. I try and think about leaving, and the world stays solid around me. Maybe this is reality.

I look at the sheet that she placed on the wall. It’s covered in unreadable symbols, with the exception of an image - I think it might be me - and a phrase in english.

‘Helen Valentine’. I think that’s my name.

What do I mean, ‘I think it’s my name’ - of course it is. It’s hardly something you forget. I don’t think my brain is quite working. My thoughts are disconnected, I can’t plan or think. I just want to curl up into a ball and sleep — the ‘chair’ pulls up beneath me. Maybe I should have seen that coming. I mean, psychic chairs — who wouldn’t have guessed?