Waking up while afloat in mid-air.
That was the least bizarre thing to happen to Zade when he woke up.
What the heck? He thought after opening his eyes. His body felt as light as feathers. His gaze was pointed towards a ceiling of sorts, lit bright with florescent white lights.
A redolent aroma filled the calm atmosphere, which Zade could only compare to the scent of…
Pain flared up behind his eyes as he felt his brain trying to connect missing dots. Zade was familiar with the scent. He just couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
Slowly getting up, he rubbed his groggy eyes. Until that point, he noticed nothing strange. However, as he lay his hand to rest next to his legs, he failed to feel anything solid. Thinking that he was still sleepy, he pressed deeper, only to find his hands sink below his body.
“Huh?” Zade slowly looked down. A feet or so below, was a porcelain floor that was cream-ish hue, and a strange pattern of sixteen small spheres that glowed white. Between the floor and him, there was nothing else.
“Whoa!” He exclaimed. Blinking hard, he pushed himself a bit to the right, only to fall off. Zade didn’t even register the pain as he brought himself into a kneeling position next to the strange pattern. Apprehensive at first, he slowly extended his hands towards the dots, only to be blocked by an invisible force.
Zade wondered if he was still dreaming, or perhaps he had suffered too many injuries. There was no way this was real. Slowly, he got up. Zade noticed that he was wearing a simple pair of dark grey lowers and a modest white t-shirt. The fabric felt soft on his skin.
Around him, in a radius of a couple of meters, a short wall made of frosted glass formed a cubicle.
Next to his invisible bed, several pieces of machinery lay motionless, all bearing a peculiar insignia imprinted on the mainframes, consisting of a tilted V with a pair of crossing swords on the vertex of the small end of the letter.
The technology seemed a bit…off. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was, but he was sure that he had never seen this kind of high key equipment in his life. The panel was an intricate arrangement of orbs of neon hues as well, similar to that on the floor. Zade apprehensively placed his finger on the blue orb to the far left. Instantly, it started blinking rapidly.
Uh oh, Zade thought. He tried touching a few of the other orbs as well, but it only succeeded in activating literally everything in the small cubicle. Finding himself stuck in the conundrum, Zade could only hope that he didn’t activate anything that could accidently kill him. Though, looking at the various assortment of instruments that cropped up, from a laser beam that scanned him thoroughly, to the restraining pad that flung itself onto the invisible bed, he figured nothing really lethal was there to begin with.
“Authorization code, SH001,” The voice startled Zade so bad, he almost leapt away, falling onto the invisible bed. The source of the voice was a man that had been standing behind him. Distinguished and tall, he calmly grabbed hold of the restraining belt that was flying amok the place. “Code: Deactivate!”
Instantly, everything receded to where it came from. The machinery disbanded, going back into the openings in the floor.
The man adjusted his lab coat, wearing a slightly amused smile on his face. His salt and pepper hair suited his otherwise calm, professional appearance.
“How are you feeling, now?” His voice was deep and comforting. Zade looked at the man, then at his surroundings. “What the hell was that? Who are you? What is this place?”
“Retrograde amnesia,” The person held a translucent screen in his palm. Zade did a double take on the man’s words. “What did you say?” He remembered the helplessness he had felt when he was out there in the cold desert. No memory, except his name.
“Retrograde amnesia,” The doctor, as Zade figured he was, repeated. “Are you willing to help me conduct a quick test?”
Zade looked at him with an annoyed expression. “Who-“
“Am I?” The doctor stole his question, which made him even more pissed off. “I am Dr. Sycamore Hastings. What is your name, son?”
“Zade,” He replied, and pulled himself to his feet.
Sycamore extended his hand for Zade to shake, which he did. “Now, let’s start with basic stuff. What is three hundred and eighty nine plus two hundred and twenty two?”
“Six hundred and eleven?” Zade answered instantly, after which he blinked twice. “Whoa.”
“Not bad,” Sycamore smiled. Zade shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. “Please don’t make me do math right now,” He added, “I’m seriously not in the-”
“Sixty eight times thirty two?” The doctor interrupted. Zade thought for a second. Then, “Two thousand one hundred and seventy six…stop it!”
The doctor chuckled. “I’m sorry. I was just having some fun. Now, can you try and walk in the path that resembles the number eight?” Zade looked at his feet, and started walking, trying to form an eight as properly as possible.
“Autolog, register new entry to patient index. Name, Zade.” Sycamore spoke out loud, and Zade walked up to him. Taking a look at the screen in the doctor’s hands, he saw a string of letters and numbers flashing around the edges. The screen itself was entirely composed of light, woven into an organized array by what Zade guessed where light emitting diodes in the edges of the screen.
It resembled a touch-screen tablet, yet…It was so much more advanced.
“Follow me, boy.” Sycamore motioned. He walked straight into the wall, and before Zade could warn him that he was going to collide, the glass parted, and a small opening appeared, wide enough to let one person fit comfortably through it.
Zade hurried after the doctor before the opening could vanish. As he walked out, he emerged into a massive hall with at least a hundred other cubicles similar to his.
“Um, what?” Zade muttered as a barely visible stretcher flew past him, carrying a patient on its own. The doctor looked back. “Does the technology surprise you?”
“Yeah, it’s strange, almost as if it’s my first time seeing it.” Zade began feeling a little entranced. Everything looked so systematic, so unique. He wondered how he had lost his memory, but hoped he could start regaining it soon, because this was stuff he didn’t want to let be forgotten.
The intricate patterns of neon blue lights ran across the floor, around the cubicles in hexagons, matching beautifully with the stark white backdrop.
He followed the doctor out of the gigantic hallway, emerging into a corridor made out of marble of glass. As Zade looked out of the window, he found that he was several hundred meters above the ground. The corridor itself was a connecting passage between two ginormous buildings.
As far as his eyes could see, the land was filled with towering structures. The sky was stormy with dark clouds looming overhead, and the sleet was slightly fogging up the windows.
“Quite the view, huh?” The doctor, too, had a mesmerized look on his face. “I’ve been working in this hospital for the past seventeen years, yet when I walk through this hall, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by this majestic sight.” He breathed in the cold air, “I like it this way. Now, let’s not waste any more time, shall we?”
Zade solemnly nodded, and trailed behind Sycamore, as they walked through a vast door, with a holographic signboard above it, displaying ‘HOSPITAL WING 2’. The second building was a lot less spacious compared to the previous one, yet on its own, it was respectably sizable.
A woman sat at a receptionists’ desk, who greeted Sycamore with a simple nod. Feeling compelled, Zade bowed at her, but the woman gave him a blank look, as if she didn’t even notice his gesture.
Zade couldn’t help but feel weird. Deciding it was not worth his time to probe into it, he quickly caught up with Sycamore, who was standing in front of some sort of an open platform that protruded from the main floor, and was enshrouded within a glass covering, from where Zade could once again the scenic landscape outside.
“Bot-nine,” Sycamore spoke up, “Requesting descent to level six. Room: Physio therapeutic Analysis. Authority Level: Senior, Hastings.”
The woman at the reception desk tapped a few commands into one of those transparent screens, before saying in a feminine, yet emotionless voice, “Access granted. Kindly wait before the elevator pad is ready.”
Sycamore looked at the platform before him, and Zade waited impatiently. Just as he was about to ask what was going on, the platform lit up with purple lights around its perimeter. Sycamore stepped onto it, and he followed.
“Do you have any issues regarding vertigo, young man?” The doctor asked, his gaze far away as he looked outside. “None that I’m aware of…” Came the reply. Sycamore nodded, and instantly, the platform dropped, going down at a ridiculous speed. Zade felt as though butterflies were turning his stomach into a mosh pit, as the discomfort only heightening with each passing second.
Finally, the elevator came to a halt, and the two got off it. This time, there was a simple door of frosted glass with a small card slot on it. Sycamore pulled out the necessary item from his coat, and inserted it into the spot. The door slid open with a whoosh, and the duo walked into a neat laboratory of sorts. There was no wall, just a glass encasing. The floor was tiled with marble, and violet lights filled the room. A large arrangement of screens was laid out on a crescent table.
“Welcome to my office, Zade.” The doctor threw his coat on a chair, and propped down into it. “Are you ready to begin with the test?”
Zade looked around. There seemed nothing lethal, no sharp, pointy instruments that could accidently kill him. He wondered if that counted as a plus point. Being without a memory, he wanted to be as vigilant as possible, as avoiding any trouble was top priority.
“I guess.” He replied, “As long as it doesn’t involve any more math.”
Sycamore laughed heartily. “No math, then. You have my word. Let us begin.” He pulled out the portable screen from earlier. “Initiating physical analysis. Patient ID: Zade. Surname: Unknown. Date of Admission: 14th November, 1001 PED. Date of Test: 28th November, 1001 PED.”
Zade was taken aback, for two reasons. One was, he had been unconscious for two weeks, which was a lot. The other, however, was more concerning. What the heck was PED? He knew the names of the month, he knew how many days there were in each month. But PED was something he had never heard before. Or maybe he had, but he couldn’t remember it. But then, why was everything else so seemingly normal?
“Zade!” The doctor’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. “Are you listening? I said, step onto the scanner.” He blinked hard, suddenly taking notice of a glowing square on the floor in front of the Sycamore’s desk. He could’ve sworn it wasn’t there earlier.
Whatever, He thought. Walking up to the scanner, he cautiously stepped onto it, and turned to face Sycamore.
“Scanner operations, commence.” Sycamore gave the order, and an array of spheres from out of nowhere, circling above Zade’s head. Before he could ask what they were, each sphere emanated a light blue beam of light, enshrouding him in a column of illumination. Slowly, each sphere took turns descending from the ringlet above him and completely casting its light on Zade’s body.
He tried to remain as stiff as possible, for he feared that any movement might lead to alterations in the report. After a couple of minutes, each sphere had completed its inspection, and in a perfect formation, floated away to where they came from.
“Huh,” Zade murmured, as the platform beneath him stopped its luminescent glow. He looked at Sycamore, waiting for permission to leave the square. The doctor nodded, and Zade stepped off, walking around the desk.
“That was…a novel experience.” Zade straightened his T-shirt, and came to stand next to Sycamore, who was entering some commands into the screens. “Really? They’ve been effect for over a decade now, without any need for development. The guys in the scientific development facility stated that these methods of scanning should last in medicinal practice for at least forty years before any serious adjustments need to be made.”
“But won’t that mean that the opportunity for development is being ignored? Maybe a new modification could help do the job better.” Zade questioned as he sub-consciously cracked his knuckles. Sycamore adjusted his lab coat. He seemed to be doing that a lot. “Development doesn’t always have to be good. Look at what happened to Earth. That’s the best example.” He gave a nervous chuckle.
“Wha…what do you mean? What happened to Earth?” Zade transfixed his gaze at the doctor, thoroughly perplexed. The doctor returned the gaze with an equally astounded look. “You don’t remember?” Scratching his chin, he looked at the screen with a doubtful expression spread across his face. “Wow, this is a much more serious case of amnesia than I thought.”
“Seriously, what happened to it?” As Zade stepped closer to the doctor, a melodious chime rang through the air. A screen, much small than what Sycamore usually carried, zoomed its way to him. Ignoring the former’s question, he slid his finger across the screen’s interface. Instantly, a holographic image of a balding man appeared from it.
Zade recognized the person. It was the man who he had met in the cold desert before collapsing. “My pleasantries, doctor. How’re you doing?”
“Ah,” The doctor happily exclaimed, “Good afternoon, Colonel. I was just readying the report of Zade here. He has recovered well over the past fortnight.”
“Zade,” The colonel repeated the name with deliberation, “That’s a name you don’t hear often. Did he tell you where he belongs to?”
Zade looked at the image of the man. “Um…” He began, coming into the screen’s field of view, “I don’t…remember anything.” He nervously uttered the last two words.
The colonel, as Sycamore had called him, raised an eyebrow. “Don’t remember anything? What’s your definition of anything?” The steely calm voice of the man intimidated Zade. He wondered what to reply with, but the doctor spared him of that hassle.
“Perhaps the two of you can have this conversation in person. If you’d like, I’ll personally drive him to your location. Wouldn’t that be much more convenient for everyone?”
Zade found the Colonel scary enough through the call itself. He wondered how bad he’d be shuddering in front of it. But he calmed his nerves. The colonel’s gaze slightly lightened. “Alright. I expect this man in my office in twenty minutes, doc. You know I don’t appreciate a breach of punctuality.”
“Very well. I’ll drop young Zade off. Good day.” The colonel nodded, and the projections disappeared, as the screen collapsed into itself and flew itself into Sycamore’s pocket.
“Let’s go,” The doctor said, and grabbed the main screen in the middle, pressing down from opposite sides so that it shrunk until it was the size of his palm.
“Um, who was that?” Zade asked. The doctor reached under the desk, and from there, pulled out a small metallic box. He threw open the lid, and from it, took out a cerulean hued jacket, and tossed it at him.
“Colonel Stanley. Put the jacket on, son. It’s time for a meeting with the boss.”