Clear shock gel gurgled in from three holes that had irised open along the inner circumference of the egg, falling in strangely shaped lumps, liquefying as it settled. A high technology mix of nanites and inertia sensitive fluid the gel would both protect the capsuleer’s body and take care of dead skin, sweat and other material from the body. Early pods had not had this, and even with a neural interface deadening the itching, it was enough to drive some pod pilots to distraction.
The inert form of the pilot was slowly engulfed in the liquid gel. Where the gel is close to the skin it seemed to become semi-opaque, clothing the pilot in a ghostly suit or second skin,. Hairs that had stood up on end when in contact with the cool liquid slowly lie flat as the new suit gently warmed, in turn creating patterns in the gel as heat convects to the surface.
Did I die?
No sound. Not even the faint fuzziness on the edge of hearing that he could hear in the most quietest of retreats. Total silence. Almost solid, or so vast that sound would quickly be swallowed and lost.
Perhaps this is the place of testing? I am ready Lord.
And then there was the darkness. Darkness so complete, so deep, a complete absence of anything.
“Ah Mr Zoo I see you are awake. Welcome back.”
The body in the gel suddenly tensed, the movement enough to make the gel solidify, restraining any further movement.
Outside the technician repressed a smirk, flicking a number small switch on a console near him.
“It seems Mr Zoo that you started to drown. It was your first time so that is understandable. I used the neural net to put you into a coma, briefly. People have done great damage to themselves and the equipment. The drowning reflex is quite natural and you will accustom yourself to it. I would, however, refrain from swimming once you do.”
The technician smiled a humourless smile.
In the blackness, gradually brightening, a intricate symbol resolved into being.
He looked at the figure. At once knowing it was him but also feeling detached and distant. His desire to see the figure close up built until in one swift movement he was standing face to face with himself. His face flowed with intricate symbols and glyphs, moving so fast they formed a skin. Very faint lines seemed to wavy uncertainly from the back of his head. He could not see and straining his neck to look resulted in the figure quickly revolving. The faint lines were floating freely next to a bright patch of skin at the base of the figure’s skull. As the end of one of the lines moved close brief flashes of symbols would spark between the figure and the lines.
“Mr Zoo the pod has been security enabled. Please would you authenticate as we discussed earlier.”
He tried to say it, his numb throat failing to form word round the pipes in his throat.
“Project the words Mr Zoo. Simply think them. Again, this will become easier with time and training.”
Concentrating, Zoo thought the word, trying to make them solid in his mind’s eye. And there it was, his security password. His daughter, her figure made up of her name endlessly repeated, stood before him.
Oh Rai! My beautiful girl. How I have missed you.
Skipping towards the avatar of Zoo, Rai smiled and jumped into her father’s arms, her symbols merging with his. The ends of the faint lines snapped into connection with the back of Zoo’s head, each line becoming iridescent.
Slowly the figure and the lines faded, the darkness returned.
Rai………………….oh my dearest Rai.
The tears from his eyes quickly absorbed by the gel.