The Warm World, My Cold World
Cheers and laughter of children echoed throughout a park filled with lush greens and even a fountain at the centre. Benches surrounded the fountain, providing respite to seniors and tired children whose legs cramped after physical abilities well beyond their limit. The children wheezed and panted on the benches as the seniors watched them gleefully, thinking of them enjoying their youths.
All the children wore the same clothing: A greyish and elastic V-neck shirt, shorts, and soft slip in shoes that fits their feet just right. Their clothes were larger than their natural size so as they grow, they would slowly fit into those clothes. Once it becomes too small for them, they can then request for a larger size. The adults, too, wore the same kind of clothing, just of different colour. It was a darker tint of grey.
Not only did their clothes have a combination of numbers and letters on it, they also had it on the back of their wrists. It looked like a faded tattoo of someone’s birthday or a code to win some special jackpot prize.
They all enjoyed the scenery, playing about and relaxing under the shade or by the fountain. But all that was interrupted when a female yet mechanical and artificial voice resounded throughout the area.
[Simulation terminated. Please step down from high places and stand firmly on the ground.]
The voice repeated a few times with a few seconds in between announcements then all of a sudden, everything started to blur and fade into static. The spaces where the trees, benches, the fountain, and even the grassy ground twists and turns ever so slightly and everything slowly disappear, causing static noises to occur a few times.
Almost everyone sighed, saying that their limited time in paradise has ended for the day. They hope for the following week to arrive once more so they can bask in such a sight.
[Please exit the room through Gate 03. Please exit the room through Gate 03]
The female voice announced every 15 seconds interval. At that gate, there were people standing there wearing a full body suit with some pads on their knees, elbows, and shoulders. They have helmets with dark tinted glass on their heads, covering the entirety of their heads. And beside him was a chubby man with fluffy hair and wearing eyeglasses. His shirt was untucked and unbuttoned at the top and wore black slacks. On top of his clothes was a white lab coat with his initials on his breast pocket.
As people started exiting in droves towards gate 03, the whole room slowly turned back to its usual appearance. Grey square panelled walls, floor, and ceiling. It was a plain room with nothing in it at all but the people who were on their way out.
As they walked, a girl slowed down to match the speed of a certain boy who a little over her height.
“Hey, Erias.” She called out to the boy. “What should we do today?” She asked him with a cheerful tone.
“Hmm.” Erias looked up to the ceiling as he was thinking. “Maybe read a book?”
“But, there’s nothing to read. It’s always the same thing.”
“Well, the line for the other games is long. I don’t want to wait as well, you know.”
Erias, a boy with dark-brown coloured hair and pale-green eyes, patted her head slightly as they continued following the crowd.
As they chatted about trivial things, they had reached another room that had a label on it saying ‘NEW’. It was mainly dark inside but had a lot of objects that glowed an ice-blue colour. It was spacious enough for a person to fit and as well had foam inside, making it like a bed. Everyone was told to strip naked and get in it.
“Then, how about we do this?” Erias removed his clothes, drew closer to the girl, and whispered into her ear.
“Sure!” The girl excitedly answered. “It sounds fun!”
She folded her clothes, placed them on a small table, and hopped into the bed-like object. Erias smiled and followed suit and hopped into his space. After it was confirmed that everybody got in a bed, the hatches slowly moved, closing and sealing the space in the centre. The people inside slowly fell asleep. After a while, tubes filled with fluids came out from the walls inside the space and injected something into their bodies. Nothing was felt, no harm was done, and the entire space turned silent.
Moments later, a woman entered the space from the entrance. To the side was a control system filled with buttons, lights, and physical and holographic screens. The woman approached that area and a chubby man with fluffy hair.
“Sup, Churchee!” She greeted while holding a can of drink. “Been a while.”
“What do you mean ‘been a while’? It’s just been a day” The man replied from behind the screens, not taking his eyes off of it while typing something into a holographic keyboard. “Also, it’s just Churche. Silent ‘e’ at the end. Pronounced like the ancient religious building, church.” He corrected the woman.
“Nah, Churchee fits you well.” Churche just sighed, not wanting to continue further.
“Well, what are you doing here then, Karina? On break?”
Churche Fiazo and Karina Schall are scientists who work in this facility called a shelter. Those who work in this place usually stays for months to even years before leaving the facility. And even if they wanted to leave, they are forced to wait as transport going home doesn’t come by so easily.
“Yeah, my break started a bit early.” Karina spoke. “It’s a slow day till you guys finish your part.”
“We can’t rush this unless you want them to go haywire.” Churche looked over the capsule beds as he spoke.
Karina only laughed dryly while making a wry smile. She walked over to one of the capsules and stared intently at it. She saw the many tubes inserted on different parts of their bodies. Three on each arm, six on the torso, ten on one leg, and even one on the side of the neck.
“Still, all these things done to them, and they don’t even know they’re experimental subjects. Wonder how it’s like having majority of your emotional quotient being robbed from you. Even over at the biotech department, we still have to clean their emotional state or it’ll get pretty messy.”
“If it’s to improve humanity’s chance of survival in this frozen hell, then I guess anyone would do anything to ensure it.” Churche stopped typing and leaned back on his chair as he closes his eyes. “Honestly, I don’t approve of this. But a part of me says to continue with it all because the nanomachines tickle my curiosity.”
“Hahaha! You haven’t changed since uni days.” Karina laughed loudly, reminiscing the past.
“Well, I was always fascinated by it so I studied hard to be able to work as a coder and nanotechnician. And here I am as a coder for the Nanomachine Enhancement Ward.” Churche, too, reminisced of the past. “And you came here just to play with bodies. Disgusting.” Churche said so sarcastically.
Code is a term they use to generalise the whole programme in a system ranging from its computer language to its interaction with other objects and materials and even its general movement in 3D space.
“Don’t word it like that! It sounds perverted yet sinister, depending on how you look at it.” She laughed and Churche was infected with laughter too.
“But, yeah….” Churche started speaking in a softer tone. “I knew what I was going to deal with, so while I work here, I’m gonna find a better way to improve human physiology using nanotech.”
“Such a hard worker. Well, hope you manage to impress Kris, perhaps.”
“I don’t hold a candle to him. If it wasn’t for him, I might not even be here.”
The both fell silent as they empathised with each other.
“Well, I better get going. Come by the bio lab whenever you want, Churchee. It’s always free there.” Karina waved goodbye as she exited the room
“Ah, yeah, sure.” He waved back to her.
The two had a hearty chat for some time but Karina decided to head back after seeinh the time on her wrist watch. As soon as her figure disappeared and the door closed once more, he continued staring at the screens with codes running and numbers changing. But as he watching them scroll, he also contemplated.
I am never going back there. The biotech department is just filled with nut cases.
He swore to his heart, contemplating on his past.
It has been around 40 minutes since the people entered the capsule beds and slower did the codes on the screen scroll. Churche had also stopped typing and started pressing a few buttons while watching different values on the screen change. After another ten or so minutes, the hatches of all capsule beds opened.
One by one, children, adults, and seniors woke up, stretching their bodies after their little nap. Erias had also awoken and stretched. He tried looking around if the girl who was with him earlier is also awake, but couldn’t find her. The girl she was looking for had bright, wavy orange hair which sticks out like a sore thumb, but couldn’t find her. Erias sighed inwardly and looked at the capsule bed she hopped onto and as he peeked inside, he saw her peacefully sleeping with drool coming out of her mouth. If she had slept on her normal bed, her hands might have stretched outwards. And if someone was sleeping beside her, they would get punched, kicked, and even thrown off the bed.
“Zsally.” Erias called out to her, shaking her shoulders. “Zsally! Wake up. It’s time to get out.” He screamed softly as he shook her shoulders a bit more violently.
“Hnghdslk…” She reacted and spoke incomprehensibly but immediately went back to sleep.
With no other choice, Erias pinched her nose and closed her mouth. Immediately, Zsally woke up in a panic and took deep breaths.
“Zsally, people are starting to leave.” Erias tried pulling the arm of Zsally, assisting her out of the capsule bed. “Quickly get dressed. We can hide behind here.”
Zsally remembered what they were going to do so she hurriedly wore her shirt and shorts. And as she finished, she was pulled into a small dark space with Erias. Hiding from the rest.
After everyone left the room, including Churche and the men with helmets and suits, they were the only ones left. They got out of the space and ventured around. They didn’t really know what all these contraptions were, but they were told it was so humans can live longer. They accepted that and believed it to be true.
With no one around, they left the room after pressing a series of button on the side of the massive door until it opened. Once they confirmed that no one was in the corridor, their adventure started.
They wandered went opposite of the direction they came from before arriving in the room since they noticed there weren’t any other doors or paths that lead somewhere. But at the opposite side, there was one pathway that opened up. It was a path that they have never seen before, so they entered.
They went through it and turned multiple corners and as soon as they have disappeared into the corridor, two people arrived by the entrance. They placed a ladder near the edge of the entrance, climbed up, and replaced the camera that sits there. The one at the floor pressed multiple buttons, navigating through a screen and after pressing the last button, the camera disappeared making look like as if it was never there in the first place. He same has happened with the door, assimilating itself as if it was a wall.
As the kids walked in a linear path, albeit all the twists and turns, they started to hear noises coming from somewhere. They were curious and as they hastened their steps, they could see an opening from the path. As they exited, they held their arms, trying to warm themselves up as the temperature dropped and were bewildered with the sight they saw.
Large doors that were bigger than the first room they’ve entered with the trees and fountain. Things that looked like vehicles but shaped weirdly. A chilly white and powdery substance entering through the large gates. There were also people dressed weirdly holding a long box in between their arms, people who wore long white coats, and other who wore the same clothes as themselves but had large rings on their wrists, ankles, and neck. Erias and Zsally didn’t understand any of this at all.
Those with the rings were expressionless and all lined up. Suddenly, from within a vehicle came a running girl. As soon as she bolted out it, a man who was holding that long box-like thing pointed something at her and fired. It hit the girl and as it did, she screamed at the top of lungs, quivering as she fell on the ground. Those with white coats approached her and attached the rings onto her as well and became as expressionless as the rest.
Some of those people were made to enter the car as others exited. There are other boxes and even other people being pushed on trolleys. Others shouting at one another because of the turbulent winds entering from the door. As the last vehicle entered, the doors slowly closed. It was as if two walls were being pushed upwards and pulled downwards, sealing the from the middle. As soon as it was completely shut, the temperature inside slowly rose. The snow that entered also started to melt, making the floor wet.
The two didn’t know what was going on. This whole sight was new to them. It was new, it was an adventure, but it was quite terrifying. As they stared on, Erias noticed the sound of footsteps echoing from behind. They needed to get out of there, but Zsally’s legs wouldn’t budge. No matter how hard she tried, even after punching them, they won’t move. Erias’ heart started beating faster as the sound of footsteps grew. He panicked as he was at a loss.