The first thing he felt was the freezing cold. He struggled to crack open his eyes, his heavy eyelids resisting every millimeter. All he could see was white, with foggy clouds wafting across his vision. Is this heaven?
Wherever it was, it was too cold. It took him a few seconds to realize that the fog was his own breath, and as his half-opened eyes focused, the endless white was revealed to be frost; tiny crystals clustering on a smooth surface. Light was shining through the frost, with detected shadows flickering across it. …A window…? He looked around as much as his stiff neck would allow, but all he could make out was that he was enclosed in some sort of box, his legs and hips restrained, but he was unable to make out exactly what it was.
His heart beat began to accelerate, and his slow breathing became short and quickly paced. He tried to call out, but his tongue and lips refused to move; all that came out was a gasping stutter.
He attempted to lift his hand to the frost to wipe it clean, but only felt the sensation of shaking, as his arm trembled against his side; and he slowly realized that he could only feel a dull pain from his shoulders down.
Is my arm frozen solid?! In desperation he leaned his head against the frost, trying to use his cheek to clear the frost. It burned against his skin, but he barely felt it through his numbed flesh. There was a yelp, coming from past the window, followed by a clanging of debris.
A young voice laughed. “Tunnel, you still scared? You’ve been out here tons of times.”
“That… something’s in there!” a even younger voice cried out, with a flavor of fear in his high tone.
“That metal coffin? You drooler. We’ve been through this trash dump a butt-load of times and that old piece of scrap don’t got shit in it.”
No, I’m in here, the man wanted to shout, but nothing but a weak wheeze came out.
“It’s there, right up against the glass.” the shrill voice insisted.
“You spent drooler… let me see.” He dully heard the sound of someone shambling closer, noisily scattering what sounded to be trash, and then a shadow came and blocked the light from the cold window. Mustering up his strength, he managed to lift his head off of the window, dropping his forehead onto the glass with a smack.
There was a shout of surprise just outside the window, and the shadow vanished as the person leapt back in shock. “Shit! There’s something in there. It jumped at me!”
“I told you!” There was silence for a while. “What do we do?” the young voice said nervously.
“I don’t know… all the times we’ve been through here and that thing was dead quiet. Now it wants to wake up? Whatever it is, I’m not thinking it’s a good idea if it gets out of that box.”
“It… it can’t get out of there, can it?” the kid’s voice sounded scared.
“Don’t ask me,” the older voice snapped. “What were you doing to it?”
“I didn’t do nothing!” the scared voice protested. “I was just… I was just, poking my stick into those holes on top-“
“And now you woke the damn thing up!” the other voice said angrily. Just then, there was a deafening hiss, and in peripherals of the frozen man’s vision, a white line appeared all around the edges of the container, venting the cold foggy air, and bringing in a hot breeze that stung his eyes. There were screams, and then the man heard the frantic sounds of the duo escaping as quickly as they could.
The front of the container began to slowly lift off. The thick frost slid against his cheek, rubbing it raw as it went, but he lacked the strength to lift his head back off the window. After the door was almost open, the restraints holding his body up suddenly opened with a harsh sound, and he fell forward on to the ground helplessly, his arms staying limp and unresponsive.
It was blindingly bright. He had to shut his eyes for a moment before opening them again, squinting under the light and waves of rolling heat. And then he saw them.
Mountains of… garbage.
Scraps of metal and the silhouettes of deteriorated machinery, as far as the eye could see. In the distance, he could make out giant unfamiliar wreckages dotting the horizon. No one was in sight, not even the two kids who had been here just a little bit ago.
Where am I? He thought to himself confused. I’ve never seen anything like this before. He searched his memories, but came up empty.
Too empty. As in completely blank.
His next thought chilled him even colder than the container that he just woke up in.
Who am I? And then he passed out.