MLM – Chapter 2

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When the man woke up again, he felt very warm. The sun beat down on his naked body, as he lay on the ground in a large pile of broken loose machinery parts.
The man unconsciously raised his arm, laying it across his eyes in an effort to block out the sun. Then, after it occurred to him that he had regained control of his limbs, he slowly lifted himself off of the ground into a sitting position. There was a dull pain in his leg, and the man looked down to see a tube running out of his skin. He followed the length of the tube back to the now open container, which had ten or so of these tubes hanging in between his body and the box. He gingerly touched a tube, and carefully pulled, and his eyes bugged out as a large plastic needle slid out of his skin, at least three inches long.
He slowly pulled each tube out of his body, wincing at the sharp pain that accompanied each extraction. Already exhausted, he rested, his thoughts once again beginning to swirl around his mind.
Who am I? Where am I? Is this a landfill? A scrapyard? Why can’t I remember my own name? How old am I? He felt his face and examined his hands. No trace of any wrinkles. I must be relatively young, the man thought to himself. A mirror… the man began to look around for something he could use.
Seeing nothing suitable, he soon gave up on that idea and focused on the large metal container from which he emerged, which stood half-buried in a mountain of garbage, hanging open with no sign of ever having been operational. The man tried to stand up, but he quickly lost balance, his legs wobbling violently as he put weight onto them. Abandoning his efforts to walk, he instead crawled, pulling himself closer to the metal container with his hands.
It was still quite cool in the container, the metal interior hadn’t been completely warmed by the outside temperature yet. Painfully sitting up again, the man began to closely examine the strange machine that had housed him, looking for any information that could explain his current circumstances. There wasn’t much. Even the sturdy metal restraints that had held him upright lacked any kind of lettering or markings.
He followed the tubes to behind the harness, where they fed into a smooth metal surface. Spotting a small handle, the man grasped it and lifted, the surface easily popping off, revealing a jumble of wires and tubes underneath. He pushed these aside, searching for more. His efforts were soon rewarded, a tiny monitor was embedded into the metal, with a simple console screwed in right beside it.
The man hurriedly wedged himself closer to the console, his body now half in the machine, his naked legs remaining exposed. There was a red button on the console, and the man instinctively pressed it.
He briefly wondered how he knew that the red button would power the screen, but just then the monitor flicked on, revealing lines of small text, and he eagerly began to read.
…Check-In counter 31252… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.24%.
…Check-In counter 31253… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.24%.
…Check-In counter 31254… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.24%.
…Check-In counter 31255… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.23%.
…Check-In counter 31256… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.23%.
…Check-In counter 31257… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.23%.
…Check-In counter 31258… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.23%.
…Check-In counter 31259… System stable, Main Power Source unavailable, auxiliary power at 32.23%.
Sensors detect damage to cooling management system, beginning emergency ejection process…
Fluid replenishment protocol activated………. minimum fluid replenishment completed. Beginning stabilization procedures.
Stabilizing subject internal temperature…
Starting organ rehabilitation…. injecting solution batch A, batch B, batch C, batch D…
Beginning electric therapy for organ rehabilitation….ten attempts have been made unsuccessfully, waiting five seconds before resuming.
Resuming electric therapy….. heart functions beginning normal activity on the 17th attempt.
Beginning mental activity rehabilitation… Injecting solution batch E, batch F.
Normal brain activity detected.
Fluid replenishment protocol complete.
Subject internal temperature stabilized.
Beginning pod venting and subject ejection…. emergency subject ejection completed successfully.
Experimental Stasis Pod B2 successfully performed a complete cycle of cryogenic containment and release over a period of 335913 days.
Subject Lasko, T – ejected on 2978-09-15 13:21:52.
The man stared at the last line, trembling. This couldn’t possibly be real. 2978? As in the year, 2978? 335,913 days? The man did a quick calculation. 1000 years!? He was in this pod for roughly 1000 years! Another violent barrage of questions assaulted his mind.
This all felt wrong, like it couldn’t possibly be real, but the man couldn’t find a concrete reason. All he had was a gut feeling that something was off; this was not supposed to happen. He grabbed a few of tubes, trying to pull himself up. When his grip failed, the man wrapped them around his arms and forced himself to stand on his weak legs.
Wobbling dangerously, he made his way out of the pod and up a nearby trash hill, at times using his hands to aid his upward progress. Heated by the sun, the densely packed garbage burned his skin, but he ignored the pain, forcing himself onward, determined to reach the summit. After ten minutes of desperate climbing, he made it to the top. What he saw completely stunned him, and he dropped to his knees weakly.
Giant obelisks, with large obsidian surfaces was scattered over the landscape, the dark towers reaching incredibly high, out of sight into the clouds. The buildings looked relatively close, but as the man viewed the surroundings, he quickly understood that the structures were simply gigantic, their ridiculous size giving the illusion of closeness. The man turned around, his view met by similar towers in the distant horizon.
Overwhelmed, the man stared blankly at the sight; a wave of dizziness hit him and he staggered. The sudden intense exercise and the heat had greatly tired his already weakened body. His head began to swim, and his body lost its strength. As he fell backwards onto the hot trash, and his vision faded to black, he thought to himself… this isn’t Chicago…
…Chicago…? Is that… where I’m… from…..? ……………………
A few minutes after the man collapsed on top of the hill, there was a scuttling noise. Two heads poked out cautiously from a nearby pile of trash.
“Is… it dead?” the younger boy asked.
“Maybe.” said the older boy. The black haired youth stood up, his loose dirty shirt fluttering in the warm breeze. He moved closer to the collapsed body, trying not to make a noise.
“Sharp, be careful.” the younger boy whispered loudly.
Sharp sent an angry glance back at the other kid “Shut it, Tunnel.” he hissed angrily, casting a quick fearful glance at the unmoving, prone figure.
Tunnel, a brown hair skinny kid complied instantly, his lips pressed together tightly. Sharp crept closer.
“Hey.” he called out loudly. “Hey, you.”
No movement from the man. Sharp crept closer, now practically standing over the body.
“Hey drooler.” Sharp nudged the man with a foot. Nothing. Sharp let out the nervous sigh that had built up in his chest. He examined the man’s naked body more carefully.
“Get your ass over here.” he called out over his shoulder. The thin boy stood up from where he was crouched and nervously made his way over, until he stood by the taller boy’s side, both of them studying the man’s naked body.
“Is it a drooler?” Tunnel whispered. Sharp shook his head.
“Nah, he ain’t old enough. I saw a drooler get spent out once. It spit out this wrinkly old man. This guy looks like he is definitely ranker age”
“Then is he from Upper?”
Sharp squinted, “Hm…. could be. But he looks weird, and doesn’t have any clothes. Who knows what he is, getting stuffed in a giant metal box and dumped all the way out here.” he shrugged. “Let’s get out of here. Before something else wakes up.”
Sharp turned and began to walk away, but the younger boy stayed, looking concerned.
“We can’t leave him here. He’ll die.” Tunnel said timidly. Sharp clicked his tongue, and shook his head.
“He’s fine. Don’t worry about strangers. We already got us to be worrying over.”
“Look, his skin is already sun-burning.”
Sharp looked over. It was true. The man’s pale, almost translucent skin was already bright red. Sharp winced at the sight. His eyes looked over the rest of the body, from the matted brown hair to his bleeding feet. The older child hesitated. “Well… I dunno.”
Tunnel grabbed his arm. “We can put him on the cart. It’ll be total ranker.” At that, Sharp laughed.
“Total ranker? You crazy drooler.” He shook his head. “Fine, we’ll waste the day, but we can take him back home. But you’re the one that’s gonna take care of this half-dead guy.”
“Deal.” Tunnel grinned, a set slightly of crooked teeth revealing themselves past a pair of cracked lips. “Help me juice the cart.”