My table companion drifted off at that moment. For a while, he simply sat there looking out from our balcony at the Mediterranean Sea. It was as though I had no longer existed for him as he became lost in the memories of another time. I called the waiter over, he cleared away our plates and I ordered us each a tea. It is common here in this culture to sit and enjoy tea and conversation long after the meals were done so I felt no hurry to rush this story. When the waiter returned with our drinks, my new friend seemed to have drifted back into our reality.
I was only with them for about eight months. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like that much time, but the friendships I made on waking from that abduction are the most meaningful relationships in my life. I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that none of those friends will ever exist.
He paused at that thought.
Will they exist? In a couple hundred years, will they be born into this new existence that we all created? Who will they be? What will they be like? Will there even be another me?
I have seen and read my share of time travel fiction to know the various theories others have put to these same questions, but it did not seem like the right moment for me to interject any ideas. The very fact this man was still sitting here with me and had not long ago faded into oblivion meant that at least some of those theories were wrong. Take that, Marty McFly.
Anyways, where were we?
“You had blacked out in the van,” I offered.
Yes. Yes. When I came to, I was strapped into a hospital bed. It took me a minute for my vision to clear. I had a horrible headache and there was some ringing in left ear. Someone heard me groaning and came in from the room next door.
“Welcome back to the world of the living.”
I said nothing as this man walked past me and looked on the screen by my bed. I am guessing that it showed him my vitals, but I was and am completely unfamiliar about anything to do with the medical profession.
“Looks good. About as can be expected.” He walked around so that I could fully see him. “I am going to remove your wrist and ankle restraints but we need to keep your neck brace intact for a little while longer, OK?”
I moaned something that he took for assent. He nodded and slowly unbuckled and loosened the braces that held my arms in place. He talked as he did so.
“These braces were not to imprison you but rather to hold you still. The work we were doing on your chip and its connections to your brain was very delicate and we could not risk even the slightest of movement.”
I reached up to feel the back of my neck, but a metal brace was still holding my head in place.
“I am guessing you have three or four more days with that one, but I’m your nurse, not your technician so…” He shrugged.
My hand instead found my left ear which was still ringing. “My ear.”
“Ah, yes. We have implanted a receiver inside your drum. That will probably be the last thing to go on. Are you feeling any dizziness or nausea?”
I shook my head no.
“Good, good. There’s some ringing though?”
I nodded yes.
“Yes. That should fade with time. Make sure you let us know if you are still hearing it after another day or two. Do you feel up for some food?”
Again, I nodded yes.
“Excellent. I will have some brought in shortly. You haven’t had anything solid in over three weeks so we will take that slow. Soon, you will be feeling like new.”
I grunted something like a thank you.
“Speaking of new, how do you like your hand?”