Declan slowly opened his eyes. The bright, white light streaming through the widening gap between his eyelids burned and made him flinch. He couldn’t remember where he is, what this is or how he came to be. Slowly his mind began to register more sensation. His ears began to focus on a loud hydraulic hiss. The temperature in the room was freezing and Declan began to shiver. His head began to pound like the day after shore leave. Declan groaned and reached up with his hands to rub his scalp, he ran his fingers through thick, short cropped hair. He thought hard but couldn’t remember what he looked like.
A loud metallic thump broke the silence. Declan whirled around and noticed he was standing, staggering, in front of a large coffin like tube made from glass and steel built right into the wall. Dozens more of these tubes lined the room. The hissing had stopped as soon as he heard the thud. He felt dizzy and dropped to his knees. Declan coughed and vomited, struggling to breath.
‘Relax and breathe deeply subject zero’, a booming electronic voice suddenly said. Declan strained and looked up, the light was easing a little and his eyes could focus.
The strange voice continued, ‘You are suffering cryo shock. Please stand and I will raise the temperature of the room slowly’.
‘Where am I?’, Declan asked, ‘Who am I?’. He stood and began to shuffle towards the centre of the room. He looked down and could see himself. His skin was extremely pale. He looked thin but very fit. Declan could see markings on his chest and shoulders. Some kind of paint, but he had no idea what it meant.
Declan wasn’t so cold anymore and he could breathe again. The pain in his head began to ease. The voice introduced itself.
‘I am Link. You are Declan, subject zero. You are the last human’.
‘The last what?’, Declan replied, ‘The last human? How can that be?’.
Link replied mechanically, without emotion. ‘Your memory will return. Allow me to brief you on your purpose.’
Declan remembered a part of himself. In situations like this he’s compelled to respond in a certain way.
‘I’m all ears’, said Declan.
‘Humans destroy themselves. The cycle has repeated before, it will repeat again. This is a failsafe, designed to prevent your extinction. You are aboard a shuttle craft. This shuttle has been cruising the outskirts of the Earth’s solar system for three hundred thousand years. As subject zero, it is your responsibility to assist with the rebirth of your species.’
As Link spoke Declan began to remember, his life as a soldier, fighting, watching friends and family die. He remembered being selected among others as a candidate of suitable genetic composition. He remembered watching the doors of the cryo tube close from the inside, snap freezing and drifting into a world of endless dreams and torturous nightmares.
Declan shivered. The continued existence of man and it’s all up to him. ‘No pressure huh’, he said with a faint smile.
Link continued, ‘Your DNA has been harvested. On our return journey to Earth, your genetic material will be used to replicate man and woman. The process has already begun. Once their growth has been stabilised, subjects one and two will be dispatched by pod to the planet’s surface. Advance scans already show that the surface has recovered from the damage of constant war and life is flourishing. You will remain here in orbit and watch over subjects one and two. You are responsible for their safety and survival.’
‘Can’t I be with them?’, Declan asked.
‘Negative’, Link responded, ‘Subjects one and two cannot successfully rebirth your species with knowledge of what has gone before. Your role is to watch over subjects one and two. Nothing more’.
‘They are Adam and Eve’, Declan said, ‘and I am God’.
Link paused for a moment. ‘If you refer to the Christian belief in the creator and his children and the similarities to your present situation then yes, you may call yourself God.’
‘Then this is heaven’, Declan said with a wink. ‘I’m to spend the rest of my life up here, orbiting the planet in this crate, watching a couple of kids grow up with you keeping me company. Link, I hope you have a comfy couch and a well stocked bar.’
Copyright © 2010 Luke Harris.
First published in our Infinitas Newsletter, January 2010.
This page last updated 9th March 2010.