Echo-1 (The Whale): Part 6
Opening my eyes the darkness fell away. A fuzzy cream colored glow gradually focused into a stark white perfectly square metal room. I began to realize my vision was extraordinary, which is why it had seemed blurry at first. I could differentiate individual dust particles on the floor.
I raised my hand and my skin was a deep caramel color with a slight metallic iridescence. I had no fingernails but had ridged gecko-like setae on my fingertips. I wondered if I could climb up the walls with them. I stepped forward, then squatted down very low and jumped over a meter straight up into the air and landed like a cat. My legs were fine, better than fine. They were incredibly strong and agile. Looking over my body, I was wearing a dark black shirt, jacket, and pants with matching boots. All made of a thin and comfortable material I had never seen before. It was soft, yet felt physically strong and durable. It was cut in a simple form-fitting fashion. I ran my hand through my hair which was longer and lush and black. It became very apparent to me that I was a lot taller than I was before.
Looking at the wall to my left I knew there was a computer behind it. I could see a readout floating in front of it, a kind of digital holographic writing that made no sense to me. I reached out toward it and was able to move the data around with a swipe of my hand. I walked over to the wall, opened it and looked at my reflection in a blank monitor screen. My eyes had three pupils. They were like human eyes, but with a yellow radiant iris and three black pupils forming a kind of triangular formation. They seemed to spin when I focused. My nose was very flat and my teeth, though animal looking, were square and perfect. I bit down and felt the powerfulness of my jaw. I didn’t have any ears! No ears, yet I clearly had superior hearing.
“Is this real?”
My voice sounded like hearing a recording of yourself sent through a digital filter. This was unlike any dream I had ever had.
I sat down on the floor and pulled off one of my boots. I had a perfectly formed foot with no toes. I grasped my foot and it had amazing strength and sensation. I was starting to have a panic attack. This, this was no dream. It was real.
“I’m like some kind of doll.”
I covered my mouth as the sound of my new voice freaked me out even more. I started taking deep breaths. I was breathing. There was air.
Before I could have a complete nervous breakdown, the wall in front of me slid open to reveal a hall outside and two small identical robots rolled up in front of me. They were made mostly of the same white metal as the walls and floor. They were about a meter tall each with mechanical arms and a single large blue digital eye. They scanned me with a green light. I sat there on the floor with one hand over my mouth and the other holding my foot with no shoe on.
With a beep and click they simultaneously spun around and said in stereo modular voices, “Welcome, please follow us.”
I pulled on my boot, stood up fast, and walked out into the hall. I looked back as the door closed behind me. I’d been standing in a kind of alcove surrounded by various medical looking devices. In the hall, that was ridiculously long, I realized I was in some kind of factory or manufacturing building. We walked for a short while down the steel-walled corridor and went through a red ringed door. We entered a large garage full of various types of vehicles.
A flat kind of car chassis came out to meet us. It had 4 seats and two platforms in the front and back. No apparent engine or wheels mind you. The twins rolled to the front and I took the first seat. The moment I sat down we were off. We glided to the back of the garage and as the main door opened we started to build up speed. We merged onto a ten lane covered highway accelerating at an unimaginable velocity. Our speed increased until the walls, ceiling, and the floor became a blur. The lights overhead became a single unending line. There was no wind.
“Whoa! guys, you’ve got to slow down. I can’t even tell what’s going on.”
The robots spun their heads around and finishing each other’s sentences as they spoke. “We will connect you,” said one. “…to the navigation unit,” finished the other.
An electric shock exploded in my head.
I nearly jumped out of the car. I looked forward and I could see the road ahead. I could anticipate the coming curves. I could differentiate the lights, walls, and side tunnels. After a few moments, I was able to relax and enjoy the ride a bit. I now had an almost intuitive notion of how the car worked, I sensed I could drive it with my mind.
“Are we underground?” The two robots ignored my question.
I assumed we were underground until the ceiling became transparent and I realized we were underwater. The metal roof turned to glass and behind it was an ocean of blue. I stared up in disbelief. A shimmering blue light tinted the highway. Suddenly thousands of what I thought were fish filled the water above me with bright red. Then the red changed to purple, then a varying pulse of shiny colors. I looked at the iridescent metal color of my hand and wondered. For a moment all the fish turned the exact color of my skin, then they were bright yellow, and then they were gone. We shot back into a covered tunnel.
“We’re under the ocean!” They ignored me, again.
I sat back in my chair. We were under the ocean. It must be a giant undersea facility. I was starting to get a hang of things.
We passed a few parked vehicles and robots and people working on a wall or something. I wanted to yell out, but we zipped by them in a second. Then my twin drivers moved us into the outer lane and looked back and smiled. Assuming you can smile through an eye. I was sure they had smiled at me.
The side of the tunnel became a giant window and I didn’t fully comprehend what I was seeing at first. It seemed to be a star-filled night outside.
“Pull over!” I shouted in a voice that was not my own but was.
We immediately came to a stop near an observation platform and what appeared to be a raisable shield. I jumped out of the car and stood before the universe, peering on a sky I had never seen before. It was like looking at a spiral arm of the Milky Way. Endless stars and planets glowed from beyond the window.
Here all my previous lucid dream experience saved me. I was a master of changing locations and scenarios. Through my powerful new eyes, I scanned the depths, triple pupils spinning in my head. We were clearly very far out in space. I was aboard some kind of huge space station.
After standing there with my mouth hanging open for some time the twins beeped at me and I assumed we had to keep going. I climbed back into my seat and we were off. We took a turn and continued on a smaller road system. We stopped outside a giant door. Though we hadn’t passed a sign, I felt I knew where I was, as well as how to get back to where we had just been.
“Internal external communication port 12,” the twins chimed.
The door opened and I saw the water light again. The room we entered was ten stories tall with one glass wall of solid blue water. We walked across the huge room toward its center. I stood peering into the deep blue sea, overcome with emotion. I was in a world more wonderful and amazing than I could have ever dreamed. I could hardly even figure out what was going on. I just breathed and took it in. At least I still breathed.
I was wondering how I had perfect hearing with no ears, when the robot twins who were standing on either side of me, bounced to life and took a step back.
“The Captain,” they both announced.
I looked around the empty room. Then out where the water turned to a solid blue I saw a shape. It got bigger and bigger and was coming right at us. It was a whale, moving with a grace and majesty that left me yet again stunned. The whale swam slowly into view and rolled in the water. Its massiveness floated above us. I noticed a mechanical device on the side of its squared-off head. Its giant eyes looked right at me.
Previously, the largest intelligent animal I had ever been face-to-face with was an elephant and that experience left me with a feeling of total connectivity. I encountered the elephant in the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, India. The temple complex was a city within a city. You checked your shoes at one of the four gates and proceed into a labyrinth of ancient religion. Somewhere past the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, and the stone statue of Nandi, whose ear you whispered your wishes into, I turned a corner and ran into a real life Ganesh. A painted Asian temple elephant greeting pilgrims as they entered. You held out a few rupees and the elephant took them from you and bopped you on the head, blessing you with its trunk. It did the same for families and little excited children.
The handler, knowing I was a westerner, offered me a picture. The elephant rested its truck on my head for a photo. I never imagined how much control they had over such a powerful appendage. It was immediately obvious that it could easily pick me up or toss me around. Yet it was also clear that it was completely aware of me and was adjusting the weight of its trunk as it rested momentarily on my head. That elephant had looked into my eyes and connected with me. They say elephants never forget. I always wondered if it would remember me the way I would never forget it.
The whale, when it looked at me, gazed with a superior consciousness. It looked with a knowledge and complete understanding of everything. I thought it would’ve unnerved me further, but it was the opposite. I was put at ease and felt total acceptance.
When the whale spoke I heard his deep voice in my mind and in what I guess where my ears.
“My name is Jonas. I reviewed your file and I know everything about you up to the point when you opened your eyes on my ship. The human that you were has died in his sleep. That life is no more. I tell you now that it was all a simulation designed by me to study the evolution of my ancestors. It truly was a dream life. Your ability to navigate the unconscious mind is the best I have seen. Now that you are out of the simulation and in your new body, your thoughts are your own and no one may monitor them. You are free.”
The great whale rolled in the water, then steadied himself.
“I would like to invite you to stay with us and be my hands, you have an attentive precision that makes you a good fit for the job. You are more human than you have ever been, though you have some synthetic mechanical non-biologic parts. You are alive and you can die. There is no life past this one for you. However, with our technology, you can count on a 250-year lifespan before your biological elements fail.”
I stood there stupefied. I couldn’t even get out an “um?”
Jonas floated a motionless leviathan suspended in the water before me. He spoke again.
“I’m sure you have many questions. I’m going to upload the ship’s manifest, the Banga welcome protocol, and the technical aspects of your neural transmitter and your new body.”
Another electric shock rocketed through my mind.
“That should clear things up for you. So, would you like the job?”