Peter Simmons tried to open his eyes. They felt like they had been shut for a thousand years. When his eyes finally cracked open, white light flooded into his pupils.
“It's okay, your perfectly safe,” said a distant, soft, reassuring voice.
“Where am I?” asked Peter in a stunned whisper.
“That may take some explaining,” replied the voice. “You’re in a hospital of sorts.”
That last part confused Peter even more. The last thing he remembered was being with his family skiing and hearing the sound of rushing snow. Then he had been falling. He thought he remembered falling into oblivion.
“Doctor, he seems to be able to talk,” said the reassuring voice.
“Indeed, he seems to have recovered much better than we anticipated,” another voice, more masculine, and accented, responded.
Gradually the blinding whiteness subsided and Peter saw two people standing directly over him. A young, black-haired woman dressed in strange looking white clothes stood where the soft, reassuring voice had been. An aged, brown-haired man also dressed in white clothing stood where the other voice had been. In his hands was a strange looking device with a soft blue light emanating from it.
“Who are you people?” asked Peter. “Where are my parents?”
“First, allow me to introduce ourselves,” said the older man. “I am Dr. Sergei Lukevnik, Theoretical Medical Researcher. This lady beside me is Dr. Laura Sorenson, Psychiatrist. What is your name, son?”
“Um, Peter. Peter Simmons,” said Peter, still confused.
Dr. Sorenson lifted a small, pocket-sized device and scanned it with her eyes. “Let’s see,” said Dr. Sorenson, still looking at the device. “Peter Simmons, male, born April 19th 1986, went missing at age 16 during a ski trip, body never recovered.”
“Congratulations, Peter, you have just made medical history!” said Dr. Lukevnik excitedly.
“What are you talking about?” said Peter, stunned.
“Well Peter, you’ve just been resuscitated after having been frozen for about four hundred years,” said Dr. Sorenson cautiously.
Peter stared at them incredulously. He wondered how that could be possible. The last thing he remembered had been being enveloped in snow. It must have been an avalanche. He hadn’t wanted to go on that ski trip, he preferred staying home and playing videogames, but his father had insisted.
“You’re kidding, right?” said Peter unconvinced.
“No, we are absolutely serious!” replied Dr. Lukevnik with a frown. He lifted the strange device with the blue light and pressed some buttons on it. Looking back from it to Peter, he said, “You seem to have recovered almost completely.”
“It may take a little time for you to realize the full extent of what’s happened,” said Dr. Sorenson in a reassuring tone.
Peter sat up and looked around the room. At first glance, it looked like any hospital room, except that the light emanated from the walls and the ceiling, with no visible light fixtures. He also began to notice other things. Strange looking black orbs stuck out of some spots on the walls, and the tools on the tray near his bed looked like nothing he had ever seen before. They were all plastic-like objects with different shaped slits that emanated bluish light. Peter also noticed that there weren’t any visible doors or windows.
“So, where and when am I?” asked Peter, finally.
“Well, you are at the Advanced Research Hospital on Paris 2, Third Habitat Module, Delta Space Station,” said Dr. Sorenson. “Today is Wednesday, March 27th, 2418.”
Two more people walked into room. Peter was surprised; not by the people, but by how they entered the room. A section of the wall, slightly indented and bordered by a black outline, disappeared briefly as they crossed into the room from a hallway. Peter briefly glimpsed a grey-coloured hall behind them before the wall section reappeared. One of the new people was a white haired man in a black and white uniform. The other person was a brown-haired woman wearing a grey overcoat.
Dr. Lukevnik turned to greet the newcomers. “Ah, Mr. Thompson and Dr. Kianna I presume,” said Dr. Lukevnik.
“You presume correctly,” said Mr. Thompson.
Dr. Lukevnik turned back to Peter. “Peter, this is Mr. Thompson, Government Coordinator, and Dr. Kianna, Anthropologist, and the archaeologist who headed the expedition that discovered you.”
“Where was I discovered?” asked Peter.
Dr. Kianna stepped forward. “We found you in a northern mountain range in former Canada. I must say that I am still astonished that we were able to find you in such a well preserved state under all that ice,” said Dr. Kianna excitedly.
It had been almost a week since Peter’s incredible awakening. The hospital staff had taken care of his every concern, but he had not been allowed to leave the hospital. He wondered at why he never saw any of the other patients of the hospital. According to Dr. Sorenson, it was in order to keep him safe, and because he had to remain in 10 days quarantine, until they were sure he was perfectly healthy.
It took a while before everything truly sunk in. For the first few days, Peter was engrossed in discovering all the cool things that existed in the future. He was fascinated by the technology that now existed. The staff gave him access to a computer. It looked like a flat, digital sketchpad, but by using voice commands, he was able to make a holographic projection appear just above it. He was playing with this thing when he came to realize the true impact of all that had happened.
He had essentially gone over 400 years into the future. His entire past life was gone. His parents, his sister and brother, his entire family, except perhaps some far distant descendent relatives, were all gone. All his friends, everyone he had ever cared about were gone. Using the holographic computer, Peter researched what had happened to his friends and relatives. His family had lived a peaceful life, both parents living to a ripe old age. His sister had become a doctor. His brother had become a politician. Most of his friends had lived reasonably successful, not so special lives.
Then he came upon something very unexpected. Mary Winters, a girl that he had befriended in high school, that he had known since kindergarten, had not had a somewhat successful, and insignificant life like the others he had known. According to an old news article from nearly four hundred years ago, she had been raped and murdered by a mysterious assailant at age 16, only three weeks after his disappearance. Witnesses thought they saw a blue car near the scene of the assault, but that was the extent of their leads. No suspects had been found. The case had gone cold. The girl that Peter had quietly admired since grade school had suffered a fate far worse than his own. As Peter reminisced, he could not stop feeling depressed about this. What if he hadn’t been frozen in time? Could he have stopped the incident from happening? He knew now what was going . . . what had happened. If only there was some way to go back.
He learned an interesting fact of the people of this era. It seemed that they were experimenting with time manipulation using an artificial wormhole in space. This wormhole could be manipulated to create a link from one place in space and time, to another. He learned they were planning to conduct another test in a week.
Mr. Thompson stared at the technician across from him. They stood at the scene of a mysterious crime. “Well, sir, we believe that someone may have stowed away on the experimental shuttle as we were conducting the time-phase experiments,” said the Technician, fearful for his job.
“And your sensors didn’t detect this stowaway?” replied Mr. Thompson, tense with anger.
“Well Coordinator, the experiment was conducted automatically by the program. We didn’t realize anything until the supervisor came to check the logs.”
Thompson walked away in disgust. He had a serious problem now. The boy knew far too much about the future. He couldn’t be allowed to alter the past; there could be unimaginable consequences.
A young, blond-haired girl walked across the street. She wore a red parka and a grey plaid skirt. The fading sun was low against the horizon. A fall breeze sent leaves fluttering above the ground. Aged and weathered trees loomed, overshadowing the sidewalk. The wind blew the girl’s hair across her face, and she brushed it gracefully aside with her hand. A block away, a blue car drove slowly towards her. A brown-haired boy ran across the street following her. His grey jacket and blue jeans were faded with time.
“Hey, Mary, wait up!” yelled the boy.
“Oh, hey Peter, what do want?” replied Mary, politely.
“I was, uh, wondering, if, well, it’s getting a bit dark, and you know how…would you mind if I walked you home?” stuttered Peter bashfully.
“Um, sure, I don’t mind,” replied Mary, cheerfully.
Peter watched as a blue car slowed beside them, a dark silhouette staring at them through the window. Then the car accelerated and sped away.