Flat on my back, I wake in total darkness.
Where am I? What the hell happened to me? It’s so hard to remember… Was I driving?
My memories are… muggy. It feels like I’m coming off the worst hangover ever. Confused images and sounds flash through my head like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle tossed in a blender. There’s the country bar I go to on Thursdays. Toby Keith playing on the radio. Blinding lights flashing like a strobe. My red Ford pickup driving down Route 22. A deep thrumming sound, crushing in its intensity. Screams. A s**y little brunette leaning over a pool table. It seems like she should be familiar.
The name comes to me from somewhere out of the recesses of my mind. That’s right, her name is Sarah. We’ve been hooking up for a while but really only started getting serious a couple of months ago.
Was she with me?
I try to move but can’t. With dawning horror I realize I can’t even feel my limbs.
Ohgodohgodohgod nonono I cannot… I cannot be paralyzed. Jesus, did I get in a car crash? Did I break my f*****g neck? No no no this can’t, god, this can’t be happening!
Without warning the lights turn on, so intense it’s all I can do not to cry out. I can’t identify the source; the light is coming from everywhere and nowhere. I try to close my eyes to shield them against the piercing brightness but find I can’t even manage that.
What the f**k? Even quadriplegics can blink, can’t they? Jesus, what is this s**t?
My eyes start to water and I feel a scream building in my throat as the light pierces my head like an ice pick. Movement catches my eye and a figure stands before me. It’s Sarah.
Wait, what? How is… I’m lying down! I have to be! I can’t feel my freaking legs! How is she standing in front of me?
“Hello, David,” Sarah smiles at me, “I imagine you have a few questions.”
Did you do this to me? What the hell is going on?
I try to scream but my voice is as unresponsive as my eyelids.
“Ah, not so loud. I can hear you just fine,” she smiles again. “We don’t have much time, so I’ll try to give you a quick overview.
“We’ve been watching you for a very long time, David. You possess certain genetic traits that are incredibly interesting to us. Nothing you’d notice unless you had someone map and analyze your genome, and even then you’d need to know where to look. But the potential in your genetic code! In a planet of over six billion people only a few thousand possess the specific sequences you do; just a few small sparks in a yawning abyss of mediocrity. Your many times great-grandchildren would ultimately provide mankind with its next evolutionary leap ushering in a new dawn of humanity, lights to ward off the coming darkness. But the dark is swift and we can’t afford to wait for evolution to take its natural course.”
What are you talking about? Did you drug me? Why can’t I move?
“Our technology is significantly more advanced than anything you are familiar with. You are currently being held in stasis because it wouldn’t do for you to damage yourself.”
A strange multi-armed machine appears beside her, each appendage capped with a wicked looking instrument. I can’t identify the function of any of them, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.
“The necessary techniques to harvest your DNA are rather invasive and extremely uncomfortable. Even more unfortunate is that anesthesia interferes with the data manipulation. Ah, but we are almost out of time.”
She pats my forehead which I chillingly realize I can feel perfectly.
“David, I truly regret the suffering you are about to endure. If it is any consolation to you, please know that you will be contributing to the greater good.”
No! You psycho b***h! Don’t you f*****g touch me! You stay the f**k away from me, Sarah!
“Oh, I’m sorry, David. I only took this form because I hoped it might do something to calm you.”
She moves out of my line of sight.
“We have Sarah in the next room.”
Clicking and whirring, the instruments on the machine come to life and slowly, agonizingly extend towards me.
The pain hits like a sledgehammer to the back of my skull. It feels as though every nerve in my body has been simultaneously lit on fire. Incredibly, rather than subsiding the pain only intensifies until there is nothing else.
Can’t. Scream. Can’t. Can’t. Think. Can’t… I’m aWakeaWakeaWake WakeWakeWake.
No. TheWake. TheWoman. TheWomanInWhite.
Compared to the other pain the still blinding light is almost forgotten. Finally, I identify its source, two spheres burning like miniature suns at eye level. They float closer, so close that I can’t see anything else, close enough to burn, close enough to
“David, watch out!”
Sarah’s scream startles me and I swerve, narrowly avoiding an oncoming semi. Somehow I must have drifted lanes.
Did I fall asleep at the wheel?
Nerves frazzled, I pull over to the side of the road. My hands are shaking. On the radio Toby Keith and Willy Nelson are singing about giving beer to their horses.
“Jesus, that was close. Are you OK, babe?”
Sarah is staring straight ahead, eyes welling. Her mouth moves wordlessly for a moment until she turns to me.
“I’m pregnant,” she blurts out, “oh, God I didn’t mean to tell you like this but…I’m sorry, David. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I wanted to wait until I had decided, but we almost just died and….”
Words fail her and tears start to run down her face. Hair mussed, mascara running, she’s never been more beautiful.
“Hey,” I reach over and gently wrap her in a hug,
“It’s OK. We’re in this together. I’m here.”
I sit there just holding her for a long time, headlights from passing traffic periodically washing over us. Thick clouds overhead finally let loose a gentle rain that patters softly against the cab, drowning out the world. A low roll of thunder sounds ominously in the distance. We are wrapped in a cocoon, Sarah and I; just us, the rain, the gathering storm. And the child. My child. I’m going to be a father. And, although I’m sure it’s a thought all parents have, I just can’t shake the feeling that this kid is going to be something special.