C4 Chapter Four: The Recoverer
James woke up to the sound of an electrocardiograph machine on a hospital bed. He had no idea how he got there. He made an attempt to sit up.
“Easy, champ!” Said a voice not far from him.
James turned and saw a man dressed in a black suit sitting on a chair next to the window.
“Who are you?” James asked.
“I’m agent Victor,” said the man, “I work with the…”
“How did I get here?” said James.
“Oh um…after the agency lost contact with your station. Truth is there was nothing anyone could do at that time because well, let’s face it; the entire world was thrown off balance and there was chaos all over. So you guys were the least of the world’s problems. But uh…somehow, things got back to normal and then three days later, you were found lying fully kitted on top of the Launchpad.”
“What?” James responded.
“Well, I don’t know what happened or how you did it, but uh…” Victor said, “I think as much we’ve witnessed some classic crazy out-of-this-world stuff lately, you on the other hand have a lot of explaining to do at the panel, my man!”
“Panel?” He said, “How long have I been here?”
“From the day you were found to now, say seven days?”
James gently laid his head back on the pillow. The thought of Maurine Johnson flashed his mind. Her beautiful smile surfaced, accompanied by echoes of her scream.
James covered his face with his two hands and suspired sadly.
“Hello, James!” Said a woman who walked in, “Hmm! Finally awake I see!”
“Awake?” James responded, he took his hands off of his face.
“Yes, James!” The woman said, “I’m doctor Tania, and I’ve got to say you’re some kind of a miracle; Ever since they brought you here we’ve ran some test and thorough diagnoses on you over and over again, and found out you have sustained no injury or whatsoever. We were all puzzled to discover that you were only…sleeping, like a baby!”
“Babies don’t sleep quiet like that!” Victor said.
“You’re damn right,” said the doctor. “I’ve never seen anyone enjoy their sleep like this big baby. So I’m going to ask you a few questions just to be sure.” She held up a pen and a folder, “First, do you…”
“I know where I am,” James said, “I’ve been here before; DT Hospital, central part of the city. And I remember everything; my name is James Shinoman. My home address is 110481BH Seer Crescent, Sojourner.” He paused, “I left for a mission along with a group of astronauts on the…”
“I think it’s established you’re…okay!” Victor interjected, “Right doctor?”
“Oh well, yeah!” She answered, “My job here’s done! You’re good to go!”
“Like, I can go now, if I want to?” He said, softly.
“Yes, sir!” Replied the doctor.
James gently removed the sensors taped to his chest and arm. He got up and slowly stood on his feet. He sighed then sat back on the edge of the bed. His mind wandered away. He turned and looked at the doctor and the man who introduced himself as agent Victor.
“I think I’ve recognised your face!” James said, “I saw you before we left for the mission!”
“Welcome back, James!” Victor responded. He pulled out a device and ran his finger as though typing a message.
“Did they leave me any shoes?” He asked.
“Flip-flops!” The doctor said, “Under the bed!” she helped pulled some slippers from underneath the bed.
James gently slipped his feet into the soft Flip-flops and stood up, he carefully walked out of the room, leaving agent Victor and the doctor.
As he walked out of the hospital, James decided to take a walk and not bother looking for a cab; he noticed how the city had totally changed; there were lots of burnt vehicles on the streets and so many buildings devoured by fire, planes and satellites that crashed from the sky. Just a few buildings still on fire. But it seemed the people had begun to pick up the pieces of their lives back together.
“No more taxis, James!” Said a familiar voice in a car behind him.
He turned and saw the agent, Victor.
“Let me give you a lift!” He added, “The world isn’t what you left behind before your mission, James!”
James stopped, he looked around him and couldn’t imagine what happened while he was up in space, and after a long thought, he hopped into the agent’s car.
“A lot has changed, man.” Victor said as they drove through the city.
“What happened?” James asked.
“Well,” Victor said, “The day the earth shook, the entire world was thrown into a pandemonium; planes falling from the skies, explosions, entire stadia swallowed by earth. Lots of people died across the globe, about a quarter of the world’s population. And the entire children? Well, the entire children around the world have disappeared, man. Just like that!”
“Just like that!” Victor added. “Are you hungry, man?”
“Kind of!” He said.
“Nice, I’m starving too.” Victor said, “We’ll stop by at Nuke’s and grab a bite.”
“I don’t feel like eating anything, for now!” James said.
“Okay, we’ll stop by and I’ll grab a bite for myself, then we move!” Victor said, “You cool with that?”
“Some crazy thing, man!” Victor said, “I’ve been assigned to report to the agency once you’re up, which I’ve already did. And this is for you.” He handed a brown envelope to James, “I believe you recognised the seal!”
James nodded as he opened the envelope. It was a letter from the agency, asking James to report as soon as he received the message. James was summoned to give an account of what occurred on the station and how he ended up being the only survivor. He had no idea what to tell them but he was ready to face them.
“So, I guess you’re not really taking me home then!” James said.
“Nope!” Victor said, “I’m taking you to work!” He sighed, “The good thing is, almost half of the world’s population have lost their job, and it appears you’re still considered an asset! So that’s good news!”
Agent Victor drove through the city, they stopped by at a fast food joint that appeared dilapidated. Victor bought some bugger and beverages, then took James back to the agency.
On reaching the facility, there were presence of construction workers around the premises trying to renovate the installation. Victor led James to a conference room.
A man in his mid-fifties sat in the middle of the six men that appeared to be the judges. James was asked to sit at the centre of the room.
Agent Victor walked out of the room.
“Please, sit!” Said one of the judges.
James walked across the room which had six seats occupied by six men with a long table laid before them, and one chair in the middle of the room kept not far from the table. He sat on the chair.
“You don’t mind me addressing you as…Mister? Right?” Said the man that appeared older among the men.
“No, sir!” James replied.
“Good!” The man responded, “Mister uh…James Shimon?” He readjusted his reading glasses.
“James Shinoman!” James said.
“James Shinoman, yeah!” The man murmured, “Oh, yes! Mister James Shinoman…have you read the letter sent to you by the agency?”
“Yes, sir!” He answered.
“You can address me as, Clarkson, son!” Said the man, “If you so wish!”
“Alright, sir!” James said.
“Good! Good!” Clarkson said, “Because we have a law in this country, and the agency you work for operates solely under that law. I believe you also took an oath when you got signed up for this mission. So it’ll be of best interest to you to know that any act by you and or anyone in your position that is deemed as a threat to this nation, will be dealt with consequently. In order words, sharing any information about your mission and or what occurred up there to anyone other than this committee will be labelled as treason! And you shall be handed to the authority for further action. Do you understand?”
James nodded his head in agreement.
“For the record, could you please state your response audibly?” Clarkson said.
“Yes, I understand that any act by myself and or anyone in my position that is deemed as a threat to this nation will be dealt with, consequently!”
“Good! Good!” Clarkson added, “Have you shared any information with any national or foreign agent concerning the incident that occurred which left the entire crew of the BX9 shuttle dead or missing?”
“No, sir!” He answered.
Some of the men in the room cleared their throats, some grumbled.
“How did you survive the incident, Mr. James Shinoman?” Clarkson said.
“Seriously?” Said one of the men sitting next to Clarkson, “You’re asking a religious guy how he’d survived such a gruesome incident, a Christian for that matter. Come on, Clarkson, we all know the answer. What else would he tell you?” He snorted, “God…or best yet, Jesus saved me!”
The rest of the judges laughed.
James only smiled.