“Hey, Sleepyhead. Wake up,” said a familiar voice out of a still blurry unrecognizable face.
“Marcel, is that you?” Levi asked.
“Yes, it’s me, my friend. How are you feeling?”
“A little bit lightheaded. Are we in a hospital?” he rubbed his eyes while still trying to see through the blur.
“Not exactly. Can you sit up?”
“What do you mean, ‘not exactly’? How long have I been out?”
The blur was slowly going away. The room was not like any other hospital room Levi had seen before. It felt more like a single-bed studio apartment from the future. The objects and furniture could easily have come out of a Star Trek movie set. Indirect lighting coming from inside the walls enhanced the room’s modern and futuristic ambiance. Everything was white. The walls, the little sofa by the bed, the small table with four chairs across the room, the flower vase, the water bottle on the table – all white. Marcel approached, holding a cup of water, and sat on the edge of the bed.
“For quite a long, long time, my friend. Here, drink some water,” Marcel said.
Levi sat up and his vision cleared completely. Feeling lost, he still tried to figure out where he was. He looked at himself, which made him even more confused. He was dressed in some kind of hospital clothing for patients. He might have been in a coma for a long time, but he certainly didn’t feel like he was waking up from a vegetative state. His eyes focused on Marcel now. He looked different.
“What did you do to your face? Did you get Botox or something?” Levi asked.
“Come on! Put this on and let’s eat something. You must be hungry.” Marcel said, handing Levi a pair of sneakers, jeans, and a NASA t-shirt.
“Seriously?” Levi said, holding the t-shirt.
“What?” Marcel shrugged.
Levi went to the bathroom to get changed. “What!” Levi shouted in shock at what he saw reflected in the mirror above the sink.
“What’s the matter?” Marcel smiled, having a pretty good idea about what the matter was.
“What happened to me? Look at my face!” Levi said, not believing what his eyes were seeing. The wrinkles on his face were gone just like all the other imperfections that used to be there. “I look at least twenty years younger. How did that happen?” he asked, realizing that his body had also changed. He wasn’t that sedentary middle-aged guy anymore. He looked fine and fit.
“Let’s go, Levi. A lot more has changed while you were asleep,” Marcel said while leaving the room.
“What? Wait? What! How long have I been asleep exactly?” Levi asked leaving the bathroom and running after Marcel into the corridors. “Please, don’t tell me that we were subjects in some kind of cryogenic project…oh, wow!” Levi paused, with an upward tilt of the chin, astonished by the view from the hall. “Look at this place. Seriously, man! Where are we?”
“Come on. I want you to see for yourself,” Marcel said while getting into the glass elevator. The trip going up revealed a huge breathtaking underground structure. The elevator then emerged from the ground and opened its glass doors.
“Here we are, my friend. Welcome to the Future.”
They got out of the elevator into a vast two-story lobby with glitzy chandeliers, polished marble floors, and an impressive glass facade, which seemed to be the reception area of this place still unknown to Levi. Coming out of the elevator, looking through the glass facade, he could see the city outside. He walked past the receptionists behind this long, uniquely shaped tree trunk reception desk, where people lined up, on what seemed to be a particularly busy day. Levi was dazzled by what his eyes saw on the other side of the glass wall. The image was familiar to him, but not quite like he remembered it. “Is that the Brooklyn Bridge? Are we in New York?” Levi asked.
“New York indeed,” Marcel replied. “Welcome home, my friend. Come on. We don’t want to be late for dinner. We have some special people expecting us. They can’t wait any longer to see you again.”
They stepped outside the building. Levi stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, looked in all directions with his mouth wide in awe. Everything was very green. There were trees and all sorts of plants everywhere you looked. Trees were climbing up, coming out of, standing inside, or crossing through buildings. The scene made you feel like New York had been moved inside a forest. You could even spot what used to be considered wild animals walking or flying around, jumping between trees, as if that environment was home to them just as much as it was to us.
In contrast, there were no more cars, motorcycles, trams, buses, or any other 21st century ways of transportation. The usual urban noise, with the sounds of car horns, people always in a hurry, the subway train rolling underneath one’s feet, was gone. No more airplanes were flying over, no more idling diesel trucks, city buses along with clanking jackhammers, and ambulance sirens, no more smell of burning fuel, decomposing garbage, or any of the other stink odors typical to the big cities. All that had given way to sounds of birds singing, water babbling down a stream, leaves rustling in the wind, and occasionally you would hear some roars, quacks, trumpets, and other sounds from friendly creatures living close by. The air was so clean and pure that you could almost taste its freshness. Smiling people walked by, moving along at a pace that indicated no hurry at all.
Few buildings were sky-high. Just like the underground building where Levi woke up, most office buildings seemed to have grown deep down instead of up high. That made the vision of the Brooklyn Bridge emerging from a green ocean of trees, with no tall buildings competing for attention, even more awe-inspiring. But the famous historic bridge was no longer a highway for fossil-fueled vehicles. The asphalt was replaced by what looked like tubes. And, instead of cars, glass pods flew through them.
“Levi! Wake up! Right here,” Marcel yelled from a nearby transport station a couple of meters away from where Levi was standing still, barely breathing from amazement.
“This can’t be New York, man! What happened?” Levi said.
“New York is a very different place now. Most buildings of the Old World were partially or completely destroyed in the Final War. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the few monuments around that survived. Here comes the next Pod. Let’s get this one,” Marcel said.
“Old World? Final War?” Levi asked.
“Sorry. Long story,” Marcel said, getting into the pod after its white translucent doors slid open in front of them. “No worries. I am going to tell you all about it later.”
“Later? How about now?” Levi said before he stopped and exclaimed. “No! Is this?” He stepped inside the pod impressed by its high-tech futuristic look. “Is this a Hyperloop?”
“Yup,” Marcel replied. The Hyperloop was one of the main transportation systems used in the New Earth. It consisted of a system of tubes through which a pod could travel free of air resistance or friction. It worked with electromagnetic propulsion, using principles of aerodynamics and electromagnetism. The entire system functioned as a generator, producing and storing environmentally sustainable electric energy. The whole system functioned as a generator, producing and storing environmentally-sustainable electric energy. “That’s the one,” Marcel continued. “You can travel the whole world on it. Mostly underground, but when traveling on the surface, the views can be breathtaking,” he said. Levi was speechless, not believing that he was about to travel in an actual, fully operational, Hyperloop.
The pod floated through the city. Levi sat down, looking through the window with his mouth still open. The colossal top and side windows allowed him to scan the outside. Pointing and inquiring about anything and everything his eyes could see. Levi was overwhelmed and behaved like a little child in a toy store while they moved through a somewhat different highway of the future. He was born in that city. He used to know it like the back of his hand. But now so much had changed. He got excited in the rare moments when he could recognize a place, an old building, or a street that brought him straight back to his childhood. Marcel tried to answer each one of Levi’s questions with as many technical details as possible to please the curious scientific mind of his best friend.
“I missed you, man!” Marcel said sharing Levi’s excitement for a moment.
“Really? I thought you would enjoy not having to cope with me any longer. Freedom, at last, no?” Levi replied, clearly joking.
“Of course not. I have waited a long time for this day.”
“When did you become so sentimental?”
“I just missed my buddy. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Oh well, that depends. Are you gonna kiss me now? I’m not much of a kisser or a hugger for that matter, and you know it.”
“Ha-ha. Funny. You’re right. I should have enjoyed your absence while I could,” Marcel said slapping Levi affectionately on the back of his head.
Both were laughing, picking at each other just like the old days, making others in the pod look and smile at them. The lady on the other side of the pod showed interest.
“You guys seem to be having fun,” she said with a smile.
“My friend here was just resurrected today!” Marcel proclaimed.
“Oh, wow! Welcome back. Congratulations,” everyone in the pod said, standing up and coming to greet Levi. Surrounded by them, he felt like a celebrity, getting all that attention and love from those total strangers.
“Thank you, thank you. You are all very kind. Thank you,” Levi said while receiving congratulatory hugs and pats on the back. “Thank you. Happy to be here. Excuse us for a moment, please.” He walked away from the people, pushing Marcel to the side. He looked at him and asked, whispering, “What is happening? Do you know these people?”
“Not personally. No. Why?”
“Wasn’t that a little bit odd?”
“They understand what it means to be resurrected. They are happy for you.”
“What do you mean I was ‘resurrected’? Do you mean, like from a coma or something?”
“So, how exactly?”
“Well, you’d better sit down,” Marcel said.
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