The Ancient 1.3
The room is poorly lit, but it proves to be an improvement from the darkness of the metal coffin Edward had just evacuated. The main source of light in the room comes from a long, narrow window high in the wall near the ceiling. Below the window is a panel of glowing buttons and switches surrounding a computer monitor. There is just enough light to make out the dark forms of five other people in the room, all seated on the floor around him.
“What’s going on?” Edward asks.
“We don’t know,” the man beside him, the one he had stumbled into a moment ago, answers him. “I don’t remember the waking procedures from orientation. As best I can tell, they’re waking the survivors and gathering us all in one place.”
“Survivors?” Edward asks. Using the computer desk as support he manages to pull himself to his feet. He tries to peek out the window but it’s much too high; all he can make out is the curve of the ceiling and a few light fixtures.
“Yeah,” the man says. “It seems that a lot of people didn’t survive. They haven’t told us what happened yet; some sort of accident, I’m sure. Maybe we hit an asteroid in transit? That’s a big thing in space movies, right?”
“Yeah,” Edward lowers himself to sit on the ground again before his legs have the opportunity to give out. “But, that’s just a movie thing. Space is big, and there is usually a lot of it between things. Miles between asteroids and such. You could navigate a planet between them.”
“Are you one of the scientists?” The man asks.
“Nah,” Edward says. He tries to focus his eyes in the dim light, to make out some features of the people with him but all he can get are vague shapes. “Just an enthusiast. I watched the whole Cosmos thing, new and old.”
“I’m sure they’ll brief us soon,” the female voice speaks again. Edward turns and notices her standing in the corner. She seems to be the only one standing, the only one with the strength to do so.
“They could use better bedside manners,” another lady says.
“Did nobody notice how tall they were?” A quiet male voice asks from across the room. A few of the others respond with no’s but the standing lady says she thought she did. Edward doesn’t recall noticing anything out of the ordinary regarding their size, but he wasn’t in a position to notice.
“I didn’t notice,” Edward says. “But, the one who drug me in here seemed oddly strong. He just tossed me around.”
“They are soldiers,” the standing lady says.
“So we don’t know anything yet? A date? A planet? Did humanity go extinct?” The first man asks.
“Not extinct yet if there are people out there waking others up,” Edward replies.
“They’ll brief us soon,” the standing lady repeats with a tone of annoyance hinted in her voice. Edward has the feeling that she resents being locked in the room with the rest of them.
“That’s enough jabbering,” a voice comes from the heavy metal door as it swings open. A large shadow fills the doorway, blocking most of the light. Edward gawks at the man; he has to be at least seven feet tall as he has to duck just to see through the doorway and speak to them. The quiet man was right; they are unusually large.
“Come on,” the tall man says. He doesn’t demand that they come, it seems to be more of a suggestion as he nods his head and steps to the side. The room comes to life with activity as two others rise to their feet. The standing lady crosses the room and steps out into the hallway, as the other lady and the first man help Edward and the quiet man to their feet. He finds his legs are much more stable than they had been. After a few wobbly steps, he manages to get his balance and releases the man’s arm.
“Thank you,” Edward says. The man responds with a nod and exits the room as well. Edward waits for the other two to step out before following, raising his hand to shield his eyes as he steps into the brightly lit hallway.