Awakening — Part 3
Weeks pass, and I’m out of the hospital. In the weeks that passed I was taught how to use my com piece, an implant in my head that works similarly to a smartphone, as well as improved my coordination with my new legs and arms and use my augmented eyes to be able to analyze social situations, since I was already terrible at that. My voice had deepened slightly and the fat distribution has moved from my breasts to my stomach. As I stepped out of the door, a voice next to me groans. “Damn man, we haven’t had this much sun in a while.”
“Uh…are you sure we’re still in Phoenix?”
“Huh? Oh. Right. I guess I should explain on the ride to your place.”
I groaned, “You’re supposed to tell me this shit, you’re my doctor.”
He pulls out a pack of Marlboro Reds and offers me one. I take one gladly, and he lights us both up. I inhaled the smoke, held it, and exhaled. “Ah yes, sweet nicotine. How I’ve missed you.” Just then, a small car pulled up, opening both doors to us. I got into the front passenger seat, which oddly enough was facing the back passenger seat, and Dr. Jaffery got into the seat opposite me. “Please enter the destination on the holoscreen.” a synthesized voice said as the doors closed and a holoscreen dropped down between me and Jaffery. I took another drag of the cigarette as I watched him punch in the numbers of the address and hit “go”. The car announced the destination and estimated time it would take to get there, and pulled away from the curb.
“So. Care to elaborate on what you meant by “explaining”?”
“Ah. Yes, about that….um, basically, we’re in Tokyo. We had you transferred because the facility that was holding you got shut down, and you were the only cryo that had a good chance of coming back alive. The University also studied you while you were comatose. They were very interested in your back story you had going.” he said as he took a drag of his cigarette. Questions ran through my head at high speeds.
“Okay, so first of all, how does this cab know to speak English?”
“The com piece in your head. It works the same way that Bluetooth worked back then and transfers data about you, including your primary language.”
“And how is it that everyone I’ve seen doesn’t remotely look Japanese?”
Jaffery scowled at that remark, causing me to instantly regret saying it. “You know, there’s plenty of people in Japan who aren’t Japanese. The hospital that you were at happens to be an English speaking one, for foreigners like yourself.”
How convenient. I thought to myself as I took a drag of the cigarette. I glanced around the cab. “Are we allowed to smoke in here?”
“Yeah, there’s a special system that basically masks the smell with some flowery shit.”
“Gotcha.” I paused for a moment. “And you’re going to show me around right? How am I going to converse with the locals if I don’t know any Japanese?”
“We covered that. Your com piece works as a translator and will translate what they say to you, and it’ll read out what they said in English. Then, you think of your response and it will show you, phonetically of course, what to say back.”
“So basically Google Translate?”
“Okay. Seems easy.”
“Plus, a lot of people in Japan these days speak English, so about half the time you probably won’t have to use your translator unless you’re dealing with kids or elders. Or anybody who can’t really afford a com piece.”
“I see.” I replied, my voice cracking a bit. I cleared my throat and took one last drag of the cigarette, cracked open the window, and tossed the butt out through the slit. “This is a reminder to all passengers that you shouldn’t litter.”
Jaffery laughed. I looked out the window and stared at the skyline of Tokyo as we approached, the evening sun setting behind the Sky Tree. The dim glow of the city lights blurred as we passed by, the signs bright and flashing holograms in the shadow of the buildings. The buildings were plastered with moving advertisements of nearby dance clubs and hostess clubs, images of girls dancing under black lights. People crowded the sidewalks, a few noticeably drunk. A couple of men stood by their car, watching as we passed by. Yakuza. Their serious demeanor and slick suits were a dead giveaway, especially in these kinds of places.
We pulled up to an alleyway and came slowly to a stop. The doors opened, announcing our destination. I hesitated. “Is…this where the apartment is?”
Jaffery nodded. “Yeah, it’s around back. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you there.”
We went through the alleyway and around the back of the building. There, we were met with a set of metal stairs. We ascended the stairs together, the sound of bass kicking rhythmically in the building next door. “What is this, the red light district?”
“Pretty much it’s next door neighbor. I mean you’re not far from the Family Mart, so you can still get food. But keep in mind, this is Japan. Japan somehow seems to have much more, what’s the word, honor? So the chances of you getting mugged when you’re by yourself are pretty slim. But now that you have your augments, the chances of you getting mugged are even slimmer. Nobody likes to fuck with augs around here.” We approached a sturdy metal door, the only outstanding mark on it was a peephole. “Huh. Haven’t seen one of these in a while.” Jaffery muttered as he took my hand and placed it on the door handle. “Hold still.”
I waited, then a soft beep emitted from the door and a click. “Biometric….thingies?” Fucking nailed it, I thought to myself, disappointed in my lack of vocab. “Yep! We got your biometric data while you were asleep. A simple scan with our machines and you were covered.”
We stepped into the dark apartment, the lights switched on as we stepped in. “Welcome home, Koji.” A synthesized voice spoke in Japanese. To my right was the small kitchen, empty and barren. I stepped forward and glanced around. On the wall to my left was a television similar to the one from the hospital. A kotatsu sat across from it. In the upper right corner where wall to wall windows overlooked the red light district, a simple memory foam mattress and bed frame beckoned to me. A bookshelf-desk occupied the wall next to the bed, a holographic monitor sat on it. “It’s not much, but hey, it should keep you occupied.” Jaffery said, slipping his hands in his pockets and pulling out the pack of Marlboros. “As a parting gift, have these. I need to go get my Lucky Strikes anyway.” he handed me the pack and a lighter. “That’s awfully generous of you. Thank you.” I pulled a cigarette from the box and was about to light up when the thought crossed my mind. “We can smoke here, right?”
“It’s your place, you do what you want…within reason.”
“Okay good.” I sparked the lighter and lit the cigarette, taking a long drag. “Anyway I should get back to the hospital and let Ranstein know you’ve settled in. Later we’ll take you to the shopping district and get you some new clothes and look around for some tech to get you started. What do you say?”
“Hell yeah, man.”
Jaffery lifted his fist up to me. I paused, and knocked my fist against his. “I’ll see you around then.”
After he left, the first thing I did was get on the computer and did more research. In my day I spent my days stoned and scrolling through Tumblr. I wondered if there are any blogging platforms around? I took a drag of my cigarette, letting it dangle from my lip carelessly and using a paper plate as an ashtray, I found a website called Vloggr that was basically a video update website. I set up an account and set up my blog, titling it “Dazed and Confused”. The screen then prompted me to start my first vlog.
I sat at my desk, scanning the monitor for some sort of indication that the camera was on. The screen informed me that I was live, and yet I didn’t know where to look. “Um…” I forced out, “So, this is gonna be my first vlog in the year 2099. I uh…” What was I supposed to say? Tell them my whole life story? Tell them what I liked? “I’m Koji Hoshizora, I’m a writer from the year 2018. I’m….technically speaking 105 years old, but I was cryogenically frozen at the age of 24.” I paused, looking out the window. “Everything that’s happened to me has gone by in this confusing blur. The only thing I’m completely aware of is that, when I woke up to this world, I was alone. My family, my friends, my cat….they’ve been gone for a long time now. I’m in this…exciting yet utterly terrifying world. I’m not even in the country I went comatose in, I don’t speak one bit of Japanese, and that makes me feel more isolated and scared. I mean like…how am I supposed to make friends here? I don’t know about what’s cool now or what kind of programs people watch or what type of music is cool, or….” I trailed off, glancing back at the monitor. Still going. “I mean I guess I’m used to being alone, but it doesn’t make it any more comforting. I, um….got augmentations for a “job” I’m allegedly supposed to get sometime. First I have to get through some training classes for penetration testing. Then the guy who helped me with this,” I motioned around me, “this place, he uh…yeah, he’s gonna help me find a job in that field so I can get some income and buy food and be able to support myself and all that shit. I um….before they did surgery on my brain, I was diagnosed with several mental ailments including social anxiety, depression, autism, borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and ADHD. I’ve grown used to the loudness that was my brain, and quite frankly it makes me a bit anxious that my mind is so silent. I’m not used to this. I’m not used to any of this. But….I guess it’ll be a matter of time before I have a job, and friends, maybe even a girlfriend, and I’ll be used to being able to sleep at night without my mind interrupting my dreams, or turning them into a nightmare.” I paused, biting my lip anxiously. “I guess the only thing I can do right now is move forward.” I hesitated, then reached out and pressed the stop button on the screen. A loading bar flashed before me, informing me of the upload. I stood up from my desk and collapsed into my bed, the warmth engulfing me like a warm hug. I gazed out the window, watching the holograms and city lights dance before my eyes, the city ambiance making me drowsy. I closed my eyes and, focusing on the sound of the streets below me, I fell asleep.