A Day In Nature

Below is a short piece of science fiction. I hope you enjoy it!

 

“Trees, trees, trees. More trees. More stones…and rocks. Where is that land marker? Where am I? Am I lost?” Heather muses to herself.

She reaches into the bag slung over her shoulders, then takes out a map. She brushes her finger over the smooth, worn paper.

“According to this, I am supposed to be standing right in front of the trailhead. However, the current circumstances have me facing a very, very large tree. Quite disappointing, really.”

Heather proceeds to fold the map and slip it back into her hiking bag. She turns to whichever direction she hopes the trail is in and begins to trudge along the soft, floral ground. She hikes for another hour and, exasperated, throws her hands up in frustration.

“This is useless! I have no idea where I am, and I have a limited supply of provisions! I came to the Redwood Forest to hike and enjoy the scenery, and now, look at what I have gotten myself into. Ugh…I have to find my way back to my car.”

As you can tell by now, Heather is quite a personality. As a photographer who travels from city to city to photograph the local people, culture, and architecture, Heather is a woman who spends most of her time in the city and hardly goes out into nature. So, this day is special to her; she has finally decided to explore the world around her. But, evidently, Heather set the bar a little too high on her first day.  

Disoriented, Heather trudges on until her feet ache, and the sun hangs high in the sky. The tired artist is walking and snapping photos in a tiny meadow of ferns when she hears a weird sound. Cocking her head and stops walking. Heather listens intently, but no other sounds follow. Heather slowly takes another step and hears the same sound. She freezes and slowly turns around. The noise sounds again.

Heather lifts her leg and stomps on the ground as hard as she can. The noise becomes louder.

“Oh, it is hollow. I am standing on top of some compartment,” Heather sighs with relief.

She then bends down and begins to spread the leaves and dirt away with her hands. After scraping everything away, Heather reveals a metal hatch door in the ground. She fumbles around for a handle. The door creaks as she lifts it to reveal metal rungs leading down into the darkness.

“Should I? No, probably not. But if I don’t, it’ll bug me. No. Don’t do it. Do not do it, Heather. Some monster is probably down there, waiting to kill you. It is a bad idea. Very bad. Oooohhhhh, but it is so tempting. After all, it is kind of your job to discover new places, isn't it? Come on. What could happen? Oh, what could happen? You could die, have a painful death! That could happen. Oh, but I really want to know. Yeah, I’m doing it. God, please don’t let me die. Okay, here I go,” Heather mumbles to herself as she stands over the opening.

Having made her choice, Heather carefully places her foot on the first rung and slowly descends into the darkness. Once on the bottom, Heather pulls a flashlight from her bag and switches it on. The light reveals a room that looks entirely empty except for a single desk and chair positioned at the end. A pair of metal doors are behind the desk to the right. Heather passes the desk and opens one of the doors.

On the other side is a vast room with papers strewn everywhere. Tables with glass measuring tubes and jars are stationed throughout the chamber. Some are empty; others contain colorful liquids. Shelves filled with files line the walls. Several chairs and shelves have toppled over, and shattered glass covers the floor.

“They must have left in a hurry,” Heather says as she slowly advances and picks up a piece of paper. It is some sort of scientific diagram written in German.

“Good thing I know five languages,” she says to herself and studies the paper.

“January third, 1945? What? This place is from World War II?” Heather exclaims as she notices the date written on it. “What were you studying?”

Heather aims her flashlight at the end of the room and sees another pair of metal doors. She makes her way to them, weaving through the toppled chairs and tables. She opens one of the gates to reveal a second room with the same contents and a pair of doors on the other side. Heather crosses the chamber and walks through the next set of gates. This time, a long hallway extends for several yards with multiple doors on either side.

A set of swinging doors is located at the other end. Heather walks down the hallway, occasionally shining her light into one of the rooms, finding nothing more than tables and shelves. She finally gets to the swinging doors and pushes through them. Heather stops completely and stares at the sight before her.

There, in the center of the room, is a table with a fully preserved body on it. A white sheet covers the lower half of the body, and a set of dog tags hangs from its neck. Beside the table is a stand with three vials and a syringe on it. She aims her flashlight at the body and notices its chest rise and fall.

“Oh, my gosh! He is breathing! He is alive! Could this get any weirder?” Heather exclaims. “Yep, yep, he is definitely alive,” she says as she touches his warm skin.

Heather then focuses her attention on the table. Numerous buttons and handles with undistinguishable symbols protrude from one of the sides. She spins her light around the room to see a switch mounted on the wall. Not being the brightest in a strange situation, Heather turns it on.

“Please let this be a light switch,” she prays, and a low noise invades the bunker. “Ah!” Heather exclaims as lights flicker on one by one. Triumphant, she swings her flashlight and says: "Well, well, well, Would you look at me?" Not being the aptest at hand tricks, the flashlight flies off her hands, landing on a random button located on the table.

Heather sucks in her breath and hears the table activate. A bright glow begins to surround the mysterious body; she covers her eyes. After the light fades, Heather raises her arms in a defensive position and slowly opens her eyes. The body's chest rises higher as it inhales and exhales deeply. After repeating this action multiple times, the body groans and opens its eyes. 

The man sits up in a daze and adjusts his eyes. Then, he turns his head away from the bright light located over him. Cautiously, Heather attempts to shade his eyes with her hand.

“Is this any better?” She inquires.

The man, realizing there is another person in the room, slowly looks up at her. His soft brown eyes stare in confusion. “Who are you?” He asks.

“My name is Heather. I, um, accidentally woke you up,” she answers apologetically.

The man nods and rubs his eyes. He reaches out and lowers Heather's arm. “Where am I?” he asks.

“California,” Heather informs and picks up her flashlight.

The man looks around, and fear strikes his face. “Are, are, they still here?” He whimpers and stares at Heather. “You’re not one of them, are you? Why are you here? They’ll kill you if they find you here. You need to get out, now!” her orders and starts pushing her towards the door.

“Whoa, there. You don’t have any clothes on. So, why don’t you just sit back down for a minute?” Heather gently guides him back to the table. “Also, whoever was here left a long time ago. You and I are the only ones,” she assures him.

“Wha...what do you mean? Is the war over?” He asks.

“World War II ended in 1945. This is 2020,” she clarifies.

“Two thousand and twenty?”

“Yes. What is the year you remember?”

“1945.”

“Oh...So, you’ve been sedated for 75 years”

“Seventy-five years? But...How is that even possible?”

“Science. The people here probably did some….uh…. (how do I say this?) scientific stuff to you. By the way, what’s your name?” Heather changes the subject.

“Ian. Ian Grant,” he answers. Ian’s voice becomes stronger as he fully awakens and further comes to his senses.

“Well, Ian, do you want to get out of this place?” Heather asks.

Ian nods and stands. Heather turns around as he ties the sheet around his waist. She raises the flashlight as a weapon and advances towards the door. 

“Didn’t you say everyone left?” Ian says.

“Yeah. Well, I am a single woman who stumbled upon a secret German laboratory while hiking in the forest and revived a naked man who has been sedated for seventy-five years. So, forgive me if I am being cautious,” she blurts.

Ian smirks and places himself in front of Heather. 

“Ready?” Ian asks Heather. She nods. He opens the door, and they begin their journey.