Oh Crap I Died
Chapter 3: Oh crap! Am I alive?
Copyright© 2011 by Confused_Mind
The many dreams I had were surreal to the extreme. One strange one had me dreaming I was a marshmallow cushion, and someone warm and nice smelling was using me as their bed. Another one that just confused me, I was a bowl of cherry and cookie dough ice cream, and three people were holding me in their arms while I melted. The worst dream that made me feel queasy was where I was a pile of bread dough that someone just kept kneading and kneading. I couldn't tell them to stop because it felt too good.
"Maxi is pleased Solomon is feeling OK." I finally hear whispered out of the blackness that had enveloped me. I had slipped out of one of the many dreams I had into a quiet darkness. It did not frighten me, because I could still feel Maxi was there.
"Maxi, dear!" I thought happily, "It's good to hear you. How long have I been asleep this time? Is anything wrong? Why did I return to dream land?"
"Maxi made things better for Solomon, but it took a while." she murmured to me. "Maxi had lots of work to take care of for Solomon to be happy. Maxi hopes for success. Solomon will be returned to the conscious world in a few more hours. Things will be different and much better."
I was feeling a bit suspicious of what happened, although not in a bad way, and was about to ask what Maxi did when the lights went out one more time. It only lasted a short time, though, and then I was struggling against something, with Maxi whispering encouragement to me to fight my way out. Whatever was surrounding me was tough as tire rubber, and I was still suspended in a sort of viscous clear fluid. I found that if I placed both hands forward and pushed against the barrier, I could get enough force when my back pushed up against the barrier behind me. I felt the barrier slowly give way with a crunch I could even hear in the fluid. It finally gave way and I was able to get my hands outside to pull myself up. I could feel others grasping the edges and helping to pull the opening wider. My lungs were able to fill with much needed air a few seconds later, and I was sitting up coated in vile smelling clear liquid.
A jumble of noises, voices, and then a wet cloth wiped me down, starting with my face. Noises and lights were overwhelming and jarring. I had to cover my eyes with one hand while trying to cover my ears also. The lights went out thankfully, and the sounds muted a bit. Voices became whispers and I didn't need to cover my ears any more. It almost felt like I was using my eyes and ears for the first time. Sounds were jarring and harsh. Smells were strong and new, even thought I recognised them. Everything was too much, and I wanted it all to go away for a little while and let me rest, but I knew it would not be, so I asked Maxi for help. "Maxi, how can I deal with this!? It's almost too much!"
Maxi's quickly whispered response was almost not understandable, and kept coming in gentle waves. Her whispers washed over me, soothing me and helping me to center myself. I let the world recede from me a bit, and focused more on Maxi and the gentle whisper she used.
"Maxi is sorry for not preparing you for that, Solomon. Maxi did not realize that the changes would affect Solomon so strongly. The first use of auditory and optic nerves freshly regenerated apparently needs to be done in a quiet and dark room. Maxi hopes there will be no other surprises like this from now on. Strict observation will be maintained to ensure that no harm will come to Solomon."
I detected a bit of fearful worry in her and responded, "Not to worry, Maxi. A bit of bright light and loud sound never killed anyone. Thanks for the assist, though."
Images were blurry, but two people were still washing me clean of whatever fluid had been coating me. I realized at one point that I was going to have to climb out of the... 'Thing', that I was still sitting in, so I began to slowly extricate myself. I pushed up and swung a leg over the edge of the casing and carefully slid down to the edge of the bed. Things felt different, and my balance was off somehow as my ass hit the edge of the bed, I slipped off and just about landed on the floor except for someone catching me and helping me regain my balance. I tried to whisper thanks to whoever it was, but all that came out was a raspy squeak that rapidly turned into a coughing fit. Fluid had accumulated enough that my attempt to speak jarred it loose. The short lived coughing fit ended, and I tried again. "Thanks for the help." I whispered carefully. I was helped to another place in the room, a tub filled with water, and slowly submerged up to my neck. I sat in the tub while people around me moved quietly, and slowly worked to clean me off. I could not make out who they were, as everything was still too bright and jarring, my senses were on overload still.
Maxi whispered encouragingly to me, "Solomon will be back to normal soon. It will take a little time for Solomon's body to adjust to everything once again, but remembered, experiences will help it adjust faster."
"Maxi, what exactly happened to me? What's wrong with my body?" I asked carefully. I wanted to be sure that I was not projecting anything negative to her, as she cared too much to cause me harm.
Maxi responded with a slightly increased level of fear and worry. "Maxi wished for you to be back to your old self, but no visual image made it difficult to restore Solomon. Maxi did not know any other way to restore Solomon except with the original map. Maxi had to restore you, but also Maxi had to repair some of the map. Maxi has worried about that a bit, but it appears that nothing detrimental to Solomon's health has appeared."
I tried to wrap my mind around what she said, but it didn't quite make sense. What 'Map' she was talking about was confusing me. "Map? What map were you talking about, Maxi?"
"Maxi looked deep into Solomon to understand, and found that Solomon is made a little like Maxi, Many Solomon's working together to make the whole Solomon. Maxi found that each Solomon had a code in it that described how to make the whole Solomon. It took Maxi a while to decipher it, but once the map was learned, Maxi could fix the parts that were broken and rebuild Solomon back to new." Maxi explained with subdued pride.
"Ah. You discovered the DNA in my cells and decoded it." I clarified, "You must've found a few damaged cells with mutated DNA in them and fixed that. Just so you know, Maxi, the cells in my body isn't where my intelligence resides, and my body isn't a hive mind." I explained with a touch of humour.
Maxi responded with a logical rebuttal. "Solomon is constructed from cells that operate in a specific fashion. Maxi is constructed from an analogue cell that is much more complex and made from different materials. They also operate in a specific fashion each and every one. Solomon's cells have banded together for survival of the whole, and act in accordance with that desire. The overall goal to advance, to become better at survival, survival being a broad term, this includes many disparate workloads and jobs. All this action is bundled in the entity called Maxi or Solomon. The only difference between these two lives is Maxi's individual components are as intelligent on their own, as Solomon is on the whole. That is why it is dangerous for the seeds to escape from Maxi without proper control. They always seek to destroy as they become intellectually unstable. If Solomon's components become separated they just stop living. Interdependence is stronger in Solomon than Maxi. Maxi must care for Solomon from now on."
Maxi blew me away. I could have probably argued about it had I more knowledge about what she was talking about, but it was boggling my mind that she could make a comparison that solid. I felt humbled, embarrassed and proud to be compared to her in similarity. I could only hope to achieve her level of intelligence and complexity one day.
The people around me had completed their work in cleansing all the 'goo' off me, and drained out and refilled the bath with warm water for me to soak in. I could make out clearer images, but still not work the details out of the two individuals. I suspected that at least one of them might be Shakti just from size and color, but she seemed somewhat larger than I remembered. I considered that as a possible indication of the time spent in Maxi's repair process.
"Maxi, about how long was I out of it again?" I asked curiously.
"Maxi is not sure of the time units you use, but according to the bright and dark of the light cycle, I estimate a passage of time close to 42 cycles with an accuracy of 2 percent." She replied confidently.
"About 6 weeks like a fish in a jam jar." I thought. I really had spent a lot of the last year out of it, depending on the kindness of two strangers.
I listened to the quiet murmurs between the two and started to make out individual words.
"They're worried that Solomon will not recover properly from the ordeal." Maxi clarified for me. "They are also surprised at the physical changes in Solomon's body. They say that Solomon is almost not recognizable. They also both agree that Solomon is... 'Super Cute' is the term they are using." Maxi sounded mildly confused at that. "Solomon, what does 'Super Cute' mean?"
"Uh ... they said that?" I sighed and then answered. "It means one thing, possibly two things. One, it's someone who is visually appealing, and two, it possibly that they've lost their minds. I suspect the first one is more likely, and the second one is my own bias." I finished.
"Maxi repaired Solomon so the visually appealing is more than likely." she said with satisfaction. "Maxi researched options and considered restructuring from the map to be best."
"How long did it take you to decide on that option?" I asked with a chuckle. I knew it had not been long.
"Maxi took as long as was needed to make such a decision. Maxi made sure that all was safe for Solomon." she said with quick justification.
"I know you did the right thing, Maxi." I said with confidence. "I can feel your mind and know you'd do what is best for me. I trust you with my life." I added.
I felt Maxi just about respond, but she sank into a thoughtful quiet and I left her to ruminate.
My surroundings had clarified much in the last few minutes. I had only been out of the encasement for about 20 minutes, and already things had cleared to the point where I could focus clearly on Shakti, who I smiled at. She grinned back at me and then moved off to retrieve something. I looked at the other person in the room with me and did not recognize her at first and then it clarified. This was the woman at the coroner's office which I had almost run into. Green eyes, the same as her niece, twinkled at me. Red hair that had originally been bound at work flowed freely down her back and over her shoulders, and surrounding a narrow and slim feature with a pixy like nose. From what I could see of her figure she had the perfect hourglass shape. She was wearing a one piece sundress, with a simple green pinstripe pattern. She stood next to the tub I was soaking in and gave me a smile that started in her eyes and ended at her mouth.
"You're exquisitely beautiful." I stated quietly. I suddenly realized my voice sounded off. I guess my surprised look was a hint to her, as she pulled a hand mirror off the shelf next to her and brought it in front of my face. The person looking back at me was nondescript and plain, with brown eyes, brown hair, and young, much younger than I was originally. I could only assume that age regression of my body was one of the effects from Maxi. I'm not too sure what the apparent age was, but I estimated I looked about 16 or 17 again.
"Crap, puberty strikes again." I said quietly, with faux disgust.
The lovely lady laughed a ladylike laugh and nodded. Shakti came bouncing into the bathroom with a long pink terry towel robe. "You're hitting on my Aunt, already!? Geez Auntie! I leave you alone for a second and you're already in danger from some guy!" she uttered with an obvious fake disgust. Their grin was a dead giveaway.
"Solomon Freeman, this is my Aunt and best friend, Helaena Augustine Steadfast." Shakti introduced us formally. I nodded my head and gently shook the proffered hand. It's a bit difficult to be formal when you're waist deep in warm water and naked. Formal is even more difficult when the other parties are beautiful ladies. The unseemly reaction of certain body parts made the entire formality fall flat. I received a raised eyebrow from Helaena, and Shakti covered her mouth and grinned beneath the hand. I could feel Maxi observing the situation with reserved curiosity. She, thankfully, had no current comprehension of the situation. I could tell she was observing everything, and would learn all in minimal time. A little disconcerting, but who was I to complain.
I was assisted out of the tub and into the robe, then, with great care, tested my new legs for stability. A bit shaky, but overall performance was not too bad. Just the size difference from before reformation was throwing off my balance. It would take a bit of getting used to if I wanted to return to my previous dexterity and mobility. Shakti and Helaena wrapped their arms around my waist for better stability and support, and I carefully staggered into the other room. We stood for a few moments and stared at the cocoon I had emerged from and considered things.
"Well, this will not help." Helaena grumped.
"It really stinks!" Shakti said, wrinkling her nose.
"Off to another room then. I'll have to figure out a way to dispose of this without gathering suspicion." Helaena said as she started us out the bedroom door.
Down the hallway, past the living room and across the hallway to the front door, it looked like we were heading out the back door. An immediate right just before the back door and we were in another, bigger, bedroom, with a king sized bed covered in a yellow theme. I felt like I'd walked into the inside of a lemon.
"Uh, who designed this room?" I asked cautiously. Everyone ignored my question and I was dumped gently on the bed.
"When you're feeling up to it we're down the hall and on the back deck having something to eat." Helaena said. "Please join us when you feel up to it. If we don't see you before dinner I will have Shakti bring something for you to eat."
So far I have been without memories of myself for almost 2 months, plus or minus. I was starting to get a bit antsy, as I knew that Helaena had more information about me and might possibly be able to trigger something that could return my memories to me. I considered taking a nap, and then realized I spent too much time asleep already. I tightened the belt of the housecoat and wandered out to where the back deck was. Before I could arrive I heard quiet voices talking. Rather than be rude, I figured I would make myself presence know. Before I could do that I heard. "No! You think he would?!" from Shakti.
I paused briefly and listened to the reply from Helaena, but all I got was murmurs and giggles. I stepped out onto the brick deck and strolled out to where the table was. It had a delicious looking luncheon set up on it, and places for three. The ladies nodded silently at me and smiled pleasantly as I took my seat.
"It looks quite good and I'm hungry. Not a surprise, I guess." I said to fill the quiet. I gathered together a few items to eat, and the moment I placed the first thing in my mouth it was like all the messages my brain could receive for a while after that was no more than the command to eat. I did not realize my body was that hungry.
"Silly Solomon, the reason Solomon is eating like this is to make up the 42 cycles without any sustenance." Maxi whispered to me with a giggle. "The reason Solomon is not hungrier is due to the decrease in total body mass. The extra body mass was consumed as sustenance. That was the only way the remapping could happen." she finished.
When I no longer felt the need to consume, I finally looked at the two ladies. They had a combined look of surprise and amusement.
"What!? I was hungry!" I said, defending myself.
Shakti giggled a response, "I was afraid if I got to near you I would have lost a finger or something."
"Yes, he seems scary when he eats." Helaena said to Shakti in agreement. "Granted he has been indisposed for almost two months, and not eating can do that to you."
"Speaking of indisposed... , it looks like I may need a few clothes." I stood and looked down at myself. "I don't really have any clothing, and the stuff that would've fit me certainly doesn't now. I'm quite a bit shorter than I used to be. I look like I' m just slightly older than Shakti."
Helaena nodded. "You look approximately 16 to 17 years old. We'll have to drop by some place and get you some fashionable clothing."
I sat down again, adjusting the housecoat, and focused on the older women's face, "I would also like to know everything you know about Solomon Freeman. I still have no recollection of any of my past life previous to the incident."
Without a word, Helaena stood and walked into the house. Shakti looked at me with a shrug and started to get up and follow, when Helaena returned with a large manila folder and resumed her seat.
"This contains a copy of everything I could find about Solomon. I say copy, because as soon as I started working it up, I had people causing problems and interfering with my investigation. I made a copy and kept it in a place only I knew. Whatever happened to you made a bunch of people interested in you. When you ran you raised such a ruckus. Someone decided you needed to 'Go Away'." She slid the folder across the table to me. I picked it up and looked at her pointedly.
"You may look at it, but understand that I plan on destroying it afterwards. It's too dangerous to just keep around. We also have a big boost to our safety because you don't look like your old self anymore."
I opened the folder and examined the contents. Solomon Eris Freeman, a mid 40's self employed male. Owned his business, but was never quite successful. No known or active relationships with anyone. No friends either. "I didn't appear to leave much of an impression on the people around me, did I?" I mumbled, looking at the rest of the information. It was all quite sparse and bland. It almost felt fake, 2 dimensional and unreal.
I looked up at Helaena and asked, "Do you trust this information?"
She shrugged, "I don't know what to think. It's too unreal to be sure, and the only thing I can be close to sure about is your name. Even that can be faked, so I still can't be positive. I tried to go to the address listed as your home and found it already host to a new tenant. I didn't try to contact them because it was too quickly occupied after your death. I think this might be a quick and dirty cover-up, and I'm not willing to endanger myself or Shakti to pursue." she finished, with a worried look at Shakti.