DARC AGES - BOOK ONE: The Awakening
(Sample of the revised 2016 edition) - a novel by A.R.Yngve
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It could not remember its name, or even if it really existed.
All that it was - all that was - was a white, numb blankness suffused with an existence; an existence that perceived itself as a soundless yelp, a needle-point of being balancing on a pinhead of reality. It did not move, breathe, or eat; it merely was (though it did not know what it was, having no memories or impressions to compare itself to). It did not think, it just existed.
And suddenly, there was a difference: it did not understand it at first, having no reference-points. Then the difference became stronger, split up into separate impressions:
Sensation... Tiny stings of feeling, multiplying, defining a shape; it became aware of the fact that it had a body.
Memory... It became aware of its name: David. David Archibald. It was a he, a man.
Emotion... David felt pain, increasing heat, rising fear. Then he realized that the heat was decreasing cold; he was freezing to death, and he could not move or see - he screamed. There was no sound, because he did not yet breathe. He was suffocating! Yet something supplied his brain with oxygen.
The recall rushed through David's mind now, bits and pieces of memories: His ex-wife and two children, hunching over his bed; the little girl crying as she tugged his hand.
"Please don't go away, Daddy."
He said: "I promise."
His ex-wife's eyes, looking away. What was she hiding?
Another memory: Dr. Takenaka speaking to him.
"The organic anti-freeze liquid has been extracted from Antarctic fishes. It will prevent your cells from bursting during the delicate thawing processes. But the cancer... well, that's up to the future to solve. Do you believe in life after death, Mr. Archibald?"
Memories of music and song…
He was standing on a stage as a young man, singing under the glare of lamps in many colors. Or was that really himself, standing there?
He remembered a white, very clean room where he sat late at night, obsessed with finding something. Images of microscopic life-forms, molecules, cells seething with activity.
The memory of the first time he kissed a woman. He did not remember her name, but the expression on her face as they embraced – the ecstacy…
The first time he saw his newborn child. It was so small! So vulnerable.
A boy shouted at him: “Dad! Look at me, Dad! Look at me then! Dad…” The voice started to sound disappointed, and he felt that he had made a great error.
A very early memory: He was a small child, dressing himself up as king, with a paper crown and a red tablecloth for a mantle, and he looked himself in the mirror. The feeling of power! that the robes of office gave him. The shame and littleness when his mother, so much bigger, discovered him and smiled.
The cold. The cold that crushed his bones, clawed at his heart. The pain was growing unbearable. David was dying, and he understood it now. A tunnel of light opened in the darkness, and he approached it faster and faster. At the end of the tunnel he discerned a shadowy figure, stretching out its arms to welcome him...
And the figure vanished before him. His body was jolted by a burning shock - air was pressed into his lungs and forced them to move. His heart took a first, numb beat - then another, and another. His vision went red as blood streamed through his eyes. His aching ears were suddenly attacked by a torrent of sounds, a world of noise crashing onto his heavy head.
David opened his eyes.
First, it was all a blur of light and shadow.
The light stung, so he shut his eyes for a while. The noise settled to a murmuring of wind in his ears. Time passed. David breathed and blinked and ached.
Gradually, the blur grew more focused: he was looking up at a dark ceiling, while surrounded by monstrous figures that hunched down over him. David could taste blood in his mouth, and feel the tubes stuck into his mouth and up his nose. The figures above him were wearing some kind of coveralls, and face masks with visors over their eyes.
David tried to move his head, but the effort almost caused him to faint. With another effort, he sucked in extra air to talk. A wheezing sound escaped his throat. Someone removed the tubes from his mouth, and he tried speaking again.
"Bhhh..." he whispered, until the pain in his throat stopped him. The words he was striving for were "Bloody hell!", but they didn't come out quite right. He lay still, and let them tend to him.
One of the figures bent down close to his ear, and asked in a muffled voice: "Can... you... hear... me? Do... you... understand?"
A foreign accent, David thought sleepily. Italian? German? Asian? He wheezed a pained "yes".
"Remain... still," the voice said soothingly. "You... need... rest. Blink one for yes... or blink two for no. Do... you... understand?"
David summoned all his strength and blinked once, with one eye. There were cheers from somewhere in the room. He was too tired to feel happy or angry, but he was awake. And he remembered something else: The cancer! They woke me up in the future, but I'm still sick. I must tell them! He tensed with panic as he tried to gasp a few words, then sank back exhausted.
The men in coveralls surrounded him again, injecting him with something. The calming voice with the heavy accent explained that they knew about his disease, and that he was already being cured.
David fell asleep, thinking: Kids, I'll see you again as I promised.
Bor Damon's team of trusted physicians and technicians were keeping David in a specially equipped, sealed chamber of the castle hospital. Librian left the isolated chamber by way of the double-door and entered the observation room, where Bor had been watching the revival of the man from a window. Librian pulled off his rubber face mask, his face red and sweating.
Bor turned from the observation window and addressed him impatiently: "Well? Is he recovering as he should?"
The old man sighed heavily, sitting down: "Yes, my lord. His spinal cancer was no great challenge, the doctors have had cures for such ailments for centuries. What I worry about is his will to live. He is still very weak and thin, and must work up his strength. It will take all his willpower."
Bor made a sly face: "That does not seem to be a problem. The fellow has spirit - he fought to speak almost as soon as he woke up." He frowned, and added: "But why is his hair so white? He is supposed to be in his prime."
Librian began wiping the moist off his glasses, and did not listen. A physician who was entering the observation room, pulled off his face mask.
He had overheard Bor's question and eagerly fell in: "Perhaps a side effect of the long freezing period, my lord. We have not come across such a case ever before. If you, my lord, would permit me to take the patient to my laboratory for further study..."
The doctor looked hopefully to the feudal lord, who restlessly moved about the small chamber in his rough hunting-clothes of leather and felt.
"Your wish is denied," Bor said curtly. "You will keep silent about this for now, under penalty of death."
A stern gaze from his blue eyes silenced any objection the doctor might have made; the physician went pale and bowed obediently. The next moment, he left the room. Librian put his cleaned glasses back on his head and continued talking, absent-mindedly.
"Yes, he has great inner strength, my lord. But bear in mind, that he surely was not meant to sleep for nine hundred years! To him, it must be as if he fell into sleep only yesterday. When he understands that the ancient world, his wondrous Golden Age is gone... then he might lose his will to live."
"So what will you tell him?"
"Nothing, my lord. I will just keep him from the world, until he is strong enough to face it."
Bor Damon seemed content with this solution: "Good, good. Besides, it would look bad to show him in this haggard state - I would risk becoming the laughing-stock of the nobility. Keep him from my sight - and especially my family. I will be away hunting in the castle gardens for the rest of the day."
Bor strode out, leaving the old scholar and his new guest from the past.
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