Author’s note: What’s that you’re asking? Does this piece have a soundtrack? Of course it does!
The oddest thing about waking up, Protis mused, is that he never expected it to happen.
For a while he simply lay in place, savoring the feeling of sensation as his arms and legs regained their functions. He could feel his cells moving, growing, emerging from the stasis in which they had been imprisoned. He gazed at the cracked concrete ceiling above him and, slowly, his thin lips grew into a smile.
He could feel it. The world was different, now, much different than when he had last been forced to sleep. But some things would always be the same. He would always find a place for himself.
Protis began to lift himself up, rising out of the coffin in which he lay, but paused, momentarily concerned. He was feeling exceptionally weak; there was something that he was forgetting. Something important. Ah yes, breathing. He drew in a deep breath, filling his lungs for the first time in far, far too long. His smile widened as new oxygen rushed to his tissues.
Still half-sitting, half-reclining, he tasted the air as he took another breath. The levels of fluorocarbons and exotic pollutants were far lower than what he last remembered, although the sulfide and carbon dioxide levels were higher. So, the high-tech machines were gone, replaced by the old-fashioned fallback of fire and coal. This was perfectly suitable to him. Protis was, if anything, adaptable.
Now that oxygen was flowing through his system once again, Protis sat up in the coffin, looking around the room where he had lay for many years. A thick layer of dust covered everything beneath the heavy cement ceiling, and most of the computer equipment along the walls was no longer active. Smashed displays and dark instruments were everywhere.
It looked like the facility had been abandoned for some time, Protis mused, but they had kept the power on; all the machines had still been running, and he had still been forced to sleep. However, some sort of natural disaster must have struck after that. Large sections of the ceiling had caved in, smashing several important-looking machines to pieces.
A foggy and unpleasant memory drifted past Protis’s eyes, and he turned around in the raised coffin to look behind where his head had lain. Several thick tubes and cables spiraled down from the container, running off to some of the larger machines around the room. A single chunk of concrete had fallen onto this bundle of tubes, neatly severing the entire cluster. Protis grinned happily at the sight.
Swinging his legs up over the lip of the coffin, Protis dropped heavily down onto the dusty floor. “Ugh,” he groaned, with vocal cords similarly dusty from disuse. He patiently waited for his muscles to fully reboot. After several minutes, he climbed easily to his feet, his movements now fluid and confident. He lifted a hand, flexing and relaxing the fingers in experimentation. Ah, it was good to be alive again.
Protis raised one hand to his temple, squinting as he tried to collect his jumbled thoughts. He knew that they had poked around in his head. They hadn’t been gentle with their probes, either; their goal had been to rip out every enhancement he had installed. They had been fairly successful. The sheer fogginess of his brain was indication enough of that. But had they gotten everything?
The door to the chamber, a heavy piece of reinforced steel, sat crooked in its track but still blocked the exit. Protis eyed the door, sizing up the slab of metal, and then cocked back his fist. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, he hit the center of the door with a light jab.
He watched with a surge of pleasure as the steel crumpled and the entire frame pinwheeled backwards across the floor, literally torn from its hinges. He inspected his unharmed fingers. No, they certainly hadn’t gotten everything. And there was always more room for enhancements.
Without a glance back over his shoulder, Protis lightly strolled down the newly opened corridor, leaving the chamber behind. However, he paused about halfway down the hallway.
Turning on one heel, he sprinted back into the chamber, back to the coffin where he had lain for countless years. One kick split the coffin in half. More attacks reduced the computers and machinery around the room down to balls of torn and splintered metal. Protis didn’t stop his strikes, circling the room in a blur of destruction, until there wasn’t a single control panel or display left intact in the entire room.
He glared around the room, his prison for so many unfelt years. Standing atop the pieces of the coffin, he mentally checked his pulse. Low and stable. With a deep breath, he forced the anger and rage to drain away, leaving him cool and composed once more.
Once again, he began walking down the hallway, away from the chamber, seeking enjoyment in the simple freedom of moving his limbs. “Ah, tabula rasa,” he said aloud with happiness, seeing the glow of sunlight up ahead. “Let’s see what my children have been up to.”