i was part of a small team of people selected for this mission. we were strapped into pressurized suits that almost were spacesuits. we were given strict directions: we were to inspect this huge floating steel structure for damage, and report back. we would be followed around and be in constant radio contact with the craft that dropped us at the point where we would start our mission: a platform that looked like a helipad, but on the underside of the structure. the craft looked almost like some sort of alien spaceship, except that it wasn't flying saucer shaped.
when we got out, it was dark, but we could see the glow of the horizon. we were very, very high up. so high up, that nobody on the ground could see this structure floating over the earth. it was a structure that circled the earth, part of a failed project to revolutionize intercontinental travel. since it circled the earth, it held itself up, and wasn't connected to the ground anywhere.
one last instruction was repeated before we started our mission: it's paramount that we stay together and don't deviate from the plan. we had limited time and oxygen, and the craft that we just got out of couldn't get very close to the structure, so if anything went wrong, there would be limited options for rescue. and if we fell, we'd just burn up on the way down.
i was somewhere in the middle of the pack of our team: about 6 or 8 of us. one of the guys had a bulkier suit, and he had the emergency rescue equipment. we had to stay within range of him at all times. couple of the other guys had cutting equipment to take samples.
moving around at that altitude was weird at first, but then it became fun once i got used to it. gravity was significantly lower, and we had to anyway get around by hopping from spot to spot. it felt quite similar to how i imagined astronauts would get around on the moon, except that it wasn't solid ground here, just an endless lattice of layer after layer of girders.
we had some pretty bright floodlights attached to each of us, and it wasn't very hard to see what we were doing or where we were going, or even what the rest of the team was doing.
the horizon was beginning to get orange, more like the colours of a sunset than a sunrise. the sky was an inky clear blue.
i never looked down, but i did glimpse some lights far below us. we were so high up, we couldn't tell land from water - just splotches of twinkling swarms of light. those were probably entire cities.
i was more focused on getting around.
i was enjoying getting around. leaping from girder to girder, the way you'd imagine a chimp in a forest. using my arms and legs, pushing myself sideways, swinging myself around on a girder. all the while, i had my high speed 180 degree camera on, recording video of the girders and their condition.
the girders were thick and solid. the sort you'd expect to be strong enough to hold a skyscraper up. but there was evidence of corrosion. the paint had flaked off in most places, and the metal had spots of rust. some parts were completely rusted on the surface, but they were still solid and thick - there's no way such heavy metals could have rusted through and through. we were told to avoid touching rusted spots with our bodies though, as there was a risk rusted edges could cut or pierce our suits.
i moved swiftly and as deftly as i could, avoiding those rusty patches, taking bigger and more ambitious leaps, looking for a spot to grab on to only while i was mid leap, making a split second decision about which girder to grab, or if there wasn't any safe enough, kick at a girder to launch myself again into another leap.
it was exhilarating.
the rescue guy warned me i was moving too quickly, and he was having trouble keeping all of us in range.
the radio operator on the craft told us everyone (including msyelf) had made better progress than anticipated, and it was almost time for us to return. he gave us a few minutes more, and instructed us to move to the next landing pad (some distance away) in time.
and that's when i slipped. it was a badly judged leap, i hit my "foot" sideways on the girder, and bounced off. i heard the rescue guy panic as he saw me miss.
i still remember the scene. the sky getting light (but not quite), the earth a shimmering dark mass, no longer dominated by tiny twinkling lights. it was probably dawn on the ground, or almost so. the girders bright enough for us to see without our lights. the bright but cold light of the sun almost dazzling us through our tinted 360 degree visors.
everything seemed to happen in slow motion.
i managed to grab another girder with my finger as i flew past it. just about. it didn't stop me, but slowed me down and swung me towards another girder. i grabbed it and hung on, while my breath and heart beat caught up with me. something started beeping. probably my heart monitor or the radio, i was too panicked to tell. i was hanging from the underside of the girder. below me was nothing but thousands of metres of thin air - and eventually solid ground or ocean. i couldn't even look.
everyone rushed towards me. everyone was trying to get me on the radio. i finally managed to mumble that i'm okay. the radio guy on the craft said the mission is over RIGHT NOW!
the rescue guy latched on to me from a distance with a special magnetic link attached to a long cable.
and then i blacked out.
the next thing i remember, i was in a hospital bed. it was a somewhat shabby hospital, and it lacked air conditioning - there was a table fan whirring. it smelled like a hospital, but also slightly musty. the walls were discoloured, as if there's been a bit of dampness seeping. there were no windows. just two doors, near opposite corners of the room.
i was strapped down in the bed. i had a leg in a cast. i had sheets over me so i couldn't see what i was wearing, but i suspected it was a hospital gown.
not long after i woke up, a lady came over to my bed side. she was wearing a nurse's uniform. she looked asian. probably japanese, i thought. i didn't think i'd have ended up in korea or china.
she asked me how i felt. somehow i don't remember anything about her voice - or her face. but i do remember she was quite gentle. she took my pulse, checked my blood pressure, and asked if i would like to have the restraints removed from my hands.
i was too full of questions to answer her, but she told me to be quiet as soon as i started with the first one. she said we were being listened to, and we'd have to move out from here soon, so i had to make the most of the hospital for as long as i was allowed to be here.
she asked me about any aches and pains, while lying down, while moving my head, or arms. she asked me to sit up and took my leg (which was in a cast) out of its sling. she asked me to move without getting off the bed, and let me know if i had any aches, stiffness or anything out of the ordinary. i told her the only thing that seemed out of the ordinary was my leg in a cast.
she asked me if i was hungry. i was, so she went through one of the doors and brought me a bowl of soup in a plastic bowl, with a plastic soup spoon. she asked me if i wanted to try eating it myself.
i put my hand out to take the bowl, but it was shaking wildly. it was almost out of control. try as much as i could, i couldn't get it steady. holding the bowl was not a good idea. trying to have the soup was out of the question.
she sat beside me on the bed and fed me the soup. when done, she helped me up, and gave me a crutch. i was too unsteady to walk with the crutch, so she had to prop me up on one shoulder while i had the crutch under my other shoulder. she struggled with my weight, but we managed.
the other room had a wash basin, a kitchennette, and some cabinets. very basic and furnished with stuff that looked exactly like this one hospital i was in as a kid.
while washing my hands, she whispered in my ear that nobody in this hospital knows why i'm here. we can only talk in secret while the water's running. while we were in the main room, we were being watched through a one way glass in one of the walls.it could be a person or a camera, we'd never know. but they were also listening in both rooms. she told me there will be time for me to ask questions, but for now i had to focus on recovering and getting out of this place where we were being watched and listened to all the time.
back in the other room, she told me it's best i rested so i could recover quickly. i couldn't move unassisted anyway, and this hospital didn't have elevators and i wouldn't be able to manage the stairs, so i might as well stay in bed as much as i could.
i spent most of my days sleeping and waking. there was no clock on the wall, and i didn't have my watch either. in fact, i didn't have anything. not even my old clothes. i tried asking her, but she told me it's too soon to ask questions.
i asked her if i could at least see the daylight, as i had been indoors and the room had no windows or clock. she opened the other door, and daylight streamed in. there were trees outside, and i could see the narrow corridor running outside the room, but not much else. people passed by, mostly in hospital overalls but nobody looked inside or showed any sort of curiosity.
once i was back on my feet and able to walk about we moved to a small apartment. nearby. i remember we took a cab to get there. it was a white coloured cab. i don't remember there being any bags or stuff that had to be moved - it was just the two of us moving empty handed. i don't remember what I was wearing but it wasn't a hospital gown any more. she was dressed in regular clothes as well. i had become quite used to this enclosed, convalescent life, her quiet company and just doing what i was told. and i wasn't even curious about my surroundings, despite it being weeks since i was outside and this was a completely alien city. all i remember was that the streets were lined with trees, and they looked quite green from the cab.
the apartment was on the first floor and there was no elevator.
(note: at this point i forgot about this post, so there are now huge gaps in my recollection! the rest is what I remember now, which is more of just glimpses from the dream)
i wasn't keeping track of the days, but it must have been a while. i was eventually allowed to go out alone for walks. i didn't want to speak to anyone. i was never given anything to do when i went outside. i sometimes jogged when i felt like it.
one morning i jogged further than i remember going before. i tried to keep my route as simple as possible so i don't get lost on my way back. i was in a weird run down suburb which had one huge swanky looking hotel smack in the middle of it. i stopped to catch my breath and decide whether to turn back. i had gone far enough for today, for sure. as i was turning around to head back, i saw a guy get out of the hotel's front entrance and light up a cigarette.
he must have been the first person i actually paid attention to besides my nurse/attendant since the incident. and he was Will.I.Am!
I walked up to him and said hi, asked if he didn't mind me chatting with him while he's smoking. I told him I was on a walk and ended up here, and it's quite a surprise to see him. He said sure, he wouldn't mind a walk himself. We walked (sauntered, actually) and I asked him if he remembered me. He was surprised and asked if we've met before. I told him i was one of the guys on stage at a gig of his many years ago. I don't remember now if I was supposed to have been singing or dancing (given that I'm quite terrible at both!), but I was part of a bunch of guys who were behind him. He asked me which gig, where and which song. I told him, and he still couldn't remember me. I thought that's understandable, given the number of gigs he's done over the years, and that it was just one song. But then he suddenly remembered the live video of that gig is probably on youtube. He whipped out his phone, searched for it, and sure enough, he found the video!
I recognized it and yes, that was the one! We stopped walking and played through the video together until there was a close up hot of him with 4 guys behind on stake. I was like yes! That's me! The third guy! He paused the video, looked at it with a puzzled expression.
I looked at the scene more carefully myself on the tiny phone screen. I knew I was third from camera in the row of guys. But it wasn't me! It was a guy who looked completely different from me!
I told him I'm very glad I met him and this will probably change my life from now on, but I had to go back. He was very confused by the abruptness of my reaction and just stood there surprised while I ran back towards where I had thought I had come from (we were walking in a slightly different direction, I was hoping I wasn't lost, but I had to run!)
I realized everything that had been happening since the incident has been some sort of massive game. I was being brainwashed! I was being planted with fake memories! I was losing who I really was!
As I ran, I tried to think back. I tried to remember my past. But most of it was blank. I had few weird glimpses of memories, but they were jumbled and confusing. Nothing made sense, there was no timeline or consistency of my memories. In fact, in one of them, I was a little girl!
As I turned the corner and could see the apartment, I concluded I was being imprisoned in my mind.
And that's when I woke up.