Awakening in the Void
He opens his eyes in the darkness. His chest moves, heaving, searching for oxygen, but there is none; his lungs are filled with frozen slush, and he feels the crystals tearing at the delicate sacs within as the organs move in and out. His heart pumps like mad, wakening from its torpor and responding to the liquid panic flooding his blood.
He screams, soundless, airless. "His thoughts are like his fists, ineffectual and unfocused, slamming against the inside of his brain, losing strength, fading back into the shadow.
But this time, he would not awaken.
Irina Dovenka took her first breath twenty-seven hours later as the automatic systems on her cryogenic pod brought her out of hibernation.
The first sense to return was sound. A slow gurgle of draining fluid, the humming of electricity. An awareness of her own breathing. A tapping sound, something hard on metal, irregular, sporadic. The shivering started then as warmth began seeping into her consciousness, muscles reacting to the low core temperature as best they could, sending her into spasms, uncontrollable. Metalloid plastics rubbed against Irina’s skin, wet and icy, and her teeth chattered in her head. Blurry shapes began to resolve from the blinding white background as her eyes refocused, relearning their function and resuming their work.
“Body temperature reaching 32 degrees. Neural recovery within nominal limits. Two minutes to completion of procedure.”
The machine’s words cut through Irina’s mind like a blade through the fog.