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He awoke wondering where he was... on a medic. Why was... oh, hell, why was he being held down? And then the big question hit him â" Who am I?
And who, besides the medic itself, which was only a robot, had imprisoned him? And why?
There was a tube leading into his arm... was he in a hospital? It smelled like a hospital.
The medic beeped, and said âoecondition improved, now stable.â
He must have had some kind of accident, but he couldnâ(TM)t remember his own name, let alone how he wound up in a hospital.
âoeComputer!â he said, hoping the hospital computer could shed some light. It was apparently not paying attention, because it ignored him. He lay there strapped to the robotic table for what seemed like forever when the medic again beeped and spoke. âoeCondition improved, now fair.â
Another eternity passed, and the medic reported âoeCondition good, patient released.â The straps came loose and he sat up on the medic, waiting for a nurse or doctor that never showed up. Didnâ(TM)t someone have paperwork when a patient was released?
He decided to look around the hospital to find someone and tell them that he shouldnâ(TM)t have been released, that he had no memory. He used the rest room and went searching for help.
This, he thought, was the strangest thing... this hospital seemed to have no doctors, no nurses, no administrative staff, nobody. Not even any patients. He walked down hall after hall, and found nothing but locked doors and more hallways.
He started to panic, and muscle memory reached his hand into his pocket for a phone. There was none there.
That panicked him. Why didnâ(TM)t he think of it before? It could have told him at least who he was, if not where he was and why.
He started running, down first one hallway then another, until he collapsed in exhaustion and anguish. He sat there in the hallway, head in his hands, sobbing softly.
Quite a while later he finally came to his senses, sort of. He got up and decided to just walk around, looking for... anything, really, but especially people. Where was everyone? It would be nice if he could find a sandwich, too; he was starting to get a little hungry. That added to his already numerous worries.
He found no exits, no unlocked doors, no people, no sandwiches. It was hard enough to keep his fear below panic levels, but then what was obviously some sort of alarm went off. Was the building on fire? He stopped, with no idea what to do.
He looked up â" werenâ(TM)t there skylights showing stars earlier? But his memory was impaired, after all, not able to remember his name or anything before waking up on the medic.
He heard the first sounds that didnâ(TM)t come from robots that heâ(TM)d heard since awakening, and it scared him even more â" the sound of hail. Perhaps there were skylights, but were now shuttered.
At this point he was aware that the alarm was almost certainly a tornado warning, and he couldnâ(TM)t find the stairway! Maybe this building didnâ(TM)t even have a basement, but who in their right mind would build a structure in a tornado zone without one? But without a stairwell, it might as well not have a basement. He huddled in a doorway waiting for the tornado to destroy him and the building.
The sounds of hail stopped, the siren stopped, and yes, there were skylights; the shutters opened then, showing stars once again. Odd that the storm had started and ended so fast. The shutters must have closed before the clouds rolled in.
He started to continue his fruitless search.
A robot wheeled past, and he had an idea. The robot would certainly lead him to something.
It did. Down a hallway heâ(TM)d not yet explored and probably had run past more than once in his earlier panic was a large door that stood wide open, the automatic pocket doors recessed. Inside was a huge room filled with tables and chairs, but still no sign of humanity at all. The robot heâ(TM)d followed dragged another robot away. Puzzling.
At least he had somewhere to sit besides the floor. He sat down at one of the many tables to rest, thinking heâ(TM)d have to figure out how to find his way back before continuing his search.
He just couldnâ(TM)t stop wondering what the hell was going on. Was he being studied in some sort of weird experiment? Was he a prisoner by design, or by accident? Was he a criminal? Did he have a family?
Without even thinking he started praying out loud, âoeOh, Lord, please help me...â
A mechanical voice chimed in. âoeCan I help you, sir?â
He looked up at the robot. âoeYes,â he said, âoehow can I get out of this building?â
âoeIâ(TM)m sorry, sir, but that is not in my database. Can I get you something to drink?â
âoeYes, cold water, but first, where am I?â
âoeThis is the commons area, sir. Would you like a menu?â Without waiting for an answer, the video screen displayed a menu.
âoeYes, Iâ(TM)ll have a cheeseburger, brogs, and a caffeine shike.â
âoeYes, sir,â it said, and started to roll away.
âoeWait!â the man said. âoeWhat is this the commons of?â
âoeThat information is not in my database.â
âoeCan you tell me what this building is?â
âoeIâ(TM)m sorry, sir, but that information is not in my database. Is there anything else, sir, or should I fetch your order?â
âoeNo, go on.â It rolled off. He put his elbow on the table and rested his head in his hand.
The robot came back shortly with his water and shike and rolled away again.
âoeWhat the hell is going on?â he wondered aloud, again.
The robot came back in with his food and wheeled away. He ate, still not able to figure out how to examine his prison and still find his way back to this âoecommonsâ. At least he had food and drink now, which relieved him greatly and made exploration of this building far less, yet still, important.
Then he thought: A commons. A common area. People should show up here, perhaps he should just wait for someone to show up?
Several hours later and the skylight still showed stars. Was he in Antarctica? Or was he... Yes, that explained everything. He was on a space ship, but why? Where was it going? Where was the captain?
Was he the captain? Or... a horrifying thought came to him. Was he a pirate who had killed the captain and thrown the body out the airlock?
His thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of humanity â" boots walking down the hallway, and cautious whispering voices.
He looked around the doorway and saw ten heavily armed, armored, and helmeted men.
âoeOh shit,â he thought. He was captain, but didnâ(TM)t even recognize his own boat, let alone how to run it, and now there were pirates who would surely murder him and steal the ship and whatever cargo it was carrying. He cowered in a corner, wishing for something to defend himself with.
They came in, weapons drawn, with the men in the back facing the other way and backing in. The man in front lowered his weapon and raised his face shield. âoeJerry? Christ, man, what the hell is going on?â
âoeMy name is Jerry? Are you sure? I donâ(TM)t know who I am!â
âoeJesus, Jerry, Iâ(TM)ve known you for years, youâ(TM)re Jerry Smith. I was scared shitless for you, what the hell happened? Did you get attacked by pirates?â
âoeI... I donâ(TM)t think so. Iâ(TM)d be dead if they had. The first thing I remember is waking up on a medic wondering who I was and where I was and why I was on a medic. I wandered around for hours, I donâ(TM)t think anybody else is here.â
âoeOkay, Joe, check the pilot room. Rob, would you do an engine inspection?â
âoeSure thing, boss.â
âoeJerry, where are your phone and tablet?â
He shook his head. âoeNo idea, but I was sure wishing I had them.â
They took Jerry to Earth with them while another man piloted Jerryâ(TM)s ship there.
He did eventually get his memory back after a lot of therapy. His phone had been in his captainâ(TM)s quarters, and he had been doing inspection in machine storage when a can of something that had been improperly stacked by a malfunctioning robot had fallen, hitting him in the head and knocking him cold. A medic had taken him to sick bay, leaving the tablet laying on the floor, effectively locking him out of everything. Clearly, some policies, at least, would have to be changed.
Jerry never captained another ship. In fact, he spent the rest of his life on Earth and never entered space again.