What if Mother Nature thought we humans were out of control and decided to reset population growth? How would it be if you somehow woke up 100 years after the event and didn’t find anything like what you see in the movies? What if violence and mayhem hadn’t come to rule, and that what you found was all peaceful and nice?
The year is 2130.
World population: 1 million.
Current fertility rate: 98%
Loosely based on an actual virus outbreak in Australia in 1997. The “Menangle Virus” was transmitted from bats to pigs to people. It caused illness in people. It caused massive infertility in pigs. This “Paramyxo” virus was localised and didn’t spread very far, fortunately.
(Oakdale clinic, edge of abandoned city of Sydney, December 8th 2130)
“So, no headaches at all? Nausea?”
“Nope. I feel physically fine.”
Adam watches the doctor type on a touch-screen keypad. She swings back around in her chair and looks at him, frowning in thought. “And you have absolutely no memory of being Cooper James Davis?”
“Nope. Zero recollection and a pretty fierce disbelief.”
The doctor smiles. “Fair enough.” She does a little shrug. “Well your MRI detected nothing of concern. Your vitals are perfect… I’d like to refer you to another doctor, up in the new city.”
“The new city? Where’s that?”
The doctor points. “In the mountains. About 45 minutes in a pod.”
Adam rubs his chin. “Does a pod fly?” He doesn’t like flying much. Certainly not in anything small.
“No. It goes along a rail on the ground. It’s perfectly safe.”
“Oh, okay. And what kind of doctor is this other one—a shrink?”
Beneath the white coat being discarded is a normal looking middle-aged woman. She chuckles. “Actually the other doctor is my husband. Who is a general practitioner but yes—a bit of a shrink too.”
“So, how do I find this pod? How can I get to this new city?” Adam is being ushered from the small examination room.
“Well, you said you were hungry… Would you like to have a sandwich with me? Then I’ll organize you a ride to Ascot.”
“A sandwich? Sure. I’d love to.”
“The cafeteria’s on ground floor. I’m meeting my daughter. Do you mind if I mention your circumstances, Adam? Rachel will be returning home and you could ride with her. She’ll take you to the clinic and introduce you to her father.” The doctor presses G on the elevator panel. “You prefer I call you Adam?”
“Yes please.” Adam meets her kind eyes. “And thank you.”
“It’s fine… We’ll get to the bottom of this. And meantime you’re in good hands with everyone here. You’ll see.”
The elevator doors open to a clinic waiting area and eatery. Adam is led to a table and introduced to a younger version of the doctor—a woman with long, wavy dark-brown hair and a light, natural looking smile. Her eyes are clear and green. They lock with Adam’s and jolt him with their familiarity.
“Hi. Do I know you?” he blurts anxiously.
“Um…” Rachel grimaces. “Don’t think so. Why?”
“Adam’s a patient of mine, Rach. He’s having a problem with his memory.” The doctor checks with Adam. “Do you remember Rachel from somewhere?”
“No. Forgive me,” Adam tells the younger woman. He’s staring into her eyes again. “Sorry, I just…”
“It’s fine. It must be difficult,” Rachel offers warmly.
“Your father was telling me about something he read recently—about this kind of memory loss and identity transference,” the doctor tells her daughter. “I think there’s been other cases overseas.”
“Oh really? Identity transference? What’s that?” Rachel asks, sitting back as a platter of sandwiches are served.
“Could we have another of these, please?” the doctor asks the young waitress. “Same again.”
“I think identity transference is when you think you’re someone else entirely,” Adam suggests. He motions to himself. “I don’t know who this is, but I have a perfectly clear memory of being me—Adam O’Malley of 2028.”
“2028?” Rachel bites a sandwich.
Adam nods. “Thursday June 15th to be exact.”
The doctor frowns in thought. “That’s actually interesting… Pass me the device please, Rach? No, rather, just log on and search that date, June 15 2028 and Adam O’Malley.”
Rachel does as her mother asks and shrugs. “It says there was a bus accident. 12 victims including one Adam O’Malley.”
“I was on a bus,” Adam utters confusedly. “That’s where I was just before I woke up on that park bench.”
The doctor takes the device and checks some links. She hands it back to her daughter. “Log off please, Rach. I need access.”
Rachel logs off and the Doctor logs on. She searches for a moment. “You were not one of the 3 fatalities, Adam. It seems you survived.”
Adam huffs. “Wow, that’s seriously freaky.”
“I’m sure this is what your father was telling me about. I wasn’t listening because he’s always off on a silly tangent, but I’m sure there have been other recent cases of people waking up as someone from history… I just can’t get hold of him.”
“No. He’s probably listening to his music this afternoon—totally off-line,” Rachel suggests.
“Yes, I figured,” her mother agrees.
“Okay, so it’s now the year 2130?” Adam checks.
Rachel nods. “December 8th. Friday. End of school term. Yay!”
“Darling, be serious,” her mother scolds.
“I’m just saying.”
Adam meets the woman’s smile. Her eyes flash that familiarity at him again.
“I mean, it’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you agree? I mean what—time travel?”
“Hey, I agree. None of this is real,” Adam tosses back and bites into a sandwich. He chews and swallows. “And those guys who brought me here tried to tell me the world was wiped out by some fertility virus and the total population now is only about a million.”
“Nope. It’s closer to 1.2 million. Forecast to reach 1.5 by 2140,” Rachel says. “I think you need better research, funny guy.”
Adam chuckles. “Okay, ask me anything reasonable about the early 21st century and check me on your computer.”
Rachel swallows what she’s chewing and has a sip of water. “I’ve got a better idea. Tell your device there to call Rachel Hayes of Ascot.”
Adam addresses his device. “Call Rachel Hayes of Ascot.”
Rachel’s purse jingles. She takes the device her mother has finished with and presses her thumb to the screen. “Interface.” The screen lights up and she taps it then turns it around. “See the name on the bottom, Cooper James Davis? Voice recognition confirmed.”
Adam returns the challenging grin and turns up his hands in defeat.
The doctor addresses her daughter. “There’s just one little problem, darling.”
“Oh yeah? And what’s that?”
“Adam’s totally in sync with his brain. There’s zero deviation. He’s telling the truth as he knows it.” The daughter looks to her mother. “It’s measurable through brain activity, heart rate and blood pressure, darling. Standard diagnostics… He has absolutely no knowledge of Cooper James Davis or, it would seem, the world today.”
Rachel frowns confusedly. “But he seems fine… You seem fine.”
“I am fine. Just dreaming,” Adam suggests with a shrug.
Rachel’s eyes roll. “What’s that?” She points to something the waitress is carrying.
“What, the phone or whatever she’s holding? Is it to take the orders?”
“No. That’s done audibly through her ear piece and mic. Why is she carrying a device? You have to know what that’s for. It’s red. They’re always red.”
Adam shrugs. “I’m guessing it’s for making a payment then. I kind of thought orders and payments.”
“Yes it’s for making a payment,” Rachel says, less accusingly now. “But you seriously didn’t know that?”
“He doesn’t even know what a pod is, darling,” the doctor says. “Or where Ascot is, even though his home address is right there in the community apartments.”
Adam is holding Rachel’s eyes again. He’s tingling all inside.
“So, you’re for real?”
“You’re some sort of identity leaper or something? You really think you’re this guy from history?”
Adam glances down. “This isn’t my body… I don’t understand what’s happening.”
Rachel nods. She looks from Adam to her mother. “Okay, I’m in… What can I do to help?”
The doctor smiles. “Rachel, meet Adam from last century. Would you mind taking him to see your father please?”