She swoops down to my bed from nowhere, her brown feathery coat glistening in the moonlight. Her yellow eyes look into my groggy, bloodshot eyes. Her beak opens and I hear my mother’s familiar voice instead of a shrill chirp. “Let’s fly, Philip”. Her wingspan seems to take over my California King bed. I’m flying over a limitless ocean, inky blue against the coppery hues of the setting sun.
She brings me to an icy peak. To be shredded and devoured, perhaps. But the hawk impersonating my dear departed mother looks at me again, her eyes brimming with kindness. “You’re going to be okay”, she seems to say. She flaps her wings and melts into the horizon. It’s freezing here. I can feel my blood coagulate. It probably looks like strawberry jello on the inside.
I start walking to warm up, my boots crunching against the icy terrain. Within minutes the ice gives way to the cool interiors of the investment banking firm I used to work at. It’s quiet here but for the rhythmic whirring of a printer somewhere. I walk into what used to be my office, overlooking the serrated New York skyline. There’s no furniture. A little girl in pigtails and a polka dotted dress sits on the floor, her legs forming a ‘W’. Her head is burrowed in the painting she’s making.
She looks up with a gap-toothed smile. I rattle my memory, but I cannot place that cherubic face. Her baby cheeks start melting away, her jawline gets angular and suddenly she’s a young woman. Fine lines appear and instantly turn into wrinkles. She transforms into an old lady within seconds. Her face droops like she’s made of wax and melts into little drops. The drops swell up and drum down on the floor. It’s a deluge now. My office is flooding. I flap my arms as the water reaches my neck. Breathless and desperately trying to stay afloat.
I close my eyes as I go under. When I wake up, I’m back on the icy peak, freezing and forlorn. Every dream ends the same way. The dreams are seamless. I cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. Is this purgatory or am I in a coma? Is the Ghost of Lives Past going to show up?
I hear four short electronic beeps, like someone entering a passcode and then the sharp click of a lock opening. A gush of warm air feels like a balm on my chilled extremities. I struggle to open my eyes.
“Mr. Fry, we’re here. Welcome to the Future”, a cheery voice says.
After a few days and a slew of medical tests, I take unsure steps out of the antiseptic facility where I was cryogenically preserved for the last hundred years. The doors slide open. I stand still for a minute and take in the future. This world is stranger than fiction.