Periodic East, Chapter 25 – Jack’s Explanation & Request
“I said, ‘I’m here, Sam,’” Jack began. “I have spent so much time trying to get to you,” he continued.
Sam was now convinced that he was having a manic episode. He looked around his office to find anything out of place, anything off that would confirm his suspicion that he was dreaming, hallucinating, or dead. Jack watched Simon as he was beginning to hyperventilate and Jack quickly rose to his aid, but with gasping breath, Simon said, “Don’t touch me. Don’t come near me.”
Jack’s eyes went wide. “Sam,” he began.
“Shut up! SIS, who is in my office?” SIS’s familiar muted clicks preempted its response.
“Samuel Ng is alone in his office,” it said.
“You’re not Simon,” Sam started as he was wheezing for a normal breath. “Simon died over six years ago. He-“ and then Simon vomited all over his desk before passing out.
Some time later, Sam awoke in his quarters. There was a glass of water on a floating shelf, really a slab of plastic, that was mounted on his wall. He looked around with blurred vision and a pounding headache; his room seemed to be empty. Suddenly he heard water running from his bathroom sink for a moment and then it turned off. Sam sat up in his bed and waited for whoever was in there to come out.
Seconds later, Jack came out with a small towel drying his hands. He quickly put the towel down and rushed to Sam’s side when he saw that he was awake.
“Get away from me,” Sam warned. “Who are you? How did you get on board Icarus? Who sent you?” The barrage of questions continued as Sam started hyperventilating again.
Jack quickly gave Sam the glass of water and stepped back as Sam drank. “I’ll explain everything that I can remember,” Jack began. “I know it’s a lot to take in. I’m still not completely clear about what’s happened over the last several weeks.”
“Weeks? You’ve been on board for only weeks? How? Earth didn’t send up another ship full of survivors, did they? Of course they didn’t, there’s nothing left on Earth to launch a rocket,” Sam rationalized out loud.
“I’ve only been on board for a few days,” Jack began, “at least I think it’s only been a few days.”
“SIS,” Sam called, “who is in my quarters?”
“Samuel Ng is alone in his quarters,” SIS answered. This prompted Sam to scream manically. Jack put his hands out in front of him and made a motion for Sam to lower his voice.
“I might be able to explain why your computer can’t ‘see’ me,” Jack began. “Before this thing went up, everyone had to give some kind of digital and biological footprint to be identified, right? Or a retinal scan or something? Well, I never did that. So if I never gave the system a way for it to ‘see’ me, then naturally, it wouldn’t be able to.”
Sam pondered what Jack had said. Honestly, it made some sense. When the survivors were finalized and confirmed, Kairi took fingerprints and retinal scans from every member on board and of the four that had been born since, without that information, Sam convinced himself in that moment that it would’ve been possible for SIS to treat Jack as a “ghost” of sorts.
“But I don’t know how I got here or why I look like this,” Jack said.
Sam slowly got up from his bed and walked over to the bathroom. Jack followed closely behind. Both men stared at their reflections in the mirror in silence for a full two minutes until Sam finally spoke again.
“If that’s really you in there, Simon,” Sam began, his voice quivering with every syllable, “why do you look like that? How do I know it’s even you in there?”
“I’m going to tell you everything I can remember, Simon, but first there’s something very important you need to know,” Jack said.
“Which is…,” Sam said.
“I know how to reverse Periodic East,” Jack said.
“What the hell is Periodic East?”
“It’s what caused the planet to go quiet. The consequence was the deaths of billions of people. I should have done more to try to stop it. But I know how to make it right. I need you to help me do it.”
“How?” Sam asked.
“We need to bring Icarus back to Earth.”