Epilogue: The End?
The heck is that noise...?
My hand instinctively reaches up and presses a button: the snooze button...on an alarm clock. I roll over and snooze, when nine minutes later, the alarm clock buzzes again with that obnoxious buzz guaranteed to wake all but the heaviest of sleepers. I switch the alarm clock all the way off and sit up on the edge of the bed. I generally sleep in a sleeveless shirt and boxers, with shorts in colder season to stay warm. I felt kinda weird and my vision is blurry. I reach over and grab my glasses and put them on like normal. They were unusually clean. I look back at Jenn who was still laying in bed, sleeping. Upon my absence in the bed, she curls up and mumbles quietly. I gently stroke her face, but then reflect on something.
Was it all a dream? Everything? Well, I am still alive, aren't I? I pick up my cell phone and check the date. October 31st, 2013. What? That was all just a dream? I think about it more. If it was all a dream, then the last thing that happened to me is when I pulled over after hitting something with my Corolla S. But that was a week - seven full days - ago? What the heck happened since then? I sit there, and struggle to remember what really happened in the last week. I just don't get it, and it doesn't make any sense.
I just dismiss it from my mind temporarily, and go to the bathroom to take care of my morning routine. Thankfully, I didn't have to work that day and the following day (Friday, November 1st, 2013) giving me a long weekend. I decided to take the days off to do a little work around the house and to spend more time with Jenn...but still, I couldn't shake the questions I had of the last week. I don't remember anything. After my morning routine in the bathroom, breath as fresh as Colgate and Listerine can make it, I go to the living room of our apartment and open up my Bible. I don't know why, but I found it strange that a specific recurring theme that I was reading in different parts was talking about getting new life and being spiritually reborn. I don't know why it struck me, but it did. After reading and studying in the morning, I go into the kitchen to see what to have for breakfast.
Oh, yeah, Fruit Loops. You know I'm about them Fruit Loops. I look into the fridge to check the status on the milk. Just enough and not expired yet. Good to go. I grab a bowl and set it on the table. Then I notice something. There were two envelopes on the table, laying facedown. I pick them up. Both envelopes have "Takeo" written on them, but one of the envelopes says "Read this first." I open that one first. Inside are two pieces of letter paper, both of which were typed letters. Without reading who they were from, I read through them. The first one I decide to read says:
"How do you like your new lease on life? It was quite a close call, but you managed to live long enough for Seth to design a sci-fi style robotic system to integrate with your respiratory system. You can also thank your wife to speaking on your behalf. To be honest, Seth didn't want to do it without consent just in case something went wrong. But, Jenn said to do it. So, we may have designed the device, but it was Jenn who made the decision. You owe her a lot. I should also mention that there's a second letter from Seth detailing a little more on the new system in your chest. He can explain it better than I could.
"As for me, well, it's good to see another human being and make a new friend. It was a pleasure to work alongside you. Now, the other envelope is from the new commander for the Guardian Hunters. Marku, who now insists that we just call him Marcus, upon returning to his true not-imprisoned self, stepped down as the commander as he claimed that he wasn't fit to lead the Hunters given what had happened to him. He's now a cook and a field operative. That's pretty cool, because 1) he's a great cook and 2) is a skilled martial artist and has been teaching some of us some of it. Helps keep me in shape.
"Anyway, just wanted to say thanks, and enjoy your new lease on life. Oh, and I do hope that I see you again soon.
Huh...wait, so everything that happened in the last seven days wasn't a dream and really did happen? Whoa...Mind. Blown. Wait...so I didn't die? What the heck? Shin said something about some new robotic lungs or something. I look at the second letter and read it:
I'm Seth. It's a shame I didn't really get to know you and meet with you while you were still conscious. But, from what your wife told me, combined with the fact that you were the one that helped saved me, I'm of the opinion that you're a good man. It really was near-death and high-risk for you to integrate my prototype robotic respiratory system that I had designed, but the high-risk led to a high payoff: you're still alive, and I'm sure that if you see this letter, then you're obviously reading it. The system is my pride and joy, but isn't without its defects.
"I'll explain briefly on how it works and how it runs. Because your lungs were so badly damaged, we partially replaced them with robotic artificial lungs. They work like your normal lungs did, and are powered by a combination of an unobtrusive tiny turbine powered by blood flow and your body heat. The system is also controlled by your nervous system, and adapts automatically to physical activity and even elevation and altitude. This gives you advantage at high altitudes, allowing you to adapt in a short time to the thinner air. However, like any system, it's not without its faults.
"The major drawback to your new hybrid lungs is that every so often, I can't determine exactly how long, but every three to four weeks, depending on physical activity, you have to use a breathing air tank that contains more than 21% of pure oxygen for a half hour to an hour to help detox the system of excess built up carbon dioxide which can cause you to lose consciousness, or worst-case scenario, death. The other major drawback is if you're caught within range of an electromagnetic pulse or excessive EM radiation. It'll negatively affect the system, or at the very worst, shut the system down altogether. Thankfully, EM resistant shielding as well as a fail-safe in the form of your biological organs can pick up the slack for short term until you can restart the system. The other, more minor, drawbacks are some scars and several fluorescent cyan-colored lines on your chest, somewhat like Iron Man. Basically, you could be considered a cyborg, of sorts.
"We also managed to repair your liver without replacing it or requiring a transplant. You're now pretty much in tip-top shape. I won't go into anymore detail of that, as I would be boring you with the fine details and they're not that important anyways.
"Well, that's all the technical mumbo-jumbo for now. I owe you for helping to save me from Entropy. Maybe we can go for a drink or a restaurant. I know a great sushi and hibachi grill. Jenn's got my number. But, until then, breathe well and live like you're dying.
Seems like Seth is a cool guy. Then, looking over the letter again, I lift up my shirt. Looking at my chest, I see bright cyan lines that look like wires that originated from my solar plexus and radiated out following my ribs. They go around my side and possibly to my back. I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to get a better view. The cyan lines go around and fade into my back near my spine.
"I guess I am a cyborg, now." I say to myself. Then I look and see Jenn standing, having just woke up. She was looking at me.
"It's kind of sexy." She says. She gently strokes her hand over the lines, which were slightly raised from the skin. It tickles a little bit. I run out of the bathroom and she just gives a cute "meow" and closes the door to use the bathroom. I return to the kitchen and open the second envelope.
"I'm the new commander of the Guardian Hunters (the lame name is subject to change). I won't beat around the bush, it's Kitty. When Marcus stepped down, he told the higher ups that I'd be the best choice as the new commander of the Guardian Hunters. Well, after Entropy's attack, we as an organization decided to remodel most of the destroyed compound to a more modern style, and of course, abiding to current OSHA codes. Heh, it's not all that difficult, actually.
"Anyways, after your surgery, I made a decision to send you back home, at the very least to give you the option to recover. But, even more than that, I also wanted to give you the option to return to your normal life. After all, you got involved essentially by accident when you hit that werewolf. If you decide to return to your normal life, then live it to the fullest. But, on my side, I would love if you and Jenn would become permanent members of the Guardian Hunters (and help us come up with a new name) with you as a Sergeant working as a field commander and Jenn as a field operative. The Lunar squad also specifically requested this if you chose to return.
"Marcus also wants to apologize for everything he (or the way I see it, Eve) did to you, and wants to let you know that there's no hard feelings. So, how about it? Will you continue on living like nothing happened, or will you join the fight to protect humankind and stand for coexisting with creatures like us? I'll be waiting for you call. My number is below my name.
Kitty had a cute way of signing the letter. She used her paw print next to her name. As I was reading the letter, I feel Jenn come up behind me and wraps her arms around my waist.
"What are you reading?" She asks.
"A letter from Kitty."
"Can I see?" Jenn quickly reads the letter. Afterward, she looks at me.
"So, what do you think we should do?"
"What do you want to do?" I lift up my shirt and point to my chest with the cyan lines.
"You think I could return to normal life with this?"
"So is that a yes, then?"
"Yeah." We return to the bedroom and I grab my cell phone and dial the number. Almost immediately, I can hear Kitty's voice on the other end.
"Hey, it's Takeo. How've you been, Kitty? Or should I say, Commander?"
And on that day, I returned as a permanent member of the Guardian Hunters, as their first Cyborg member.
Prepare yourselves for the aftermath...