Science by Indu Balakrishnan

When I signed up for a cruise in Bali, I was looking for a life-altering experience. I got what I wanted. And then some. 

The ad looked brilliant. And I was at a sabbatical from work. It was the perfect time for me to get away from my otherwise reasonably mundane life. And the ‘Offer Expires In 48 Hours’ made it very easy for me to make that spontaneous decision. Pretty good marketing stunt, I tell you. 

I packed just what was needed. The brochure talked about spas, restaurants, swimming pools, tennis courts and a bar. Yes, I was a happy man on his way to Nirvana. There were other dare-devils stunts I could sign up too. Starting with parasailing. Having been an armchair traveller my whole life, I decided to do it all on that one trip. Knowing me, it would be a decade before I even consider another trip. By then, I’d be too old. 

The D-Day was here. I felt as triumphant as Jack Dawson as the ship left the harbour. It was really something. Surreal. I took an extended tour of the ship, making sure that it had everything the brochure promised me. It was exactly as I had hoped. My vacation had begun. 

Dinner was a feast. I realized that this was the time to count the thrilling moments, not calories. Dessert was a meal by itself. I then took a stroll down the deck. After what seemed like forever, I retired to my room. It was an oceanview room with a small balcony. It let the natural light in and allowed me to watch the scenery from the comfort of a private space. 

The next couple of days flew by. Tennis in the morning. Sumptuous lunches and long siestas. Evenings were spent watching the open sea and listening to live music. Time had its own meaning and pace on the ship. I was not ready to go home at all. 

Little did I realize that the worst was yet to come. 

The next morning, I was ready to fly. Parasailing.  I was strapped on to the harness and let go. The whole world was at my feet. I was connected to Earth by a thread. It was an out-of-body experience. I finally understood the expression “I’m the king of the world” that Jack Dawson screamed at the stern of the Titanic. I felt the same. The horizon looked so much more beautiful from the top. This view was really something else. After I got my feet back on the ship, things did not seem the same again. Normal life was definitely dull. I wanted to get back into the air again as soon as possible.

I couldn’t sleep. It was two in the morning. I knew how the parasail worked. I got on it and soon was in the air. Unfortunately, I had not tied the knot correctly. I found myself flying away from the ship. It was both terrifying and exciting at the same time. I woke up on a deserted island, all alone and miraculously unhurt. Curiosity took over, and I started to roam the island. I did not have a phone. There was no way to contact anyone for help. 

I noticed that the island was not new to humans. There were signs of life on it. A strange humming noise attracted me to a trap door on the ground. Being impulsive and rash in nature, I found myself walking down the staircase. It was like a movie set. Area 51 would have looked like this.

There were coffin-like boxes placed with tubes attached to it. Test tubes with green-ish liquids glowed eerily. Medical equipment and surgical lights were in the adjacent room. All the rooms looked similar. The laboratory looked like it was vacated in a hurry. Something must have scared them all away. That was my assumption.

The refrigerator was still functioning. I opened it. There were syringes in a rack. It was filled with the same green solution. I thought I was cautious when I was studying the label on the syringe. The needle poked my finger. I felt funny. A dizzy spell took over, and I saw the floor rise to meet me.

I don’t know how long I was unconscious. When I did wake up, I felt strong and energized. Like Cap did when he came out of his experiment. As I was walking out of the facility, something caught my eye. It was a mirror. I looked at my reflection and screamed.

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