Advent Train Stories: Freeman’s Gift

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme The Gift. Thank you for reading today’s story. The next one will be available to read on December 21st, titled “The Gift“.  The link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

If you missed yesterday’s you can go and read it here.

Enveloped in the darkness like the deep ocean thoughts stirred in the mists. Slowly awakening to semi consciousness. Dim light began to lift the gloom, coalescing into form above him the brightness became lighter. Soft sounds began to permeate the nothingness he was floating in. Eyes blinking his hand raised up instinctively to shield his eyes, around him the whiteness dazzled and he closed his eyes again and relaxed back onto whatever he was laying on.

Hauling himself onto his elbow, ID tags fell from his chest held by a chain around his neck. On them was his name, Jacob Freeman. Jacob looked at the rows of panels with a dim familiarity. A suction bottle stood on the table and he sucked on it eagerly. A subtle sweet taste slipped over his tongue, soothing his mouth and throat. Twisting around he sat up Sucking again on the liquid he looked at his hands. Jacob pulled on the t-shirt and trousers laid next to his bed and looked around.

“Hello?” He called. He sucked on the bottle some more, cautiously made his way out of the room and into a corridor. A small window fogged with moisture was on his left, wiping it with his hand, the moisture gave way the the view of a pale ringed planet. Looking around the corridors and rooms a realisation formed that the place he was in seemed familiar, like something from a dream or distant memory. Taking another slurp from the bottle, he walked stiffly towards a door with Control Deck stamped to it in large bold letters. The door slid open and there before him, oldish, bearded and in a dark tunic was a man.

“Ah, hello Freeman! You’re awake!” The man beamed with a smile that was as mischievous as it was welcoming.

Freeman stared at the man, still lost.

“Ah still not back to your old self hey?” The man slapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry it will all come back to you in time.”

“Who are you?” Jacob asked him.

“Who am I?” The man asked.

“Yes, what’s your name?” Jacob replied.

“I’ve never been asked that before, but then I really don’t see anyone. Being me is very lonely, you see. Perhaps it’s easier to see what I am.” 

With that in an instant the walls of the spacecraft faded and melted away and before Jacob could process anything he was standing on a rock, space surrounded him and on his left he saw that baleful planet he had seen only minutes before through the window. Surrounding him rock and ice surrounded them, moving in perfect unison around the planet. Tiny pebbles and specks floated past his head slowly as if in a snow storm in slow motion but moving along rather than down.

“I like it here.” The man said “I watched this being created, over 30 million years ago.”

“Wait – you created this? How? How am I standing here, I shouldn’t be able to breathe – I should…”

“Just stop. Breathe deep, take it in. Don’t question. Just be.”

Jacob closed his eyes, breathed deep and despite the frigid surroundings a soft warmth filled his lungs and body. Opening his eyes a small chunk of rock floated by his head, reaching out he picked it up and looked at it. There was no cold, no warmth, putting the rock in his pocket he looked at the man.

“This place is like a perfect model of existence.” The man mused as they watched the passing ice structures and towers of particles reaching into space high above them. “Big or small, everything is connected, every piece has its part to play.”

“Who are you?” Jacob repeated.

“Not who. What”

The view faded and now they stood on a solid surface, a blue planet shone in the sky above – deep as an ocean. Fountains of ice puffed into the air in the distance and then from only tens of metres away a white plume shot out and the snow landed fresh and white.

Jacob looked at the man who had a sledge in his hand, setting it to the floor he looked up at Jacob “Coming for a sled?” he asked comically. He then slid down the slope. Jacob set his sled to the floor and followed him down. Both landing in a heap at the bottom a puff of white snow hit Jacob.

“Come on then!” The man teased, grinning widely. Jacob scooped up a handful of the white ice and threw a ball back, laughing as they did the two exchanged snowballs, laughing like kids until they were covered.

“What is this all about?” Jacob asked. Again the view faded and this time he was surrounded in blackness, the structure of the spiral arm milky way spread out before him. “Are you God?” He finally asked.

“Oh dear, such a narrow minded term, so mythological. I suppose yes maybe I am in a way, but not like you think. I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere and everything.”

“You’re… You’re the universe?”

The man turned, it’s very lonely being me you know. Creating all of this, I wait, you know? I wait for the time when I can be seen, heard and speak. Not just just an expression of your mind. Admire the rings of Saturn, go sledding on the dunes of Triton and admire the Milky Way from afar with an equal.” He pointed to a part of the galaxy arm. “That’s where you come from, it’s so small isn’t it?”

The man looked at Jacob. “Thank you freeman, this has been quite the treat for me.”

Jacob opened his eyes, back on the bed he lifted himself to his elbow. Wincing as a pain in his hip made him reach into his pocket. “A rock” he said to himself as he examined at it.

© Simon Farnell 2013 – 2023

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13 thoughts on “Advent Train Stories: Freeman’s Gift

  1. Pingback: The Gift

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