In the fading light of the Aurora Borealis above Quinn’s head a single sea bird circled. Quinn took aim, clumsily adjusting the telescopic sight of his pulse rifle as he was reluctant to remove his thick gloves. The ice began to form on his goggles as he struggled to keep the bird in sight and muffled a curse beneath his Zero-text fabric helmet. He lowered his rifle and watched the bird skim the surface of the ice field and disappear from sight.
“Taking pot-shots at the last living creatures is no fun anymore, huh Quinn?”
The voice of Sarah Chung pierced his earpiece with such clarity that Quinn turned sharply expecting to see her. Behind him the Facility blast doors stood closed and he gazed at the Perma-frost logo.
KRYON the only way to go! Cryogenics base facility.
“Okay Sarah, I let it go, happy?”
Quinn’s throat vibration communicator eliminated his chilled, muffled voice and a small screen by the blast doors lit up with a yellow smiley face. He extended his rifle and tapped the touch screen. Sarah’s own smiley face appeared.
“I’m ready for hibernation, or as ready as I ever will be Sarah, so open up!”
The thick blast doors sank slowly into the icy floor to reveal a second set of doors with the same logo that followed suit. Quinn stepped forward walking slowly down the long slope of corridor and ignored the blast doors sealing closed behind him. The corridor was lit with a dull, continuously moving, blue-green light that swirled over the curved walls. It took Quinn twenty minutes to walk down into the hub control room where he removed his gloves and punched a row of console buttons, watching them light up in sequence.
He poured himself a last coffee and breathed in the rich aroma. As he savoured each mouthful like a wine connoisseur he looked out over the plexus-glass screen at a bank of pods, like rows of huge, glowing bottles, stretching away along the deep, warehouse storage room floor. He waved at one pod in particular, an open one. His maintenance crew partner, Sarah, was sitting back into a pod seat and gave back a forced smile. The pod dome hissed and locked in place around her as the perma-frost gel began flowing in.
“See you in ten, Quinn,” she said, her voice shaking as the icy gel filled the cabinet.
“Sure,” said Quinn, “if I’m out first I’ll get the coffee on?”
“Good, it’s a – bout t – t – ime you did someth – ing use – …
Her voice halted as the cryogenic gel did its work. Quinn glanced over at the map screen to see another red blip enter the stockroom processor. Three hundred and seven safely sleeping and three hundred and eight would soon complete the tally for the next ten years. The automatic reawakening signal was set for the both of them to carry out the routine maintenance of the facility which pretty much ran itself. One day every ten years, wasn’t asking too much, until the ice age receded again, whenever that was going to be? Their age processes were halted just like the rest of them, with only a twenty four hour, slight disruption, to ensure the system was perpetual. Sarah’s pod beeped its last confirmation and the red light stayed solid. The four hundred and twelve red lights scattered around the facility flashed a slow pulse to confirm their external status. The rich had bought their tickets to a future life with KRYON but were ejected into the Ocean before it solidified after the World’s governments took over.
The billionaires could take their chances in the economy seats, for once! Money meant nothing when hell froze over. Prime Ministers, Chiefs of staff and World leaders took their slots to ensure the human race had a fighting chance to survive. Even though, they were the ones, or their predecessors, that caused the catastrophe in the first place. Trying to control the weather, the continental drifts and the Earth’s axis, as if they were Gods!
“And not a damn carpenter among them,” spat out Quinn as he shook his head and stepped out of the control room. He looked up at the calendar of 2058 as he left and patted the cartoon picture of a squirrel reaching desperately for an acorn as his tail froze in the ice.
“You and me both pal!”
“One day, Raquel Welch in a fur bikini will step out of the primordial Heinz and beckon to me. When she does I’ll make sure she’s got a few acorns for you.”
Quinn seated himself in the remaining pod and hesitated before hitting the process button. His coffee cup was still in his hand!
He took a final swig and placed it on the floor outside the pod.
“Last guy on earth enjoys a real cup of coffee? What an advert!
I’m legend then, or at least the only one on Earth awake?”
The pod curved down around him and the translucent gel flowed in.
As it reached his chin he tilted his head, as he could have sworn he heard a phone ringing?