Everything was black. Consciousness came slowly. As if her brain thawed out. Verrah’s ice blue eyes fluttered open. Eyelids stiff. She could hardly breathe as the pod opened its hatch. A loud hiss escaped. Her vision took time focusing through the steam. It finally cleared, and she stumbled forward. Every joint rebelling against her brain’s wishes. She could barely stand, much less hold herself above the floor.
Her arms trembled. Everything trembled. The frost covering her body slowly melted. She still couldn’t breathe. There was plenty of air, but her lungs wouldn’t fully expand. They had been used to almost no movement. She continuously coughed. Strained for the air. The thick air, damp with the released cold and underground atmosphere. Her head slightly lifted. Was she still underground? She didn’t know.
Once Verrah gained enough strength, she dragged herself to her feet. Her knees wobbled, but she managed to stay upright. Turned to face the pod she came from. What on Earth? She inspected the lines and hoses feeding from the back to the large, yellow generator at the end of a row of the pods. Frost covered the surfaces. Freezing? She returned to the control panel of her pod.
[CRYOGENIC SYSTEM MALFUNCTION. EMERGENCY RELEASE PROTOCOL ENGAGED.] was all it read. Flashed, really. Her heart raced. Cryogenic freezing? She had been frozen alive? She whirled to the pod right of hers. The control panel flashed [CRYOGENIC SYSTEM MALFUNCTION. EMERGENCY RELEASE PROTOCOL MALFUNCTION. LIFE READINGS TERMINATED.] She wiped the condensation from the pod glass. A dead body nested inside. Rushing to the next one, she checked inside. Dead. Next one. Dead. Every single one was dead.
She stood in the middle of the chamber. Arms limp by her side. Everyone was dead. She knew all these people by name. The whole town didn’t sign up for the protection from the bombs, but she still knew everyone. What happened? Why were they all gone except her? Her gaze shifted to the nearest control panel. And why did her pod open now?