The ‘What-The…!’ Tree

I lurch upwards, fighting to gulp air, my body trying to remember how. A pressure on my chest prevents me from flying off.

‘Breathe,’ a distant voice commands, and I do.

A warm flannel is passed roughly over my preservative-numbed and gunk-covered face as the tank drains around me, the vacuum pumps gurgling as the last of the fluid is sucked away. If anything, the air feels even colder than the liquid.

Slowly, painfully, I crack open my eyes, light flaring across them.

The room is quiet, the bays to either side empty, as unlike the organised chaos of our departure as anything can be. Am I the last to be awakened or the first?

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