The bar was called SAX Lounge. It seemed to be the hottest place in town. A 60-foot high ceiling reminiscent of an Italian Opera house. Two floors bedazzled with everything from nine ornate chandeliers to inlaid medallion tabletops evoking images of Versailles. A 20-foot enclosed infinity stage is viewable from all angles on both floors. The staff served drinks and food while performing choreographies, where ballet meets burlesque, meets Cirque de Soleil. A place where all the good-looking people in town happen to come, to have a good time. That evening the place was closed for a private party. But Marcel was a regular and he seemed to be well acquainted with all the staff. His connections helped them to crash the party. This was not the kind of place Levi would go out for a drink. No place would fit this category anyway since he barely goes out or drinks for that matter. But Marcel felt at home and convinced Levi to try to have fun at least once in his life.
They have been best friends for a while now. They started working at NASA on the same day. Two rookies, pretty intimidated by the whole thing, they had many reasons to hit it off and glued together from the beginning. Marcel was also from New York, but he graduated from Cornell University in physics and specialized in Astrophysics. Handsome, 6-foot tall and quite fit for a geeky physicist, Marcel had always been a ladies’ man. He never cared much for long and stable relationships. His loyalty was reserved only for science, the New York Yankees and his buddy, Levi Adams.
The music was loud, the place was packed, and Marcel was beyond drunk. Levi maybe had two or three more than he should, but he was still trying to be the responsible one by not losing it completely.
“Come on man! Loosen up,” said Marcel fighting with gravity, bouncing in all directions, having a hard time keeping himself steady. “Let’s meet some girls.”
“Look at yourself. You are too drunk. Nobody wants to meet that,” Levi said with a serious face, dying from laughter inside.
“Oh, yeah!? Watch and learn ma-man.” He turned around and hit on at the first girl he saw. “Did it hurt?” Shouted Marcel at the blonde in red at his right side at the bar.
“What?!” the girl replied not understanding the question.
“When you felt from the sky. Did it hurt, my angel?” Marcel mumbled at her with small eyes and a big smile.
“Really?” the girl answered trying not to laugh.
“The music is too loud. Can we go to a more private place where we can talk?”
“Get lost!” appearing out of nowhere, demanded a man in the form and size of a wardrobe of muscles pushing Marcel away. “She is with me,” he said.
“What are you pushing me for, monkey? Let the lady choose with whom she wants to be with.”
“Monkey?!,” screamed the angry Nephilim with closed fists moving rapidly towards Marcel’s face. Levi pushed Marcel aside before the monster’s ‘jab’ reached him. Heroic maybe, but a stupid move. Now the big guy was coming to get him. And he was not alone. He brought his gym buddies with him. While Levi was trying to run through the sea of people crowding the place, Marcel was still trying to get up. Not an easy task when your world is spinning, and you can see everything double. The bodybuilders’ gang cornered Levi. It seemed to be the end for him. They exchanged some punches, but fortunately, security stepped in before too much damage was done. Levi and Marcel were kicked out of the party. Marcel couldn’t stop laughing, but Levi didn’t find it funny.
“What you did in there was stupid,” said Levi holding his arm close to his body. His right shoulder hurt, and he was limping. He felt like, once the alcohol and adrenaline levels went down, he would find out that those drinks cost him much more than a black eye.
“I am so sorry, man. I didn’t mean for our night to end up like this. But, you have to admit. You were a freaking bad-ass in there. Don’t you feel alive?”
“I feel pain, your idiot!”
“Come on. Is it really that bad? You have to do crazy stuff sometimes, Levi. Life is too short, and you have to live it to the full while you can.”
“Exactly! And I have better things to do than to be hitting at girls and picking fights in bars. Give me the keys, your knucklehead. You are not driving.”
Levi drove Marcel home and made sure he got inside. It was still a 45-minute drive to his home. He was tired and a little groggy. He started to think that he should have spent the night at Marcel’s. But he was too mad at him to stay over. Eyes were getting too heavy. Head kept falling. The traffic light was red. He managed to stop, which seemed pointless, considering that there was not a soul around. The traffic light turned green. He started moving when suddenly; strong blinding lights traveled through his left side window and a deafening noise from tires breaking screamed his head off. A big heavy flatbed truck appeared in a flash and hit Levi hard. Driving over 80 miles an hour, it crossed the red light, crashed into Levi’s car and carried him for over 100 yards before it came to a complete stop.
“Wake up Sunshine,” Levi was awaked by a familiar voice out of a still blurry unrecognizable face. “Marcel, is that you?” asked Levi. “Yes, that’s me, my friend. How are you feeling?”
“A little bit lightheaded. Are we in the hospital?” He rubbed his eyes while still trying to see through the blur.
“Not exactly. Can you sit?”
“What do you mean, ‘not exactly’? How long have I been out?”
The blur was slowly going away. The room was not like any other hospital room he had seen before. It felt more like a single bed studio apartment from the future. The objects and furniture could easily have come out from a Star Trek movie set. Indirect lightning coming out from inside the walls enhanced the room’s modern and futuristic ambiance. Everything was white. The walls, the little sofa by the bed, the small table with four chairs on the other side of the room, the flower vase and the water bottle on the table – all white. Marcel approached holding a cup of water and sat on the edge of the bed.
“For quite a long, long time my friend. Here, drink some water.”
Levi sat and his vision cleared up completely. Feeling lost he still tried to figure it out where he was. He looked at himself, which made him even more confused. He was dressed in some kind of hospital clothing for patients. He seemed fine for someone who just had an accident. He might have been in a coma for a long time, but he certainly didn’t feel like he was waking up from a vegetative state. His eyes focused on Marcel now. He looked different.
“What did you do with your face? Did you get some Botox or something?”
“Come on! Put this on. Let’s eat something. You must be hungry.” Marcel handed him a pair of sneakers, jeans and a NASA t-shirt.
“Seriously?” said Levi holding the t-shirt.
“What?” shrugged Marcel.
Levi went to the bathroom and started changing.
“Holy Rockets!” he shouted in shock at what he saw reflected in the mirror above the sink.
“What is the matter?” Marcel asked with a smile on his face.
“What happened to me? Look at my face!” said Levi not believing what his eyes were seeing. The wrinkles on his face were gone just as all the other imperfections that used to be there. “I look 10 years younger or so.” The image reveals also a physique worthy of an Olympic gymnast athlete, which could never belong to a 35 years old sedentary astrophysicist. “And I have muscles, now? Plastic surgery could explain my face, but this?! How on Earth has this happened?”
“Let’s go, Levi. A lot more has changed while you were asleep,” said Marcel while leaving the room.
“What? Wait? What? For how long I have been asleep exactly?” asked Levi leaving the bathroom and running after Marcel into the corridors. “Please, don’t tell me that we were subjects in some kind of cryogenic project or…oh wow!” The vision of the corridor was astonishing. “Look at this place. Seriously, man! Where are we?”
“Come on. I want you to see it for yourself,” said Marcel while getting into the whole glass elevator revealing the breathtaking huge underground lab-like-structure on its way up to the surface. The elevator then emerged from the ground and opened its glass doors.
“Here we are, my friend. Welcome to the future.”