An automated voice tells me to step into the chamber. I enter, ducking a little to avoid hitting my head on the low frame. "Please stand still during this step, any unexpected movements will complicate the mind mapping process". I position myself so that I can remain motionless for the next five minutes. I am the last one remaining in my group to go through the machine so they will all be waiting for me to finish. I close my eyes as the buzzing noise closes in around me.
What I and those ahead of me are doing today is vital for our survival if we want to continue living. We are changing our state of consciousness in order to become human. It was a huge decision made over years of debate but in the end, it was found to be the only solution for our species that grows smaller every day. Our planet is unfit to live on and since we are the most similar to humans, the only place for us to go is to earth and which means we have to become as like them as possible.
I am in one of many prep pods that will scan my mind and map my intelligence level, deepest fears, highest hopes, and determine how and which memories are necessary to delete before I can fit in among the human population. When I leave my pod I will be led down a hallway into a room where, with the information gathered from the mind mapping, another machine will provide a personalized set of trials I will have to endure before I can proceed to Earth. In my landscape, the line between being awake and dreaming is blurred and I will not be able to tell what is real and what is not.
Finally, I walk out and into the hallway. I take my time getting there because I know that once I reach the door at the end, I will not be the same person who am I now. Still, this is the option if I want to wake up tomorrow.
The room is dim but somewhere light bleeds in, allowing my eyes to take in the vast emptiness.
I'm barely through the door when it slides closed with a bang behind me the simulation begins.
My body is yanked forward by an invisible force jolting me to my very core and I fall to my knees gasping for air. I look around desperately in the pitch black, trying to see something, anything, but it's pointless. I am left with only four senses. I grope at the dusty floor and my eyes fly open. I'm surprised to discover that I am not on the ground, I am still on my feet and the room is no longer black, it's a pure, blinding white. I turn around when I feel cold water drip down my back but I am too late and I am thrown across the room by a sudden current of water gushing from the ceiling. I have never learned how to swim, water is foreign to my kind as we do not need it. So I panic, swallowing mouthfuls as I twist and summersault in the rising flood. A hand reaches down and pulls me out but I can't focus on their face, I can only see the hand which is still holding onto mine.
I look at it and scream when I see that it's morphed into an angry snake coiling tight around my arm. I drop it and run for the door but the door is only getting farther away from me the faster I go. The snake hisses and slithers towards me and I can no longer move, I'm paralyzed. I scream again but nothing comes out. The snake disappears as quickly as it had come leaving a beach and sun in its place.
This one is nice but I can tell its not real because I want it to stay this way and not go back to what I had previously been subjected to. But if it's fake, why can I feel a breeze brush back my hair and wiggle my toes in the grass? I lay there for hours, just enjoying the warmth on my skin. "It's not so bad here. I think I wouldn't mind staying." I begin to relax and fall into a false sense of security. Pushing away my feelings of foreboding, I spread myself out and reach as far as I can to soak in the sun. Suddenly, I am standing on the other side of a glass wall watching as the rest of my group walks away, leaving me behind. "We have to go now, she is taking to long. Her life is not worth risking the existence of the rest of us. We cannot stay any longer.
There's nothing I can do as they walk away from me but pound on the glass trying to get their attention. If they just turn around they would see that I'm right here, I'm ready to leave with them! I fall yet again, to my knees, this time because of the grief that has passed over me. I was the only one who was unable to pass this mind test and now it's too late, I'm going to be stuck here forever.
And then, everything goes completely black and I find myself groping at a dirty floor searching for something to hold onto that could help me get my bearings. I get up and stumble around in the direction I think is the exit. What I thought had taken hours, even days had happened in only a second, an illusion created by my mind. My hand falls onto a door handle and I turn it.
But what's on the other side is not what I expected at all. Instead of finding the rest of my group, the doorstep drops off abruptly into space. The lonely stars tug at me to let go and fall into its abyss. For several seconds I consider giving in to the urge and nearly lose my grasp on solid ground when I come to my right mind and slam the door shut.
I stand there motionless until the door is cracked open again. I see someone enter, their identity hidden by the light following them inside. They call my name and my mind goes blank.