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Adam and Chris

by woodpecker 

Posted: 07 April 2004
Word Count: 3420

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Adam and Chris

Adam woke up. Someone had pulled back the curtains. The sun flooded into the room, and the warm beams danced on his face. He felt he had a long sleep. He turned to check the time, 7:30am, said the alarm clock on the bedside table. Oh, well, perhaps not too long, he usually woke up around this time. But he did feel that he had a long sleep, a good rest.

He stretched his arm, and surveyed his surroundings. A strange, almost alien sensation hit him. What was it? Was it the room? It looked at once strange and familiar. He could see all his furniture around, his favourite chair, his old bedside table, and the paintings on the wall, all of them just as he remembered. But not the curtains, the carpet and the wallpaper, they seemed to be of different colours and patterns. When did he last redecorate the room? He couldn’t recall.

A light knock on the door, and a man in his thirties came into the room. ‘Good morning, sir.’ He smiled and bowed slightly. ‘Would you like your breakfast served in half an hour?’

‘Oh yes, thank you,’ Adam blurted out, trying to hold back his surprise. He couldn’t recognise the young man. Did he have a butler? Well, the young man seemed to think so. Adam wasn’t sure. He searched hard in his memory, not much luck there.

The young man smiled again. He turned to open the wardrobe and brought out a long blue dressing gown. He laid it on the chair next to the bed. With a slight bow, he left the room.

Adam got up, put on his dressing gown, and headed for the bathroom. He needed a good waking up, a shower should do the trick. He was always more alert after a shower.

He felt reassured that the bathroom was where he thought it was, but only just about. If anything, the bathroom looked more alien to him than the bedroom. The basin was there alright. His electric tooth-brush was standing on the shelf, and the mirror above it. The bath tub was there against the far side of the wall. But they all looked different, strange somehow. Why did he have the feeling of trespassing in someone else’s bathroom? He shook his head. Where was the shower? Surely he had a shower. ‘Oh well, brush the teeth first then.’ He grabbed the tooth-brush, put on some tooth-paste, so far so good. Now, some water. He stared at the basin, where was the tap? The basin was clean and shining, a small pool of water lingering at the bottom. But where was the water coming from? Adam went on a search, sideways, underneath the basin, and even on the floor, in case it was one of those foot operated taps. But there were no taps anywhere and no knobs either. He felt increasingly frustrated, no, maddened really. He bashed the tooth-brush against the basin, ‘Where is the damned water tap?’

A soft, soothing female voice came up, ‘Good morning, sir.’ With that, a cap popped open, and a tap raised from the basin, water flowed out, soft and warm. Adam cursed under his breath, and started brushing his teeth grumpily. So he had a voice-controlled bathroom. Again, he couldn’t remember when he put that in. Surely he would remember a thing like that? He reminded himself that he must remember to take his vitamins and memory enhancement cocktail, the brain power boost capsules. Yes, he needed a power boost.

Having finished brushing his teeth, and washed his face, Adam wondered what the water tap would do next. He stood there, head tilted. After a few seconds, the water ceased to flow, and the female voice came back, ‘Would you like a spray?’

Ah, this thing had a spray. ‘Yes’, Adam answered. What else did it do?

‘Please stand closer, with your head above the basin.’ The voice instructed.

Adam moved closer to the basin. The tap rotated and warm water was injected to his face, then warm air came on to dry his face. Before he got a chance to pull back to straighten his back, he received a spray of after shave. He laughed out loud. Ah, this was fun, a bit like an adventure really.

He straightened up his back, with more confidence, he commanded, ‘I am going to have a shower now.’

He turned around to see if there was anything happening. Nothing, the bathroom was completely still.

He raised his voice, ‘I said, I want to have a shower, now!’

Still, nothing moved. Just as Adam was about to say something more effective, the female voice came back, soft and soothing, ‘The shower is located at the corner of bathroom. Please proceed to the raised platform.’

Adam looked around. Oh yes, there was a small raised area at the corner of the room, round in shape, with steps leading up to it. No shower heads there, but this time he wasn’t surprised. ‘Proceed to the raised platform! Who wrote the damned script?’ He grumbled.

‘Sorry, what is a ‘script’? The platform is in the corner of the bathroom, please step onto it.’

‘Ah ha, so there is something you don’t know either!’ Adam was pleased with that. He walked over and stepped onto the round platform. Silently, a motorised glass door enclosed him. Shampooed water streamed down, and then it was time to be rinsed.


When Adam emerged showered and clothed, he set about to find the breakfast room, or the room he thought was where he used to have his breakfast. He enjoyed his little adventure in the bathroom. The shower though did not produce the effect he anticipated, or he hoped to produce. He felt queasy and increasingly concerned with the state of his mind and memory. It wasn’t just that he felt like stranger in his own home. He wasn’t sure what day it was today either, or what plan he had for today or, as a matter of fact, what were the plans for anything. He must have that power boost cocktail. He usually had it at breakfast time, well, that was according to his memory.

Adam reached the conservatory. He was relieved that it was still used as the breakfast room. A place was set, Adam sat down. He looked out, the garden was still how he remembered it. It was Spring time, the cherry trees were in full bloom, bringing out a pink haze in the garden. Across the lawn, daffodils sprung up under the horse chestnut tree, and lined the edges of the flower bed.

The young man came into the room, carrying a tray. An aroma of fried bacon floated over. ‘Oh, that smells marvellous.’ Adam smiled. Things began to look up.

The young man put a plate of full English breakfast, a glass of orange, a pot of coffee, and a newspaper on the table. ‘Would that be all, sir?’

‘Could you bring me the power boost cocktail?’ Adam asked. Surely it was called power boost cocktail!
‘It’s in the orange juice, sir. This is the latest transgenic orange, enhanced with all the vital vitamins and important fatty acids.’

‘Of course, of course’, Adam tried to hold his composure. Vitamins and fatty acid enhanced orange?

‘Anything else, sir?’

‘No, that’s all, thank you.’

‘Very well, sir.’ The young man smiled. ‘Your son Chris and his family are due to arrive this morning at about 10 o’clock. Is there anything special you would like me to prepare?’

So his son would be visiting, it must be Sunday then. ‘Make a nice roast beef lunch.’ Adam liked roast beef. And right now, he needed things familiar to him.
‘Beef is very difficult to get hold of these days, sir. We have beef flavoured chicken nowadays.’

‘Beef flavoured chicken?!’ Adam dismayed. What had the world come to? Surely roast beef was the Sunday lunch!

‘Yes, sir, it tastes very much like beef, quite a delicacy. It’s your son’s favourite.’ The young man smiled.

‘All right then, we’ll have the roast chicken.’ Adam shook his head. Chris liked beef flavoured chicken?
‘Very well, sir.’ The young man bowed and left the room.
Adam eyed the orange juice suspiciously, power boost cocktail in the orange juice? Wouldn’t it taste horrible? He much preferred to take the cocktails in capsules. He took a sip, it didn’t taste bad at all, instead it tasted fresh, like freshly pressed orange juice. He felt relaxed now, and started to enjoy his breakfast.

Opening the newspaper, he started to scan the headlines. Nothing about Iraq, Middle East and al Qaeda. Oh good, had things finally settled down? Bush and Blair finally got their acts together? Adam always felt sure about his choice of profession. Science was a tangible and noble profession, and scientists embodied the human’s conquering spirits. Science advanced civilisation and transformed people’s lives. Adam was very proud of his own achievements in the field of bio-science. After all, very few people could claim that they were a pioneer in genetic engineering, the founder of transgenic technology, and the winner of two Nobel prizes.

Adam continued to scan the newspaper, a brief news item caught his attention,

‘The much anticipated transgenic product competition result is due to be unveiled next week. The prominent bio-scientist Adam Ellwood is expected to make a TV appearance next week.’

It was a news item both comforting and unsettling. It wasn’t that seeing his name in print made him feel uneasy. Adam was used to being in the public eye. But surely, shouldn’t he know the rumours before reading them in the paper? He knew absolute nothing about the competition, and no one seemed to have made any attempt to contact him, well, not that he was aware of.

What was the date today? Adam turned to the front page of the newspaper, and he jumped. 10th March 2040. 2040? Surely that couldn’t possibly be true, 2004 was more like it. He felt sure that 2004 was the current year. He was born 1963, 2040 would make him, what, nearly eighty years old? He ran back to the bathroom. Looking back from the mirror was a man in his early 40’s. So he hadn’t imagined it, had he? Where was his passport? He went into his study to search. His writing desk was still as he remembered. His passport should be in the top drawer where he kept his personal papers. But nope, it wasn’t there. He looked around a bit more, still couldn’t find it.

He needed more confirmation. Where was the TV? There should be one in the breakfast room. He walked briskly back to the conservatory. Well, no TV screen in sight. Why didn’t that surprise him? Was there a remote control, or a hidden control button under the table? He bent down to examine the side of the table. Ah, there was a remote control slide in a slot under the table. With a triumphant smile, he grabbed it. It was a strange one, divided into 4 sections, at the top was a small screen. The first section looked like the TV control, there was a number pad, and various buttons marked TV and channel etc.

Adam pressed the button marked as TV, a large flat panel turned on the roof, and descended from the ceiling. As it came down just above the table, the middle section of the table slid open, and a silver device with several lenses rose up. Images were projected onto the flat panel, and sound came on. At the corner of the image, there was a time clock, but no date, month or year. Adam flicked the remote control and scanned the news channels. After going through a few news channels talking about football, weather, and local news, Adam stopped at the GNN channel, a news reader was talking animatedly about the forthcoming general election. ‘Jim, the mood of the liberal democrats is very buoyant, the party chairman Patrick Clooney unveiled plans of liberalising the transgenic industry following winning the 2040 general election, …’

Liberalising the transgenic industry, what was Clooney talking about? Was the industry producing vitamin and fatty acid fortified orange, and beef flavoured chicken in need of liberalisation? After listening to the news reader rambling on for a few more minutes, Adam switched it off. Now there was no doubt that he had come back to the future. Adam trembled with excitement, so they had achieved it, they had realised his dream. He felt a rush of adrenalin, and all of a sudden the conservatory was too hot and stuffy. He ran to the door, opened it, steadied himself against the door frame, and took a few deep breadths to let the fresh air into his lungs. When he felt a bit better, he stepped out into the garden.

Adam loved the garden, to him, the garden was an oasis in a chaotic and maddening world. It was a place for reflection, introspection, and resting, well his other word for gardening or reading. Today, the garden looked the picture of tranquillity as usual. The blue tits sang in the trees, the black birds were digging in the soil looking for proteins, and the rabbits were busy enjoying the grass. In the distance, the purple flowers of ‘Sorcerer’s violet’ were peeping through the green leaves, and the tulips were ready to add their colours to the season. Something was missing though, Adam thought, what was it? He looked around, the garden remained much the same as he remembered. But something was missing, what was it? Maybe it would come to him in a little while. Adam walked on. At the small wooded area, he stopped. There, in the opening of the small woods, was a metal net cage of about 2 meters high, with a door to the left side. They had a zoo here? Adam walked over, inside the metal cage were several small animals, ah, squirrels, that was what he was looking for! Why were they kept inside the cage? As he approached the cage, a few of them jumped to the netting wall in front of him, watching with a buzz of excited chattering.

‘Curious creatures! Hello, squirrels, who locked you up? You should play in the trees, and on the lawns.’ As he said so, he walked around to the left to look for the lock. The little animals followed him to the door. Adam smiled, he was in luck, the key was left in the lock. He tried to turn the key, it didn’t move. A child safe lock? He pushed the key in and turned again. Still no. He pulled the key out to study it, it didn’t look unusual. He bent down to have a better look at the lock. Ah, that must be it, a safety catch. He inserted the key, pulled the safety catch back, pushed the key in and turned again, Ah ha, this time the key turned!

‘Dad, No!’ ‘No! Don’t open the door! It’s dangerous!’ In the distance a commotion broke out, and several voices were shouting simultaneously. Adam turned to look, a group people were running towards him, arms waving frantically in front of them.

Adam listened intently, his hand still holding the door. What were they saying, not open the door? At that moment, he felt the door was pushed, on a reflex he pushed it back, and the door slammed into the door frame, closed and locked again. But it was not fast enough though, one of the animals had escaped. It sat at the top of the netting wall, looking at him menacingly, poised to lunge at him. The animal was less than a meter away.

Adam froze, he realised his mistake. It couldn’t have been a grey squirrel, which used to be abundant in this part of the world. It was a little too big in size, and its hissing sound unlike a squirrel. Adam’s mind started to race, if the creature was dangerous, what was it going to do, and what could he do to defend himself? He cast his eyes about, a few meters away there was a fallen tree branch strong enough to use as a makeshift weapon. He moved sideways towards it cautiously, his eyes not leaving the animal. A few seconds later, he paused, something puzzled him. Was the animal afraid? It appeared to hesitate and adopted a defensive posture. What was it afraid of? Its eyes still fixed at him, no, not him, his hand or something in his hands. Adam cast a quick glance at his hands, and he almost laughed out aloud at himself. Without realising it, Adam had been holding the remote control in his hand, and in a moment of intense anxiety, he had held it out towards the animal like a gun. But why would the animal afraid of a remote control? Had it seen it before? Adam scanned the remote control. What could be lethal? The first and second section looked like TV and sound controls. The third one, looked like a control for something, beneath the red buttons marked as ‘program’, ‘start’, ‘stop’, were rows of little buttons arranged neatly. The fourth section was protected by a cover. Sliding it open revealed yet more buttons, coloured in green, yellow, red and purple. The section was marked as ‘laser’. A light flashed in his head, ‘Of course, the laser!’

Aiming the remote control at the animal, Adam pushed the red button, a red beam flashed. At that instant, the animal jumped, flying towards Adam. Adam took a step back, foot caught by the branch, he fell to the ground. The animal jumped again and bit into Adam’s throat. Adam grabbed the big tail of the animal, with all his strength, he pulled it off him and threw it away. He sat up and beamed the red laser at the animal again. One of the laser beams landed on it, the animal wilted. Adam flashed more laser beams at it. Smoke came up from the head of the animal.

As blood trickled out, a fatigue hit Adam, slowly he lowered himself onto the ground. Looking at the dying creature, eyes shut, its little limbs twitching, Adam wondered who brought it into this world, and for what purpose. Was it an experiment to prove a theory or was it designed to kill? Was the creature responsible for the disappearance of the playful grey squirrels in the garden? What other deadly transgenic creatures had been brought into this world?

The fatigue grew heavier now, like a warm cocoon gradually enveloping him. He knew where the cocoon was taking him, but he couldn’t break free from it. He was not ready to go yet, he still had many things to find out, and much to do. He wanted to stay in this world, the future of his world, however flawed it was, it was his world. There was still time, time to put things right, time to make amends.

Adam turned to face the coming crowd. He could just about to make out the features of their faces. Which one was his son Chris? They were getting closer now, ‘Dad!’ the man running at front called out, oh, that must be his son Chris. Adam tried to focus his eyes on Chris to have a better look of him. He wished he could last long enough to talk to his son. His academically brilliant, imaginative son, forty years on, what had become of him? What had he achieved? He felt sure that it was his son who brought him back. They needed to talk, they needed to have a very long talk. They were here now, Adam extended his arm, he wanted to embrace his son, his beloved, only child.

When Chris got to Adam, Adam’s heart had stopped beating, his eyes open, arms reaching out, a smile hanging on his lips.

‘Dad!’ Chris dropped to his kneels, he cradled Adam, his silver hair touched his father’s chestnut brown hair. ‘No!!!’ Chris cried, the animal like howling pierced the sky, echoed in the small woods. Flocks of birds fluttered out of the trees, dispersed and flew far away. The small animals in the cage scurried to the far corner, huddled together.

In the following day’s newspapers, the front page was dominated by the loss of a famous bio-scientist,

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Comments by other Members

Elspeth at 14:24 on 07 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Woodpecker, welcome to Writewords.
Some really interesting ideas here, particularly considering the debates about gm crops and genetic engineering.
I did wonder whether he'd have been so calm about the changes in the bathroom though, but then if he's been 'asleep' for forty years, I suppose he would be confused. Does he remember the plan? He doesn't seem very surprised to learn he's in the future.
Some of the refernces to 2004 politics were perhaps a little heavy handed. It works to say he's glad there's no mention of Bush, Blair, Al Queda etc in the papers, but I'm not so sure about the brief pacifist statement. Is this because he should be seen as a 'good' man? If so, then you don't need it as he comes across in a very positive light. It just seemed to jar slightly with the narrative, but that's only my take on it.
As for the killer squirrels - I've always had my suspicions.....
Look forward to reading more of your work on the site.


woodpecker at 16:15 on 07 April 2004  Report this post
Dear Katie,

Thanks so much for your comments.

I'll take your suggestion to remove the pacifist comments. I wasn't sure about the paragraph, and wondered if it was too much.

As for the plan to come back to the future, Adam knew, it was his conscious decision to 'go to sleep and wake up in the future'. The interesting question is, can someone tell if he is waking up from yesterday or from 40 years ago? In the short story, I took the path that Adam couldn’t tell at first, and was struggling to come to terms of the strange world surrounded him.

I am planning to write a novel about genetic engineering. It is an exciting technology, and genes alteration has the promise to transform our lives, or even enable us to leapfrog evolution process. But it also poses great danger to the environment, and potentially could trigger self destruction of the mankind, if we don't use it carefully.

best regards,


PaulB at 19:15 on 10 November 2006  Report this post
I like the way you write. It is clear and ecomonical. It is also very visual. After reading your comment about wanting to write a novel, I understood the short story better. There is a whole world in what you write and I felt the story was like a condensed version of the novel to be.

You give a slice of life as it is happening, almost like we are looking through a window at the character. For me there was a lack of context, which I think you would bring out admirably in your full length work. This was certainly a good teaser and there is a whole bucket-load of potential in the world you have intoduced us to. So best of luck with expanding it.

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