Michael made his way to the station with his family in tow. His feelings from this morning were still not diminished but it did help to have his family there to distract him. Washington D.C. was very pretty this morning, with the sun in the sky and it being spring time, the cherry blossoms on the tidal basin were all in bloom. At this point they were a beautiful light pink color, in a week they would be a florescent pink in their full bloom state. That was Michael's wife favorite time of the year, spring time. In the spring, D.C. was beautiful, the weather was recovering from its cold winter days. Most mornings started off with crisp air and finished with nice warm breezes. When it rained, D.C. was ugly, but the kind of ugly you'd expect from a city with such dirty characters.
Michael pulled his car up to the station building and checked in at the front desk, they were expecting him, but then again they were expecting thousands of others. The Destiny Program provides billions of tests every year and are responsible for maintaining thousands of stations around the world. The D.C. station building was massive, akin to a superstore distribution center. Similar to the madness of one's vehicle registration lines; there were a lot of people outside the building who were not invited in but waiting for manifest from friends or colleagues. Many services are provided right outside the station building to people who need it. As you can imagine a lot of emotional support groups troll the building looking for people with deep pockets who are near the end of their rope. Aside from the less-desirable characters who post up next to the station building, there are religious groups, employment kiosks, and business leaders who are looking to catch as many 50+ as possible. It was a pretty bleak setting. Desperation at it's finest.
Michael and his family made their way through the crowds, queues, and offices to their predesignated agent. After some preliminary paperwork and identity checking, their agent confirmed that this was Michael's first Manifest and that he would be entitled to it for free. Once all that was completed, they were escorted by another agent to his personal pod. They picked up a small transport car to take Michael and his family on a 10-minute ride to the pod. His family would be invited to the waiting area within the pod, but only the person receiving their Manifest would be allowed in the delivery area.
Each pod closely resembled an egg in color and shape. It's oval shape was half submerged around the concrete slab it was resting on. In this particular station there were just shy of a 1000 pods in the area. From an aerial view, the station resembled a very boring and unchallenging easter egg hunt. Each pod had one door a the front of the oval to enter in and a door at the rear end of the oval to exit out. Once there, the agent exited the car and opened the door for the family into the pod.
Once inside Michael and his family saw before them a very luxorious sitting area. Sure it was just a waiting area, but it was filled with plush pillows, couches, and literature that put their small one bedroom apartment in the D.C. ghetto to shame. The sounds coming from in the waiting room were that of a serene waterfall which immediately, and purposefully, put people at ease upon entering.
There was another door that led from the waiting room to the testing area that had a blinking light over it. It blinked red to indicate that the door was locked and not accessible at this time. When the agent was driving them to their pod, they told them that Michael was the only one who could enter when the light stayed at a steady green. And he would be greeted by a lab technician that would walk him through the process and how to begin.
Without much delay after entering, the light switched from red to green. Grant had only started examining the room when he was called over by his father to wish him well. Michael hugged his wife first then his son separately. He did not know why he did that. He never did that.
He walked over to the door and twisted the knob and entered the room. He was greeted by a pretty young lady who looked at him with, at first, absolute apathy. Michael could tell she was used to this sort of thing. She was nice to him and escorted him around the room and offered a tour of the systems that he would be interacting with to gather all the test data. He could tell from her accent that she was foreign but welcoming all the same. Near the end of the tour she sat him down on a stool in the middle of the room and asked if he was ready.
Michael responded with, "does anyone every say yes?"
The technician looked at him and for a faint second, winced out of the corner of her eye and responded in a french accent, "we have a saying in France, ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les jeux."
"What does that mean?" Michael asked before she left the room.
The technician looked up before she departed and whispered "it means, it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye"
The door shut behind her and Michael was left in the room alone. What he remembers from this moment later in life would play very quickly in his mind and would forever have a lasting impression on him. The saying that the technician left with him would also remembered, but instead of playing out quickly, it would signify as the last moment of complete solace he experienced.
He was then prompted by the computer to provide blood, urine, and hair to be analyzed. Through each receptacle, he provided what was needed. As the technician had said, the test would only take a few minutes before giving him his manifest. After a brief pause to allow the test to occur, a quiet voice came from the screens that was an automative message:
"Hello Mr. Isel,
Thank your for choosing to get your Manifest today. We are very happy to provide you with very exact data to help you plan for your future. It is with absolute diligence that we provide you with this information.
In this case, we are sorry to deliver this information. Mr. Isel, you have less than one year left with us. Approximately, our records indicate that you have 264 days left with us. Again, we are sorry to deliver this information.
We have prepared information for you after leaving this room to better equip you with resources for your post-manifest experience.
Michael's heart sank, the freight train of emotion did not hit him all at once, the first thing that ran threw his mind was his family. He immediately pictured them without him in their lives, that is when the emotions hit him.
He knew at once that he had to leave the screening room before becoming sick. He had a sudden pinch in his stomach that lurched him forward.
He stood up and immediately and lost the feeling of his legs and stumbled to the exit door. He gripped the handle and twisted the knob and staggered into the second waiting room to see a large gentleman sitting down at a desk waiting for him. He had heard about people like him, and had dreams of them, but never thought he would meet one but after hearing the news he had, it only made sense. Sitting across from him was a detailer.