Monday, February 9, 2015

None Too Frozen

            The elevator stopped at the cold storage level deep beneath the surface of the ice. Brian slid his I.D. badge across the access panel and the elevator doors opened to the 25th sub-level floor. He zipped his heavy duty winter coat up over his neck and stepped into the frozen corridor. Brian could feel the chill of the place through his many layers of thermal clothing and heavy duty winter wear. The automated fluorescent lights lit his path as he walked toward the large freezer doors at the end of the stone carved hall. He wiped some frost off the freezer access panel and typed in his personal password.

            Gears and locks started groaning behind the frozen stone walls and the freezer door slowly opened. Brian took a deep cold breath in through his nose. He entered the freezer and turned on the light array. The cold bulbs flickered to life over the cold storage canisters that lined the freezer walls. The canisters were labeled according to the subject’s date of cryogenic freezing and sex. Brian took a clipboard off subject 11388-F and flipped to the last page.

            “Good morning Darla,” said Brian.

            Brian looked in through the thick frosty glass of Darla’s cryogenic canister. He could make out the subtle softness of her beautiful features. She was one of the first subjects to volunteer for the cryogenic program at Black Mountain Research. Her day had finally come for reanimation.

            “It’s going to be your first morning in,” Brian flipped through her chart, “150 years Darla.”

            Brian smiled at the thought of sitting with her and explaining how much the world had changed since she was first put into the freezer. Medical technology had finally advanced to the point of curing the original terminal disease she’d developed and had caused her to volunteer for the cryogenic program. She was a model of some kind when she first went into the freezer and had made enough money to buy her ticket toward immortality. She was still just as beautiful today as the day she was put on ice.

            Brian put the clipboard back and put his hand on the glass over Darla’s face. He brushed the frost away gently and he smiled. He couldn’t wait for her to open her eyes. According to her chart her eyes were blue. Brian loved blue eyes. They had become very rare in his present and he wanted to see them. He wanted them to gaze longingly into his own eyes.

            He moved toward the control panel next to Darla’s frozen tube and started entering the reanimation sequence. The canister had to slowly heat, reinsert the fluids, electrically stimulate the neural synapses, and restart the heart.  Brian was excited. The cold of the storage facility was hardly noticeable now as the machinery whirred to action.

            There were three hundred other cryogenic patients waiting for reanimation but none of them held any place in Brian’s heart. He’d researched Darla extensively ever since he first saw her frozen face on his first day at the Black Mountain facility. He had gone through the quantum internet files and had pulled up all of her photographic work, images that were taken before the 3D filters. He fell in love with her. He’d found some old interviews where she talked about wanting to see the future and how she had wanted to know what life would be like then. She was the woman he’d always dreamed of and now he was going to be the first face she’d see in a hundred and fifty years.

            Brian adjusted some numbers on the readout screens and followed the reanimation sequence carefully. Each stage of the process was dangerous for the patient, but that couldn’t stop Brian’s excitement. He was eager to hear her take her first breath in the new world. He imagined himself like Prince Charming delivering the waking kiss to Snow White and living happily ever after, just like the Old World fable had said, before being banned.

            Darla’s fluid insertion went according to the specs, the heating process was fully underway, the synaptic upgrades were firing and her heart was slowly beginning to re-activate. Brian licked his dry lips as he watched her progress on the monitors. Her canister was automatically lowered into the med bay area and the medbots moved her to the recovery chamber. Brian followed with the Compupad, eyes fixed on Darla’s slowly rising blood pressure and heart muscle activity.

            Brian wondered if her heart would beat for him like it did in his imagination. Would she look at him like a hero? Would she be forever in his debt for bringing her back to life? He activated the vaccination program and the medical cure for her terminal disease was added to her regeneration protocol. She would be cured of her illness and her lifespan greatly increased. She would stay as beautiful as she was when she first underwent the cryo process.

            Darla’s heart began to beat regularly and Brian’s began to thump harder. It was so close now he could taste it. She was put on the regulator by the medbots and her resurrection was on automatic. It was so close now. The canister seal of the cryo-bed unlocked and the cryoseal opened. Darla was free from the canister for the first time in a hundred and fifty years. Brian went to her side and looked at her fully exposed body. She was pristine. The bioscans carefully phased her and all her internal systems were in perfect order. The neurofilter showed brain activity rising. At any moment she would open her eyes and see the future, what she’d always wanted.

            Darla twitched, as if having a nightmare. Her eye lids began to flutter and Brian leaned in closer over her face. He wanted to be the first person she saw. Her eyes twitched and then fluttered open like a butterfly’s wings after escaping the transformative cocoon. Her blue eyes opened and looked at Brian’s looming face. He smiled at her.

            “Welcome back Darla. Can you hear me? Indeed they are so blue.”

            Darla’s pupils adjusted to the bright light overhead. A figure came into focus but she couldn’t respond. She saw something familiar in the figure’s face, but something not right. She tried to squint, but her face felt sore, wind burned, or sun burned. Her mouth was too dry to respond.

            “I’m Brian. I have brought you back to life.”

            Darla tried to nod. She felt as if she had a bad head cold. She was stuffy and cloudy and sort of muddled in her thinking. She wanted to say hello but she could only think of the color purple. She couldn’t make her brain work. She could hear a song playing in her mind, some old Benny Goodman tune her grandparents had loved, but it was deep and echoed, like it was playing in a cave.

            “I’m going to run a few tests on you Darla,” said Brian.

             Darla felt a weight on her chest. She felt the weight of her whole body. She felt the world shifting. The medbed started to tilt up and forward until she was upright. The light wasn’t so bright in her eyes now and she could see more clearly. Her eyes were still stinging with sleep and couldn’t rightly focus. She wanted to move but she found she couldn’t.

             “Don’t worry Darla. Everything is fine. You’re completely safe and in good medical care. In my care. I’m taking care of you,” said Brian.

            He bit his finger as he looked over the perfection of Darla’s body. She was in pristine form. She looked as if she had been frozen yesterday. There were no cracks or freezer marks, no defects or deformity. He smiled and felt his heart beating fast.

            Darla’s eyes slowly focused and she looked side to side. She saw the edges of the cryotube and could sense the motion of the man around her. She felt cold. She realized she was naked. She remembered something about falling asleep at the hospital. The very hospital where she was born. She was part of something, some program, some research, some sort of test. She remembered she had a cat and wondered if anyone had fed him.

            Brian moved around the cryotube and moved the medbots away. He reached down and took Darla by the wrist and he took her pulse. He felt himself get breathless as was finally touching her.

            Darla felt the cold hand on her arm and she forced her eyes to look down. She saw the four fingered hand, the oversized thumb, and the mixed colors of the skin on her wrist. Her eyes bulged in disbelief. She looked up at the figure with the eerie but calming voice.

            “I see you,” said Brian.
            “Gah,” gurgled Darla.

            She tried to pull her arm away but it only twitched limply.

            “There, there, Darla, take it easy. No one is going to hurt you my love,” said Brian.

            Her eyes opened wider as the figure leaned over her. Its skin was swirled, black and white and brown, the eyes were mere slants, the nose was wide and open, the mouth was small, and it was hairless. Darla wanted to scream but couldn’t.

            “Take it easy Darla. You’ve been asleep for a hundred and fifty years; things are a bit different than you remember. But it’d be my honor to show you everything,” said Brian.

            He smiled in her face, revealing sharp little teeth. Darla closed her eyes.


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