Fiction Fragment Friday
You never know where inspiration will strike. This story was inspired by being tired and trying to wake up. That started the thought process that developed the overall story. Then after I wrote the first line I realized that I was using a tense I don’t typically use. First person present. This proved something of a challenge because it is not at all my regular writing style.
I have always found present tense difficult. I’m sure if I did another editing pass I would find another spot or two where I messed up the tense because of that. One of the goals of these Fiction Fragment Fridays is to challenge myself. Allow myself to write in styles or genres that I normally wouldn’t.
In the end I have a story that I think has quite a bit of potential.
The first thing I feel is cold. It is a bone chilling cold through my whole body. The feel is not just against my skin, but from inside as well. My eyelids feel like they weigh a ton, and I just can’t seem to get them to open. There is a whirring sound all around me punctuated by the hiss of some sort of gas. I just lay there in the dark taking in all the sensations because my body will not respond to me. I physically can’t do anything else.
My mind is groggy. I can take in all the stimuli my senses are feeding me, but it just doesn’t add up. I don’t know what normal is supposed to feel like, but I know that these sensations are not it. In my thoughts I can form words and have basic understanding without any details. Proper nouns like my own name escape me. Details like my past are just out of reach.
A warmth starts to overtake me and I realize it is coming from inside my body. I am suddenly aware of needles in my arm that have been there the whole time. The warmth starts there and spreads. My fingers twitch at first on their own but gradually under my control. Sensation is returning to me in the form of a low throbbing pain all over.
With great effort I am able to force my eyelids open for brief periods. The light is overwhelming. Even if my eyelids did not feel so heavy I would have to close them shield myself from the brightness. My arms are still too weak to move up for cover. A loud clicking sound starts all around me. In what feels like hours but I know was only moments I have gone from total sensory deprivation to sensory overload. My brain is struggling with the input, but I can tell that like the rest of me it is recovering too.
I am in some sort of chamber or pod. Enclosed in a capsule? I can tell the door in front of me is opening because I feel air against my skin and am met with a sudden onslaught of sounds. There is chatter, wheels squeaking along the floor, and someone sipping a drink far too loudly. The room feels alive.
“Doctor Eversole, welcome back. How do you feel?”
Is this woman talking to me? I try to focus on her voice. There is something familiar about it, but I just can’t place it. The name though sounds right. I am Doctor Olivia Eversole. This gives me a sense of self, but it doesn’t bring any sort of context with it. I know my name, but I still don’t really know who I am.
“Doctor Eversole if you can understand me please say something.” The voice is concerned. I know this. Concern sounds natural for her.
“Where am I?” I’m not sure what my voice is supposed to sound like, but I know that it isn’t this. The words come out hoarse and I realize my mouth is dry to the point of hurting. A tube going down my nose and into my throat make speaking even more difficult. What have they done to me?
“You are in your lab Doctor. Just relax. I’m going to start removing some of the needles and your feeding tube. Try not to move.”
The word feeding tube triggers a panic response in me. I try to hold still, but only my weakness prevents me from reaching up and feeling my face. Sharp pain in my arm as I feel one of the needles being pulled out. The feeding tube rubs against my throat as they pull it out through my nose. Fits of coughing come over me and I worry for a moment that I will choke to death. Just like that it is over, and I can breathe again. I briefly wonder if I am being tortured.
“You’re doing great Doctor Eversole.”
Why does she keep saying my name every time she talks? I suddenly realize it is for repetition. To help me re-associate it with myself and prevent a dissociative disorder from setting in. How do I know this? I suddenly realize it is because I wrote the protocol. Her words come back to me. I am in my lab. Whatever has happened to me here wasn’t something forced on me. I am a part of it.
“You did it Doctor Eversole. There was an issue and we had to keep you under a bit longer than planned, but other than that it was a complete success.”
“How long?” I want to say more. Ask more questions. I can’t though because my throat hurts so bad. I hate the raspy pained sound that comes form me when I try to talk.
“The test was supposed to be for six months, but well we had to keep you under for a year. I’m so sorry, but the important thing is that it worked. You are the first woman to be put into cryogenic sleep and woken back up.”
Memories of the project flood back. I remember fighting with this woman. No not just some woman. My partner both professionally and personally. Her name is Jennifer. She was so mad at me because I wouldn’t take volunteers. I couldn’t handle if someone died testing my process. I insisted that I be the first test subject. That way if it all went wrong, I wouldn’t have to live with the guilt. She told me it was reckless and that I was being selfish. I remember my last words to her in that argument minutes before stepping into the lab. I told her that if she truly believed in me and my work, she wouldn’t be worried. That all her protests just meant that she didn’t believe in me.
I sigh and prepare for the pain. “I’m sorry.” She looks at me confused. “I said horrible things.” I can feel the tears trying to form in my eyes, but my body is not yet ready to let them come.
“Oh hon, that was a year ago for me. I forgave you a long time ago. I’ve just been so worried.”
Unlike my body hers has no problem producing tears. As she leans down to hold me, I use all of my strength to raise my arms up around her. I whisper in her ear, “I love you. Sorry I scared you.” I can feel her tears dripping on me and know that she is trying to hide it from the others in the lab. I vow that I will find a way to make this up to her. After I pour through my data and prepare my speech for the inevitable Nobel Prize of course. After all I am a genius, and I haven’t met the problem yet that I can’t solve.