Well, as promised, here is another Story a Week! Aren't you all lucky to get two within a few days of each other? Well, of course, I am technically still behind, but let's just get past that, shall we?
So, this is a continuation of the last storyline. I think the next story will be too, then I might switch back to one of the other storylines I have going. I can't believe that I have three active storylines going at the same time! It's madness!
Jake stood in his empty apartment and looked around once last time. He took a moment to reflect on the last month and a half. It was all a whirlwind of selling everything he owned and clearing out his apartment. He patted the cashier's check in his front pocket. It was hard to believe that his whole life had only been worth about twenty thousand dollars. He chuckled to himself; that would change over the next one hundred years while he would be frozen.
"Are you ready?" came the voice of his mother behind him.
Jake turned and smiled at her, and then it occurred to him that some things would be gone in one hundred years. "Oh, mom," he said, tears threatening to flow from his eyes. "I just realized that this will be the last time we see each other."
Jake and his mother unsuccessfully fought off tears as they embraced. After a few moments, his mother took a step back and wiped the tears from her cheeks. "We had better get going," she said.
Jake nodded solemnly and followed his mother out of the apartment and down to her car. They rode to the Cryotechnic headquarters in silence. When they pulled into the parking lot, neither of them made a move to leave the car.
Jake took the check out of his pocket and held it out to his mother. "Mom, I want you to take this."
She looked at him, tears in her eyes. "Jakey, I can't take that."
Jake laughed. "You haven't called me Jakey since I was a kid," he said. His face turned serious as he continued, "No, mom. I insist. You put this away for your retirement. You know that I'll be taken care of."
Jeff's mother grudgingly accepted the check and put it into her purse. The two of them got out of the car and hugged once more before going inside.
Jill came around the receptionist desk inside of the building and approached the two of them. "I'm Jill; you must be Jake's mom?"
She nodded and said, "Yes, Marabelle."
"Pleased to meet you," Jill said, gesturing towards a security guard standing near a door. "If you will follow Mark, he will lead you to the reception."
The three of them walked together through the door and they stopped in front of an elevator. Mark pulled out a security card from his pocket and swiped it in front of a small black spot on the wall next to the elevator. The elevator doors opened immediately and the three of them stepped through.
The first thing that Jake noticed about the elevator was that there weren't any buttons. When he commented on it, Mark replied, "This elevator only goes to two floors: the lobby and the 'Berthing' level."
"Uh, 'berthing' level?" Jake asked unsure if he'd like the answer he was going to get.
Mark shot a big grin over at Jake as he replied, "Yeah, you know, because the gurus up in marketing decided to call each pod or whatever a berth." The guard shrugged. "I dunno, they probably think that it makes them sound more appealing."
The elevator ride took another couple of moments and Jake thought that they must be several stories underground. Before he could comment on that, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. The three of them walked out into the biggest room that Jake had ever seen. The ceiling was at least three stories high and it was at least the distance of a football field for each wall. The room was filled with cryogenic "berths", or at least that's what Jake thought they were. Each berth slightly resembled a coffin with clear glass instead of wood or metal. Jake immediately wished he hadn't thought of coffins right before going into one of the berths. There were machines connected to the berth so that each one took up about twice the size of a standard coffin. Jake took another look around the room and estimated that there were about ten thousand berths in the room.
"Uh, follow me, sir," Mark said. Jake realized that he must have been out of it for a couple of moments.
"Uh, sorry," he replied.
Mark shrugged and led Jake and Marabelle to the center of the room. There Jake saw some computers set up in what looked like NASA's control room. Also, near the computer banks, was an elaborately decorated banquet table full of food and a podium. There were several dozen chairs set up to face the podium and cameramen fussing with their cameras behind the chairs.
Mark led Jake and his mother up to where Bill Franklin was standing near the banquet table. Mark said, "Mr. Franklin, Jake Anthony is here."
Bill turned and Jake looked up at him. "Hello again, Mr. Franklin," he said.
"Oh, call me Bill, please, Jake," he said, "and who is this lovely lady?"
Jake smiled and replied, "This is my mother, Marabelle Anthony."
The three of them exchanged small talk for a couple of minutes before Bill was called away. Jake and his mother took some seats in the audience and waited a couple more minutes for the reception to begin.
The lights dimmed and a spotlight lit up the podium. Bill stepped into the light and cleared his throat. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. As most of you know, my name is 'Big' Bill Franklin and I'm the COO of Cryotechnic Corporation." Bill looked around the room with a smile on his face. "Tonight we're all here to usher in a new era for humanity. For the first time in our history, people will be travelling through time." Bill paused as chuckles rippled through the audience. "Alright folks, you got me. While the people that will be entering cryogenic berths today will, from their perspective, be instantly transported to the future; the trip will, in fact, take them one hundred years to complete. But, once the trip is complete, the twenty pioneers of cryogenics will find themselves in the year 2122. Tonight, we bid farewell to these twenty pioneers so that they can say hello to the future for us."
Bill paused and the crowd applauded. Jake found Bill's words inspiring. In fact, he realized that after Bill's speech he couldn't wait to step into his own berth.
After the applause died down, Bill continued, "Have fun tonight folks!"
The crowd applauded once more and the room's lights came back up. The crowd descended on the banquet table and began mingling amongst themselves. A few minutes into the reception, Marabelle pulled Jake aside.
"Jake, honey, I'm going to be leaving now," she said after a moment or two of hesitation.
Jake was a little set back, but quickly recovered. "Why, mom?" he asked.
"Well, dear. I don't think that I can bear to watch you step into one of those...those..." she started.
"Coffins?" Jake said, interrupting.
"Well, yes," she replied. "I know that they're not really coffins, but you must admit that they do look a lot like them." After Jake nodded she continued, "I know that we'll never see each other again and while that makes me very sad, I'm glad that you have this opportunity, Jake."
Jake didn't know what to say, so he just hugged his mother. They held the embrace for a few moments before separating. Jake saw more tears in his mother's eyes as they said their last goodbyes.
The rest of the evening went by in a blur. Jake met all of the other people who either won the lottery or bought their way into the first round of cryogenic berths. After a couple of hours, the reception began to wind down and Bill led the group of pioneers away from the reception area into a small room adjoining the large one.
In that room were several men dressed in lab coats. They handed out jumpsuits to everyone. Bill said, "These jumpsuits are designed to last the entire time you are in the cryogenic chamber. They are a rubber, polymer microfiber something or other. These guys could tell you more about them, if you're interested. I'm here to see if any of you want to back out at the last minute." Bill looked at them all and said, "Anyone going to back out? We have some alternates on call, if you are."
Bill took the time to look each person in the eye before continuing. "Good, I've met you all and I didn't think that any of you would back out, but I needed to ask just the same." He thrust a thumb over his shoulder and continued speaking, "Behind me are some showers. Please shower thoroughly with the soap inside the dispensers. You can leave your cloths in the bins provided and these guys will help you into your berths."
Bill took a final look at everyone and said, "Seriously, folks, good luck. No one knows what the future will hold, but I'm sure that you all will enjoy it!"
Jake did as he was told and a few minutes later he was standing near a cryogenic berth with one of the techs. "So, you get lucky number five," the tech said as he was doing some final preparations.
"Excuse me?" Jake said, confused.
The tech stopped what he was doing and pointed to a big, red five over where Jake's head would rest. "See, number five. It happens to be my favorite number," the tech said.
"Uh, okay, good to know, I guess," Jake replied.
A few moments later, the tech pointed inside the berth and said, "Go ahead and make yourself comfortable in there." As Jake did so, he continued, "As you know, we're going to put you into a medically induced coma and then we'll freeze your body. You won't feel a thing. In fact, the next thing that you'll know, you'll open your eyes one hundred years from now. Cool, huh?"
Jakes nerves had kicked in, so the only response he gave was a weak nod. The tech shrugged and pulled a syringe off the table next to the berth. "Comfy?" he asked. When Jake just nodded again, the tech chuckled and stuck him in the arm with the needle.
Almost immediately, Jake started to feel a little strange. He struggled to keep his eyes open, and then decided that it felt better with them closed.
"Hey! Wake up!"
Jake was startled to hear a voice. He hadn't even fallen asleep yet.
"I said, wake up!" the voice said again.
Jake opened his eyes and was startled to see some sort of television screen about a foot away from his face. The berth was closed and the room beyond was almost completely dark.
"Uh, what happened?" Jake asked.
The man on the screen just laughed. "You're in the future, champ. Well, technically the present, but one hundred years have passed since you last had your eyes open."