Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speaking Out With My Geek Out

As you all know, I'm a geek.  I wear that label proudly.  The word is in the name of this blog, after all.  In high school, being a geek or a nerd was a bad thing.  I didn't have a problem with my status, but I know a lot of people who did.  I've written a couple of posts in the past about being a geek or a nerd.  You can read about the differences (if any), and my own growth as a geek.

The reason that I'm writing another post about my own geekiness is for the Speak Out With Your Geek Out event.  I gave a couple links in my last post, but here they are again.  I think that geeks are quite vocal about our pursuits already, but I think that this event is designed to have us unite in our passions.  Passion for our hobbies/jobs/etc. is part of what makes us geeks.  Some put being smarter than other people as being a part of being a geek or a nerd, but I don't like that.  It puts us on a pedestal that I don't always think applies to all of us.  In fact, I think that there is a little geek in all of us.  Isn't there something that you are passionate about?  Is there something that you're willing to argue about for hours?  Then you might have a little geek in you.

A lot of people would either take offense to that, or let that bother them.  I say, own it!  Be proud of yourself!  I value my geekiness and it's part of what makes me, well, me.  I think that I've had pretty good self-esteem throughout most of my life and I think that it's good to feel good about every part of you.  I own my geekiness and I think that this is an integral part of the event.  Speak out with your geek out!

That brings up why geeks, in general, are so vocal about their hobbies/interests.  We're a passionate folk.  We love what we love and like to share it with others.  Sometimes this is received well, but other times we are derided for it.  This whole event was inspired by an article that a blogger, who will go unnamed here, wrote that derided a Magic player for his hobby.  Now, I've been known to be a little judgmental in my old age (btw, GET OFF MY LAWN), but I try not to be.  You shouldn't judge others by their perfectly healthy, normal and legal activities.  If it makes them happy, why is it your business to judge them for it?

That being said, I think that being a geek is becoming more mainstream.  I don't want to sound like a hipster here (I was a geek before it was cool), but I might end up doing that.  With the rise of superhero, popular science fiction and fantasy movies, things that were typically geeky are getting more popular.  Look at vampires.  True blood, Twilight, etc. are turning something that was the subject of geeky literature and roleplaying games into a mainstream money making machine.  And that's what it's all about.  The movie and television industries have found a way to turn these items into profitable ventures.  I, for one, applaud them for it.  I'm happy to have them producing fantasy/science fiction/superhero movies because they'll be better produced and better quality.

So, to wrap up this post.  If you're a geek, be proud of it!  If you don't think you're a geek, look within yourself and see your inner geek.  Don't shy away from it, accept it.  You might see that you like to identify with the geek culture that is evolving.

PS: Blogger, geekiness should be a word.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Story a Week 29 - Thaw Deal 3

 Man, it's been a busy couple of weeks.  I've worked about 110 hours in the last two weeks (especially nice over the holiday weekend!).  Also, the wife and I moved about 1000 pounds of furniture on Saturday.  Anyway, those are my excuses for the late submission of Story a Week #29.

I hope that you like the third installment of the "Thaw Deal" storyline.  I'm going to post the second "Vesta Bound" story next week.  I've had it half done for a couple of weeks now, so I'm going to finish writing it this week and post it next Saturday.  Who knows what I'll do after that.

Also, I'll be posting at least once for "Speak Out With Your Geek Out".  If you haven't heard about this event, please look here or here.  As most of you know, I am proud of my geekiness.  I'm not quite sure yet what the post(s) will be about, but stay tuned.

I appreciate you all reading my stories and hope that you continue to do so.


Jake blinked a couple of times and stared up blankly at the image in front of him.  "What do you mean?  I just closed my eyes."

The man on the screen rolled his eyes and said, "Well, I'm sure from your perspective, that's true.  For the rest of the world, though, it's been one hundred years since you closed your eyes."

Jake didn't know what to say, his head was a little cloudy.  "You're still coming down from the meds, I see, Jake.  I'll come back in a minute or two."

The screen went blank and Jake closed his eyes again and shook his head to try to shake the cobwebs inside loose.  He opened his eyes again and looked through the clear glass outside.  He couldn't see directly to his front, right or left, but he could see out of the corners of the casket.  Across the way there were some people still sleeping in their berths.  Jake, thinking clearly for the first time, figured that they were probably put to sleep after he was and would wake up when their one hundred years were up.

Jake was momentarily blinded when the man reappeared in front of him again.  He blinked away the blindness and noticed for the first time that there wasn't a screen in front of him, but rather some sort of three dimensional hologram.

He asked, "Who are you and how are you projecting yourself into my casket?"

The man laughed then said, "I'm Hal, I'm in charge of maintaining this place.  Are you ready to get out?  You'll be the first.  The others are a little slow at coming out of their stupors."

Jake shrugged then nodded.  "Yeah, I guess so."

There was a short hissing noise and Jake felt a slight change in air pressure.  Hal disappeared and the cask opened up.  He gingerly stepped out and found that his legs were working properly, even after one hundred years of not being used.

Jake took a moment to look around.  The people across from his berth were still asleep, but the people in his row of berths were all in their berths, taking their time to wake up.  Jake looked down at himself and saw that his clothes looked remarkably the same as they did when he put them on.

The other berths started opening up and people were getting out and stretching.  Jake recognized them all from the reception, but didn't actually speak to any of them before now.

Jake was startled when someone behind him spoke.  He whirled around to find Hal standing close behind him.  "Jeez, man.  Don't sneak up on me like that."

Hal smiled and said, "Sorry, I don't get many visitors around here and as such, I forget to follow the normal social graces."

Jake was a little puzzled by Hal, but chalked it up to what had to be a totally different culture of the 22nd century.  "So, what are things like here in the future?" he asked.

Hal was still smiling, but his smiled subtly changed somehow.  Jake couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he did notice a change.  Hal said, "All in good time, champ.  I've got to get you all to the debriefing room first."

He took a couple of steps towards the center of the group and said in a loud voice, "If I can have your attention, everyone."  He waited for everyone to turn towards him, then continued, "Welcome to the year 2122.  For those of you who haven't asked yet, my name is Hal.  I'm in charge of maintaining this place.  If you'll all follow me, I'll lead you to the debriefing room."

Hal walked off at that point and the sleepers followed him to a small room adjoining the large one containing the berths.  As Jake stepped into the room, he realized that it was the same room that they had all been prepped by the lab techs before getting into the berths.  It had been remodeled as a conference room with twenty permanent chairs affixed to the floor.

Jake took a seat as Hal strode to the front of the room.  After everyone was seated, Hal addressed them all, "According to company policy, the COO is supposed to come and debrief you all and hand over your money."  Hal paused for a moment and Jake felt something out of place about him again.  "Well, folks, I've got some bad news for you.  The COO won't be coming."  Hal laughed and it sounded almost hysterical to Jake.  He said, "Well, I guess that since I'm the only remaining employee of Cryotechnic, I could claim the title of COO."

One of the men in the front row stood up and yelled out, "Cryotechnic went out of business?  How is that possible?  Where's my money!  We were promised to get at least the amount we put in!"

Hal calmly said, "Calm down, Mr. Rutger.  Everything will be clear momentarily."

Mr. Rutger looked like he didn't want to sit, but Hal's stern look finally wilted the man's resolve and he sat.  Hal looked back around the room for a moment, and then said, "There's no easy way to say this, folks, so I'm just going to come right out and say it.  Cryotechnic doesn't exist anymore.  In fact, as far as I know, no corporation exists anymore."

Jake was totally confused and he looked around and saw more confused faces.  Hal apparently saw the same thing and continued, "I'm trying to tell you people that civilization has ended.  I haven't received a radio transmission in over sixty years and haven't seen a person on my surface cameras in thirty."

A small pit of despair started forming in Jake's stomach.  Hal sighed and continued, "I'm not really sure what happened.  We filled all of our berths about a year after I came on, in 2028.  After the berths were filled, I was left alone to take care of you all."

Jake's feeling of unease was growing and growing until he finally realized something about Hal.  He spoke up, "Wait a second, Hal.  You don't look a day over thirty, but you started working here ninety-four years ago.  How is that possible?"

Hal looked sheepish as he answered, "Well, you got me there, Jake.  I'm not a human; I'm just an AI program.  I'm projected here via hologram."

Jake nodded to himself, he knew that Hal's behavior was a little erratic and being an AI explained it.  Hal looked around at everyone and said, "Like I said, I don't know exactly what happened.  All I know is that in the year 2034, my creator came down here.  He was the only visitor in six years."  Hal's face showed sadness now as he told his tale.  "His name was John.  He was the CIO at that point in time and was able to give me access to the security cameras of the building and the network.  He wouldn't talk about what was happening, but he'd brought enough food for himself for a couple of weeks.  He wanted to be left alone for the most part, but I heard him crying a lot during those two weeks.  When his food started to run out he became more and more worried.  When he finally left, he told me not to allow anyone else down the elevator.

"I was, of course, monitoring the radio and television.  The television didn't really give me much as none of the networks were broadcasting.  The radio was more interesting.  I didn't get a lot of news, but a military force of some sort was using open frequencies for their operations."  Hal closed his eyes for a moment.  "There was a lot of fighting in the city.  I don't know who was fighting whom, but they were using everything short of nukes.  At least in this city.  There were reports of short nuclear exchanges between some other countries, but not with the United States."

The sadness on Hal's face deepened.  "John left to find more food for himself, but he never returned.  I continued to monitor all radio traffic and learned some things.  I don't have any definite details, but I'm pretty sure that there was some sort of civil war happening in the United States.  Details about the global situation were slim, so I'm not sure why there was fighting elsewhere.  I think, though, that the civil war was what kept the US from being nuked.  We were too busy fighting ourselves to threaten other countries."

Jake's despair had deepened and he looked around and saw dejected faces on everyone.  Jake knew why too, the future was supposed to be bright for them, not like this.  He saw tears on some of the people's faces.

Mr. Rutger spoke up again.  "What do we do now?"

Hal shrugged.  "I don't know.  I do know that in two weeks I will have to wake up the next set of people.  After that, it will be an average of a set per month for the next six years."

Suddenly, Jake's despair disappeared.  He knew what needed to be done.  He jumped up and said, "I've got it!  We need to start a new civilization!"  He pointed up at the lights on the ceiling.  "Hal, how are these lights working?"

Hal shrugged, "A combination of two sources of electricity.  We've got solar panels on the roof of the building above, though those are in complete disrepair.  I don't think they're going to last much longer.  There's a small fusion generator in a room adjoining the large room.  That's where I'm drawing most of the power to keep the berths functional.  I don't know how long that will last."

Jake nodded.  "Good information, thanks.  Hal, how solid is the building above us?"

Hal shrugged again.  "I don't know, really.  The holograph emitters only let me go in this room and the large room.  From what I can see on the security cameras, there are whole sections of the building that have collapsed, but it could serve as a shelter for a while."

Jake looked around at everyone in the room, all eyes were on him.  That made Jake nervous and self-conscious, but he shoved those feelings down deep.  "Guys, hear me out.  We can do this.  We have shelter and electricity.  I'm sure that we'll be able to find tools and materials out there in the ruins of the city.  We can rebuild our society."

Jake gauged the reactions of the people around them.  He could see that most of them were still unsure of how to proceed.  Jake moved to the end of his row of chairs and to the front of the room to stand next to Hal.  "Why don't you all see what needs to be done?  Maybe there are others out there that we can band with.  If not, we'll have regular reinforcements coming up from down here.  Hal, what's the population of the large room?"

Hal quickly said, "Nine hundred and eighty.  You all make it an even one thousand."

Jake nodded.  "That's enough population for a small town in itself."  He looked and could see the hope rising on the faces of the crowd.

Mr. Rutger stood up and said, "Hey, who died and made you leader?"

Jake couldn't help but laugh at Mr. Rutger's choice of words.  "Everyone," he said.  "Listen, Mr. Rutger," Jake made sure to put the emphasis on the mister.  "I don't see anyone else stepping up.  Now, I'm not a natural leader, but I do know that we can't just give up.  I don't think that this future is what any of us expected, but we need to move on.  To do that, we need to work together so that we can rebuild a functioning society.  It will be hard work.  We'll need to be constantly building and planning ahead for those that will be joining us in the next six years."  Jake looked to make sure he had the support of most of the room before he looked back at Rutger.  "So, what do you say, Mr. Rutger.  Are you with us?"

Rutger glanced around the room himself before saying, "Marcus."

His response caught Jake off guard.  "Huh?" was all he managed to get out.

Marcus smiled and said, "That's my name, Marcus Rutger."  He paused for a moment and sighed.  "You're right, Jake.  We can't afford to give up.  We need to survive and make sure that those who will be waking up in the not too distant future have a place to live.  They will be depending on us."

Jake smiled back.  "Good, I'm glad that we're on the same page here, Marcus."  He chuckled and said, "Like I said, I don't think that this was the future any of us expected."  He glanced around with a mischievous smile on his face before dropping this line, "Looks like Cryotechnic gave us all a thaw deal."

Everyone moaned and rolled their eyes at Jake.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Story a Week 28 - Thaw Deal 2

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."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Story a Week 27 - Thaw Deal

Hello everyone!  Since I have been lax in posting the last two weeks, I thought I'd give you a little midweek story.  I thought of this story earlier this week and it's been on my mind all week, so I finished it off tonight while I'm home alone with the kids.  I do plan on posting another story this Saturday since it's already half written too and I just need to finish it off.

I appreciate all of you who read my blog and hope that if you like it you share with your friends.  I'm getting some positive feedback through word of mouth, which is encouraging.  Thanks!


"And the Cryotechnic Lottery numbers for July Seventeenth, 2022..."  The announcer smiled a big, fake smile as he let the anticipation build.  Jake Anthony rolled his eyes as he watched the TV.  He double-checked that he had the ticket that his mother bought for him.

He was missing what the announcer was saying.  "...twenty-four and thirty-five.  Once again, the numbers are four, nineteen, twenty-two, twenty-four and thirty-five."

Jake started to throw the ticket away when he spotted a thirty-five on it.  A little shiver of excitement went down Jake's spine.  He took a good look at the ticket and read the numbers.  Four, nineteen, twenty-two, twenty-four and thirty-five!  He sent the chair he was in sprawling as he jumped up out of it.

Jake quickly picked up his cell phone and dialed his mom's number.  A moment later, she answered, "Hello?"

Jake had to fight to keep the excitement out of his voice as he said, "Hi, mom.  How are you doing?"

Apparently he failed to keep the excitement at bay as his mom replied, "What's happening?"

Jake let the excitement out as he blurted out, "Mom, you remember that Cryotechnic Lottery ticket you bought me?"

He heard the excitement in his mother's voice as she said, "Yes I do."

"Well, I just watched the announcement of the numbers and my numbers match!  I've won a berth in the first batch of them that Cryotechnic is going to do in September," Jake exclaimed.

"Oh, my!  I knew that those numbers were lucky," she said.  "We'll have to celebrate!  When were you planning on turning the ticket in?"

That thought hadn't occurred to Jake.  "Uh, I don't know," he said.  "I guess that I could go down there still this evening."

"I think that is a good idea, Jake.  Call me tonight and fill me in on the details," his mother replied.

Jake got off the phone and noticed the turned over chair for the first time.  He straightened the chair and grabbed his coat.  Jake happened to live in same city as the Cryotechnic headquarters, so it wasn't a terribly long drive.  Nervousness set in as he pulled into the parking lot of a large building on the east side of town near the river.  He parked in one of the few empty parking spaces and took a deep breath to steady his nerves.

As casually as he could manage, Jake opened the front door and walked over to the receptionist desk.  His voice only cracked once as he said, "Hi, my name is Jake Anthony and I have the winning numbers for today's lottery."

The receptionist sounded bored as she said, "Really?  Well, let me see the ticket then."

Jake pulled the ticket from his jeans pocket and handed it to her.  She barely looked at it as she ran it through a scanner on her desk.  A green light lit up on the scanner and a friendly beep came out of the machine.  Her eyes widened and she said, "Wow!  You weren't kidding!"  She looked back up at Jake sheepishly.  "Sorry about doubting you, Jake.  We get a lot of people trying to run scammed tickets by us.  I knew that we had a winner tonight, but I didn't think that it would come from our own city!"

She took the ticket out of the scanner and grabbed a little paper that had printed out of it as well.  She stood up and walked around the desk to face Jake.  "Let me be the first to congratulate you, Mr. Anthony," she said as she stuck out her hand.  "My name is Jill, by the way.

Jake shook her hand and said, "Thank you, Jill.  Actually though, I called my mom first.  She bought me the ticket, after all."

Jill smiled at Jake and replied, "Well, that's nice of her.  Follow me and I'll bring you back to our Chief of Operations, Bill Franklin."

She turned and led Jake through a maze of hallways and offices until they came to a door that simply said "COO".  Jill knocked on the door and, without waiting for an answer, opened it.

The room beyond the door was large, but sparsely decorated with only a desk and a couple of chairs.  Even though he was sitting, Jake could tell that the man was very tall.  Suddenly, a faded memory jumped into Jake's head.  "Oh man, that's 'Big' Bill Franklin!"

Bill looked up from the laptop on his desk and smiled at Jake.  "Always nice to meet a fan," he said in a smooth baritone.  He stood up and walked around the desk to meet Jake and Jill.

Jill handed him the slip and ticket and walked out of the office without saying another word.  She shut the door behind her.  Bill took a quick look at the two pieces of paper and nodded with a smile on his face.  He motioned towards his desk.  "Come, Jake.  Have a seat."

Jake started to, but realized that he hadn't said his name.  "Um, Bill?  How'd you know my name?"

Bill stopped and turned to Jake, the smile still present.  "You're a fan right?" he asked.  He waited until Jake nodded and continued, "Good.  Remember Game 7 of the '12 World Series?"

"Yeah!  You guys faced your old mentor, Joe Finkley.  It was only the second time he'd started a game all season," Jake replied.

Bill nodded.  "Yep.  Joe and I went way back.  Like you said, he was my mentor when I played for St. Louis.  I knew every pitch he had up his sleeve and when he'd use them."  Bill sat down and indicated that Jake should too.  He continued, "It's a definite advantage to know what's going to happen before it happens."

As Jake sat down he said, "I'll say.  You guys slaughtered them."  He looked puzzled for a moment, "But you didn't answer my question."

Bill laughed.  "You're a smart one, aren't you?  Well, Jill entered your name into our system when you came in and scanned your ticket.  It's on the receipt that she gave me with the ticket."

Jake nodded.  "I see.  Okay, Bill, I've got one more question for you, and then we can get down to business.  What's a hall of fame pitcher doing as a COO here?"

The question made Bill laugh once more.  "I've always had a mind for business, Jake.  When I was playing ball for Harvard, I was also studying business there.  When I retired from baseball, I went back and got my MBA and doctorate.  I met some people there who were creating a startup called Cryotechnic.  I looked at their business plan and got in on the ground floor with them."

"And now you're standing with them on the top story of the emerging market of cryogenics," Jake finished.  Bill nodded.  "Okay, Bill.  I'll let you get down to business, but I'll need an autograph before I go home."

Bill laughed once again and said, "You know, Jake, I like you.  You can have as many autographs as you like."  He rummaged around in a desk drawer for a moment and pulled out a brochure that he passed across the desk to Jake.  "That brochure contains more details about what you've won.  As I'm sure you're aware, you can deposit as much cash as you like with us and we'll invest it while you are asleep.  We guarantee that you will get at least the equivalent amount of money, allowing for inflation, plus an additional one million dollars as a base since you are one of the six lottery contestants that we're including in our first set of berths."

Jake let out a slow whistle.  "A million bucks sure is nice.  What happens if I choose to refuse to go into cryogenic sleep?"

"Well, Jake, that is your right.  We're not going to force you into it, but you will forfeit your prize.  We'd make you sign a non-disclosure agreement and give you an additional small incentive package for not disclosing your refusal to the public."  Bill looked Jake over and said, "Something tells me that you're not going to refuse though, are you Jake?"

Jake shook his head, "Not on your life, Bill.  I just wanted to get all the options."

Bill stood up and extended his hand, "Great!  Congratulations, Jake.  All you need to do is come by here next week to fill out some paperwork and I'll see you in September!"

Jake stood and shook Bill's hand.  "Thanks!  But I think you owe me some autographs first!"