"This feels weird." I said as the nurse hooked up yet another lead to my body. I was lying on my back in a pool of highly salinated water. I felt like Neo when he had just emerged from the Matrix, only in reverse. They were attaching wires TO me, instead of me breaking free.
I thought back to the few days before today.
"This therapy is highly experimental, and there is no guarantee of success" Doctor Whismer had said to my family. My mom and dad had made a special trip to the hospital, just to see me and Doctor Whismer at the same time. I felt special that day, because even my parents had been finding more and more reasons to be unavailable during visiting hours.
"But..." My father began.
"But... all our other patients have been showing very promising signs of remission. We've been able to reach an 80% suppression rate for their immune response. " Doctor Whismer gave another one of his disturbingly cheerful smiles. I swear, his teeth were so clean and white, they would distract me when he spoke. I often asked him to repeat what he had just said. I think he believed I was quite dull.
"Basically, we shut the body down, almost completely. No stimulus. No contact with the outside world. He will be sealed in an enclosed, carefully monitored environment while we turn off his immune system. No outside infectious agents, no chance of harm. But , Aegis, you will not be sedated. Instead we have created a state of the art virtual environment which will be tied directly to your brain. It will be designed to help you adapt mentally to your stasis. "
"But, how will I eat, and ... you know" I looked down towards my legs.
Doctor Whismer gave me another disarming smile. "Don't you worry young Aegis. We'll take care of everything." He patted my leg reassuringly.
"Is this - virtual world - " I began. "Is it some commercial game? Might I have played it before?"
Doctor Whismer stroked his goatee as he looked down at his phone. He chuckled lightly.
"I am sure you've not experienced anything like this, son. We've spent top dollar on the latest technology. "
My dad smiled. He knew what it was like to spend extravagantly to get results. My mother just nodded and pretended that she understood everything.
I knew she understood nothing. She just wanted a way out. A way to be unburdened by her sick child.
"How long will I be ... under?" I asked. Inwardly a small spark of hope had glimmered. To be alive, to not feel like your life was draining away, like grains of precious sand from a broken hourglass.
"Well son, in an odd way not only will your disease slow down, you won't age as fast either. This technology we are building is really being earmarked for eventual space travel. Imagine placing whole families in stasis for decades and waking up only feeling a few hours older!" He waved his hands dramatically like a carnival showman.
My mom and dad were convinced.
And so, there I was, getting hooked up to my POD. There were other PODs in the lab. Other people like me, I guess.
It was eerily reassuring to look over and see men and women in lab coats and clipboards. Touching panels, checking glucose levels. The faces in the pods were obscured by masks. Feeding air, nutrients, and light to bodies curled up in fetal positions.
I was going to join them in their journey.
I felt vaguely like one of those astronauts the Doctor kept going on about. I could not have a "real" life any more. I couldn't run on the field, score a goal, hear the crowd cheer as we overcame the visiting team, but I could do this.
YOU ARE READING
The Clockwork ApprenticeFantasy
Aegis, a young boy afflicted with a fatal wasting disease opts in to an experimental new treatment - his consciousness downloaded to a virtual world. However when he wakes up as a mechanical golem in a dead wizard's castle, he must track down the ki...