Authors: Moran Chaim
Cryonemesis book 1
A dystopian Sci-Fi novel
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Edited by TR Perri
Cover design by Eloise J. Knapp
© Copyright 2016 by Moran Chaim
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“Time imprisons us, but civilization enslaves us.”
Table of contents
First there was nothing. No sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch. Not even blackness, just infinite emptiness. Then there were sounds of screaming and smell of burned flesh. Then taste of blood and a blinding white light. After that came fear, anger and sadness. Then came pain and cold and there was also a name - Roy.
Was I Roy? As my awareness grew I slowly started to realize I was attached to a body. A strobing pain of a ten thousand organs charging with electricity appeared. I was cold and motionless under the white light.
That was my existence for awhile. I felt my consciousness trying to move but the body didn’t respond, like I was swimming in pool of black oil. My organs were too soft. I floated inside my body, trying to find a firm limb to hold on to as leaning point. It got warmer pretty fast but the strobing electricity didn’t stop flushing me with pain. It was as if I
being Tasered by a thousand little needles. I don’t know how long I was lying in that state. Thin tubes were coming out of me.
“Take cover! Incoming!”
The smell of burned flesh mixed with black smoke and dust. What happened? Was I dead? My jelly body became more firm with each strobe of current. My self-awareness of Roy got sharper as I found my place in the motionless body. My fingertips sensed a wet plastic surface and my eyes saw figures hovering above me beneath the blinding brightness. Everything started to make sense. I was Roy, I wasn’t dead but I was supposed to be. I tried to take a deep breath but it felt like knives reside in my lungs so I waited. Parents, I had parents, did they think I was dead? A great sadness overflowed me. Tears ran down the side of my face while I was lying faced up, but I didn’t truly understand what I was crying about.
One day I woke up groggy and the incubator tubes were gone. The walls and ceiling were grey but the light from the ceiling was warm and dimmed, like it came from the sun. I just laid there and looked at the light. I dozed and reawakened a few times before realizing I was in a hospital. A bunch of doctors wearing green and purple overalls were observing me and the monitors I was connected to.
“Where am I?”
“You are safe,”
said a doctor and approached me. He spoke rather fast.
My mind was slow and my body was aching and shivering.
It was weird hearing my voice. It felt distant, like it wasn't mine at all.
“It's normal. Don’t worry about it.”
“Why are you talking so fast?”
he said more slowly, “I forgot you people speak slowly.”
I had a bad feeling about this guy but I couldn't do much about it.
“Where am I? Did you tell my parents I am here?”
He looked at his colleagues and then at a mirror that was covering the wall to my left. I started to realize something was off. I raised my head and examined the mirror. He noticed and got closer.
“I need to examine your eye movement and reflexes, please.”
I looked at the shape of my body under the blanket to see if I had lost a limb. All seemed intact. A big relief.
“Where am I?”
He raised one finger in the air in front of me and started moving it slowly from left to right in front of my eyes. I followed his finger reluctantly.
“How long was I out?”
“I don’t really know.”
His answer didn’t strike me as odd. I just ignored it.
“Did you tell my parents where I am?”
“Your parents have put you here, so to speak.”
“So where are they?”
“Roy, can you please squeeze my hand with your right palm.”
I did. I felt weak.
“Just tell me what's going on, I can take it.”
Again he looked at his colleagues and at the mirror. He seemed nervous.
“You were cryogenically frozen.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“That’s all I can say right now. Please squeeze my hand with your left palm.”
The whole room was spinning. I gripped the bed frame and looked at the floor so I could focus on something static. I began to hyperventilate.
“You can relax; I am here to help you. We all are,” he said gesturing to the other doctors.
A hand with a cup of water entered my field of view. I drank it and then puked on the floor.
“This is pretty normal. Please try to lie down,” the doctor said, putting his hand on my back. Another doctor came by to clean my vomit splatter.
“Where am I, and where are my parents and friends?”
“You are now in a city called New Knaan. This is a clinic.“
The room was no longer spinning, so I sat up. My body ached and my head throbbed, making it hard to concentrate on a single thought.
The so-called doctors kept looking at me. I looked at the mirror and saw my face. I was skinny and pale. My eyes were pink with purple undertones and my cheek bones were visible. How long was I out?
And then it hit me.
“Is this Lebanon…are you Hezbollah?”
“Roy, you are safe, please calm d—.”
“—ARE YOU HEZBOLLAH?!”
“We are not going to harm you.”
“So what is this mirror for? Who's behind it?”
“Just people who are excited to meet you.”
“Who? Where are my parents? My friends? Where's Hadar?”
“I'm sorry but they are not here currently, Roy.”
“Stop saying my name like you know me. Let me out.”
“Please calm down.”
“I want out. I need air. Can't you open a window?”
My body felt warmer and more responsive, allowing me to slide off the bed onto the cold concrete floor. The whole room was made out of ugly grey concrete. No windows. The doctor said I was underground. He was obviously lying. I must have been taken captive by Hezbollah and they were playing a sick trick on me. I didn't see guns so I figured I had just one chance to go out the door before they chained me to the bed or something. I had to show them I was calm.
“Can I get more water please?”
Again, one of the men handed me a cup of water. He wore a subtle smile, like he was embarrassed of me. I drank and returned the cup to him, and at the moment he moved his hand to take it I grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back so he couldn’t move. I didn’t have enough strength to hold him for much longer but I was able to put enough pressure on his joints to make him motionless and not resistive.
They all looked at me in shock, waving their hands. I then put my other hand on the poor guy’s neck.
“Open this door or I'll break his neck.”
“The door is open
Please calm down.”
The doctor said quickly again.
“Stop talking fast! What is this?”
The purple doctor whispered something to the pony-tail doctor standing next to him. He stepped back and reached for a tray.
“What is he doing? Tell him to stop.”
“Roy please, let him go. We are not Hezbollah.” He was trying to calm me down by speaking slower but it didn’t work.
“How can I trust you? Why am I here?”
I heard running noises from outside, and some commotion. Soldiers might’ve been coming.
“Like I said…”
I didn't want to listen. I threw my captive at the main doctor and leaped to the door.
“Give him the shot,”
I heard the purple doctor say. I looked back and saw the pony-tail doctor holding a syringe-shaped object.
I opened the door and stepped outside. I didn’t see any soldiers yet so I started running down the long corridor. My muscles were rusty and so were my reflexes. The walls were made of the same grey concrete, and the ceiling let in light through a narrow window that stretched above the corridor. People in overalls looked at me as if I were a crazy person and stepped aside. There were white doors and each door was signed in a language I didn't recognize. My body ached and I could feel my heart pumping hard in my chest. I didn’t have the power to run fast enough before they could catch me but I ran anyway. My muscles betrayed me and I stumbled down and hit a man wearing green overalls. I regained my balance and helped him up.
“I’m sorry,” I said panting heavily.
Once I stood up and started to run again, the floor turned red and I was hit hard in the back, which knocked me to the ground. People all around were staring at me. As I looked back I saw a man dressed in white holding a strange glowing gun and next to him, the pony-tail doctor holding the syringe. I pushed off his arm with my left hand and knocked his chin in with my right hand. He was stunned and rolled to the floor.
I stood up again and kept running in the same direction though it felt like I was running in a circle because everything looked the same.
“Stop!” shouted the man with the gun.
I had to keep running and oddly he didn’t shoot me. I kept running until I reached a giant metal blast door that had another regular door to the side of it. It didn’t have any handle on it so I banged on it as hard as I could.
“Let me out! Please, let me out!”
The floor turned red again, and I immediately turned around and prepare myself for impact. The pony-tail doctor was there, holding the syringe device. This time blood was running from his mouth, broken teeth probably. Behind him stood five guards dressed in white overalls holding the same glowing guns. I raised my hands to surrender. My body was shaking from unused adrenaline, and cold sweat ran down my spine.
The pony-tail doctor came close to me, and I couldn’t resist anymore.
“You must help us.”
I felt a strong sting in my neck and that’s the last thing I remember.
I opened my eyes again. This time I was lying on a patch of soft green grass on top of a hill overlooking the sea. To my right was an old man in khaki shorts and a blue buttoned shirt. He was sitting on a beach chair taking in the view. Everything was dead quiet. I couldn't even hear the sound of wind.
“Where am I?”
“As Doctor Ashish tried to tell you, the first question should be ‘when’.”
“Why can't anyone give me a straight answer? And what kind of name is Ashish?”
I stood up and faced the old man. He kept smiling from his chair, not even looking at me, which made me angrier. Finally, he stood up and faced me.
“You can call me Isaac,” he said while extending his arm.
“You don't speak fast?”
“Only native Knaan people speak fast. You'll get used to it.”
I extended my hand to shake his but he grabbed my arm next to the elbow and shook that instead.
“This is how we shake now. It’s more personal.”
I released his grip and put my hands in my pockets. Only then I noticed that I was wearing white overalls that resembled what the guards wore. They looked like a combat pilot’s suit.
“Before I start to explain anything, I just have to ask you if you want to be here.”
“Whenever somebody is thawed they have the right to regret it. People like you and me—”
“—what do you mean like you and me?”
“Defrosties, people from the past that were kept in cryogenic freeze.”
“What is that?”
“A few hundred years ago, people wanted to reach a point where science and medicine were so advanced that it would heal them from illness and prevent the effects of aging. So they kept themselves frozen until that time came. “
“Are you telling me that I’m in the future now?”
“To put it straight, yes.”
I felt nauseous. I had to sit down.
“My friends? My parents?”
He crouched down beside me and put his hand on my shoulder.
The tears that rolled down my cheeks earlier, started to make sense—I cried over all the people and things I’d lost. My friends, my parents, my little sister, my unit friends that were with me in the last night in Lebanon, Hadar my ex-girlfriend, who probably wasn’t contacted by anyone smart enough to let her know I died, my dreams and plans to finish the army and travel the world, to study something, to become somebody important. They used to say that crying releases you from sadness but I felt like I was drowning in my own swamp of tears. Isaac remained seated next to me that whole time until there were no more tears left. He gave me a tissue to wipe my face.
After a long silence and slow breathing I told him I needed answers. I still didn’t know who he was and if he was really telling the truth.
“Where do I go now? What should I do?” I asked.
He looked at me with compassionate eyes, and then something strange happened. I began to feel lighter, as if I was floating through the air. I looked at my feet and they were five inches above the grass. He was floating above his chair, too, sitting in the air and smiling at me like an arrogant Buddha statue.
“There’s no need to go anywhere because your feet don’t exist here.”
“Is this the afterlife?”
He laughed and grabbed my hand. We launched through the air so fast my guts were pushed to my pelvis. The wind dried my face, and I closed my eyes. I screamed like a baby.
“Isn't it fun?” he said with sadistic intonation.
“No!” I shouted as hard as I could. And then we stopped right in the middle of the sky. We were floating above the whole Middle East like drifting astronauts looking at Earth from above. I might have wet my pants. I grabbed his arm tighter. Everything looked like a desert beneath us. Africa. Europe. Israel. Everything was brown and yellow.
“You can let go, you won't fall.”
“Are you sure?” I answered, and then let go of his hand.
“Do you recognize this view?”
“It's the Middle East. It's all so dry.”
“Besides that, see anything strange about it?”
“Everything looks like a satellite image.”
“Don’t you think Italy looks too small?”
I looked towards Europe and then I saw it. Italy was narrower, Cyprus was smaller. The whole Israeli coastline was smaller. The sea was bigger. We started descending slowly to the ground, like we were zooming in on a picture.
“I am not going to tell you the whole story, but earth has changed since you left it. Temperatures rose, and so did the sea level. It became impossible to survive on the ground. That's why a group of smart people decided to build New Knaan.”
“That's where we are now?”
“When you woke up you were staying in an actual room inside Knaan. But we are now in a simulation that is connected to your brain. We experience it just like real life.”
“How long have you been here?” I asked him.
“I was defrosted about ten years ago, born in 2024. So you're older than me technically.”
It was the first time I smiled that day. We continued to descend and I started to marvel at the view.
“Why did you preserve yourself?”
“I lost hope in the world back then. I decided to go to sleep until it was over.”
“What about your wife and children?”
“That's another story, perhaps for another time.”
“But why are we in the simulation now?”
“Usually defrosties are given a tour of the city and introduced to all the different sections and managers. But you made quite a fuss back there so we took a different approach.”
We continued our decent and floated towards the hill we were on before. This time I saw zeppelins with wind turbines installed on them. I saw solar panels and buildings sticking out of the water over at what used to be Tel Aviv area.
“Did all this actually happen in the real world?”
“Oh yes, and much worse. Knaan was built to survive a thousand years; until the earth cooled down again. We make our energy out of wind, sun and sea currents. The energy enables our food production, water desalination, light, air-conditioning and simulation.”
“So you are not just in my head?”
“I’m real but your experience isn’t, so to speak, your brain makes it real.”
“Huh…” It made sense, sort of.
“People can't live underground like ants for too long. So they decided to build this simulation where you can do whatever you want.”
The whole mountain became transparent and I could see the structure of the city like a 3D model. It was round, like a giant doughnut inside the mountain. The doughnut was as big as a skyscraper lying on its side. There were many pipes and corridors that connected to other smaller rooms on both sides.
“This is where we eat, drink, sleep and work to maintain all the systems that sustain us.”
Suddenly, the whole world turned black and I awoke in a small cement room. I was wearing the white overalls, and I was pale and skinny, unlike in the simulation. Isaac was lying on a bed next to me wearing orange overalls. The simulation bed looked like a sleeping pod with a grey plastic lid over it. The headrest was riddled with wires and electrodes. Not as hi-tech as I expected it to be. The lights flickered a few times and then shut down. A small emergency light was turned on.
“I hate when that happens,” he said.
“Oh, the systems aren’t very stable these days.”
I stood up and surveyed the room. “I thought the future would look different.”
“Me too. The future has no spaceships, no aliens, no flying cars, no teleporting or eternal life or other fancy stuff, just these walls and a simulation to keep you sane.”
“How’s that working for you?” I asked sarcastically, since I felt like I was reborn in a prison. Sanity was not an option.
“I'm a storyteller, that's my job now. I tell the kids about the past and how to learn from it so they'll know better when they re-build society on ground.”
“Re-build? When is that coming?”
“No one knows.”
It all seemed so strange to me. A rich person could pay to be resurrected in what they believed would be the utopic future, yet accept how shitty it is once they got there. Something didn’t make sense.
“That’s all you do?” I asked.
“There isn't anything else I can do. You and I, we are too slow for native Knaaniens. Their people were born here with quantum computers and simulations since day one. We are too slow to work on those systems.”
“So, I am to replace you as a story teller?”
“Eventually, yes, but no one expected to find someone as young as you. The main reason they keep us is to test the simulation. To make sure it's the same as reality. Because we were born outside it, we can still see the bugs.”
“We’re lab rats then?”
“That’s actually the fun part.”
“That doctor told me that my parents put me here. Why would they do that to me?”
“I don’t know, kid, maybe they hoped to give you a second chance.”
“Telling stories and being a lab rat doesn’t sound like much of a life to me.”
He seemed to have taken it personally. But I was too busy processing my own emotions to care about him.
“Listen,” he said, “the simulation software is the only technology they can actually develop here. Everything else has been stuck for decades. There is no global trade of electronics and information anymore. They can't build new stuff, only improve the existing.”
“And the stories? Why can't they just record some hologram instead of you?”
“That’s my benefit. I get to do it myself and they get to collect all different stories from different people. The different angles give them a fuller picture. Plus, it helps them understand what the core of all that went wrong was.”
“I was just a teenager, then a soldier. I can't remember much of my life to tell. It's not interesting.”
“You died, so you've seen the suffering and war like I did. This is why they defrost us one by one; to teach the children right from wrong.”
“And what if I don't want to teach kids?”
He turned to another bed where another person lay under the hood.
“Then you could be like this guy here, who chose to assimilate into the simulation and never wake up.”
“He’s locked inside his own head?
“Inside his infinite fantasy. Not a bad state to be in, but I’d choose the real world over assimilation anytime.”
“What happened to him during the power outage?”
“A little sedation comes into play to keep him under until the problem is fixed.”
I stepped to examine the assimilated guy’s bed. I couldn’t see his face but his body posture seemed relaxed. His body twitched from time to time as if he was dreaming. His vitals were displayed in the green spectrum on the little screen attached to the bed.
“What if I don't want to be a story teller and don’t want to assimilate?”
“Then we have a problem because I don't have any answers for you. I guess they'll have to test your skills like the rest of the kids.”
“Will you help me?”
“Let’s eat first.”