What will the future hold? Will it be as grand as we imagine it to be? Or will it be more horrific than we could possibly imagine? These rhetoricals were the only thing holding me back. I’d already checked out months ago. Pills and therapy sessions never stemmed the feeling that I don’t belong. Reaffirmations from family and friends never “fixed” me. I would watch people, genuinely happy people, and I would marvel at them. What must that be like? So full of determination. Zeal. They care. They care about something and I can’t find it in me to care about anything. It’s a whole other level of apathy. So the opportunity to pull myself from this reality and push it into another seemed the only logical step.
Of course nobody knew if it was safe. The Cryolocks were for 200 years. They had some sort of lithium based nuclear battery that would last the entire duration and then at the end of it all you would be awake, two centuries from where you started. Two hundred years from your last mistake.
I told no one until it was too late for them to do anything. They would try and convince me to stay. For what? So I can keep disappointing people? Keep disappointing myself? In my head I was a million people and a million different stories. In my life I was stuck. I was the same person I always was. I didn’t want to die. Although the idea crossed my mind, killing myself would be a mess and an unnecessary stress on people in my life. Nobody needs more burden from an already burdensome person. I simply wanted to disappear, from reality and thought. A massive ctrl-z.
One the day before the big chill they had me meet with Dr. Ericson. The physiatrist who had been evaluating all the participants. The meetings had seemed frivolous for the most part. They asked about family medical history and ran diagnostics of all different kinds but Dr. Ericson had been the one to gauge your mental cognition, to see if you were truly ready for what was ahead.
I knocked on her door.
“Come in” she said.
I opened the door to find the diminutive woman sitting behind her desk with the rectangular glasses cutting off her already tiny eyes.
“Good afternoon John.” She motioned for me to sit in the chair opposite her.
“Afternoon Doctor.” I said as I sat.
“How have you been?”
“Well enough, I suppose.”
“Yes. That’s normal though isn’t it?”
“Well considering this isn’t done very often I daren’t say there is a norm for this, but yes I would imagine there must be some level of anxiety tied to Cryolock.”
I nodded my head and she continued.
“The last time we spoke you hadn’t told your parents about your plans, has that changed?”
“I told them two nights ago.”
“Well my mother was stunned at first. Once she regained her wits she began to cry hysterically and beg me not to do it.”
“And your father?”
“He didn’t say anything? He never says much.”
“Back to your mother then. What did she say to you?”
“I guess basic stuff. Mother things. How we’d never see each other again. How I would miss so much. She also brought up how there’s no guarantee of survival.”
“Does that concern you?”
“So you’re not afraid of dying?”
“I mean…I guess I’m afraid of being killed. Or you know…suffering to the end. But I envision this as a deep sleep and I mean as far as deaths go that seems like the best way to go. Just go to sleep and never wake up.”
“Is suicide your intention with this?”
“No! Not really, I’m just saying if it did happen I wouldn’t be bothered by it,” he said and then realized “obviously…I’d be dead.”
“You said before that you don’t feel like you belong anywhere? Would you say that is your intention with this process? Find a place or in this case, time where you fit better?”
“I guess. I mean I have the reoccurring thought that what if I just prolong what’s already in place. What if I wake up two hundred years and it’s all the same. I mean I’m not going to change. What if I’m just as out of place in the future as I am here and it was all for nothing?”
“Do you know why others are doing this?” she asked.
I raised my brow.
“Well I can’t discuss specifics, doctor patient confidentiality, but I can give you some general answers. Some people are doing this because they are keen in living in another time. That’s all. They just wish to see where humanity is headed. Others are doing for medical reasons. Their hope is that whatever incurable ailment they suffer from now will be a quick fix away in the future. And you want to find where you fit in.”
“Do you think it’s a trivial reason?”
She shook her head “No more trivial than blatant curiosity. People are fickle. It becomes a very recognizable theme in all people when you work psychiatry for any amount of time. It might seem trivial to others, but if it’s justifiable for you then that’s all that matters.”
She turned a page and spoke again.
“You have cleared all medical and psychological evaluations for this program. However the most exceptional candidate could still be pulled based on my word alone and it couldn’t be reversed.”
A flash of uncertainty entered my head, “Are you thinking of suspending me?”
“Not at all. I’m just explaining how things work?”
She could see me squirming under my skin and continued.
“Why would you think I would suspend you?”
“Of course.” She assured.
“Honestly my reasons, when stripped down, seem very selfish.”
“Well I’m considering only my happiness or lack thereof?”
“Shouldn’t you be happy?”
“Well yes, but the argument could be made of ‘why can’t I just be happy here’?”
“Can you be happy here?”
“I’ve been trying for a long time.”
“And you believe it will be easier to find in the future.”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m optimistic that it will be.”
She wrote something down and then looked at another page.
“You mentioned a girlfriend before.”
“How long was that relationship?”
“That’s a long time.”
It was long. Longest I’d ever had. Nearly a third of my life. How had it lasted so long? What had changed from the beginning? She was always amazing and I was always an ass. I guess she could only take so much. Nobody could blame her for that.
“She said I wasn’t there enough.” I confessed
“Emotionally. I mean physically too I guess. Towards the end we didn’t see each other much and I’m sure that contributed to it, but in the end it was all me.”
“She was right. I was disconnected. I didn’t care about anything?”
“Did you care about her?”
“Yeah. I was just shit at showing it.”
“So she left you?”
“Did that hurt?”
“Yea but there was a little relief in it.”
“I knew she wasn’t happy. And I couldn’t come up with the version of me that could make her happy so I felt relieved that she wouldn’t have to pull herself up. Maybe she could find someone else to pull her up.”
“Do you think that relationship prompted your interest in this program?”
“Do you hope to find love in the future?”
“If it’s possible.”
“Possible for the time or possible for you?”
“Possible for me.”
Since she left I had become convinced there was nothing left. I was luck to hit the jackpot once in tricking someone into loving me. My odds would not be good if I tried to duplicate that.
“Did Catelyn love you?”
“Yes. I think so. At least she told me she did.”
“And you loved her?”
“Yea.” I could feel my voice getting smaller.
There was the longest pause and I felt like if I said anything it would be the wrong thing so I asked the obvious, the one question that had now taken over my thoughts.
“Are you going to suspend me?”
“Does the thought scare you?”
“I’ve cut so many ties here I don’t know what I would do if I had to go back.”
“That’s the thing about the future, whether it’s two hundred years from now or just next week, none of that is known. You could freeze yourself and reawaken to a brand new world and make all the same mistakes you made in this world. Or you could become so much more. Then again you could walk out of this room and win the lottery or you could get hit by a bus. The endless possibilities are what make life worth living. Suspending your life is just that, it’s a suspension, you’ll still be the same person and it will still be up to you as to how you shape your own life.”
I sat there taking in everything she said. My heart was racing.
“The only thing I can tell you is that this is a serious matter. It will affect the outcome of your life. I feel like you’ve put enough thought into this to know what you want.”
She closed her notebook.
“I won’t suspend you.”
“Have you suspended anybody?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss but frankly no; everyone seems determined and if nothing else in your life can bring out such determination who am I to take that away from you.”
My blood pressure leveled out.
“But I have also mentioned to everyone that they still have the opportunity to exit the program at any point right up until you are going into the stasis pods. Nothing in this program will be done against your will.”
“Should I stop?”
“John, I’m not your boss. I’m not your master or your father or anything like that. I can’t tell you what to do. Even if I had the capability I wouldn’t live your life for you. That’s up to you. At the end of it all, it’s you that has to make the decision. You go left or right but your hand is always on the wheel. At least when it comes to your own life. For better or for worse you’re in charge of your own destiny. And that’s a scary thing sometimes.”
There was a tiny bell ding that rang like Notre Dame in the silence.
“That’s our time, John.”
She stood and I followed suit.
She came around the desk and shook my hand as she put her hand to my lower back as I headed towards the door.
“Thank you Dr. Ericson. I’ll see you later.”
She smiled. “I don’t think so John, tomorrow’s the big day.”
“Oh yeah,” I gave a soft laugh and exhaled heavily.
“Just remember what we talked about.”
“Yeah” I nodded my head absently.
The door closed behind me and for a moment I stood in the empty hallway. I was disconnected again but I fished my phone out of my pocket.
With the screen unlocked I went to my contacts to see if she was still there. Catelyn.
The delete contact button was right next to the call button.
Two choices. Left or right. From there, a million side roads going to destinations unknown. Territories uncharted.
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