It was frigid and dreadful in the dim capsule; billionaire Jack Frost sank into absolute boredom as he watched time slowly tick by on the glowing screen placed in front of his eyes. This was no way for the most dignified man in all of the twentieth-first century to live. However, in a selfish attempt to prolong his life, Jack had his body frozen after discovering that he had stage four cancer. Even though time crawled for the past week, the billionaire was too preoccupied with thinking about what the future would look like. Thoughts of hovering cars and all humans coming together, laughing and dancing as all the world's problems are solved, came into his head. Two long weeks after waking up in the capsule, Jack had finally gotten back the feelings of his toes. Moments later, the large door of the pod swung open for the first time in half a century. Thinking about a scrumptious dinner with smooth, red wine and slick caviar, the successful, middle-aged man took his first steps into the future.
“Good evening Mr. Frost.” the familiar voice of Charlie, Jack’s robotic, personal assistant, and friend echoed in the cramped room.
“Great to be back.” Jack carelessly responded.
“Would you like a tour of this new age?” Inquired the kind-hearted AI
“Show me around then.” Jack agreed.
Even though Jack did not show it, he was extremely grateful to see his robotic friend.
Following Charlie, a floating orb, Jack strolled out of his dusty lab and into the daylight. The skies were beautiful, the air carried a sweet aroma and the streets were sparkling. However, something was off, it was quiet, too quiet. Living in New York, Jack had been used to the bustling streets and swarms of yellow taxis. Now though, there was not a single human, plant nor vehicle in sight. The place seemed oddly deserted, a shiver ran down Jack’s back as he continued to explore the new world around him.
“Are you alright Mr. Frost, your facial expression led me to believe that you are confused.”
This startled the man who looked back only to see Charlie and immediately relaxed.
“Where is everybody? Did humans become extinct?.”
Before Charlie could answer, a gust of wind blew the unlocked door of a house in front of Jack wide open, revealing a family of four lying side by side. However, they were not dead nor sleeping, instead, the four had huge headsets and a tornado of wires. Linked to each person’s arm was an IV tube, in order to feed them, Jack inferred. They all looked pale and as if all the meat on their bones had decayed. The joysticks clicked as each person’s fingers moved at lightning speeds. By the seems of it, each person was linked to a huge virtual reality game of some sort! Judging by the mold growing on each family member, they must have not moved anything except for their fingers in the past year!
“Hello there.” The newcomer exclaimed quietly.
There was no answer and the sound of continuous clicking droned on and on. Taking a few tentative steps closer to the mess of wires and gaming equipment, Jack tried to announce his presence once again.
“Hey, I’m Jack, Jack Frost, I couldn’t help but notice that your door was open.”
Still, not even the slightest sign of acknowledgement, it seemed as if these people were isolated from reality. As a gentleman, Jack wanted to leave and attempt conversation with some other commoners. However, the curious part of him was too overpowering and Jack knelt down to examine the futuristic machine. Navigating through the wires, he saw a small screen displaying what the player was seeing. Mesmerized, he stared at the gameplay and felt a strange, but unnerving urge to start playing as well. Staring at the game on the screen, he did not want to move; five more minutes and I will be out of here.
The addicting game glued Jack’s eyes to the screen for the next five hours; it was almost like he couldn’t stop. Even when footsteps from behind suddenly drew closer, the man’s eyes did not shift directions. Without struggle, a bag was thrown over his head and Jack felt drowsy as the almondy essence of chloroform reached his nose.
It was very hazy as Jack slowly regained consciousness, the side of his head pounded and his throat felt parched.
“He’s awake boss.” A deep voice, close by sounded.
“Evening stranger, sorry about mugging you, it was only a security measure.” A different voice with more authority rang nearby.
His eyes finally focused on the man whom Jack believed the question had originated from. Jack noticed that the man had steely eyes and deep wrinkles, as well as a scar that ran from his left eye down to his neck. This would be the leader, the captive assumed.
“I a-am J-Jack F-Frost, I came from the past in order to look for a way to cure my cancer.” Jack finally responded.
Immediately, the room burst into commotion, everyone was yelling and shouting, embracing each other and laughing. Only the leader kept his cool, but his eyes grew a little in size.
“So Jack Frost is your name. Hmm very peculiar, could you be the original founder of Frost Industries?” The leader interrogated with a hint of excitement in his voice.
“Y-yes I am, I founded the company half a century ago, but have no idea how my company is still running,” Jack answered in a hushed voice.
At these words, the laughter and celebration tripled in intensity, Jack even heard a man yelling “We are saved” in the background. This caused Jack to become less terrified, but confusion soon set in.
“You have the wrong guy, I came from the past and froze my body in order to find a cure for my cancer.” Jack squealed, a bit louder this time.
“Oh Mr. Frost, you have missed so much, shall we start at the beginning?”
Without stopping, the leader continued.
“When you froze yourself in the capsule, your business partner, Ben took over the company. All was well at first, Frost Industries produced AI that could simulate a virtual reality so disabled people can experience wonders. However, as he became older, Ben became rotten to the core. Instead of reserving the machine only for disabled people, he moved his target audience to healthy, young adults. Ben would design games so alluring, thousands of people died of dehydration because they couldn’t stop playing, when the game first was released. Matched with the VR simulation you kindly created, the game was very addictive and most of the world was hooked.”
“So those were what the family was doing in the apartment.” Jack guessed.
“Now you’re catching on.” The leader smirked.
As the gang surrounding quieted down, the leader resumed.
“The games were so addicting in fact, people would hook themselves up to IV drips so they didn’t have to eat and would play for months at a time. No one walked the streets anymore, there were no more jobs as everyone played the game. We are a small group who are not under the influence of the games, but the gang is slowly losing members to Ben’s powerful army.
“How could Ben still be alive? He lived in the same era as me!” Jack exclaimed in surprise.
“Well, this brings me to my next point. Ben was so afraid of death, he used a piece of technology that would slowly suck the life of anyone playing the game. The life would, in turn, be used on himself to stop ageing.” The leader explained.
“This sounds bad and all, but what do I have to do with it?” Jack asked.
“You started the company, so you should know any weaknesses, as the mechanisms have not changed much.” The leader patiently continued.
“Project Red Button! It’s a self-destruct system that I made if anything went wrong, I just have to get into the Head Quarters and type in a password.” Jack excitedly answered.
Even though the man did not like the thought of destroying his life’s work, given the state of the family earlier and now the leader’s conformation, he was thoroughly convinced. Smiling for the first time, the leader put out his hand and Jack shook it; an unlikely alliance was formed.
Under the cover of darkness, just two days after stepping into the future, Jack was infiltrating his own company. Using Charlie, his robot friend to hack into the locks, the big gate surrounding the company was lifted. Moving in, Jack and the rebel gang took down guard after guard, until they were successfully inside. The lights were dim and visibility was horrible, Jack could only see a meter in front of him. Without sight, Jack led the group through the vast, hundred-story building by using sheer memory. Sticky sweat dripped from everyone’s foreheads as they finally made it into the core of the building; the command center. The room was a large sphere with a tiny glowing orb in the middle. The orb powered the entire company, but if triggered would disseminate everything. Now, all that Jack had to do was type in the password and set a five-minute countdown, giving them enough time to escape. Suddenly, the was a click and the lights flicked on, revealing an army of guards, with Ben standing in the center.
“Well, well, well, Jack here we meet again. Would be a shame if we had to kill you, if only you could join me and become truly invincible.” Ben spoke in a slick voice.
“Never!” Jack replied.
At that moment, the leader charged, leading his men with him, guns blazing in a final act of defiance. In all the bloodshed and confusion, it was the perfect time for Jack to put in the code. Reaching the keypad, Jack stalled as he understood that there was not enough time for a countdown. He would have to ignite it manually, killing himself and his team in the process. While putting the code in, a stray bullet hit his leg, the pain burned, but Jack kept going.
“Stop him!” Ben pointed as he realized what Jack was up to.
However, his attempt was too delayed, before Jack entered the last digit, the leader looked back and nodded, their eyes locked in agreement. This was a small sacrifice to make, after all, it would save humanity. Jack coldly chuckled as he remembered that he froze himself in order to prolong his life, now he was dying sooner than he would of to cancer. However, now Jack was different from his past self, he was not afraid of death and instead of running away, he will face it head-on. Jack entered the last digit just as the guards swarmed him.
“See you later,” Jack whispered to loyal his friend Charlie.
“Where are you leaving now?” The oblivious robot responded.
“To whatever lays behind death.” The successful businessman, turned hero answered for the last time.
“Self-destruction sequence will commence in 3, 2, 1.” A female robotic voice rang overhead.
Closing his eyes, Jack Frost was engulfed in a fiery inferno, with the loud explosion being the last thing he heard.