Jon's first experience with the world of 2353.
|“Good morning, sunshine! How are you feeling, hon? Can you open your eyes for me?”
A searing knife of light broke his eyelids when Jon tried to lift them. They felt as heavy as a thousand nails and crunched in the creases with the accumulation of sand.
“There you go, babe! Can you wiggle your toes for me?”
He wiggled, but kept his eyes shut.
“Good, good! Good job, Mr. Towne! Welcome back!”
Oh god. Back? Back where? Everything was a hazy mess. It felt like he’d just eaten a slushy and then poured two more over his head. His brain and inside of his mouth ached from the cold. The table he was lying on was cold too - it must be metal.
“Mr. Towne? I’ll go get the doctor now. You’ve done very well so far. Be back in a jiff! Try to relax.”
Her voice cut off behind the click of a door to his left. With his eyes shut, he could only perceive the room through its sounds and smells. Sterile. Cold. And apparently a doctor was coming. Have I been in an accident? The door clicked again and a male voice addressed him.
“Jonathan Towne, welcome back! Your procedure was completely successful. You should experience no ill side effects, besides perhaps a sore head and migraines, but those will fade in a week or so. Are you able to open your eyes, Mr. Towne?”
Jon attempted to lift his eyelids once more and found the light in the room to be less intense than just a few seconds ago when he tried before. Besides the sunlight streaming into the room from his right, there were no lights on at all. It was a medical room of some sort. White cupboards and cabinets lined the wall by his feet, and metal tables on wheels sat stationary below the window. Slowly, Jon shifted his gaze to the doctor and parted his chapped lips in an attempt to speak.
“I … where … where am I?”
“Try not to speak too much just yet, Jon. May I call you Jon?” He didn’t wait for an answer and continued. “Jon, your body will feel quite foreign for the first several days. We recommend our patients rest and sleep off the effects of the procedure as best as they can.”
Jon opened his mouth and licked his unbearably dry lips, looking up at the man in the doctor’s coat. He nodded, afraid to speak again.
“The year is 2353, Jon. Welcome back!”
Holy shit. Suddenly, his headache flared and rammed into his temples. 2353? In the future? It was hard to remember anything, but he dug into the recesses of his brain and scrunched his eyes together in concentration. 2018, yes, that’s it. My last memories are of 2018. Which meant that the procedure must have been successful. Seeing as he was awake again, that was the only option available. His last memories were of a room similar to the one he was in now on the 18th floor of the ALTO Corporation’s headquarters with his wife of 25 years, Valerie. They had been here together. Val!
“Where’s Valerie?” Jon choked out.
The doctor glanced briefly down at the papers on his clipboard and responded cheerfully, “You’ll see her in due time, Mr. Towne. Now, it seems you’re gaining your senses back. I will have the nurse bring in your items and we can get you on your way, sound good?”
Bewildered, Jon nodded again. How is this happening? 23-fucking-53?! The goddamn, future?! When Val had proposed they get their brains cryogenically preserved, he really had nothing to lose in 2018, but never imagined it would actually WORK! Now he was here, alone, in the future! And he would see his wife, “in due time?” Damn …
The door clicked and the same woman’s voice from before spoke down to him again.
“Mr. Towne, I have your personal affects here. Everything you came in with back in 2018, but I’m not sure you’ll want your clothes any more. They are a bit … antique. And your license, well, it’s expired as I’m sure you know. But some people like to keep it anyway as a sort of memento. A reminder, if you will. There are extra clothes in the cupboards – feel free to help yourself to whatever you like.”
She rolled a metal cart over to near the side of the table Jon was still lying stiffly on, and placed his rolled up clothes and wallet down carefully.
“I’ll leave you for a few minutes to get your bearings, Mr. Towne. Just ring this bell when you’re ready, and I’ll be in to fetch you.” She waved her hand at a green button in the wall next to the door, and then scampered off.
The room hissed in Jon’s ears. It didn’t seem like anything was real, and he brought his hand up to wipe his forehead.
It wasn’t his hand.
You’d think a construction worker would know the calluses and shape of his own hands, but this was NOT his hand. It was younger. Smoother. No hair on the knuckles and no dirt under the nails. And most significant, no divot in his thumb nail from an accident with a hammer in his teens. This was not his hand.
Frightened, he lifted his head to look down the length of his body. He was covered in a sheet, eerily reminiscent of a body in a morgue, but saw his toes poking out the other end. No hair on those either. What the hell? After only a moment’s pause, Jon lifted the sheet to peer underneath.
He was as naked as the day he was born, and by the shape of his body, he looked a lot closer to that age as well. It was certainly not the body of a 48 year old man with a gut from too many Dr. Peppers. He was looking at the body of a 25 year old, 30 years old max. Defined chest, pronounced hips, and muscular legs. He put the sheet down again and rested his head back on the table. For the first time, he noticed a mirror directly above his head on the ceiling. In it, a handsome boy looked back at him. He had light brown, almost golden eyes, and dark brown, muddy hair cropped short. No facial hair to speak of, which was odd for Jon as he had always sported a goatee in his old life.
His old life.
What the fuck was going on?
Deciding it was high time to attempt standing, Jon braced himself on the table and pushed himself into a sitting position, then swung his legs over the edge of the table so they dangled in front of him. His head pulsed at the movement, but he inched forward on the table and dropped gently to the floor letting the sheet fall around him.
Instead of heading for the pile of his clothes, Jon made his way to the window. If this really was 2353, he wondered what the world would look like. How much had changed. Are there flying cars? He jumped at the possibility.
The window sill was just a few inches above his head, so he deftly climbed onto the white countertop, which was easier than he expected, and kneeled in front of the window. The world outside looked, for the most part, like any normal city he was used to. There were skyscraper buildings, trees lining the streets below him, and blue sky in the distance. It was the subtle things, however, that proved it wasn’t any city from 2018. All the buildings he could see were some shade of green or blue and all the streets themselves weren’t black, but purple. There were people about, but the only wheeled vehicles of any kind he could see were three wheeled bicycle-like contraptions and carts stacked high with colorful fruits and leafy vegetables. Through the green and blue skyscrapers, Jon could just make out what looked like the edge of the city, a hard line where the color ended and the dusty brown began. A single faint line stretched out as far as he could see into this nothingness.
Not wanting to waste any more time, Jon jumped down from the countertop and started toward his clothing. The nurse had said they were “antique,” but he unfolded them anyway to take a look. The jeans were white in places from overuse and far too large for his new body anyway. He tossed them on the table he had woken up on. The shirt was plain black. XXL. Too large again. That landed on top of the jeans. His wallet was a brown trifold. Opening it, he found his money, $60, his ID, and nothing else. He supposed credit cards would be no use here anyway. He wondered if his money would be useless as well. His ID stuck to the sides of its pocket when he tried to pry it free. Finally, the card slid loose from the wallet and Jon was able to look into the eyes of a dead man. He looked so tired in his picture. Expiration 2019. Yep, the nurse was right … expired, like 334 years expired. He shoved it back into the sleeve of the wallet and tossed it on top of his clothes.
The nurse had said there were extra clothes around here somewhere, hadn’t she? Jon went back to the bank of cabinets and started opening each one in turn. The first held shoes, though no tennis shoes like he preferred. He pulled out a pair of neutral brown loafers and paisley socks, the most muted pair he could find. The next cabinet held pants, all shades of outrageous colors Jon would have never worn in 2018. Purple, lime green, and orange all seemed too … flamboyant. The best he could do was a maroon pair. Slipping them on, he realized all the pants were his exact size. Finally, the last cabinet held a variety of shirts all folded and neatly stacked. The plain white button up he chose was better than he could have hoped for, after seeing the pants.
With no mirror to speak of besides the one in the ceiling, Jon pushed the table out of the way and stood beneath the mirror craning his neck to get a proper look at himself. Only a boy, really. I look like a kid in one of those wretched boy bands… He ran his hand over his hair and sighed as he stepped away and toward the door. They’d better be bringing me to Val now. Hopefully she got as nice a body as I do. He pushed the button and stood back.
The nurse returned faster than he had expected.
“You look snappy, Mr. Towne! Follow me, if you haven’t forgotten anything?”
Jon looked back on the room he started this new life in and saw his clothes and wallet lying on the table. He quickly snatched up the wallet on impulse and dropped it into the back pocket of his new, snappy, maroon pants.
The nurse smiled and led him away.
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