Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Head of the Game - free short stories

The year was 2340 when the Board on the Exploration of Ruins granted team Alpha a commission to explore the subterranean ruins of New Los Angeles. The team of scientists had been petitioning the Board for months and was delighted to finally gain access. The area had long been abandoned ever since the big one of 2165. That earthquake was a 9.7 on the Richter scale and pretty much destroyed the entire area and all of its inhabitants. The resulting mess was contaminated with a multitude of hazardous chemicals. Even though most of the chemicals were housed in earthquake proof containment units, the big one was able to open them. The entire area was left a rubble-laden wasteland for 175 years. Team Alpha was able to convince the Board to give them the commission by showing conclusive evidence that it was safe for humans to return to the area. A week of preparation got team Alpha the right equipment and a plan of exploration to go by. Finally, the day came and the excited team members kissed their families’ goodbye for a couple of weeks then jumped on the land hoverer. It was sort of a floating troop transport that sped across the desert in a matter of minutes. The hoverer slowed to a halt after getting to a particularly rocky portion of the ruins. “Okay guys, you know your duties. Split up and return in an hour to see what we got.” The scientists looked like slimline astronauts diving over the side of a sinking ship. Their personal protective gear was the best available and would prevent any possible miscalculation on safety from becoming a disaster. They scrambled and fanned out as if a toddler with a dirty diaper unit had been placed in the center of them. An hour later they gathered around their ship again. The men found many impressive looking antiques with most of them in pretty good condition. One of the scientists took readings of the toxicity levels on their findings with his hand scanner. Most of the objects cleared the safe level. However, some of them would have to be cleaned before being brought back with them. One of the scientists returned to the gathering a bit late and with an anxious look on his face. He was very excited and could barely speak. Trying to explain what he had found was too difficult, so he lead the others into a deep hole in the rubble. At first, it was mostly crumbled concrete pieces, but the pieces turned into stairs as they went thither down. It appeared to be an old 20th century ‘building’ basement. The scientists all began to turn on their suit headlights, which shone brightly illuminating their path with a fluorescent glow. The hand scanner indicated that the levels of the chemicals were only trace amounts down in the basement. There were about fifleen large metal cylinders with ‘cryogenic material’ printed on the outside. Each cylinder also had the standard liquid nitrogen warning label on its side. They also had a silver etched stainless steel nameplate on their sides and a serial number. The nameplates contained information about their content’s personal lives. Unfortunately, all but one of the cylinders had some sort of physical damage to it. There was no nitrogen left in any of the damaged tanks. It had all leaked out many years prior to their discovery. Some of the damaged tanks had holes in them big enough to see through. Peering through the holes, the scientists found that they contained human skulls in some and entire skeletons in others. The one intact cylinder that was still holding its liquid nitrogen belonged to a woman named Cindy Delford who had died in 1997. The readings on the dials indicated that only 1% of the nitrogen had leaked out of her grave and that the contents were in excellent shape. It was too short to contain an entire body, so the scientists figured it must have just been her head in the unit. The thing weighed a ton! It took four of the scientists to hoist it off its pedestal. Slowly, they carefully made their way up the stairs stealthily avoiding the cracks and boulders along the way. They loaded it onto the land hoverer along with all the other items they had collected so far on their journey. This was truly the most unique and rare item the Alpha team had found in a long time. They all agreed that it should be taken back to the lab for study immediately. The land hoverer’s zero point energy drive hummed to life as the craft drifted in reverse for a moment. Then it turned and slowly accelerated out of sight back into the hot flat desert with its new prize. Within minutes the hoverer had spanned the large distance and they approached their lab fitcility. All of the other objects were distributed to their appropriate labs for decontamination and classification. However, the rare finding of the cryo cylinder was brought to a special ‘Artificial Life Form’ lab. Many of the scientists from the trip and others that had stayed behind gathered around to see what the cylinder contained. They flipped the pressure latches and slowly removed the lid. There inside a boiling cauldron of liquid nitrogen was a rock solid head of a 35-year-old attractive female from the past. The scientists removed Cindy from the metal coffin with special gloves so that they would not bum themselves. They gently set her on the operating table and began working furiously before their time ran out. Several hours later they had completed construction of a body for their friend from the past. It was a bit of a pale green color but it was almost perfectly shaped. After the all clear was sounded, one of the scientists on the team hit the ‘life’ button and jolted the limp mass to life. Slowly, the thin green blood began to pump throughout her new body and head. The remarkable technology of the scientists had recreated a being, melding seamlessly an ancient human head and a new artificial body and brought it back to life. The Alpha team knew it would be a few days before Cindy would awake from her long sleep. They took the opportunity of the long wait to go to lunch to celebrate their finding and its successful reattachment to a body. When they returned they were surprised to see that Cindy’s mind had cleared much faster than they had previously anticipated. She had sat up on the table and was attempting to jump down to the floor to land onto her feet. However, her coordination was not yet fully functional and she crumbled to the floor. Cindy got on her hands and knees and began to crawl around like a helpless baby. She almost appeared drunk as she fought to clear her mind. The scientists quickly rushed over to help her up. One of them wrapped her beautifully shaped pale green, nude body with a blanket. She tried to focus on his face with its thick glasses and full beard. Then Cindy appeared to try to speak but she had difficulty making her lungs push the air through properly and with the correct timing. Some of what she was attempting to ask was barely intelligible. All of the scientists agreed she was asking, “What happened?” The lead scientist briefly explained to her what year it was and that she needed to rest and tlow the neural connections to complete. They then gave her injections of nerve ending stimulant and human growth hormone as well as a slight sedative to calm her down. After the hypo began to take effect, Cindy was taken to a dark room to sleep for a while. She awoke almost three days later. The room she was in was unfamiliar and strange. A pile of weird futuristic clothes sat on a table near the side of the bed. She stood up slowly and stretched to the sky trying to shake off the effects of her long slumber. It was at that point that Cindy caught her reflection in the mirror across the room. liuitially, she was terrified at what she saw. A closer examination revealed her head had been attached to a strange-colored green body. Although it was only a pale shade of green, the effect it had visually was shocking. However, other than the color, it was perfect in every way. It was much more attractive in shape that her old body had been. She tried to remember what happened to her. The last thing she remembered was lying on the operating table just before going into open heart surgery to correct a heart valve defect she had had since birth. Then she remembered signing up with the Cryo-Freeze Co. to have her head frozen if she died during the operation. It was all coming back as her mind slowly cleared and she realized what must have happened to her. She grabbed the strange clothes and dressed after admiring her new body for a while. Cindy could vaguely remember one of the scientists telling her it was far into the future, but she could not remember the exact year. As she walked up to the door, she noticed there was no handle. Confused, Cindy began to try to pry it open with her fingers. Her futile attempt was useless and it would not budge even a bit. “Come on you stupid door!” she exclaimed getting somewhat frustrated. As soon as she said the word ‘door’, it complied and slid open swiftly with a whooshing noise. Cindy then walked out of her room and found one of the scientists. He greeted her with a warm welcome and explained what had happened. Then, he showed her to the food dispenser on the wall and materialized her a meal. Later, Cindy was sent to the sick bay and was given a full diagnostic on her health. Every thing in her new artificial body checked out all right. She was in perfect health for once in her life. The scientists allowed her to view the history monitor the next day. Cindy quickly learned about eveiything she had missed while she was frozen in time. Cindy rapidly learned to accept her new life and lived it to the fullest. Fortunately, it was just what she had hoped for before she was frozen. She felt very blessed with her situation since it was such a rarity to be given a second chance at life as she had been gifted with She quickly adjusted to her futuristic new world and had a fulfilling and rather long lasting life


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