I often get a story notion and pop out a couple of opening chapters before I have clear idea where things are going to go. Then I leave things alone, there in the dark in the back of my mind, and visit them from time to time to see what kind of a mushroom crop I’m growing.
For this particular idea, spelled out in yesterday’s post, I wrote two different quickie openings. One was presented Monday, the second is presented today and tomorrow. Enjoy.
“Yes, I hear you!”
Aroused now from sleep, Fletcher tried to open his eyes but felt no response from his eyelids. Yet he could see, somewhat, mostly vague shapes and a bilious yellow color. And movement – some kind of moving shapes beyond the yellow fog.
“Where am I?”
“What is your name?”
“What do you remember?”
That was also vague, and he wrestled with it for a while. There had been a wedding – his? No, he only remembered preparations for the wedding. There was to be a party the night before, but he could not remember attending it. He said so.
“I have no way of knowing anything about your life,” the voice in his head responded, “except that at some point you opted for cryogenic suspension.”
“Then I am dead?”
Fletcher thought about that for a while. It did not seem wrong. It was as if some hidden part of him had been aware of duration – great duration – since his last conscious thought.
He said, “Then you are about to revive me?”
“But . . .”
“I can’t understand the arrogance of you people. Wherever did you get the idea that we would want more people, or that someone from your era would have anything to contribute to our world.”
“It was Linda’s idea. She said we could be together forever.”
“If the woman you are about to marry wants to love you forever, you don’t argue. I signed the paper.”
“And here you are.”
“That, I will not tell you. In fact, it is imperative that you never learn anything about here/now. All that remains of you is a head, badly decayed outside the skull, with one eye, virtually no skin, and a brain that is basically intact. We bought you as biological waste, at the same price per kilo as manure, and revived you to this point. There were about four hundred of you in the lot, and only three came back to consciousness.”
“Why did you do it . . . if we are so useless?”
“I am going to make you an offer. You will think yes or no. If no, you’ll be fertilizing a vegetable garden tomorrow. If yes, you will be fully revived and given a chance to live again.”
“Wait for the rest. Either way you choose, you will never know what year this is, nor anything about our civilization. For you to learn those things would make you less useful for our purposes.”
“And your purposes are?”
“You will be trained and sent back to an era near in time to the one in which you lived. This is why we are willing to revive you. You have knowledge and instincts which will let you survive where none of us could. An explosive device will be implanted in your skull to insure compliance. You will go where you are sent and do what you are told.”
“I would be a slave.”
“You would be alive. Now decide.” continued tomorrow