While You Were Cryosleeping
Your future. Speculative. Hypothetical. Quite possibly inevitable.
When you were younger, getting old seemed like a disease that you would never have to worry about, something unfortunate but uncommon like smallpox, or the human form of mad cow disease, or genital herpes (well, except for that one time when you thought you actually had genital herpes and it turned out to be something else, but you had already called your ex and they were like, “Eww I don’t have that shit, you’re gross,” then hung up).
You thought the whole aging thing would have been figured out by the time it mattered to you. It would be reversible, like in all the sci-fi movies you watched. You were certain that humans, at the very least, would be able to transplant cyborg parts as needed, thereby extending your life indefinitely. But you kept getting older, and not much changed in terms of life extension. Eventually, the concept of getting old, and someday not being here anymore — not existing — started to follow you around like a storm cloud.
You lived your life as best you could though, always hoping for new technological breakthroughs, but nothing changed. You got old, and it was time to start thinking about how you wanted to go.
You had always been interested in cryonic preservation. The only other options sounded too…final. So you decided you would get yourself cryogenically frozen, in hopes that someday you would be revived. Worst case scenario, you’d never wake up. You’d be out a few extra bucks, but your fate would be no worse than it would have been had you gone casket or cremation. And why let go of your immortality dream if you didn’t have to?
You even had a beautiful revival scenario pictured in your head, in which you awaken into a new utopia, surrounded by flawless future-humans each holding a “Welcome Back” sign. The doctors would use their amazing anti-aging technology to make you young again. And taller. With a huge wiener. And everything would be perfect. Unless of course you didn’t have a wiener to begin with. Anyway, the slim possibility to live again gave you hope, and it made you feel better about your life coming to an end.
And then it did.
But then, surprisingly — no, implausibly, impossibly, miraculously — you woke up, and it was as if no time had passed at all. You actually made it!
The greeting wasn’t anything like what you had pictured. But hey, being alive is better than any alternative. Right?
This is what happened while you were cryosleeping….
Years and years passed, and eventually cryonic suspension became the standard end-of-life practice, valued in the same way mummification had been by the ancient Egyptians. Soon there were millions of people popsicles around the world waiting for the big thawing day. Millions of humans and no waiting list.
It was obvious that they wouldn’t have the resources or space to revive everyone. But you knew that was going to happen. You were smarter than you looked. The planet was already overpopulated in your day. So you figured, once revival technology existed, that they were probably going to start with the wealthy and the cultural icons, the best representations of what humans considered human, like Oprah Winfrey, or J. K. Rowling, or the band Coldplay.
You knew you weren’t going to stand a chance. You weren’t famous or important. You hadn’t done anything noteworthy. You would need some sort of wake-me-up incentive. Otherwise, some random future sponsor was going to have to fund your reanimation, and what were the odds of that?
So you started thinking incentivization. Maybe you would keep a one-of-a-kind collector’s item in the cryo-chamber with you. Or you would write a hit novel series and freeze yourself with the final, never-before-published manuscript. Or hold hostage a never-before-heard Wu-Tang album or something. Whatever it was, you called it ‘reanimation incentivization’. That was catchy. Did you ever figure something out? The idea might have actually worked too, had events gone according to your predictions.
But they didn’t.
What happened instead was that a shitload of time passed. Humans got taller, with bigger eyes and browner skin. The males stopped growing pubes on their faces. Flying cars were never a thing, because everyone realized how stupid that idea was. There were some technological breakthroughs, and eventually lives could be extended indefinitely, which was great for those who could afford it, and if you were, you know, still alive. But cryonic reanimation remained as mysterious as magic. There was no more hope for the frozen folk than there had been when you were around.
As time went on, the Earth’s resources dwindled, and humans finally began colonizing the galaxy. Eventually they left Earth altogether, migrating to several other bigger and more habitable planets. But they made sure their ancestors would last indefinitely in cryo-suspension, in case they did ever figure out the whole reanimation thing.
Earth was a cryonic graveyard, and it looked to be your final resting place.
That is until the aliens came along….
Like most intelligent species, these aliens were explorers. They were knowledge seekers, searching the cosmos for that one unattainable thing: meaning. But they were much more technologically advanced than humans. Not only had they been able to reanimate cryogenically preserved beings for thousands of years, but they could also calculate the existential intelligence of a lifeform — that is, everything an organism knows and thinks and feels about its place in the universe — in mere seconds, simply by probing the lifeform’s anus, removing its organs, then displaying them for the lifeform to see (something about the process triggers a sort of reptilian thought response that serves greatly in the alien’s data analysis).
They had detected no signs of intelligent life on earth, but stopped by anyway, and were pleased with the treasure trove they did find. Millions of humans in stasis, ready to be studied.
And that’s what they did as soon as they arrived. They gathered all the cryo-chambers into their enormous freight-ship, then started looking for meaning. All up inside human buttholes.
One-by-one, the aliens would revive a human, probe its anus, remove its organs, conduct their data analysis, then discard the body. On and on they went, analyzing. Anal-yzing.
Eventually it was your turn.
Upon waking, you spent a long moment remembering how to see. At first you were excited. You made it! You were back. But the room you were in didn’t look familiar. It was like the hollowed out interior of a giant tree, with two big windows through which you could see nothing but endless black and twinkling pinpricks. You weren’t on Earth anymore. No, you were on a spaceship. An alien spaceship, surrounded by rows and rows of cryo-chambers just like yours.
As the blurry forms of four or five fluorescent alien bodies moved around the room doing sciency shit, your instincts kicked in. You could tell this was a bad situation to be in. You were certain of it. And it wasn’t the lack of welcome back signs, or your unaltered age, height, or wiener. It was something about all the naked human carcases on the floor, entangled in yards of their own intestines. It just felt off.
Luckily, the aliens left the room, disappearing down a craggy hallway. You took the opportunity to try and escape.
On the overgrown tree-stump-of-an-end-table protruding from the ground next to you was something resembling a scalpel. Your arms weren’t bound, so you snatched it, then slashed through the bindings around your ankles. You hopped down from the cryo-chamber and hurried to find an exit.
The two doors in the room wouldn’t open. There were no knobs, no sensors, no retinal scanners. You tried kicking one open, but it wouldn’t budge.
Echoes came from the hallway; the aliens were heading back to the room. You panicked, picked up something that looked like a chair and threw it at the door (a surprising feat for a geriatric like you). But the door remained shut, and you remained cornered in the room, awaiting whatever tortures the aliens had in store for you.
They were closer now, almost to the room, and in one last-ditch effort you picked up the chair once more and swung it at a window. The chair passed through the window without making contact. It left your hands and proceeded to float off into space.
You scrambled to the top of the control board or whatever it was and reached a tentative arm through the window-portal-thing. Your arm passed right through it, just as the chair had. You glanced back as the aliens entered the room. They got all kinds of pissed when they saw you walking on their electronics and started shouting.
You were certain you’d rather die on your own terms than end up in a pile of mutilated human bodies. So, you jumped.
Fifteen seconds. That’s all it took before you lost consciousness from oxygen deprivation.
Toward the end of those fifteen seconds, as the blistering cold assaulted your naked body, you went into a sort of shock. It only lasted a moment, but in that moment, nothing hurt anymore, and you reached ultimate clarity.
You could see Earth, a distant orb against the black. Different than it used to look, but still discernible. And even though you were dying, after making it this far, you weren’t sad or afraid. You knew you had already been immortalized in some way. Because you had lived your life exactly how you had wanted.
You loved the things you loved. You hated the things you hated. You had your own opinions. You shared those opinions. You shared music. You played games. You took photos. You saw movies. You made things. You shared the things you made. You made memories. You expressed your love. You did as much as you could with the time you had. And sometimes you even stopped to look back and appreciate all of it.
You did remember to do that, right?
Of course you did. You pushed particles around when you were alive, in ways that you intended. Imprints were left upon the universe that only your own, unique consciousness could have made. You altered the course of history, however small that may have been. And there on that planet you once called home, somewhere hidden within its abandoned cities, was evidence of all of it. Proof of your existence. So in some way, you were going to survive. And that thought made you happy.
Plus, you realized before finally drifting off — and this could have been the depressurization causing the gases inside your body to expand and for you to inflate — but out there against the incomprehensible vastness of space, your wiener actually looked pretty big.
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