Author : Miriyha Davis
No light could travel through the thick darkness that surrounded Emery as he lay on the cold metal slab. Mouth sealed shut by some invisible force, he was paralyzed.
Soft electronic beeping reached his ears and an inky blackness that covered his skin, receded. It dripped to the floor, tar-like, and slithered like a serpent to form an open ring of obsidian, encircling him. The head of the snake gobbled its tail and stretched into a round river with small waves emanating from the center. The ring stretched further out into a great sea and he grew frightened.
The beeping increased in speed and volume and suddenly, his head was free! He looked both ways in search of the source. The murky ocean extended wide and fat, an oily liquid with a horizon and the waves grew turbulent. He had the sickening sense that if he fell in, he would not just die, but disappear. The very essence of which he was, the part that identified him as a being and gave him relevance would be gone. He would cease to exist.
A sharp pain turned his attention from the dark water to his chest and he saw a bright red trail appear from throat to pelvis, sliced with an invisible scalpel. The flaps of skin pulled back to a cage, absent of organs, yet full of blood sloshed around as in a gently tossed mixing bowl.
And then he was out! A ghostly apparition, he looked down at his pitiful body, open and exposed. He was aware that his corporeal and intangible selves were no longer one as he dangled over the hungry waves that lapped at his toes. He screamed and attempted to move forward, but his struggle forced him down until he was waist deep.
He reached for the slab and begged his body to allow him re-entry.
‘Hadn’t he been good to it?’ he thought. Why, at this crucial moment, would it betray him? Expel him without notice or a chance of redemption?
The slab tilted and the blood spilled from the cadaver and into the sea and vanished below the waves. His body sank next, heavy and clumsy. He had no doubt the water was deep as it was wide, but he couldn’t bring himself to release the corpse and was dragged under until all things were forgotten and the black liquid seeped into him, coated him in nothingness inside and out and he was no more.
Two men in lab coats observed as Emery’s nude body was suspended in a tiny ‘dunk’ tank of artificial amniotic fluid, with tubes and wires protruding from the open top. An EKG beeped one long sound, high-pitched and foreboding as the fluid drained. Two male orderlies lifted the body up and out. A nurse removed the wires and shut off the machines. She yanked a bright red flash drive from behind the right earlobe of the corpse.
“Which simulation did he accept?” one doctor asked the other.
“The absence of life after death. Sixth one today.”
“Damned nurse. Think he heard his EKG?”
“I wonder if we aren’t just scaring these patients to death?”
“Who cares? The government says cut costs, we cut costs. Coma patients are the first to go. Besides, it’s this or starve them to death.”
The nurse approached.
“The sim program was shut down and detached successfully, sir. Here is my full report on his vitals as well as a recording of his experience.” She handed him the drive. “I’ll prep Mrs. Pallet for the Reincarnation Sim?”
“Mute the EKG this time.”