Author : Lisa Jade
Wake up, Michael.
Can you see? Look up. See the white light overhead, the white ceiling? The walls? White, too? Good.
Now. Try and move your left hand. No, the other left. That’s it, good. Don’t try to sit up. Lie still.
Now, think back. What do you remember?
Do you remember yourself? Tall and dark with an eternal five o’clock shadow, nails bitten to stubs? You wear T-shirts, even to the office, because you feel strangled by ties.
Remember Debra? Her soft curls, her rotund body? Do you remember the way her eyes sparkled when you first met, or filled up as you slipped the ring on her finger? Do you remember your wedding day – but maybe not. You were drunk before the speeches began.
Michael. Think back, and try to remember.
Remember your job? The stresses of the office. You’d come home and kick off your pants at the door, proclaiming you were taking a beer to bed. Debra wasn’t keen on that, was she?
The fights were intense. Do you remember? Objects flung across rooms, insipid floral teacups shattered against that fleur-de-lis wallpaper you always hated. Screaming matches. The time the cops came, concerned after complaints from the neighbours.
Do you remember that? Good. You’re back to being you, Michael.
Now think back to the second of July, 2098.
You had a meeting in the next town, didn’t you? You stood at the train station, swaying, your head spinning from a killer hangover. Debra refused to speak to you when you left that morning, furious about your coming home in the early hours.
Remember feeling dizzy, Michael? Remember falling onto the tracks?
You didn’t realise a train was coming until the screaming started. There was no time to react before it hit you, sucking you into the depths of its whirring maw. Do you remember dying?
I’m sure you’d rather not.
But you need to. Because you weren’t the only one who died.
See, the Highspeed Train was pretty new. I’m sure you remember the launch ceremony. Debra picketed against it; not that you’d have noticed. They protested the poor and dangerous design.
Thing is, Michael, when the train hit you, blood and guts and bone swept into the engine. A moment later it exploded, veered off the track and crashed into the station building.
Nearly two hundred people died that day – including you, of course.
Do you remember?
Nobody’s happy about this, Michael. Tragedy only settles if there’s someone to blame. The City won’t accept that any fault lies with them. The people are baying for blood; and you’re expendable, I’m afraid.
Sit up. That’s it. Place your feet on the ground. Don’t look too closely at the stitches that hold your shredded body together. Don’t think too deeply about how you’re alive.
Look up. Do you see that door, dark in the white room? Through there you’ll find the courtroom. You don’t have to speak much – in fact it’s easier if you don’t. The City didn’t bring you back to give you a fair trial.
At least this way, you can say goodbye to Debra. Maybe you can reconcile before your half-dead body is strapped into the electric chair.
Don’t cry. It’s pointless. The City can’t reanimate you for very long anyway. You’re doomed to die regardless, so embrace this opportunity. When they ask you something, answer them. Even if your tongue is swollen or they didn’t put your teeth back quite right. Just answer the questions however you can.
Think back, Michael. Do as you’re told, and behave.
Just try and remember.