Dying Man

Author : David Henson

One morning I have a horrible pain in my right side. I go see Dr. Ivan, my organ manager. She concludes my body is rejecting my liver and quickly puts in another. Less than a week later, I can barely get out of bed.

“We’ll have to put in a mechanical,” Dr. Ivan tells me.

Surprisingly, my body rejects it, too.

***
“I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“You don’t have much choice,” Dr. Jenkins says. “Unless you want to be the first person to die in a thousand years. You’ll get used to it. We can give you the same appearance. Not sure you want it.” Wise guy.

I reluctantly agree to have my consciousness transferred into an android body. Mechanical organs are one thing, but I’d rather not be a full artificial. I tried it decades ago. The extra strength is enjoyable for awhile, but the thrill wears off, and sensations are never as genuine as with truly human senses. That turns out to be the least of my concerns. The artificial brain doesn’t accept my mind.

***
I lean back, and Dr. Wilson places the metal band around my head. The last resort, no pun intended, is to preserve my consciousness by uploading it into Virtual-Land. Virtual-Land! Where people go on holiday! What else am I to do? I choose to go to The World That Was exhibit. Dr. Wilson begins tapping a keypad. I close my eyes, and giant sequoias flicker into view then vanish. I open my eyes, and the doctor is shaking her head.

***
“We think a passing muon did something to your neural electrical system. A one-in-a-trillion occurrence. We don’t fully understand, but it’s stymied everything we’ve tried to do.” Dr. Spangler opens a box with 10 small bottles. “I did some research and had these processed for you. They’re called ‘pills.’ Take three of each every day.”

“Take?”

He cups his hand to his mouth and tilts back his head. “Swallow them. With water. They won’t cure you, but they’ll prolong your life. You are going to die though, no doubt about it.” I swear he’s trying not to grin.

***
Dr. Spangler wrote up my case and is now famous throughout the medical community. But as renowned as he is, he’s not half the celebrity I am.

I can’t keep up with all the requests for interviews. My face is on hover buses and sky posters. Whenever I venture out, I cause a commotion with hoards of people clamoring for my autograph. “No, don’t sign your name,” they always say. “Sign it Dying Man.” I usually oblige.

I’ve been offered a fortune if I allow my every moment to be continuously live-streamed till my last breath. The colonies are begging me to visit but I’m too weak for hyper-travel.

There’s even a memorial — a thirty-meter holo of me. I’m standing with my arms outstretched, staring pensively into the distance. It’s called “Dying Man Looking Into The Abyss.” Pretty corny, but it’s what most people want to know: How do I deal with the fact one day soon I’ll simply cease to exist.

I never know how to answer them. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit how I’m coping. I’ve become proficient at one of the rituals practiced by the ancients. Like everyone else, I used to belittle it. Now I understand why our ancestors prayed. They wanted to live forever, too.

6 Comments

  1. SimonJM

    How easily we fall into habits, though I suspect it was more than a few generations (if that term even has meaning any more …) before ‘we’ could accept that not popping out clogs was the norm. And let us blithely forget he IS going to die, but hey, who cares he’s a celeb!

    • xdhz8

      Thanks for you comment.

    • xdhz8

      Thank you!
      — David H.

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