Author : Steven Holland

Their time was up – 100 years had past. Fourteen vitrified bodies began the slow warming process. The cryoprotectants that had saved their bodies from the ravages of water’s freezing expansion were slowly pumped out, replaced with fresh blood. The centennial slumber was over.

One week later the fourteen men met in a comfortable conference room. The men were all intelligent, ambitious, successful, and borderline insane. Most were hard working citizens by profession, but they were all compulsive gamblers by addiction.

It had begun the instant millionaire Peter Mortiarty, half eaten doughnut in hand while sitting in a cheap plastic chair at the Tuesday night meeting of the local chapter of Gambler’s Anonymous, had a sudden thought. He loved gambling. He was good at it, and he had made a fortune at it in the stock market. Mortiarty abruptly stood up and left the meeting – right in the middle of Donald’s sobbing confession of a brief, but torrid affair with a video poker machine in the back corner of a bar. Thirteen people, two months, and 86 million dollars later, Mortiarty set in motion the ultimate game of proposition gambling. Fourteen players would wager on the future 100 years from now – then freeze themselves to see the results. It was the ultimate gambler’s dream that was coming to fruition at this very moment.

Bill Kearney, the moderator who had been hired by Mortiarity’s trust fund, brought the meeting to order.

“Gentlemen, welcome to 2150 A.D. I trust your sleep was uneventful. If everyone is ready and remembers the rules, we will begin.”

Murmurs of agreement rose from the room. There had been extensive rule setting beforehand concerning allowable wagers, determination of odds, and undercutting.

“Every wager has been looked over by a panel of experts and the items have been selected in random order. Wager #1: Portugese will emerge as the new international language – No.”

Several of the men snickered and glanced over in the direction of Marvin Hasgrow, a Fortune 500 CEO. “What?” he exclaimed. “Davis gave 240 to 1 on that!”

A scoreboard kept a running total of each player’s score, changing after each wager was awarded. Davis moved up slightly to seize the early lead.

“Wager #2: The exact value of Pi will be determined – No.”

Joey Dollins, a mathematician, smirked smugly across the room at Hussein Powell, another mathematician.

The announcements continued; each one was met with mixtures of groans and cheers, laughter and tears, glaring and high-fiving. The wagers ranged from World War III to the price of pineapples, from intergalactic exploration and colonization to the number of Chicago Cub’s World Series victories. The drama continued well into the third day.

Throughout the entire process, each man exhibited a drunken giddiness that could only manifest in union with the satisfaction of a deep, powerful addiction. Experiencing this euphoric, exhilarating rush was the reason of their existence. Their hands were shaky and sweaty, pupils dilated, and breathing shallow – a feat only the purest of gambling could inspire in all fourteen of them at once.

In the end, James Griggs, a polymer chemist, emerged as the highest point winner and wore the ecstatic smile of a first grader after scoring his first soccer goal. Peter Mortiarty finished a disappointing third and sat slumped over, sulking.

The initial thrill already fading away, the fourteen now faced the task of reintegrating into society, seeing and learning how thing operated 100 years in the future. They had to learn fast. In one year’s time, they would all meet again for another round of wagers and another 100 years of slumber.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows