Author : Waldo van der Waal

Nobody warned me about the pain. Creeping from your brain and slowly extending to every bloody nerve-ending. Hot acid makes way for molten lava before the really hot stuff arrives. A million tiny needles prod at every part of your body. From the inside outwards and from the outside in, right into each atom that makes you what you are. Feeble movements of your fingertips are as much as you can muster. There’s nothing to do but scream until your throat bleeds. Nothing to do but wait. Nobody warned me about the pain.

They didn’t warn me because they probably didn’t know. Not at the time, anyway. Back then it was all smiles and champagne and fancy pens to sign the contract. Their office looked like the Ritz and their salesman – his name escapes me while I scream some more – their saleman was glib and self-assured and just a little cocky. And I fell for it. I took the diamond-encrusted Waterman and signed on the dotten line. And I gave them access to my First Bank of the Confederation account. It all sounded to good to be true. But their scientists must’ve known. Maybe they even knew themselves.

Things actually started going wrong some 872 years ago. That’s when I pinged the numbers in the Quadrant Lottomax – the only winner out of nearly 12 billion entires. What are the chances? It was a rollover, and I didn’t get rich from it. I got mind bogglingly, stupidly, richer-than-Zaphod-himself rich. Started snorting caviar because I could. Used chapmagne to brush my teeth. Bought anything I could see, including Pluto. And had a lot of money left over.

The only thing that was running out for me was time. I was 88 when the last lotto ball fell into place, matching my numbers. I aged considerably when I saw the result, sure, but realistically closing time was, uh, closing in on me. So I found a public terminal and did a bit of searching. Found the guys with the Ritz office and the fancy pens, who said they could make me live forever. They had tested it on rats and pigs and it worked.

So I climbed into the dewar they prepared – didn’t even wait to die. They said if I waited, I might be too far from their facility when the time came. So I went willingly while they pumped my body full of stuff. Cold stuff. I don’t remember dying, but my mind didn’t switch off completely. Blackness, but with peripheral dreams, if that makes sense. Lots of it.

I don’t know how much time passed, but it was a stack. Then, last week I became aware of the pain. My eyes started focussing and I saw a note pasted to the faceplate of my dewar. “Cryogenic reversal starting. Good luck.” Good luck? Then came the torture. Even through the thick sides of my casket, I can hear other screams. I hear more and more of them every day, but I haven’t heard one of them stop yet.

Needles filled with poison assault me constantly. They tested it, they had said. It worked, they had said. But surely they must have known. And not one of the bastards told me about the fucking pain.

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