Author : Jason Verch

Fred sat quietly as they finished attaching the myriad of sensors to him. Dr. Samuels, the man in charge of the experiment, fitted an oxygen mask over his face and said, “That’s everything.”

“Don’t worry,” Dr. Samuels said, “we’ve got everything covered. Heart rate, respiration, brain activity, real time blood analysis. If anything goes wrong we’ll know immediately and bring you out of it.”

“You know Doc,” Fred said, “when I joined the space program I thought I’d be visiting Alpha Centauri or something. I didn’t think I’d by lying in a hospital bed on Earth.”

“Oh come on, all that ‘space – the final frontier’ stuff is so cliché’. We send men into space every day, that’s not pioneering any more, this is exciting, you are entering the inner frontier” the doctor assured him. He picked a needle up off a nearby table and injected a milky substance into the IV bag attached to Fred’s arm. “Try the relaxation exercises we talked about, they should help.”

All his training in the space program, all his time in combat with the special forces, and what did they want him to do? Lie still and try to relax. He tried the breathing exercises. He tried counting backwards from a thousand. Hell, he even imagined he was in his happy place. Anything he could do to relax, but he still felt fully alert, and tense. Finally, despite himself, the drugs started to take hold. He slowly felt reality slipping away. Just as everything went black, he had one final thought: This must be what it is like to die.

In the next room, an assortment of doctors and scientists watched the sensor outputs. “Respiration and heartbeat steady. Look at the pattern of this brain activity, it’s unbelievable. We have definite success.” Dr. Samuels said. A few of the other men in the room exchanged handshakes; some patted the doctor on the back. They all seemed relieved.

“Doctor, are you sure we should continue?” the program director asked. Nearly an hour had passed since the start of the experiment.

“He is in no danger. He appears lifeless but his brain and body are functioning perfectly. Remember, there was a time when sessions of 10 hours or more were considered quite normal.” Dr. Samuels responded.

“Yes but that was thousands of years ago, nobody has tried this in recent history.”

“Exactly, so every minute of data we can collect is incredibly valuable.”

“Another 15 minutes, then bring him out of it. We can extend it for the next session.”

“But sir if we -” the doctor cut himself off. The argument was moot; the monitors went crazy with activity as Fred shot up in his bed and shouted, “It’s coming right at us!”

Dr. Samuels rushed to his side, “It’s ok Fred. It wasn’t real. You are in the hospital, the experiment was a success, just relax. Here, drink this,” he handed Fred a cup containing a hot black liquid “It should help with the after effects.”

Fred took a few tentative sips, he didn’t care for it much, it was bitter and earthy, but it did seem to help clear the fog from his mind.

“What is this?”

“It’s an ancient traditional remedy made from ground beans. It is called ‘coffee’.”

“Interesting.” Fred murmured.

“So tell me,” Dr. Samuels said excitedly, “What was it like? How did it feel? You are going to be a famous man you know. Just think, you are the first human being to sleep in over two thousand years!”

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