Please note, I began writing this story over 6 years ago. I started in Sept 2015 before I had any idea of the horrors of covid 19. I had to stop writing completely due to becoming a full-time caregiver for my inlaws.
News Anchor Reporting Live in Metropolis Prime
We take you live to the Unadyne Press Conference. Shelby Kaufeldstein just approached the podium...
"The mysterious virus that continues to take a record number of lives continues to spread like wildfire through Metropolis Prime and Lower Metropolis, killing without discrimination adults and children alike. Please make sure you are using the vaccine packets and taking every precaution to stay safe this winter. Wash your hands often with antiseptic and antimicrobial soap. If you are showing any signs or symptoms, get to your nearest hospital or pop-up clinic. This virus is not an ordinary cold or flu strain. We continue to search for a cure and have brought in top industry minds to find a drug or a treatment. As of today, Unadyne has partnered with Vintnor and Palm Pharmaceuticals. We remain optimistic that a cure is on the horizon."
“Hey there, sleepyhead, wake up!” Caterina said right in my ear.
I open my eyes to see Caterina standing over me. I stretched and yawned, licking at my dry lips. She was smiling and grinning like a Cheshire cat. I playfully swatted at her as I slowly awakened and became aware of my surroundings. She quickly ducked away. I took in the room, affectionately known as the lab. I could hear Lance at his desk furiously typing on his keyboard. At least this time, when I woke up, I had been dressed. I was unsure how long I had been in a sleep- state, but I knew if I was awake, I had a new assignment waiting for me.
“Sorry, your nap was so short this time. Just three months. We need you to go to Metropolis Prime.” Lance said from behind his console.
“Hello to you too, Lance,” I said in a snarky voice before puking. Cryo-Sleep was a bear on my stomach. Cryo-Sleep kept us looking youthful and was more cost-effective than the expenses and unknowns that could occur in ordinary life. I was okay with it now because it’s all I have known since they acquired me at age 12 from the orphanage.
Admittedly, the first time was scary. Dreams plagued me that I could not escape. Now there is never any memory, no dreaming. There is nothing. I suppose they do a brain dump when we go in and a build-up when we come out. Still, they haven’t found a way to keep me from the initial barf episode. Oh well, one can’t expect everything to be solved outright.
I asked Caterina about the process once.
Approximately three days before I am fully aware, they place me in light sleep. A tech prompts me with information, so I know who I am, where I am, and some information about the year I am in and the location I will travel to before I fully wake up. This small change in protocol has been a total success: no more amnesia or brain shock.
“We only have 12 days to get you ready.” Caterina chimed in after I stopped vomiting. “So let’s get you cleaned up, some food in you, and get you on the treadmill.”
A leisurely hot shower follows my bout of vomiting, along with some much-needed self-care and pruning. A bland soft food lunch is my reward until I can keep my food down, and then it's back to the lab.
Lance finished taking my vitals and hooked me up to the last two tubes leading to the monitors as I stepped on the treadmill and started walking. At 15 minutes, he increased it to a slow jog.
“How am I looking?” I asked after 30 minutes of going nowhere.
“Fine, you’re doing fine,” he said as he chomped on a burger.
“Everything looks really good,” he reassured me with a mouthful of meat and bun. My stomach rumbled angrily at me as my sustenance comprised solely of vegetarian soup and apple sauce.
After what seemed like an endless array of tests, they drew blood and then gave me a series of vaccines.
“And these last few are some special enhancers for your skin and hair so you will be at your sexy best and will help enhance your already great traits like your memory. You will retain vital bits of information quickly. A side effect is that your sense of smell and hearing may also become keener. So you can hone in on any juicy corporate secrets.” Cat teased.” That way, you will always have a leg up on the Zyon Tech trash. Oops, I mean Temps.” Caterina corrected herself as we all snickered. There has always been a bit of a rivalry between the two companies.
The last vaccine was a bright shade of blue, and I swear it felt like I could feel it travel through me. I shivered. It wasn’t so much as painful, just an odd feeling running through my entire body.
“What time will I be briefed?” I asked.
Caterina looked to Lance. He just shrugged. “They haven’t told me yet.” He said through a mouthful of chips. Caterina walked over and took one of his chips, and crunched it loudly.
“Hey!” He exclaimed smiling
A short series of beeps sounded as the intercom was remotely accessed. Everyone turned toward where the sound came.
“Good afternoon, sector B.” A male’s voice came through the comm, followed by a holographic image of a middle-aged man in a dark blue suit.
“There will be no standard briefing ahead of time as is the usual custom. We are trying something a little different. Your assignment is to assimilate into the city, make your own friends, and we will reveal your target when it’s time. We are still doing recon, and though we need someone on the ground, it is not pressing that you make contact right away. This is a very special operation, and we think you are the best fit for this assignment. You will be assigned to work at Unadyne. You will start as an entry-level Temp and learn everything from the ground up. Oh, and no serious relationships. We need you available. You will have a small apartment in Lower Metropolis. 15 minutes away, unless there is traffic. You won’t need your own vehicle. Have you chosen a name for your 11th assignment?”
This was the fun part. I looked at my affectionately named sleep pod to see the last letter I had etched into the side. It was the letter J. I chose a new name for each assignment going through the letters of alphabet.
“Hmmm. Got it. Kelissa Hill. ‘K’ for short. Like the letter, not the name.” I stated proudly.
The hologram man turned to look at Cat. He raised an eyebrow and shook his head like he was dealing with a child, then furrowed his brows again as he addressed Caterina.
“We expect Miss Hill on the ground in Metropolis Prime by the end of the next week. Have all the vaccines been administered? They had a nasty bug in the area, and we don’t want to lose an asset,”
“Yes,” replied Caterina, “I just gave her the last of them.”
“Make sure you are monitoring her for any anomalies before releasing her. That vaccine is relatively new.” The man in the blue suit said firmly. He then turned back to regard Kelissa.
“Well, good luck Miss Hill. I have no doubt that you will be successful in this assignment as you have been with all of the others.” Three beeps sounded as the hologram disappeared.
Lance came around with a tiny syringe. “This may sting just a bit. Hold out your wrist.”
He injected a small pellet in between the two tendons on my wrist.
“Tracker to send us your vitals. All businesses in the city that use Temps have bio readers installed. This way, we can track you, make sure you are healthy, and download micro bits of data that the pellet collects for us.” He explained as he put a piece of gauze over the entry point.
He was correct. It hurt like hell for about an hour.
The rest of the week was spent exercising, learning a little about their work-life culture, and I practiced typing. I hated typing.
Twelve days later, I was turning the key to my apartment in Lower Metropolis.
For the first time ever, I had no real objective except to live a regular life. This should be interesting.