Warm Death

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Chapter 4: The Infinity Institute

Chapter 4: The Infinity Institute

Detective Collins road the escalator up to the Mezzanine. The Infinity Institute’s reception area occupied a whole half of the airy balcony area. He pushed through the glass doors and signed himself in at Security. The lobby was clean and modern – all glass and leather, but with warm, tan walls. There was a coffee bar and bowls of fresh fruit on every table. Collins likened it to a very high-end nursing home.

“We’ve been expecting you,” chirped the receptionist, “Please have some coffee and take a seat. Dr. Fenster will be with you shortly.”

Collins scanned the room. One wall was tiled with 16 flat screen TVs, with rotating visuals: photographs of staff working the cryonic tanks, multi-cultural teams looking through microscopes, a silver-haired man at the bottom of a grassy hill catching running grandchildren in his arms, and so on.

In the upper quadrant of the display, a video overview is playing with subtitles:

“... Cryonics labs freeze heads or whole bodies to minus 195 Celsius with anti-crystallization chemicals, but odds of successfully thawing a brain without severe cellular damage, let alone transplanting it were obviously slim…”

“This is not what we do. We have developed a process called we call in situ hibernation.”

The screen shows a man lying on a gurney, being fed intravenously, with staff in dress gowns loading him into like stainless-steel cylinder. “When the time comes, the patient breathes a mixture of Oxygen and Hydrogen Sulfide, as we cool the body to 2 degrees Celsius. This induces a near coma state. The metabolism slows to 10% of normal, but the brain lives…”

Dr. Fenster arrived and stood next to him, enthusiastically announcing into his ear, “We estimate a brain can remain in this state for about 300 years. Greetings! I am Victor Fenster.”

Victor’s appearance came as no surprise: 70-odd years old, but with a chubby pink face, half be-spectacled (reading lenses, he assumed), and a very tattered and dirty lab coat. Collins offered his hand to shake but they both continue to watch the video, “Detective Frank Collins. The video doesn’t show you cutting his head off, does it?”

Dr. Fenster ignored this, “You understand, cryonics essentially kills the patient. It is total bullshit. We keep people alive!”

“In what way? Do they think, feel?”

“Yes. We are certain they remain conscious, though at a very-low metabolic rate. Like sleeping or dreaming.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“I understand you are trying to verify the death certificate of Mr. Haugo. I cannot exactly do that, but I can assure you his body was destroyed 3 years ago. He was one of our first phase 3 patients. I interviewed him extensively and grew to know him very well.”

“You understand, I need to follow leads, so I will need to see the records”. Collins handed him prints from cell phone pictures.

Dr. Fenster’s jaw face froze, “It looks just like him… I mean how he looked.”

“Now that he’s dead or frozen, you mean?”

“I mean before the accident. He lost a leg in the fire and had 3rd degree burns over 95% of his body. This is why agreed to the procedure.”

Collins took that in. “… and is it safe to assume he doesn’t have a twin brother or something?”

Dr. Fenster was distracted, still staring at the photo, and mumbled, “… are you sure this photo is 3 years old? He still has a full head of hair.”


“I mean that even before he died, he had aged some. This picture looks about 5-6 years old.”

“Can I see the records of your… er… patient?”

Still riveted on the photo. “Yes, of course… come with me, I’ll show you the whole operation. You can even see Haugo if you like.”

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