Inside the Lines

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In the near future, the fountain of youth exists for the fortunate winners. Carl Mattison is one such person.

Scifi / Drama
Joshua (J. E.) Dyer
Age Rating:

A short story

The time had come. Carl sat in his car, wrenching the steering wheel until his wrinkled knuckles went white. Beyond the hissing rain on his windshield, loomed the massive complex of DynaCorp.

It’s what I wanted. His chokehold on the wheel loosened. What we both wanted. He let what remained of his stellar gray stare, as Gina always called it, survey the sleek lifelessness of the compound.

“How could something so cold hold the fountain of eternal life inside?”

Shall I turn on the radio, Mr. Mattison?

Carl grumbled. “No. Thanks, Milo.”

Of course, sir, his car responded. Will you be alighting?

Why couldn’t GM have programmed these damned things to just say ‘exiting’?

He released a chestful of stress. “Yes, Milo. I will.”

His sedan’s engine shut off, and the door popped open with a cheerful ding. Carl huddled his blue wool jacket closer and leaned into the whipping rain.

Unnatural. This whole notion made little sense to the retired engineer. An entire existence reduced to a string of code. What a load of shit.

“Hell,” he said, shaking a soggy shoe over the puddle. “Italian leather. Gina will have my ass.”

He shook his head and smiled. The eight months since he and his wife had received their winning notices had flown by in a blur.

After the negative prognosis from his Predictive Cardiologist, the DynaCorp lottery didn’t sound half bad. Carl strode through the automated doors and up to the reception desk.

“Name, sir?” the young brunette behind the sleek black desk said. “Mattison. My wife, Gina, already --”

She lifted a slender arm toward the bank of elevators to their left. “They’re waiting for you upstairs, Mr. Mattison.”

He bobbed his head of white hair and shuffled toward an elevator. Once inside the lab, a young scientist greeted him. “Strip to your shorts,” the coppertop man instructed, “and set your belongings in these.”

Carl took the clear bags and went into a changing room. Moments later, he emerged in nothing but his Steelers shorts.

“Ah,” coppertop said. “Right this way.”

Carl forced his arthritic joints to propel his body into the cavernous prep room. “Gina?” His eyes rested on his wife’s motionless body.

She drifted peacefully in a clear solution within her cryogenic capsule.

“We’ll just verify a few things first,” coppertop said, wiping a red curl from his eyes. “Name?”

“Carl Mattison.”

Red clacked on his virtual keyboard. “Lottery number, XCR-211-4VR7. Predictive Cardiology: ninety-nine percent chance of lethal stroke in six months.”

Carl nodded.

“Okay,” Red said. “Lay in this capsule, and we’ll have you back together with your wife soon.”

It didn’t take long for the warm solution to engulf his body. The aches, gone. Blue lights pulsed within. His consciousness slipped into a void of darkness and static. Somewhere from beyond the black, a shifting silhouette. The streaming binary coalesced into Gina’s youthful form. Her phantom arms embraced his, and they fell into the infinite memory banks of the DynaCorp servers.

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