Become a Fan
By Todd Cheney
Friday, August 29, 2003
Not rated by the Author.
After a near-fatal accident, a man is brought back from the brink of death using cybernetic technology, only to discover that he has been betrayed.
Excerpt from part one...
My name is Jeremy A. Kennerson and I am a cyborg.
Laser wounds will be the death of me. I lay here dying, thinking back on how it all came to this. I know someone will find me later, and retrieve this information from my implants that somehow record my brainwaves. Yes, too many laser wounds and no one to help. I might as well think through the whole thing now, when I have the time. It all started a long time ago. I
was a happier man then, much happier than now at least. I had everything. I had a teenage daughter, a loving wife, a nice home, green grass, and a dog. But all that is gone now. I barely remember my old life. So much has changed. Back then I was hard at work at an engineering firm that was heavily involved in the mining colony projects. I have trouble remembering what my specific duties were. Whenever I try to think about that, it all becomes a hazy blur. I have a feeling this sort of partial amnesia has a lot to do with the damage caused to my brain, but I’ll get into that later.
I regret that I did not cherish every moment of my previous life. It is ironic how we waste our days. We surge ahead through life, never stopping or thinking of how valuable our lives are. We never stop to think that our lives could end at any time. And there I was, surging ahead through my life. My work was very stressful. I remember that much. But I still looked at it as my sanctuary, my home away from home. I lost myself in my work on a regular basis, putting family and friends aside. I regret this as well.
The day my life changed forever was sunny, as much as a day could be sunny in the overcrowded, smoggy streets of Delphi Pi Beta. It was the kind of day I would have liked to spend at a beach on a lake rather than in the driver’s seat of my Diamo model X20 air-car in the midst of heavy traffic on my way to work at Schuter and Sons. I remember clearly watching the lanes move over and under me. The air-cars crawled past the markers on the sides of the buildings that made up the lanes. Every so often, one or the other would dive into the alcove of a building’s landing port and disappear, but I could not do so until I reached my workplace.
The traffic picked up its pace and it looked as if I wouldn’t be late after all. I adjusted my speed to that of traffic and estimated that I would arrive as Schuter and Sons in another five minutes or so at the current speed. If the speed stayed current that is. I never got there. I stopped at the light at the corner of 59th and Main. As I waited for it to go green, I watched the other air-cars and vehicles transfer their altitudes, lanes and headings. They moved in so many directions at once that it had always been hard for me, and for anyone I suppose, to keep track of all of them. The heavy morning rush hour traffic didn’t help, of course. The stories my grandfather told me of cars that were limited to the ground had always amazed me; I never thought that I could live in such a world and like it. Just before the light changed to allow me to continue to my destination, I heard the clamorous sound of several horns going off at once. I had been adjusting the music volume on the touch pad in the dash and looked up in time to see the cause of the commotion. A runaway air-truck with two trailers attached was careening straight towards me! Other air-cars and vehicles in its path were already dodging out of its way. Some barely missed the deadly impact. I quickly forgot about the music and switched the gear from hover to forward.
By pulling the yoke up and to the left I hoped to send myself on a path that would neatly avoid the runaway truck. I thought my heart would explode with its violent pumping. While all this was going on, I noticed the light changed, distracting me. Another air-car in the truck’s path had swerved to the right to avoid the impact. But the truck driver still had to veer to avoid the building to his left. Not seeing my speeding air-car sandwiched between him and the building—in his blind spot I think—he turned right into me.
The last thing I recall before my world went black that day was the blaring of the truck’s horns.
I woke up in a hospital bed. I don’t know how much time actually passed between when I was hit and when I woke up the first time. At first, I thought it must be the next day, or later in the same day. But now I know it must have been months at least. I saw the readouts next to my bed, but they all seemed blurry, somehow far away. Figures in white, at least five or six of them, bent over me, examining. Then I lapsed back into my coma.
I woke up more times after that. Mostly I remember feeling poking and prodding. I could hear voices vaguely, but couldn’t tell what they said. Every time I woke up, the world seemed to be slipping away just that much more. The lights seemed dimmer every time, more white and blurry. I remember being pushed through the hospital halls to several different rooms, then falling back into nothing each time.
Finally, I woke from the coma for good. I don’t know why the powers that be chose for me to wake again, but they did. The white lights I had seen in my lapses back into consciousness were the hospital lights, the doctors and the nurses. Yet, there was another, different light. Brighter than all the rest, it seemed to float in space at the end of a tunnel. I felt moved to walk down the tunnel, to be with the light. Each time something held me back as if my feet were chained. Once I was conscious again, no longer hazed or blurred, I thought that this was finally it, the big one. I was dead. But I had not gone to heaven. The world before me played out in shades of red. I assumed for the first few scary minutes that I had gone to hell instead. I saw shapes move, people going by in the hospital’s hallway. The suns were blazing balls of red through the window and the walls simply blank sheets of a darker red, except for slightly brighter vertical and horizontal lines in them that I had thought were some conduits or live wiring. You would see only see red in hell. Wouldn’t you? But I still felt as any man would feel so I must not have died, at least in my mind.
Some part of me did die that day, a large part. I could feel my limbs yet. I though they were still there. But I soon discovered that I was unable to move anything but my head and my right arm. With my working arm I took inventory of myself. Both legs were gone, cut off just below the hip. My left arm ended just over the elbow. A red shape appeared in the doorway.
When I saw the shape, I stopped my personal inventory. The shape had human form and from the bulges in its chest I thought it must be a woman. She moved closer to me, checked over some readouts on the displays that my red-seeing eyes could no longer read. Then she leaned over to check my pulse.
“What happened?” I attempted to croak out. By some miracle, my voice had been saved. But after not using it for so long, it sounded raspy and hoarse. The nurse jumped back in shock. I repeated my question.
“What happened?” I tried to say again, a little louder this time.
“Excuse me for a minute,” said the nurse finally. Then she ducked out of the room. In a few minutes the nurse returned. Beside her stood another, taller shape. By the height and the way the taller shape walked, I assumed it was a man, a doctor.
"So he’s awake now?” said the doctor to the nurse in an incredulous whisper that I could barely hear. The nurse nodded her head slowly. I couldn’t tell with my sight the way it was, but I could almost sense fear in the way she nodded her head. The doctor moved closer to my bed. He checked over everything the same way the nurse had. “Mr. Kennerson, can you hear me?”
“Yes,” I squeaked. My voice worked, but it sounded like a lot of practice to get it back into shape.
“Mr. Kennerson, my name is Dr. Ames,” said the man matter-of-factly. “Nurse Lisa here tells me you want to know what happened to you. It’s a long story and it’s complicated. I don’t know where to start.”
“The crash. Start there.”
The doctor took a step back. I couldn’t tell if the pause that followed was caused by confusion or something else. Later I reasoned that he may have been trying to recall the exact details of the crash from memory; it had been a long time since then.
Finally, the doctor went on, “Your air-car was crushed by an air-truck owned by ummm…. The Millard…uhh…Cybernetics Research Institute.” He stopped there, seemingly reluctant to continue.
“And?” I urged him.
“You were almost killed. Over sixty percent of your body was un-savable. That included most of the sections in your brain involved in motor skill, both voluntary and involuntary. Jeremy, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’ve been in a deep coma for a very long time.” The doctor said this last in such a serious and deep voice that there was no way I could believe anything else.
“Then you brought me here after the accident, right?”
“That’s right.” Dr. Ames’ voice took on a tone that resounded with pride. “Our medical staff in the emergency room that day was able to keep you alive. You spent several months on life support. And then we got the go-ahead from your next of kin for some special surgeries.”
This made me think. I couldn’t quite recall the name I’d put on that little card I filled out for the government people. I must’ve put down my wife, Jane, as next of kin.
“What surgeries?” I pressed.
“When we got the word it was O.K., we began the process of replacing the sections in your brain that were destroyed with cybernetic implants. These implants allow you to see, although that is limited right now. Your eyes were destroyed beyond repair so they have been replaced with infrared scanners. I’m sorry, but because your retinas were also gone, that’s the only way we could do this for now. They’re connected directly to your optic nerves.”
“Is that it?”
“No.” Dr. Ames sighed. “There were other things as well. But I don’t want to get into all of it with you right now. I’m really busy. Just take a while to chew on this and I’ll be back later on. Press the nurse call button if you need anything. It’s on the right side by your head.”
The doctor left the room then and the nurse followed him. I knew he was right. I did need some time to chew on this. If anything, I also knew that things would never be the same for me again. In the hours that followed, I had plenty of time to think.
Beside my physical inventory, I decided I needed a mental one as well. I began to list the elements of the situation in my mind. I had almost been killed. Despite being in a coma for a long time—I don’t know how long—I had just woken up with some form of sight. Ames said that I must have been a vegetable before these surgeries were done, and I couldn’t help but rejoice in the fact that the decision to save me had been made.
I came back from the brink of death and I knew where that brink was, the white light.
Site: New Revised Edition of Jeremy's Hunt Now Available in Paperback
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|Reviewed by Robert Montesino
|Enjoyed this excerpt very much Todd, an imaginative write that kept my interest throughout.|
|Reviewed by Judith Bailey
|Hello! Enjoyed the reading of this very much. Your writing has a way of grabbing the reader, pulling into the story. No glitches in rhythm.
As to the storyline, I wonder how often something like this has actually happened in our world? Since the movies about the Matrix, I've been wondering how often the storyline changes for US?? Few of us compare what we think we know about history, i.e., the stuff 'everyone knows'...
But that sort of wondering is what makes us writers, isn't it. Yes!
Looking forward to reading more of your work.