That Celestial Feeling

Context with no memories. Just winged consciousness spiraling to a nonlocal point. Glimmerings of impressions begin to orbit a nebulous, undead center. Nonlinear eras overlap in a web of holographic scenes. Suddenly a kind of gist begins to develop….

A cruel winter has just passed. No, an ice age.

"Welcome back, Mr. Mycroft," a young sounding female voice greeted.

Mycroft. That sound did not register for several seconds until he remembered it was his name. Mycroft blinked his sticky eyes several times. Blurry masses, like opening your eyes under water. Attempting to sit up he discovered he was held down. Not strapped down but swathed in a thick, insulated type of body suit. He could not see any of his own bare skin through what he could only describe as a dark, gossamer plastic suit. This had to be a medical facility. The chamber was sparkling clean with soft white walls and crowded with exotic appliances and equipment Mycroft did not understand. He was lying flat on his back in what appeared to be a cylindrical "bed".

"Congratulations, Mr. Mycroft," the calm, even voice came again, "your revival has been a success. You have survived."

A young brunette woman - looking no older than about twenty-one stood over him and smiled. Expected attire - shiny scrubs, white coat, a hand held device in her small hands in which she was obviously entering data. "My name is Portia," she introduced herself.

"Do you remember much?" Portia suddenly asked.

"Very little."

"Well, that's ok," she declared. "Totally normal. You're cryonic preservation has granted you a second chance!"

In the corner of the "room" Mycroft noticed what he could only describe as a wooden chest with elaborate gold embellishments on top of it. Seeing it Mycroft suddenly recalled he used to wear contact lenses. At present he could see with perfect vision. Was he wearing contacts now or not?

Ah yes, Mycroft had been a radio astronomer in his "past" life as well as a professor at NYU. Too bad his wife Sophia had never agreed to cryonics due to her goddamn Catholic upbringing. A murmuring wave of morass assailed Mycroft all at once, realizing he was alone in whatever this was he had woken up into from his long, frosty nap. For all intents and purposes, Mycroft had always been an atheist throughout his life - or at least an obdurate deist, a non-believer in any institutionalized religion.

Mycroft sighed. Was there any other alternative?

"Whether you realize it or not, you have post traumatic stress," Portia stated. "But overall you're recovering well. We have been monitoring you back to wakefulness for some time now."

Mycroft again tried to sit up. "When are you going to allow me to move?" he inquired a bit peevishly.

"Soon. What's the last thing you can remember?"

Mycroft gasped slightly. He recalled only impressions - comfort, security, something like happiness. Being an old man yet somehow feeling young and foolish. A bundle of scenes and faces, some familiar some not, that didn't seem to make sense. Then something like an anxiety attack and then…nothing.

"It's all still quite nebulous."

"Retrograde amnesia," Portia mused. "You passed on due to a heart attack many years ago."

"A heart attack! Just how long have I been dead?"

"We'll get to that in time," Portia assured and typed in something on her hand held device. "No need to overwhelm yourself at this time." She pointed to that wooden chest Mycroft had spotted minutes earlier. "In a while we're going to let you rummage through your things - your souvenirs from your past, your mnemonics."

With a half groan, half yawn he gazed again at the relic from his lost past. Someplace in his subconscious a black hole kept asking: Why would someone NOT want to live forever? Yes, he had chosen wisely. Mycroft wished he could get up from the seemingly neutron star gravity of his "bed". "So, did they ever discover god?" he abruptly inquired with an undertone of sarcasm.

The girl chuckled almost inaudibly without looking at him. "Consciousness and electromagnetism you mean?"

"Something like that." Mycroft smiled with a surge of fresh hope.

Portia remained silent as she punched in some algorithm on her hand held computer. Mycroft heard the humming of technology about him. At long last he was able to move more freely as the structure of his "bed" changed. Seconds later he was in a sitting position; comfortably seated in a model of a "wheelchair" quite alien to him. Again, Portia pressed some code into her hand held which slowly glided Mycroft and his "chair" directly in front of the wooden trunk. Pushing another button caused a loud electronic "pop"; the wooden chest snapped ajar.

Although he did not recall this exact artifact in particular, he did vaguely recollect something about having keepsakes stored in an ordinary container sometime, somewhere long, long ago. An unexpected distress arrested Mycroft, his heart beginning to race in his ribs. His heart. Palpitations but no panic; he was alright after all. Pandora's Box waited patiently there on the floor for him to disclose.

"Go ahead, open it," Portia instructed flatly.

"I'll take the quantum leap," Mycroft whispered dryly. For some reason this time he paid more attention to his voice - groggy and disoriented but not old and worn out.

Lifting the lid, Mycroft first saw stacks of books - textbooks, ancient photo albums, and a few leather bound volumes he recognized as his own hand written journals. Indeed there they were - his old tomes on plasma cosmology like The Big Bang Never Happened by Eric Lerner and The Electric Sky by Donald E. Scott. Digging a little deeper he found his old collections of articles on topics such as reality augmentation, regenerative therapies, and uploading memories - all subjects related to cryonic preservation. He paged through one of his journals, containing many entries on his life's history as well as his thoughts on astrophysics. A menu from a restaurant named Ponce de Leon's suddenly slipped out of the journal. One of the lunch selections a` la carte had been circled with a red pen:

Deer sausage Poboy, 11 in.

Comes with choice of two sides:

Fries, beans & rice, steamed vegetables, or coleslaw

His mouth watered, shockingly realizing how hungry he really was. A deluge of taste memories: A hot baked potato with salt, pepper, butter, and cheese; a well done tender steak; a cold glass of pinot grigio; char broiled oysters on the half shell; shrimp and lobster tail, chicken & sausage gumbo, Caesar salad, German chocolate cake….

"I'm hungry," Mycroft commented with a smile.

"Of course you are," Portia remarked matter-of-factly. "I think you'll be able to handle a small solid meal soon."

A photo album opened as his hand worked its way through a pile of obsolete video recordings at the bottom of the Ark. He snatched up the album, seeing long forgotten pictures of himself in high school, he and Sophia, and other family portraits of kids and grandchildren. A distinct melancholy and nostalgia gripped him once again while he glared upon images of a once happy, secure, life with no worries. His hand then bumped against something metallic in the chest - a tactile sensation that made his hand shake.

Mycroft pulled out a wind-up musical jewelry box. Engraved on its top lid read: HOME IS IN YOUR HEART. He wound up the little key and opened it. Inside was a wedding photo of Mycroft and Sophia together with his parents. Sophia's red hair and green eyes. The fragile little jewelry box chimed the tune of "You Are My Sunshine". Interestingly, the box was an unmistakable smaller version of the chest. A tangled hierarchy.

"What's the matter?" Portia suddenly asked.

"Nothing," Mycroft said with a yawn. Even after the yawn ended tears continued to glisten his eyes. "That was a wedding present from my mother to us long ago. She used to wear a locket with my dad's picture in it after he died. Her locket used to play that same song when you opened it."

"That'll do for now, sir," Portia stated, placing a hand on his shoulder. She led his attention away from the trunk and remote controlled Mycroft's chair, gently gliding him toward a metal cabinet with what must have been a computer monitor on top.

Portia opened one of the drawers of the cabinet, taking out a large binder. The "binder" was actually another electronic device - a fat notebook or tablet. She manipulated the screen (or screens?) and asked, "I assume you would like to be put in contact with your cryo-patient support group?"

Another spark of hope lit up Mycroft's mood. His memory was returning slowly in fragments. He did now remotely recall signing up for a society or group to assist him at the event of his being revived. More jigsaw pieces. Was Alzheimer's disease somehow involved in his first "death"? He wondered. "Yes, by all means. Please refer me to my support group," he answered.

Portia nodded, quickly did something in the giant "notebook", put it back in the drawer and then shut it.

"Thank you, young lady!" Mycroft beamed.

For the first time during their interaction Portia gave him a saucy smirk. "What makes you think you're older than me?"

"Come again?"

Portia reached once more into one of the cabinet's drawers, producing a large oval mirror, and handed it to the confused Mycroft.

He nearly swooned.

The countenance glaring back at him was not that of a decrepit man but that of a youngster in his twenties - a face not much older than the one he had just relived by reviewing his high school pictures. A flow of revitalizing energy seemed to heal him from the mirror. "Am I seeing correctly?" Mycroft half asked, half cheered. Staring deep into his young eyes he could see that he was not wearing contact lenses.

"Yes, you are," Portia returned. "Thank nanotechnology."

Mycroft had a blurry recollection of reading about nanotechnology, the author K. Eric Drexler in particular. It only took a couple of seconds for the implications to pervade his mind. He would not be an old man alone in this unknown milieu. There would be brand new hopes and dreams, a new career, exciting new romances with young women that had been out of his age group for many, many decades….

"I think I was about ninety-three around the time I died!" Mycroft exclaimed with blissful amazement, still studying himself in the mirror.

"Pity you died so young," Portia began, "I just made a hundred and seventy-one last month."

"Are you for real?"

"Just relax," Portia broke in, "this will all sink in and make sense to you in due time."

Finally lowering the mirror from his face, Mycroft asked," So what happens next?" He was trying hard to control the excitement in his adolescent sounding voice. Squirming in his body suit he was certain now that his body was slender and muscular. A general sensation of sinew and libido now made its presence known throughout his tissues.

"We're getting to that," Portia advised. "First, you get fully stabilized and acquainted with your surroundings . Before too long we'll have to get you re-educated, of course."

"So, I'm going to be a college student again!" Mycroft laughed, pondering all his potential possibilities.

"Something like that." Portia smiled.

"Great, I really appreciate all your help," he said eagerly. "Could I please go outside and get a breath of fresh air? I'm curious as to what the world looks like now."

Portia shot him another sassy grin. "What makes you think you're 'on the world'? Now, please, just relax. There is no need to rush into any of this…."