by Sue Cross
a cup of strong, sweet tea
I woke up on a golden September morning feeling groggy and disorientated. Sun was streaming through a sparkling window and outside I could see trees and a clear blue sky. The air around me had an aroma of lavender, together with a hint of antiseptic. In the background I heard a persistence beep, beep, beep.
“Where am I?” I asked the person hovering over me. She had purple hair and was wearing a blue loose fitting top with matching trousers and had an efficient air. I had never seen her before.
“You’re in the Eternal Clinic. The doctor will be here shortly. Would you like a cup of tea?”
I viewed the various wires that were attached to me and, although the thought of a cup of tea was tempting, I decided that it would prove too much of a challenge to drink it.
Before I had time to decline her kind offer, the doctor arrived as promised. He was young with dark hair and smiled broadly as if thrilled to see me. Like the purple-haired lady, I had never set eyes on him before.
“I’m Doctor Brown. How are you feeling?” he asked as he checked various impressive looking monitors.
An apt name, I thought, as his eyes were the colour of chocolate. I answered his question “Not bad – a bit cold. What day is it?”
“It’s Monday. Nurse – turn the heating up please and get Mrs Robins another quilt.”
The nurse disappeared the Doctor Brown proceeded to detach me from the myriad monitors. I regretted not having that cup of tea and wondered what I was doing in this establishment. Eternal Clinic was a strange name for a hospital, I thought. What was I doing here? Had I had a facelift? And why was I so cold?
A different nurse came into the room bearing a quilt with a pristine white cover. She smiled and tucked me up in a comforting way as if I was a child.
I thanked the nurse before turning to the doctor, “How long have I been asleep?” I asked.
He looked at some notes at the end of the bed before answering, “Er – sixty years give a day or two.”
I sat bolt upright, my heart pounding. Had I heard him right? “Did you say sixty hours? Have I been in a coma? Did I have an accident?”
His serious demeanour left him for a moment and he allowed himself a little chuckle.
“No, you’ve not been in a coma. You decided to be frozen and today is the day that you’ve been resuscitated.”
I’ve never been good at maths but even I could work out the fact that I was now a hundred years old.
The door opened and the first nurse came in bearing a tray of food - scrambled eggs on toast and a mug of tea. Devoid of my encumbering wires, I tucked in. It was delicious. The doctor had left me to enjoy my meal and digest the news of my freezing. It was all rather bizarre.
The nurse told me that her name was Naomi and showed me a buzzer. “Use this if you need anything,” she announced before leaving me to ponder the strange state of affairs in which I found myself.
I decided that I must have defrosted as I was no longer cold and kicked the quilts off my bed. Gazing round the room with its ice-blue coloured walls, I spotted a calendar with today’s date 4th September 2045. Why had I decided to be frozen and why had I chosen to be resuscitated today? Why not next week? Why not next year?
There was a large television screen on the wall in front of me. Reaching for the buzzer on my bedside table, I pressed it and waited.
Naomi was with me in a trice.
“Could you show me how to work the television and may I have a mirror, please.”
Opening the drawer of my bedside table, she retrieved a mirror and was about to leave when I reminded her about the television.
“Just speak to it and it will come on.” She looked at me as if I was a rare specimen and, I suppose, I was.
Feeling foolish, I looked at the television and in my clearest voice, commanded it to start. In an instant it came on. It was the good old BBC news. So, some things did not change. But, I wondered what ravages the deep freeze had done to my face and braced myself for the worst. Knowing that I was a hundred, I did not relish what my image would reveal.
I took a deep breath and looked into the mirror. A fairly youthful woman with reddish hair and a pale complexion stared back at me. I wondered if I had actually died and was in that state where I was floating around somewhere near the ceiling and viewing the whole scenario. Or was I perhaps dreaming? Just to check, I pinched myself so hard that I winced.
At that moment the newscaster on the television spoke out. “On this memorable day many across the world will be resuscitated. Sixty years ago a ground-breaking secret experiment took place when brave volunteers chose to be frozen. Many had incurable diseases and hoped that a cure would be found when they were woken up.” The reporter continued on this earth-shattering theme for some time. I spoke sharply to the journalist on the wall, “Turn off.” And, as if by magic, all was silent. So, I’m one of God’s Frozen People, I thought.
Doctor Brown came back into the room, still looking thrilled to see me.
“I’ve seen the news. I’m one of those volunteers aren’t I?”
He sat on the end of the bed. “Yes,” he said and continued without irony. “And the good news is that we have now found a cure for cancer. You will start your treatment soon. You could live to be a hundred.”
About the author
Sue Cross has published two novels, Tea at Sam’s and the sequel, Making Scents. Her latest work is a compilation of short stories titled Stories to Go, ninety-three very short stories. Please visit her on www.suecross.com