100% Fatal

The steak in the table across from mine looks as succulent as I always remembered it to be. The lady who ordered it moves her utensils with precision and the knife cuts through it with almost unreal ease. Red juices flow from it, and my saliva follows suit. There’s actual saliva dripping. I quickly clean myself and notice how fast the lady is eating, barely chewing her meat at all. I then realize I’m staring. I look down and try to make sense of what’s in front of me. The restaurant, which looks somewhat elegant in its dim lighting and monochromatic tones, is full of patrons sitting alone, looking mesmerized down at their own tables. There is a pattern of dim colored lights in mine, like Christmas lights but smaller and less brilliant. They’re not lightbulbs either, and look more as if they were part of the table itself.

Ready to order? Asks the waiter, startling me from behind. That I say loudly and point directly at the lady with the steak, as I am still struggling to form words or regulate my volume. This garners me some looks, including the lady in front of me of course. Did… you see the menu? He replies, casually pointing at the lights on the table. I nod effusively, even though I didn’t, and gesture towards the lady again, this time trying to be more subtle. He nods back at me with a smile and leaves.

I have to clean my mouth again. I must have woken up less than two days ago and I’m still regaining full motor control. The doctor told me not to leave the lab, but my stomach was about to implode and he had refused to tell me much, if anything at all. Leaving the lab shocked me more than I had expected. I can’t be sure if I’m still in Chicago, if they brought me back to Kansas City or if I’m a different country, heck, a different planet for that matter. One thing is for sure, I have been sleeping for far longer than I had anticipated. My family is most likely dead at this point, as they didn’t approve of the method to begin with and I’m sure they wouldn’t do it for themselves. The whole world looks strange to me now and I wonder if I made the right choice to begin with.

Enjoy your lunch sir

The waiter sneaks from behind again, it took him almost no time to bring the food. He leaves before I can even react to him leaving me the plate, as fast as he had so quickly arrived. My stomach grumbles. I cut a piece and I can’t help but to start shaking, my hands feel like I have Parkinson. I calm myself enough to take a bite, anxious to rejoice in a familiar flavor. But then, nothing. The piece of meat dissolves almost as I put it in my mouth, the taste basically non-existent. I take another bite, wary of my own stunted senses. Nothing. This is not steak.

The lady across from me stands up, takes what looks like a transparent foldable phone from a breast pocket I hadn’t noticed before, and taps the side of her table. She then leaves unceremoniously, acknowledging no one. In turn, nobody seems to notice this or care about it, the waiter, the only staff I had encounter so far, nowhere to be found. Then I realize, I didn’t think of how I would pay for this. Not that the food was worth its price, whatever it may be. Lightheaded and angry I decide to leave without paying. Slow as I become but trying my best to move fast, I jump out of the door and try running, but my legs are still weak and I fall straight on my face. I didn’t move far at all. Still on the floor I turn around alarmed, the waiter standing right behind me, looking at my defeated face. Instead of acting upon my vulnerability, he just turns back around and goes back to the restaurant.

Mom, who is that man?

A little girl asks while I’m still down. Her mom grabs her closer and in a swift move she takes a device similar to the lady’s from the restaurant and moves it around me. She looks somewhat familiar, though I can’t be place where I know her from. He’s no one honey. The phone is back in her pocket and she’s rushing the kid, trying to move away from me fast. Wait, I yell, or at least try to. Wait! More saliva starts dripping from my mouth, I try to get up but my legs are still fragile. She’s gone by the time I fully stand up. I know for a fact I know her, but I cannot, for the life of me, put a finger on where I know her from. Could anyone I know still be alive? When exactly is this anyway? I can’t really ask anyone and risk looking crazier than I already do. There’s virtually no people around me anyways.

I move away from the restaurant in the direction I came from. The lab was just two blocks away, or at least that’s what I remember. The restaurant was the first thing I noticed and my hunger demanded me to stop there. Now I feel totally satiated, even if I ate almost nothing at all. In retrospect, I don’t know if I am actually going back to the lab, I was dizzy and disoriented when I first escaped from it. I know it’s underground because climbing the stairs was impossibly hard in my state. Still, I keep walking, afraid of losing control of my limbs again if I stop doing so. Before I know it, I am walking in the middle of the road.

Please, move away from the vehicle pathway.

There’s four people inside the car, all looking down at screens of varied sizes that look to be attached to their arms. The car looks like a perfect squircle, a boxed shape with edges so well rounded it is hard to tell where they even start. I can’t see the wheels on it. The top is almost all glass, can’t really tell the doors from the windows, and the bottom is a painfully plain white that goes down until it meets the road.

Please, move away from the vehicle pathway.

The voice comes from the car, not the passengers, though three of them end up looking up when they hear the command a second time. They look at me as if I were a freak. My legs shake as I finally move away and towards what I have, correctly it seems, assumed to be the sidewalk. This too is strange. It is a mute mixture of gray silver and blue, and though it feels like concrete, it looks like its made of plastic. I hadn’t noticed before but now I see very small lights around my feet, similar to the ones on the restaurant’s table. I feel that they are following me as I move, but there are also a few lights that seem to always be in front of me. I decide to follow those. They move in a straight line on the sidewalk until they abruptly turn left to hit a wall. The light turns bright green for half a second and then turns into an stylized font that reads St. Clarence’s for a moment and then disappears again. Was that an ad? As I look up I notice what seems to be a storefront, a single tall window showing an unclothed genderless mannequin. The store seems to occupy the first floor of a tall building, though I don’t see a door anywhere near. Other than the mannequin there doesn’t seem to be anything in the store, or at least nothing I can see. There is no lighting inside it, and the sky itself is dark, even if the waiter claims it is lunch time. When I look back at the mannequin it is now wearing what looks like a one piece jumpsuit, dark blue with purple sleeves and greenish pants with fluffy ankles. In its hands I notice the skin of the doll changed too, from its robotic silver to a lightly tanned white. The hands are swollen and I anticipate the worst part. I look up and confirm it, the doll has my face. A swollen, almost unrecognizable face, somehow managing to smile confidently even though I’m surely not smiling myself. The people in the car were right, I’m a fucking freak.

I stumble back into the street and almost make it to the vehicle pathway again. My knees are shaking. A man is walking towards me but stops and looks at the lights around his feet. He pulls up the device everyone seems to have from his breast pocket and wraps it around his forearm, then points to the ground and swipes his hand. As he gets closer I notice there aren’t lights around him anymore.

Excuse me. I try to say, but comes off softly. Sir, excuse me I yell this time. He stops on his tracks and shoots me a disdainful look. There’s saliva coming out of my mouth, I can feel it. I struggle to swallow some and trying not to make a mess I ask where are we? He looks around incredulous, as if this were a joke. He then says 37th street. Helpful. Where are we? I ask again, yelling loudly as the man starts walking away from me and I struggle to keep up. 37th street he says again this time making a swift move with his device, pointing at the ground first and then to the sky. A thin street post materializes from the ground and it reads 37th street on the top. In a second, the post disappears again and I realize the man is already about ten or fifteen feet away from me.

I drop to my knees. I don’t understand anything around me. I don’t know where I am, if I know anyone here anymore. Who was that woman after all? I want to cry but nothing comes out of my swollen eyes. I am frozen, kneeling on the ground and ready to go. Hey comes a voice from behind. I turn around and see him, it’s the doctor. The last thing I see is his foot, fast approaching my face.

I come to my senses when I hear loud coughing behind me. My head is still hurting. The cough comes from the doctor, he is holding a handkerchief with blood on it. He sees me and comes back to move me. I am in a wheelchair, and we move through a hall I hadn’t seen before to an operating room. On our way there I notice there is a body laying on the ground, its back to us. It seems to be a man about my height and with dark brown hair. I don’t know if I am shaking as I can’t really feel my body, but I can feel the fear intensify in me. We stop next to a hospital bed and he struggles to move me from the chair to the bed. He starts coughing again.

I’m sorry about that, it’s just that I am really sick. He says wiping some more blood with the handkerchief. I’m sorry about hitting you too he continues as he prepares something on the side but I think it worked for the best for us. I had to inject you with an anti-inflammatory and it helped with your face as well. He is sitting in a rolling chair and comes near me, bringing down a blinding light like the ones dentists use. Yeah, looking a lot better, you might actually be ready now. He starts coughing again.

He rolls back away from me, the cough is very bad this time around and he spits blood in the ground. When he rolled back, he left the light hanging next to me, pointing away from my eyes, meaning I can see a bit better now. I see my reflection in the silver edge of the light. He’s right, my face is less swollen. After so long, I had honestly forgotten how I looked. My face is still somewhat deformed, but now I can see my dark brown hair, small black eyes and a still swollen but aquiline looking nose. Sorry I keep doing this man, but I have a pretty bad case of lung cancer. Come to think about it, I look a lot like the doctor. Doctors say I don’t have much time left, but I think I’ll survive, what do you think? He rolls his chair closer to me and looks at me as if he was really asking a question. You’ve been through this before, haven’t you? I remember I had been diagnosed with the same thing. I was once a terminal patient too. How did you make it?

His question seems genuine, he stands there waiting. In retrospect, I don’t remember exactly what happened. As far as I can tell I entered an experimental treatment where I would be cryogenically frozen and sometime in the future they would do something to bring me back to life. That is the last I remember, and how I thought the guy in front of me would be the doctor to bring me back. Frozen I say. It takes me immense effort to say but a word, but for some reason I feel I owe him an explanation. Are you sure? He asks. I’m not. I never got the details of the procedure, but it had something to do with transferring my frozen brain once they had the means to bring me back. Being the doctor I expected him to know about this, presumably he was de-freezing me. He starts coughing again.

I truly apologize. This sort of comes with age. He couldn’t be any more than thirty. I must have made a face because he looks at me with a curious smile now. I know right? But really, I’m 143 years old. I shake my head instinctively in incredulity. You really don’t remember how you survived your bout with cancer, do you? The doctor rolls back and plays around with him some syringes. All my memories are hazy, I can’t remember any of the details of the procedure anymore.

Daddy, daddy, where are you?

A disembodied voice of a little girl comes from what sounds like upstairs. A quick smile forms in the doctor’s face. A woman’s voice follows Robert, are you here? We’re running late. I’m sure she’s not talking to me. The smile fades from the doctor’s face and a look of disappointment quickly replaces it. I’ll be there in a minute. The voices sound awfully familiar, but I’m too confused to pin them down.

You were starting to look so good, says the doctor, as he caresses my face with one hand, a syringe in the other. The light is off now. I guess I’ll have to start over again. That’s why the lady seemed so familiar. She’s the same woman that is now upstairs. The doctor injects a liquid in my arm and the memories start flooding my head as the white liquid floods my veins. That’s when I realize, this is not the first time I die.

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