This is the planned opening chapter to the next novel which has the tentative title “We Built This City”. They are featured in one of the three main threads in the novel. They are a married couple who decided to go into cryogenic suspension in the early 20th century after receiving a fatal dose of radiation in an accident. This chapter details their “arrival” and the subsequent revelation of the nature of their reincarnation. Of course, this is subject to change due to editing.
It was a crisp, cool morning for a walk in the countryside. All around were trees brightly colored with red, yellow and orange leaves. Andrew wasn’t quite sure what he was doing here but he knew he had to get to the end of this dirt road. In fact, he didn’t remember much immediately prior to this moment. He had a fuzzy recollection of who he was but he had no idea why he was out for a stroll. He also had no clue as to who the woman just ahead of him was. He just had a compulsion to walk.
“Hi.”, she said. “Do you know where we are?
“No, I don’t. I’m not completely sure of who I am and how I got here. I’m just following the road.”
“Me too. I heard you behind me so I waited until you caught up. My name is Brandy.”
“Hi Brandy, nice to meet you. You seem familiar to me but I can’t quite place your face.”
Brandy was as tall as he was. She was as fair skinned as an Irish girl, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, and emerald green eyes. Brandy could have easily been a model for a magazine cover. Not the sort of woman Andrew would get the chance to meet, yet he felt he knew her somehow.
“You seem familiar to me too. I mean if I ever knew a GQ model of course!”, complimented Brandy.
“You’re kidding me of course.”
“No, seriously. You’re handsome.”
“Come on. I’m 45, fat as hell, and my sideburns are gray.”
“Have you looked in a mirror lately? Stop being silly. You are not fat, your hair is a solid dark brown, and your teeth are perfect.”
Andrew considered rebuking her but he looked down at his belly and saw that it was gone. His hands were different, they seemed stronger and the nails neatly trimmed. He felt his face and noticed his double chin was missing too.
“Well this is strange, I must be dreaming. This sure isn’t my body.”
“Funny you should say that. I don’t feel right either. How do I look?”
“Brandy, you look stunning.”
“Aww thank you, what’s your name?”
“-drew”, she completed for him.
“Damn, I just had a flash of deja vu.”
“Me too.”, she said and then covered her mouth with one hand.
That. The way she said thank you and the way she covered her mouth was so familiar.
“We have to keep moving Brandy. I am feeling a strong urge to keep walking down the road.”
“Same with me. I think we’re going to the same place.”
They started walking, side by side down the dirt road towards their mysterious destination. For the next half hour they chatted amiably, exclaiming briefly when they would suddenly get a flash of memory or a shared thought. The path lead them downhill for a couple of miles until they reached an intersection. One corner was dominated by a modest one story facility with large glass doors and several vehicles parked out front.
“Maybe we’ll find some answers there?”, said Brandy.
“It’s the first sign of other people since we’ve been here.”
The approached the White and green facility with the large glass doors. Out front was a picnic table and a small water fountain the bubbled noisily. Above the door in gold letters was the words, Capello Institute. The doors were tinted so they could not see inside. They opened them anyways and went inside.
“Andrew, Brandy! So glad you’ve finally arrived. How was your walk?”, said a middle-aged and slightly balding man in a lab coat.
“Umm, it was fine I guess. We were chilly at first but the walk warmed us up.”
“That’s October weather for you in Chernarus. Crisp mornings and warm afternoons. Welcome to Capello Institute. I know the both of you are full of questions, They will be answered in due time.”
“We have a lot of questions Mister….”, said Brandy
“My name is Halle, but you can call me Hal. If you could please hold off on the questions I have to prepare you for your visit with Dr. Thea. If you’ll please follow me through this door.”
Hal led them through the door down a short hallway to a well-furnished office. He directed them to a very plush couch where they sat down. He offered them food and drink which he sat before them on the coffee table.
“Dr. Thea will be here shortly. Please relax until then. I’ll be down the hallway if you need anything else.”
Andrew looked around the room and saw various certificates on the wall from various schools and professional institutions, None he recognized, though. He sipped his glass of coffee and focused on the oak desk. Hmmm, no computer screen. He turned to mention this to Brandy who was also about to speak when the office door opened.
“Please, remain seated.”, said Dr. Thea who held her palms out. She favored them with a smile and then sat down behind her desk.
“I want to know….”
“And you will know very soon, Brandy. I want to tell you why you are here and what this will mean to your future.”
Future? That makes it sound life changing thought Andrew. He wanted to ask how but thought better of it. He felt himself sink into the cushion like he got heavier.
“What I am about to tell you will shock you. To prepare you for this I had your food and drink tainted with medication. You will also not be able to get up from the couch. Do not worry, it is for your own safety.”
She cleared her throat and lifted a tablet from the desktop. Thea looked unsure for a moment and managed to steel herself. Whatever she had to say, it was not going to be comforting news for the people before her.
“In the year 2025 Andrew Jenson and Brandy Jenson, you committed yourselves to cryogenic suspension to await a possible future cure to their radiation poisoning sickness. There was an accident involving a crashed Russian satellite and the both of you were exposed. Unfortunately, the cryogenic procedures back then were not very good. Your bodies were too damaged and your brains could not be thawed without destroying the neural connections in them. However, those same neural connections could be scanned and your memories could be uploaded to storage.”
“So, so… Are these our new bodies?”, asked an excited Andrew.
“In a manner of speaking yes., but not what you think. Uploading a mind to a donor body or into an android body has not been perfected yet. The science to do that is simply not there yet.”
“Androids? How long have we been asleep?”, asked Andrew.
“The current year is 2542 AD. You have been asleep for 517 years.”
Andrew suddenly felt as if a great wave of water washed over him. Blinking, he looked over at Brandy who he now knew as his wife. She was weeping quietly. Be calm he thought. We both knew that we could be gone for a long time. 500 years is longer than he bargained for.The office he was in looked the offices he knew while he was alive so things could not have changed too terribly much. 500 years, well, he could deal with that as the differences made themselves known but there was something else bothering him. If he wasn’t in a donor body or an android body, what is this body he was in right now? Remembering his wife he reached out and held her hand.
“So, Dr. Thea. If we are not in an android body or a human body, what are we in now? It’s can’t be a clone of my original body because I, I mean we, didn’t look like this.”
“You are correct Mr. Jenson. You are currently in an advanced simulation. A virtual world as you may call it. I assume as a 21st-century man you are familiar with those terms?”
“Yes I am”
“You are in the simulation called Simvie Loko. It is an earth sized globe with numerous communities spread across its face. The world is inhabited by human Users who come to visit for hours at a time and by NPCs of various grades who reside her 24/7. The highest grades of NPCs are fully sentient and conscious. They have been granted full status and rights as individuals. You two, are a unique case. Your minds are uploaded brain scans, the only ones known in the world.”
“Why do we look like magazine cover models? Why not like our original selves.?”
“We could have provided you with a version of your old selves but it was decided to give you an appearance you considered desirable. We extracted your personal desires and tastes from your memories and crafted the bodies you are in now.”
“What about our families?”, asked Brandy who had recently stopped sniffling. ”What happened to them?
“Your descendants number in the dozens and still reside in North America. Count yourself as fortunate. A lot has happened the past 517 years.”
“I want to see them!”
“All in good time Mrs. Jenson. We first have to get you settled down into your new lives before you contact your descendants. Please trust me that we will grant you your wish when everything is properly prepared for.”
“Doctor. Why put us in here when they could have waited a few more years and perfected the android bodies?”, asked Andrew.
“You two are the first that have been revived this way. We simply don’t know how well a person could adapt if they are separated from their biological bodies. It is safer and practical to get you acclimated to your new lives if you could experience things in a manner close to your original existence. An android body would put you in the physical world, but the “feeling” of being mechanical may put too much of a strain on your psyche. Think of this as a training ground. The environment is very similar to real life. I think you will enjoy it.”
“So, are you a User of one of these NPCs? I mean, I want to qualify your remark. No disrespect intended.”
“You can’t offend me with basic questions, Andrew.”, said Thea with a smile.”I am both actually. Right now you are talking to a User. If I were to log off then this body you see now would be controlled by my shadow AI. She is essentially me when it comes to my profession. She’s technically not an upload, but an NPC who learns from me.”
“I see. This is all so, mind-boggling.”
“I am sure it is. The both of you need time to absorb this all. I have assigned you to a hostel where the both of you can adapt to your new lives at a relaxed pace. Hal will drive you there and get you checked in.”
“I like that idea. Does that sound good Brandy?”
Brandy rubbed her eyes and nodded, “Yes, I need to go somewhere quiet and think. I just never imagined it would be like this.”
Andrew squeezed his wife’s hands again and felt lighter again. He then realized the gravity was lighter than before. Perhaps Thea was afraid they would freak out and get violent when they heard the shocking news. He was thankful he didn’t freak out. The news was overwhelming but a part of him grasped the whole meaning and that excited him. This could actually be something better than his previous life.