A second chance.

Annie was thirteen when she decided to undergo euthanasia. Her body would be frozen with her brain and conscious floating in suspended animation, all in the hope of a second chance, a second life.

Annie had grew tired of what she called her half-life. It had been limited to the confines of hospital wards, blood tests and invasive medical treatments. Annie was awake at all hours of the night, unable to sleep due to the extreme side effects of the new drug she was trialling. 

This will work. I know it. 

Her Father kept repeating this meaningless mantra as the Doctor administered the dosage. But Annie could see the doubt in the Doctor’s eyes. And in her Fathers. Her fate was sealed.

Annie would listen to lengthy podcasts during the night with her eyes closed. Drifting in and out of conscious, filling the empty void that stretch out before her. Sometimes she couldn’t tell what was real and what was fiction. Her dying brain choking out narratives and ideas to sustain itself. 

It’s okay if you want to give up. 

Annie would whisper quietly to her brain in the middle of the night. 

I know you are trying, but it’s okay if we die. 

It’s beaten us.

You’ve tried your best.

Annie’s brain didn’t reply. It was preoccupied with processing the poisons the hospital personnel had pumped her body with.

Annie had an inkling about what her brain might reply given the chance.

You know they’d never let us give up without a fight.

*

One night, Annie tuned into the medical science podcast channel. Sometimes she’d double check that it hadn’t swapped over to the science fiction channel. Science was advancing rapidly with paraplegics gaining the ability to walk through robotics and the vision-impared seeing through electronic contact lens, but the cure for her corrupt, cancerous brain seemed non-existent. 

The topic of Cryogenics was heating up (well, not literally). There had been an advancement in the science that was once believed to be only fiction. A Scientist claimed that she had been able to successfully extract and store the conscious of animals. The method was now ready for human subjects. The extraction of conscious was a huge leap for science, and was the missing link for cryonics. 

People dying of terminal illnesses or old age were entering suspended animation in hope of another chance at life in the future. Their consciousnesses would be donated to science – the consequences unclear. 

They were fuelled with hope that future doctors and scientists would discover the cures of illnesses and perhaps even know how to cheat death. It felt like a one in a gazillion chance. 

But Annie wasn’t looking to live forever. She just wanted to wake up in a world where she didn’t feel already dead.

*

Annie was cynical. The life in the hospital and the sleepless nights had aged her. She was thirteen going on three hundred. Annie had been promised many miracle cures. She became jaded quickly following her terminal diagnosis. 

One day when she was eleven, Annie and her Mother were sitting in the park eating chocolate ice-creams. A blonde lady in yoga pants walked over with a sympathetic smile. She began asking questions about Annie’s illness, the evasive ones that even close friends don’t dare to ask. 

Is there an estimated date of when she’ll ‘pass on’?

The woman began droning on about a friend of a friend who had managed to cure their brain cancer by only drinking green juice. 

And it tastes great! 

She thrust the green liquid in Annie’s face.

Take a sip, Sweetie

Annie sipped the juice, and noticed how the lady wiped the mouth mark afterwards. You know, just in case. It could be contagious.

What do you think? Can you feel your body being cleansed?

Annie smiled.

I’d rather die next week then live another five years drinking that disgusting gunk.

Annie kept licking her ice-cream.

The woman was shocked. 

Annie’s Mother smiled. 

It’d be a while since she had.

Annie knew the toll that her illness had taken on the family. Some days it felt like they were waiting for her to hurry and die. Her Brother had told her as much one night when he was drunk.

*

Annie kept a journal filled with her thoughts on being sick, life, and death. She secretly wished it would be published after her death becoming a massive hit, but doubted whether the Australian publishing industry would ever have the balls to do so.

Conscious extraction and cryonics became Annie’s sole focus. It was a long shot, but the slightest chance of waking up cured of her illness in a distant world filled her with hope. She had forgotten what that felt like. 

There was hope that she could live again, properly this time. Hope that she’d kiss a cute girl, or get too drunk on a Tuesday night with a group of friends. Hope that she could travel the world. She wanted to climb a hill, ride a bike, eat gluten, and finish school.

She wanted a second chance and felt like life owed her one.

*

It didn’t take long for things to come together. Annie would have her conscious extracted and her body and brain frozen as soon as possible. Annie was happy to be a test subject. Her entire life felt like an experiment, why not make her death one as well?

Her parents would have screaming matches in the hospital corridor. Her Father still had hope in the doctors of today. Her Mother just wanted Annie to be happy.

Annie was happy to die in order to live again. She also was fine with the fact that she might die to never wake up again. 

Her Father took the decision to the High Court, but they ruled in Annie’s favour. 

Annie’s conscious would be extracted the next day.

It was emotional to say goodbye to her family. Her Father didn’t say a word.

Annie tried to keep the mood light. 

It’s almost like I’m travelling to space or something, I’m just taking a big nap beforehand! 

Maybe I’ll send you a postcard from the future!

The look on her Father’s face was almost enough to change her mind. Maybe she was being ridiculous. Did she really want her brain, her body and her conscious experimented on?

But, there wasn’t time for second guessing now. 

She was part of something bigger now. Something that would alter the world in a way she wouldn’t expect. 

Annie entered suspension. 

*

Annie’s story is the first of three in the greater story of SUSPENSION which will be written as a science-fiction surrealist play. 

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