A blinding light filled the world and then drained away. Immense pain.
As should be the case with any recalcitrant youth, the nightclub remained a last memory: my twenty-eighth birthday celebration. My ears still rang from the loud music, the beat from the speakers continuing to resonate. The smell of the smoke machine and sweat lingered. Melanie had handed me a party drug and my body flushed with joy as I merged with the music and atmosphere.
Now I was here …
A huge cylinder swept over me, like one of those medical machines that scans your body.
Words. Numbers. They flowed over me without meaning.
Eventually, a recorded voice spoke. ‘Happy Birthday, Kry, you’re a seven-f-four. Today is your twenty-eighth birthday.’
I knew these words. They were familiar. Part of me, deep down, knew this was not the first time I’d heard them. An ingrained recollection like a childhood smell.
A storming-sea pain rolled in. Eyes drooped and the world drifted away.
I awoke in a ward, alone. Clinically white and featureless. A soft bed. Warm light filtered in through translucent windows. Next to me was a jug of water. A letter rested against it; it was addressed to me, in my handwriting, with the heading Welcome to the future.
Kry, you have been reset: de-aged seven years. It’s a medical procedure from the future. You are now in it! Welcome, stranger. You will be, like I was, shocked at the changes. People you know will have aged, for you, overnight. Some companies have gone. New phrases have been created. There have been ups and downs with the world economy and health. All I can say is, be prepared to be a stranger in a strange land, although it is home. Technology will always move on and turn up in surprising ways. As will peoples’ behaviour and what they find acceptable.
Written in a different pen: Do not take the blame, it wasn’t your fault.
The last line was squeezed in on the bottom of the page: Many things have changed. I have left notes to benefit you during the next seven years. Search for Æ X A.
To infinity …
Eyes drooped and the world drifted away.
I awoke. The overpowering smell of bleach and cleaning products caused my eyes to water. A set of clothes hung from a delicate frame in the shape of an inverted triangle. I ran my hands over my body. Nothing hurt. The parts that were meant to tingle did.
Hair was there. Longer than I remembered. Maybe it wasn’t impacted by the reset process.
Feet on the ground. Cold tiles. Stand. Aching legs. Step. Step. Step. Halt. Arms to the side. All good.
The clothes were odd. A top barely covered any skin and made me feel awkward, vulnerable. It was lucky I had the body for this. Suspended from the top of the triangle, on a thin cord, was a band. It clipped around my wrist and flashed a series of colours. BIO-ID matched scrolled across the shiny black surface.
Youth had been important to me. Obviously my opinion hadn’t changed over the years since it was still important enough for me to pursue treatment. Liposuction was popular with the overweight, so why shouldn’t resets be popular with the overaged? After all, age was a burden to the individual and to society. Ugly and slow thinking, slow moving, the time for the old was over. It was a blessing to remain a vibrant and attractive contributor, so why shouldn’t I continue revelling in the bloom of youth for as long as possible?
I ran my hands over the silky material, Lycra, hugging my body. There were no mirrors but the glass provided a suitable reflection. It made me smile to see my body wrapped in such futuristic clothing.
My spirits lifted as I walked along the corridor toward the exit.
What had I done in that time?
There were several additions to the letter I’d written to myself.
How many times had I done this?
A picture of me appeared on the wall, looking seven years older. A green box flashed around the information and a door slid open. Bright light flooded in.
A new world.