It was seven thirty in the morning, Shaun was out for his morning run, the crisp spring air and light breeze made the run a comfortable one. He neared the lake and joined the other morning runners in their circuit around the lake. You had to make sure of when you joined the procession of runners. Some of them ran at a different pace than the others. If you were among those slower runners and joined too soon, you would create a bottleneck; Shaun always tried to join in at the rear of the packs. That way he never had to work that hard. It was on the third circuit of the lake that the trouble started.
As they came around one of the last stand of trees on the lake, one of the runners stumbled and fell to the side. As Shaun passed, the man was holding his side, he assumed the man had cramped up, the front of the pack had set a pretty rapid pace that morning. Moments later another of the runners fell to the side holding his leg. Shaun chuckled a little, it was after all a pretty fast pace today. He expected more to fall to the side or fall back in the pack, as they went around the lake. Shaun never did make the fourth circuit of the lake; neither did any of the other runners. The bullet that tore through his skull was just a blinding flash of light to him.
He woke unable to focus on anything; all he could see was white light. It was slowly fading until lines finally formed that he could start to focus on. “Ceiling tiles; there are ceiling tiles above me,” he thought to himself. He found he couldn’t easily raise his head so he stared at the ceiling as his focus improved. The ceiling was approximately 5.72 feet above him, consisting of 2 foot x 3 foot tiles in an aluminum framework that had been hastily installed, it was slightly inconsistent, there were waves and it varied as much as an inch across the span he could see. The tiles were concealing from the sounds of it, 2 air conditioning ducts and a water line. The discoloration of the tiles indicated it was less than a year old. “Now how the hell would I know all of that?” he wondered as he lay there.
It was almost ten minutes later that he felt the sensation of being touched. He tried to look down and found it too much still for him to raise his head. That was when a foot came into view, followed by a lower leg with a hand on it. It continued to rise until he could tell it was almost straight out from his body. He could make out the shoulder behind the knee with a blue shirt on. The woman belonging to the shoulder had blonde hair, slightly curly with a pink stripe on one side. She raised her head and her mouth dropped open at the sight of him staring at her. She literally dropped the leg and ran off. He listened to her run down a hall; 33.2 feet down it she stopped and started to have a conversation with another woman.
“It’s awake, it looked at me,” she exclaimed in a voice that indicated she was originally from the eastern seaboard, Boston or its suburbs, but she was now acclimated to the west coast, probably Washington or Oregon. The level of strain in the voice was apparent, it denoted disbelief and shock.
“It can’t, we haven’t activated it yet.” A woman answered her. That voice indicated a woman who had to have been from somewhere around London for most of her life but had the same acclimation to the west coast dialog the first one had. It told him both women had been in the area for over ten years.
He heard the second woman get up and the pair started back down the hall to him. One woman was around 115 pounds, wearing rubber soul shoes, probably tennis shoes. The other was almost 150 pounds, with a slight limp, indicating a fracture that had been poorly set probably 20 years prior. She also had rubber soul shoes, but with a harder sound indicating working shoes not tennis shoes. She was also wearing a long jacket, like a doctor’s or a lab assistant’s; it was almost to the knee and was unbuttoned from the sound it was making as she walked.
As the pair entered his room, from his vantage point the blonde woman was 5’2” and the second woman, a dark haired brunette with glasses and an almost sad look in her eyes, was 5’7” if the doorway was a standard size. “What the hell is going on?” he wondered, “How can I know so much?”
The two women walked up to the bed. “Where?” he asked. They froze in place; the Brunette’s blood pressure shot up at least 20 points, and was almost as high as the blonde’s was. She started to sweat profusely. Both the women turned and almost ran from the room, just outside the door and to the right the brunette stopped and spoke into a console of some kind.
“Doctor Magnuson, it’s awake, I mean he’s awake.”
A moment later a woman’s voice answered back. “What do you mean he’s awake, Nancy?”
“He asked where he was.” She replied.
Three minutes and forty two seconds later there was a group of people he assumed were doctors in the room with him.
Mr. Jensen, do you understand me?” A woman with dark red hair was asking him. He continued to stare at the people around him. “Shaun, do you understand me?” The woman asked again.
He tried to speak but couldn’t make the words come out, finally he nodded a little. After a moment he was blinking rapidly as someone on the other side of the bed was flashing a light in his eyes. He managed to croak out “Stop, hurts.”
The man with the light stopped. Shaun looked at him with a little anger in his eyes. He had what used to be called horned-rimmed glasses and was balding. He reminded Shaun of his father to some extent. The man just stared at him. “Can you see me?” He asked.
“Bright,” was all Shaun could manage to say after a moment.
He heard footsteps and the lights in the room dimmed. The Doctor with the red hair was talking again. “It’s simply amazing, there’s no precedent for something like this. He shouldn’t even be alive, let alone speaking.”
“What happened?” he croaked out again. His voice sounded strange to him, it wasn’t his voice, and there was a metallic edge to it. Everything felt a little off to him now that he thought about it. It was a little difficult to think even. His thoughts were all over the place. He had already determined the height and weight of everyone in the room with him. The type of perfume that two of the women doctors were wearing, the deodorants of three more in the room and someone had eaten salmon with a red wine sauce. The male doctor that had shined the light in his eyes had an irregular heartbeat, and another of the doctors had a pacemaker.
“Mr. Jensen, Shaun,” The Doctor with the red hair was speaking to him again. “Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” he managed to croak out again. “Where am I? What happened? I was jogging.”
“Shaun, someone killed you.” She replied with a look of concern in her eyes, trying to gauge his reaction.
“Am I dead?”
“Well, since you seem to be speaking to me, I would say no.” She replied.
“You said someone killed me.”
“You were shot in the head, fifteen years ago. You’ve been in an induced coma since then, they declared you dead eight years ago.”
“Why, who would shoot me?”
“I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to that question.” She said still with that look of concern. “The man who shot you killed six others and wounded another dozen. He killed himself when the police cornered him.”
Shaun didn’t reply for a few moments. “Why do I feel funny, what’s wrong with me?”
“Well to be honest, there was a little problem with your injuries, some complications came up. We had to take steps to save you that might be considered a little radical.” She replied. “However, you seem to have adjusted to them at the moment.”
“What do you mean by complications?”
“Your body couldn’t sustain you any longer, we had to move you.” She replied still watching his face for something.
“What do you mean you had to move me? Why didn’t you just let me die? What is this all about?
“Well if you want the truth, your consciousness was not supposed to have made the transfer. We thought we had something a little different.”
“How do you mean different? And what does my consciousness have to do with it?”
“You know what Shaun, you just lay here and relax, build up your strength. We’ll talk all about this after you’ve settled in a little more. We were expecting to start work with you in a couple of days; apparently you have moved that timetable up a little. We need time to check out how to proceed from this point.” She looked at him again with that look of concern on her face, and then the whole group left him. A couple of minutes later the woman with the blonde hair came back.
“Hello Mr. Jensen, I’m Marie, I’ll be your physical therapist and trainer for the rest of your stay here.” She said with a little smile.
“You can call me Shaun.” He replied. “What do you mean by trainer?”
“After you gain full function of your ‘body’, I have to train you how to use it and all of its abilities.”
“I don’t understand. What abilities?”
“Didn’t they tell you, oh god, I’m sorry I thought they did.” The look on her face was of shock. “I’ll be back in a minute. I need to find out what to do.” She almost bolted from the room. As he lay there thinking about what Marie had said he heard two audible clicks and slight pressure on the leg that Marie had been lifting when he woke up. Padded metal bands were holding down both his legs and his arms. There was another across his chest and still another holding his head in place. That was why he hadn’t been able to raise his head.
“Just what the hell have these people done to me?” he thought to himself. “I don’t think I gave anyone permission for something like this. I’m going to sue the ass off these people when I get out of here.”
It was almost nine minutes and thirty eight seconds later that Marie and the red haired Doctor came back into the room. Neither woman said a word as they moved about the room to one side and behind him. He listened as they moved two carts and a chair around. Then the red haired Doctor came up beside him and picked a control up from the side of the bed. The bed started to rotate until it was facing the back wall of the room.
“Alright Shaun, I guess the cat is out of the bag so you deserve to see what has happened to you over the years you’ve been asleep.” The smile on her face was not one of pity. “Could you please close your eyes until I have you upright?”
He did as she asked and the bed started to rotate up. The Doctor and Marie’s hearts started to race as he was being rotated. Marie was breathing hard he couldn’t tell if it was fear or something else. The bed shuddered to a stop.
“Shaun, what you are about to see is years of research and experimentation that have come together to make you whole again.” The Doctor said. “You can open your eyes now, but please try to remain calm I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.”
He slowly opened his eyes and there in front of him was a mirror with the reflection of an Adonis. The person staring back at him was at least six foot five and physically perfect. Blond hair and tanned, it looked like a surfer fresh from the beach.
“Who the hell is that?” He asked as he watched the lips move.
“That is the new you.” The Doctor replied with some sense of pride in her voice.
He stared at the image in the mirror for a little while and the thoughts came unbidden into his consciousness, “The bands holding me have a fatal flaw, sixteen pounds of lateral pressure will break the hinges and I’ll be free.” He moved his arms outward and the hinges snapped. He reached up and easily removed the chest band, head band, and reached down removing both the bands on his legs. Alarms were going off behind him and there were lights flashing in the hallway behind him. As he stepped down off the bed, both of the women had retreated to the wall, the fear in them was evident, their hearts were both beating over two hundred beats per minute. He heard a door slam open and the sound of six men in heavy armor running down the hall, their boots echoing as they approached. There was the rattling of weapons and he heard the bolts clicking as they all readied their weapons. “They pose no threat,” his mind told him, so he casually walked to the mirror on the wall.
Looking closely at the reflection, he reached out and touched his chest and his arms. He was totally naked and marveled at the person before him. He had never looked this good in all his life, far from it. He remembered what he used to look like before, not quite this tall, lean, almost too thin compared to this body. The men all entered the room and through the reflection he saw the Doctor motion for them to lower their weapons. They all complied but very slowly. “Wise choice,” he said almost absently as he continued to look at the person in the mirror. One of the men started to raise his weapon again, he perceived the threat and before he knew it, he was across the room and had taken the weapon from the man. He bent it in half and handed it back to him. There was a complete silence in the room, only the alarm could be heard. “Well, that was interesting,” he said and turned back to the Doctor and Marie still standing against the wall. “Do you think I could get some clothes? I feel a little awkward at the moment.” He smiled and walked back to the mirror at the back wall. No one had moved, he could feel the absolute fear in the room. “Well if I have to stay this way could you take your clothes off too Marie, at least then those men will have something interesting to stare at. Oh, and you can kill those alarms too, they’re getting a little annoying.”
“Shaun, could you get back on the bed please?” The Doctor asked in a slightly shaky voice.
“I don’t think so right now, you said I’ve been in a coma for fifteen years, I think I’ve laid down long enough for the moment.” He said still smiling. “However I will sit down if it would make you more comfortable. I am not a threat to anyone at this point.” He turned and slowly walked over to where the Doctor and Marie were still standing against the wall. He leaned down and whispered in Marie’s ear, “Sweetie if you don’t want to see me sporting a raging hard on, could you please get me something I can wear.”
Both hers and the Doctors heart rates were returning to normal, although still elevated. The men at the door to the room had also relaxed some, the exception being the man in the hallway who had not entered the room. That man’s heart was racing and he could smell his perspiration from where he was standing. Shaun thought if he jumped the wrong way right now, that man was the only threat to him. He didn’t have a weapon in his hand; he had a box of some kind. Shaun walked back to the mirror and stood there looking at his reflection. He looked lost in thought for a few moments and there was a sudden thought in his mind. “Threat removed, shut down disabled.” He thought about that statement and it slowly traced back to a small black shape in his head. He could almost see the shape in its resting place at the base of his skull. He concentrated a little bit more and could see inside the box, there were circuits in it and a small explosive charge. The circuits were melted together; he didn’t understand how but knew that he had disabled the device. The whole process had taken only 48.992 milliseconds to take place.
“I understand now why you didn’t want the consciousness transferred,” he said. Turning to look at the Doctor he smiled again. “Your box is useless now; I’ve disabled it on my end.”
The Doctor looked at him for a moment before moving away from the wall and walked over to him. “May I ask you a question?”
“Sure, what would you like to know, besides the fact that’s a kickin’ body you got there Doc.” He grinned at her, looking her up and down.
She blushed a little at his comment then continued. “What do you feel right now, I mean do you feel everything?”
“Depends, do you mean my body, or are you questioning my mental health?” He grinned at her. “In regards to my body, which I think I have to thank you for, it’s currently running at forty three percent capacity. Apparently I still have some reservations about the man in the hall with the box; otherwise it would be down around sixteen percent. Sensory functions are running at ninety nine point eight seven percent, which is interesting. Did you know the guy I took the rifle from pissed his pants a little? I can smell it from here. He needs to change his diet, maybe a colonic might help.”
The Doctor sat in the chair that she had moved over by the bed before he broke the restraints. “How much input is there, I mean, how far reaching is it? What else can you tell me about the people in this room or can you go beyond the room.”
“You mean like the two men outside the door at the end of the hall. One of them is really stressed right now. Three of those men at the door have decided I’m somewhat harmless, while the rest think you’re insane sitting down this close to me. Oh, and one of them can’t seem to get over my dick. Marie there is scared to death she’s going to get in trouble for letting the cat out of the bag so to speak. Your lunch was insufficient to keep you at an optimal level of performance. You have to eat more than a cherry Danish and coffee. Does that answer your question?
“Well yes, to some extent it does. But I was a little more curious about how you are feeling. You don’t seem to be very upset considering your circumstances.”
“You mean I should be upset at having been in a coma for fifteen years. My old self died according to you. Now here I am in a body most people would die for, which apparently I did, I have a heightened sense of smell, hearing, sight, and from what I can tell, touch. From what I can perceive at the moment, I am a biomechanical individual, with increased physical strength and mental capacity. I think I could probably tell you anything you wanted to know about this body after a little while. Right now I am still having some problem with the amount of information available to me, so some of my thoughts are still a little hard to sort out of the mess.” He grinned suddenly at her. “Does my butt look big in this outfit?”
Her eyes went immediately to his butt and then to the mirror, she was blushing again. “Marie, can we please get something for Mr. Jensen to put on.”
Marie went over to a cabinet and pulled a gown out of it. Then she walked back over to them, standing a little behind the Doctor. She reached out as far as she could with the gown and Shaun took it from her. She quickly retreated back to the wall and stood there watching the pair.
“You know sweetie, if you’re going to be my trainer, you’ve got to get over yourself.” Shaun said as he put the gown on. He turned his back to the Doctor. “Could you tie me up please dear, I won’t get mad if you stare at my butt again.”
Marie giggled a little at the comment and the Doctor tied the gown in the back. “You know Shaun for someone in your position you seem to be pretty well adjusted at the moment.”
Well Doc, do I have a choice really, I can both accept this situation and try to grow from it, or fight all of you every step of the way, which according to the statistics that keep flashing through my mind regretfully say you and your group would lose. I never really liked making enemies; friends however are hard to come by. I would rather have friends as I go through this metamorphic change in my life. So it seems to be in both our positions to make the best of what we have to work with. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, I do. And in my case I think I’m getting more than I thought I would have. Having you conscious and thinking on your own will make our research much easier. We didn’t get much in the way of information on you when you were delivered to us. What is it you used to do for a living? Did you have any family?”
“An ex-wife who hated my guts, I wasn’t as exciting as she wanted me to be. I had a job as a statistical analyst for the city’s transportation department. Family died while I was in the service, so no living relatives that I know of. Is that what you wanted to know? There is no one to come back to you on this experiment.”
“I guess that is nice to know, but no I was more interested in how your mind works. You seem to be a little too good to be true. I have to assume that is why you read the inputs to your cerebral cortex so easily. The statistical analyst in you is simply reading the data as you always did. It just has a more direct input now. You said you disabled Mr. Anderson’s box from your end. What did you mean by that?”
“There is a small capsule with an explosive charge at the base of my skull; I suppose it could have been detonated with that box if Mr. Anderson decided I was too much of a threat. Some part of my brain runs on a different set of information that I am currently not in complete control of. Apparently, when you constructed me you weren’t expecting me to come along for a ride. I can follow the information trail from it. If you’re interested I already have 86 percent control of that section. The self-preservation mode it has is paramount. I may never get complete control of that part. Is that the reason for the box?”
“Yes it is, but you should know, I didn’t have a choice about installing it. We didn’t know what would happen when we woke you up.”
“Well it’s one hell of an anti-virus program inside of me. As soon as he turned that box on I detected it and disabled it before my mind realized it was there. You should know he’s not very happy at the moment either. He finds me a threat, but hasn’t figured out what to do about me yet.”
The Doctor chuckled a little at that. “He finds everything a threat in one way or another.”
“Well Doc, what are we going to do about it? Like I said I don’t have complete control of this thing yet. If it perceives him a threat I can’t guarantee what would happen right now. I still don’t know how I made it to Mr. Pissy-pants over there and disabled his weapon.”
“Well Shaun that is something you and Marie will have to work on. She will try and teach your body what it can and can’t do and over time we’ll work the rest out.” The Doctor smiled for the first time he was aware of.
“In that case Doc, why don’t you and your friends over there, go and get something to eat.” Shaun smiled at her. “Tell Mr. Anderson out there to drink a little warm milk, it might help with that indigestion he has. Marie if you could stay a couple of minutes, I’d like to ask you a few questions if it’s ok with the Doc.”
“Are you trying to get rid of us?” The Doctor asked.
“Not really get rid of you, I don’t think I can do that right now. I have too many questions, and so do you. However, I think we all need a little bit of a break to calm all of our nerves. If you want to continue this later I would think that would be a better use of all of our time.” He raised his voice a little at that point. “Mr. Anderson, yes I realize we are six stories underground if you want to know. I can hear the elevator outside the hall.”
The Doctor stood up and turned to leave, “Marie, if you could stay a few minutes I would appreciate it.” She walked to the door ushering the others out with her.
Shaun sat down in the chair the Doctor had just vacated, “Damn, that ass is hot Doc, thanks for warming up the seat for me.”
She turned back to him, with a little smile on her face. “You’re welcome Shaun.”
He looked over at Marie, “is she always so serious?”
Marie shrugged, “I think she has to be, to be honest.”
“You realize I know when you lie, right.” He said with a little smirk.
“What I do know is the capabilities are there, as to how you perceive the information is beyond me.” She said.
“Alright then, what exactly can I do to make you relax around me? Your heartbeat is still way too high at the moment. You’re afraid of me still, and we can’t have that if we’re going to work together efficiently.”
“I don’t really know,” she said. “I liked you better when you were a body I was working on to keep fit.”
“Well, trust me, I not going to be back on that stretcher for a little while if I can help it.” He smiled at her. “How about this then, you could simply catch me up on what I’ve missed during my big sleep. Did the north win the civil war?”
Marie finally cracked a little bit of a smile at that. “Now you’re just being silly. That was a really long time ago.”
“Ok, fine, did we land on the moon finally then?”
“Is this the type of shit you’re going to keep spewing? If so I’m going to leave.”
“Fine, did we ever catch that prick Osama Bin Laden then?”
Marie stood there for a minute thinking. “Now that one is more like it, yes we did almost ten years ago. They took him out in a late night raid in Pakistan, at his compound. The war ended a couple of years later.” As Shaun watched her heart rate drop to a normal range, he smiled a little.
“In that case girl, what else has been happening lately?”
“Shaun, could you do me a favor first? Would you stand up and hold your arms out straight?”
He stood up and held both his arms out straight.
“Keep them there for a minute please.” She said and walked up to him. “Don’t let them drop.” She took his arms and hung down raising her legs off the floor. She dangled there for a moment, and then stood back up. Then hung from each arm separately, standing back up she looked up at him. “Damn, I always wondered about that, those muscles are amazing for someone just up from a coma.”
“I’ve got another muscle you can hang from,” He smiled broadly at her raising his eyebrows and winking.
“There isn’t a chance in hell of that happening bucko. Keep that mind out of the gutter and we’ll be fine.” She said grinning up at him.
“Finally, it’s nice to meet you Marie, I’m Shaun Jensen.” He held his hand out and she took it.
“It’s nice to meet you Shaun. Now I think I’ll take your advice and get something to eat. I’ll bring you back something in a little while.” She turned and walked out of the room, stopping at the door she turned back to him. “Are you sure you’re going to be ok for a few minutes?”
He held his arms up and turned in a circle. “There are nine cameras in this room and another sixteen in the hallway’s out there. I think I’ll be just fine.” She turned and walked away.