School: Penicuik High School, Midlothian
“Ladies and Gentlemen, he is walking up onto the platform now. This is the first time it’s ever been attempted.”
Millions are listening on the radio. Yes, the radio. Its 2083 and people still use radio, not regularly. But this is the biggest thing since the Mars landing, and the AVA (Artificial Vessel Agency) don’t want people replicating my machine. So here we are…on the radio.
“He is in the seat now. Mr Atton has dedicated his life to this controversial machine. Many protest it’s uneconomical, unethical and selfish. Mr Atton assured us that no such issues have been overlooked.”
“There is an added pressure on this to work since Mr Atton has recently been diagnosed with an early form of Alzheimer’s so he won’t get a second chance.”
How’d they know about that? Kelly glanced up at me then hurried on her way, blushing furiously. She’s just lucky all these reporters are here.
“Mr Atton…” A woman from Station 4 had stuck a microphone in my face.
“How do you feel about going into this knowing that your mental state may deteriorate further within the machine?”
“Well, if everything goes to plan then that shouldn’t be a problem and my mind shall be suspended in its current state.”
“And what about your family? How do your wife and daughter feel about this?”
“EX-Wife.” I correct her hastily. “Shall we begin?”
She looks dissatisfied but is forced to move on with an air of stroppy toddler about her as I begin my speech.
“Hello everyone. My name, as you already know, is Henry Atton. And I will be the first person to transfer a human mind in to an artificial vessel, allowing them the joys and conveniences of a robotic body…as well as a new life expectancy of…let me see… forever!” The crowd erupts and I wait for them to settle before continuing. “After the transfer, we will run a few tests, as a precaution. However, I am so confident this will work that, despite the risks, I have volunteered myself to be the first person ever to transfer their mind into a new vessel and gain immortality.”
I sit back down and allow my assistant Gloria, who had gotten all dressed up (despite it not being televised), to attach the wires and scanners to my body.
The countdown has started.
This is finally happening!
There are three loud, sharp tones and my life flashes before my eyes.
I can feel my body shaking, but only, I can’t… I could, but it’s sort of fading as it gets more violent...
There is nothing.
Not even black, not even silence.
I always thought nothing would be an abyss of deep black silence that flows infinitely into forever.
But there’s not even that.
I wander how long until the power kicks in? It should’ve happened already, maybe my time perception is different in here. At least we added that computing speed dial. I think it’s fourth on the checklist. I shouldn’t have long to wait, just a few moments. But… if it’s a few moments to them, how long will that be to me? I shouldn’t panic, if I’m at a high computing speed then the stress could overheat the system. Not panicking is harder than it sounds when you are a mere consciousness suspended in nowhere, you can’t take deep breaths, can’t fidget, can’t distract yourself with something else…wait… there’s a sound. A static, droning sound.
I’ve overheated the system. It’s getting louder. I’m going to die. There’s a light flickering in the distance. I don’t want to die. I’m being pulled towards it, or maybe it’s being pulled towards me. No, no, stop!
I don’t want this! The static is pounding my thoughts and the light shrivelling them. Pain is one thing I was trying to escape. But I never imagined that the mind could suffer such assaults. Your physical body should be where pain resides, in messages carried by nerves. Unless… but she said it was a 0.0002% chance... maybe nerves don’t carry the message to give us pain, but to tell our brain to muffle it. Make it STOP!
There is nothing.
A different type of nothing, with white, and silence.
The world’s spinning back into focus, and the static turns to chatter.
“Sorry about that, Dad” said Kelly as she twiddled the latch on my shoulder. “Bit of trouble with the thought patterns not being aligned, or so I’m told.” Ugh, she’s still bitter that I wouldn’t let her work on that! Just as well I gave her the unimportant stuff or we wouldn’t know that about pain.
“You’re right, nerves do muff…” Nothing’s happening… I can’t speak. There’s no sound. I try signalling with my hand that something’s wrong but I can’t do that either. In fact, I can’t move at all. I’m completely paralysed.
“If you could say something please,” says a figure behind a clip board.
I try again, but I just can’t.
“Or lift your arm?” She peers down and Cal peers round from behind a monitor saying, “We’re not picking anything up!”
I heard more people start poking and prodding and clipping contraptions into my circuits. A medic comes over and says that my body is definitely dead.
The chaos is overwhelming and the next few minutes fly by. Then I see Kelly weeping with clipboard lady beside her, and it skids to a halt. She walks over, then looks over to my old body, then into the camera-eyes of my new vessel and says solemnly, “He’s gone… Flip the switch.” Her voice cracks and she runs towards the door. They’re going to stop the power! I’m screaming internally, but nothing happens. Some people bow their heads to the ground. And I’m pulled back away from the light. The murmurs turn to static, then to an unbearable lack of noise and silence alike, and I’m back in the empty abyss.
But even that’s fading now.