Grumpy Book Grrrl

a writer and reader

The following is a new entry and continuation of The Crisis of 2050, started last week. (851 words)

Veronica “Roni” Forward was retrieved from the bottom of the gorge and brought back. She was traveling by herself on a road trip, after the death of her mother. Her father had passed from cancer years back and her mother succumbed to obesity just a few months ago. The doctor told her it was a heart attack when he presented her with the urn full of ashes. She had no children and decided to take a road trip to Oregon to visit Mt. Hood. She was a nurse and hoped to find employment there.

It was November and the roads were slippery due to a recent freeze. Roni wasn’t accustomed to driving on winding roads through a canyon, and she was cruising too fast. It was at least a hundred feet or more to the bottom of the canyon. Her car slid off and tumbled over the edge. What a strange life, she thought. I’ll see you soon, Mom and Dad, and then she fainted. She was unconscious when the car finally collided with the earth at the bottom of the gorge.

“Ms. Forward? Can you tell me what your first name is?” She heard a voice speaking through the fog. She opened her eyes and saw a nondescript hospital room.

“My name is Veronica. What has happened?”

“You were in a horrible accident. Crashed your car down a steep ravine. They brought you back. Isn’t that grand?” The nurse smiled beatifically.

“But how? I should have been crushed in the fall.”

A curtain was pulled aside, and a doctor strode in and sat in a rolling chair, pulling it aside Roni’s bed. The nurse left. “Ms. Forward, how are you feeling?”

“Like crap. Wondering how I’m alive.”

“We retrieved you from the crash site. You were dead. We revived you earlier. We had to inject nanotech and metalbone to repair some of the more serious injuries.”

“But why? I didn’t even know this was possible. Why me?”

“Well, you’re a nurse. Citizens in the healthcare industry are some of our most valuable population. We needed you.”

“What if I didn’t want this?”

“Why wouldn’t you? The nanos will extend your life span and you’ll never get the flu again. Isn’t it amazing how we’ve yet to cure that?” The doctor chuckled.

“How much will my life be extended?”

“Well, we’re not sure yet. Estimates place it at twenty to thirty years, but the tech is still in the experimental phase.”

“So, I’m a test subject?”

“You’re alive. I would expect a bit more gratefulness. The cost of your surgery was more than I make in five years! This tech is so advanced, you’ll be moved to Recovery today.”

“How long have I been here?”

“Less than twenty-four hours.”

Roni was stunned. She had died in a devastating wreck and been resurrected by nanobots and metalbone – because she was a nurse? There had to be millions of nurses around the country and the world. Weren’t there? She had never left The Unified States and her family was never involved in politics or watched vidcasts.

“Will this tech alter me, my personality?”

“It hasn’t before. You should be fine. You will probably be healthier, stronger, smarter than you were before! It’s like being upgraded. What an honor.”

Roni would decide how much of an honor it was on her own. “How come you didn’t need my permission for this…procedure?”

“Since The Crisis of 2050, all healthcare professionals are to be preserved at all costs. Doctors, surgeons, nurses…we’ve had to make some tough decisions where psychology and counseling is concerned. You work in operating rooms. This places you in a very different category than, say, a social worker.”

“I was…unaware of exactly how the Crisis had affected society. I guess I just did my job and spent time with my mother and friends and didn’t pay much attention. My error.”

“Yes, well, we have training guides if you are interested in learning more. I would advise it. You will be given a week off with pay and then expected to return to your duties. A transfer to Oregon will be arranged at a further time.”

“How did you know about Oregon? I hadn’t told anyone about that.”

“Well, per protocol, your thoughts were downloaded right after we revived you, just in case the procedure didn’t take.”

“What would have happened if it didn’t take?”

“We would have downloaded them into a spare. They would have processed your memories, including your experiences as a nurse, and assumed your place.”

There was no technology like this known to the public, Roni was certain of it. “What are spares?”

“Extra humans – those in comas or homeless people, illegal immigrants, abortionists, drug addicts, those who refuse to abide by Reform. It’s completely painless and legal, and those people can recover their License for Liberty and become productive members of society again. Thankfully, though, we didn’t lose you.” The doctor patted her hand, rose, and checked some readings on the medical equipment attached to her.

Roni lay in the bed, speechless and overwhelmed, tears welling in her eyes.

Photo by Gerd Altmann/geralt from Pixabay.

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