By @S F Brooke
There were three options after the war. One: go back to your family, if you had any left. Two: re-enlist. Then there was this…option number three. Something the scientists called Cryo Stasis. Camden Gillis stood looking at the pamphlet, the sign-up sheet with barely five names on it. It was a week after the war, the newspaper was calling it The Great War.
Gillis stood still in his fatigues, having just gotten back from his enlistment at the front lines. His civvies were still packed in the duffel bag at his feet. The war had taken everything from him. His family, his gal back home, the future he planned when he’d be drafted by America’s call. He’d been just a boy in Chicago, Illinois. He was a normal kid helping his pop get the store up and running, now he was a war-hardened soldier that had committed acts to protect his nation and country. His pops had just barely made the cut-off, being in his forties he was deemed too old to serve. Gillis had gone in his place. Only to find out barely a few months later his pops had died of a heart attack while manning their family store. His mother had passed away when he was young and his sister, Sarah, was married with kids. They didn’t need the burden of a soldier reliving memories of killing and shooting in their home. So…here Gillis was at option three.
With a sigh of resignation and defeat, he signed his name in his chicken scratch and moved to the side of the line. The hustle-bustle of the deployment office suddenly zoned back in, making him realize that he had no one to write home to. No one to tell that he’d arrived from France missing a pure conscience and clean hands. All around him he noticed families reuniting, wives and husbands, gals with their men kissing and hugging as they went off to make their lives happier together.
“What’s this kinda newfangled nonsense that these hippy scientists are talking about?” A voice spoke next to Gillis. Turning he saw that it was a soldier from his platoon, Markus McVey. In Markus’s hand was one of the pamphlets explaining the stasis medically and scientifically.
Gillis shook his head. “Not a clue, pal. Didn’t have any other options.” His Chicago accent was still noticeable even after all these months abroad.
Markus sighed, throwing the paper in the trash. “Good enough for me.” He turned and Gillis saw him sign up for the cryostasis. Markus slapped Gillis on the back. “It’s 1918. See you in the future, buddy.” With that, he headed to the bus where the recruits for the program were going to be driven to the facility.
Gillis took one more look at the era of 1918 and then he too went to join the other men on the bus.
At the facility, there were doctors in stark white lab coats and many had clipboards as nurses took the soldiers’ vitals, deeming them worthy to go into the future. Markus, Gillis, and three other men were qualified to go through with the procedure, the others were turned away for medical and mental reasons.
Gillis had his shirt off and thin pants on his lower half, the nurse in front of him taking a few vials of blood. He watched mesmerized as more of his blood left him, even after all the pints that had splattered the ground in the war.
“Do you know when you want to wake up if the cryostasis works?” She asked, her brown eyes looking into his grey ones.
Gillis shook his head, “Wake me up when you feel like it.”
The nurse giggled, thinking he was joking but when she saw his face she went solemn. She cleared her throat and made him follow her to the area where they put the men into the chambers. Gillis tilted his head at the machine. It looked like a coffin, the lid of the box held an opaque window and the inside was cushioned like a bed. Pillow included. There were small blue lights inside the box, giving the inside a calming look. Gillis could feel his heart beating in his throat. Ba-dump-bump-thump-badump. He wasn’t calm at all.
“It’s alright, Mr. Gillis. You’ll be given a sedative to enter the cryosleep.” The nurse, her name tag read Margret, said.
Gillis nodded absentmindedly as he watched several other pairs of doctors and nurses settle the soldiers into the chambers.
“Ready?” Nurse Margret asked, getting the sedative ready.
“Not even close,” Gillis answered honestly as he settled himself into the box. He shivered slightly at the chilling temperature his bare feet and chest encountered. He watched as the nurse put in an IV and then pressed the plunger on the shot full of the sedative.
She smiled at him as he memorized her face in case it was the last thing he saw. Gillis smiled back at the brunette with pale pink lipstick, it wasn’t a bad face to look at. “See ya soon, Doll.”
Margret giggled again and gently closed the lid, encasing Gillis in the now dark blue lighting. He wiggled a little, trying to get comfortable, and cracked his neck from side to side. He took in a deep breath. Feeling his heart in his throat as the chamber was lowered horizontally. His eyes started flittering as the sedative took over. Ba-dump-bump-thump-ba-
Gillis was brought back to consciousness in what felt like minutes, he blinked into the bright blue lights. Inhaling the cold air, it woke up his senses and he realized that the lid of his chamber was opening. He felt the machine rise up and once again he was vertical.
Opening the door, he stared at the person in front of him. It was a woman, brown hair, and pink lipstick. The only difference was that she was wearing a lab coat, not a nurse’s uniform.
“Margaret?” He asked, voice rough from sleep or the sedative.
The woman smiled but shook her head. “Good day, Mr. Gillis. My name is Marie and I’m the doctor in charge of your awakening. Margaret Cleveland was my great-great-grandmother.”
Gillis’s eyebrows rose to a significant height at that. “What year is it?”
Marie spread her arms. “Welcome to the year 2020.”
Gillis marveled at the information for a moment. He did the quick math in his head and was startled at the realization that he’d been in stasis for one hundred and two years.
“What’s happened since I was put in?” He asked after a moment to adjust to the revelation.
“Since 1918? Or just this year?” Marie asked, looking down at her clipboard before moving closer and undoing the IV.
“I guess….just this year,” Gillis suggested.
Marie bit her lip, “Well…let’s see.” She started ticking things off on her fingers. “We encountered a global pandemic,”
“Like the plague?”
“Part of the world was on fire, we nearly started World War III-”
“WWIII?!” Gillis asked, shocked beyond comprehension.
Marie nodded. “Yep, and that’s just the beginning. During the first few months our the country tried to get our president impeached, the UK withdrew from the European Union, several icons in sports, movies, and music died. We had national lockdown, global shutdowns, and our Summer Olympics were postponed.” She paused, her face looking slightly embarrassed. “Should I continue?”
Gillis remained quiet for a few minutes, his hand coming up to touch his temple before shaking his head. Face in disbelief. “Well, shoot. Just put me back in.”