The Pixelation of Daphne

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They woke Daphne up with the third wave of Original Cryo’s. It was 2153. About a decade after they had perfected cryogenic stasis–or, more accurately, surviving cryogenic stasis–and all the legal loopholes had been plugged for its full and unrepentant commercial use.

The first wave had been all the celebrities from Ted Williams to Walt Disney. They were all chosen to add to the awe of the new technology. A huge press conference was called. The world gawked in wonder. Some called it marketing, and it worked. The CryoCorp’s stock soared.

The second wave were those that had paid the most for it. Large deposits created credits in books that needed to be closed. Riches and wealth backed by large, century-old payments dictated this.

There was no press conference this time, and the only observers were the accountants.

There was never going to be a third wave but the courts forced it. It was the one loophole they had not thought of: treating clients fairly, irrespective of financial gain. By taking the accounts they had accepted the liabilities, and the credits needed to be closed.

By this stage, CryoCorp was making so much money, it didn’t really care.

And, thus, over a hundred years after she had died, Daphne opened her eyes. It was a budget affair with a multitude of bewildered others before she was handed a bundle of clothes and pushed onto the streets.

***

Daphne could not remember much from the age before she was awoken. She remembered being sad. And darkness. She felt something from back then pulling her. Maybe she had belonged back then?

The CryoCorp doctors had said that some of the Third Wavers had mild brain damage. It was part of the original freezing process and could not be undone. They gave her two white pills to take immediately, told her that if it got worse she should see someone and then moved on to the next patient.

She thought she might have had a daughter once?

At any rate, when Daphne tried to recall the time before, it was mostly just a feeling that came to her: sad. No specifics. Nothing. Just a soft, lingering sorrow that she could neither place nor name but that permeated the shadows that flittered at the back of her mind.

Luckily, getting up to speed with the modern world took up most of her time. Cars flew now while robots did most of the laborious tasks. The nearby planets were being mined while food was engineered, not grown. Everyone now was both richer and poorer, happier and so much more miserable. Thoughts could be beamed across the globe while countries and their presidents bowed before websites and corporations.

Most of the other Third Wavers ended up destitute. With no resources in a world that they neither understood nor had the skills to compete in, most were lost the moment they left CryoCorp’s gates. Bought by bio-collectors on the black market, addicted to dust or turning to prostitution or worse, the Third Wavers were the discards of a previous age now consumed by the current one.

But Daphne was different.

Maybe it was her sorrow or her soft, memorable voice with a lost age’s accent that made her stand out? Maybe it was her ebony skin–most genetic differences had now been bred out, she would later discover–or her striking looks? Maybe it was just good, old fashioned luck?

Whatever it was, a B-grade podcaster had decided to grab her as the Third Wavers were kicked from CryoCorp’s back entrance onto the street. The podcaster had pulled her into his car where they had filmed what would later be called the ‘Third Waver Account‘.

It went viral and, thus, she became the well-paid, unofficial face of the Third Wavers of cryogenic stasis. A curiosity in an age of distraction that trended for a couple of months.

Only much later and after she had been flown, beamed and paid all around the world for interviews, would she realize why. Cryogenic stasis was too expensive for the common man. Not just could they identify with her and were intrigued by her but she was their window into the secret immortality of the rich and wealthy.

The joke was on them. She could never afford to do it again now. This was to be the random, foreign age where she lived and finally died. Again.

Slowly, amidst the glamour and press, while she was briefly trending, she realized that.

And, in the back of her mind and flittering through the shadows left there, her sorrow remained unexplained but present. Unnamed but always there.

***

She was walking down a back alley when she saw it. The advert flickered, curling pixels rotating around space with the words “Remember. Alter. Dream.

Walking inside the shop, the man had smiled warmly.

“You are Daphne the Third Waver,” he had said, “I’ve been studying your generation. It is fascinating! It is an honor to meet you, ma’am. How can I help?”

She had smiled and shook his hand while looking around.

“Oh, we upload you into your own mind here,” he had answered her own question, “Some want to remember, some want to forget, and a few even want to change. With your Third Waver neurological damage, though, I cannot promise anything. There are risks, especially for your type.”

The sadness was tangible in here. It’s weight inexplicable on Daphne’s dainty form, like lead atop an ethereal spirit trapped deep below the oceans.

“I want to remember,” she said simply, nodding firmly, “Please, I understand the risks. Please help me remember.”

***

The headgear slipped stiffly over her face, blocking out the world. Soft light gleamed inside as the optics scanned to her brain’s frequency…

And then she was standing in a room.

The room felt half-finished. Details were sparse. This was obviously the brain damage from her budget, Third Wave Cyogenic stasis. Or the Wakening. Who knew? The details were so vague.

“Mommy?”

The words jolted through her. It felt like lightning to her ears. Her heart pounded in her chest and her throat tightened as a small being materialized before her.

It was her daughter. She knew. She now remembered Sarah! The hugs and kisses, love and loss…

“Mommy, I don’t want to go to bed.”

“Come my dear,” she felt herself say, “It is bedtime. I will tuck you in.”

A little hand curled around hers. It was warm! She felt herself sob as she pulled it–Sarah!–towards some nondescript bed in this half-finished room. Blankets rustled as the light flickered around her, darkness pooling in the corners of the room and slowly creeping forward.

“We all have to sleep sometime,” she said, as tears rolled down her pixelated cheeks and sobs wracked her weightless form, “We all sleep eventually, my dear, but at least you know I will always love you. Always.”

And, just before the darkness swallowed her, she gently kissed Sarah’s pixelated forehead.

***

He sat for a long time and stared at the body. He had turned the screaming monitors off but he still sat there and stared. He wondered what she had seen under there? What mysteries and stories were hidden in her past? What wonders of a bygone age had she visited?

He felt sad but, eventually, he had to move. Eventually, he had to dispose of her body or else he would be at risk.

But, before he did so, he made sure to gently wipe away the lifeless tear that ran down her cold cheek. He felt he owed her that much. He felt his age owed the Third Wavers at least that respect.

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