Mel awoke in a cold sweat to her alarm going off, she had the nightmare again. She rolled herself out of bed and made her way to the bathroom for a shower, she had college and work today. The warm water in the shower reminded her of her dreams. Every time she had the dream it was the same. She was in the dark and in warm water and she could not move or see anything.
She is a student at the local college. After dressing she grabbed a quick meal of toast and orange juice and hurried out the door with her backpack.
School was the same old thing for her today. She was just about to graduate with a double major in Chemistry and Microbiology.
It was in her biology lab class that she had the strangest feeling that there were people in the lab staring at her the whole time. She had had this feeling before, like everyone does, but this time it was different. There were at least three or four people this time. Strange as it was she shrugged it off as some weird thing that just happens. Until it happened again later that evening at her job. She worked at a local grocery store to help put her through college. This time she was sure that it was happening.
“People are dying! This is not working fast enough, it’s only on stage two” Raymond said.
“We are pushing it as fast as it can go” his colleague said. “Give it time we will get there. How about your team?”
“The team is the same, every time we do what we think we should be doing the virus responds differently. It is unlike anything ever seen before. We need Dr. Robinson back, she was on to something before it happened.”
Years earlier the VT107 virus began spreading throughout the earth faster than anything had before. After billions had died survivors and scientists migrated to colder climates, because virus replication, mutation and infection rates were dramatically decreased. The virus is constantly mutating and the world fears that it will gain resistance to the cold and continue to spread. Scientists in all the major countries of the world have set up research laboratories north of the Arctic Circle. Now any travel above and below the Artic Circle is prohibited and it is likewise with Antarctica and the southern hemisphere.
Mel readied for bed, flipped the covers open and climbed in. Like all other nights since the bad dreams had begun she fought sleep, afraid of what would come; the occasional dream of the still darkness, or a dream that is normal and erratic? After an hour fighting she gave in and fell asleep. Her fears were confirmed. She was in water and could not see anything, dreaming. Only this time she felt a shock like her whole body had been put into a light socket. She felt hands all over her body and lips on hers. She coughed and took a deep breath and woke up. Only this time she was not in her bedroom inside her apartment. She was lying on cold tile floor. Her arms were free, her body wet, but not submerged in water. There was something over her eyes. She heard a male voice, “she is stable, go get her some clothes.” She felt her body with her hands trembling and she was completely naked and shivering. She reached up for what was covering her eyes and heard the male voice say, “No, don’t. It will hurt, you haven’t seen a real light source for a long time. Dim the lights in here, we are removing her ocular stimulators.” A hand slowly lifted off what was on her eyes. Her eyes now adjusting to the dim light of room she was in, she looked up and saw the dark silhouette of a man. He took his lab coat off and laid it over her and said, “You are ok. Don’t try to get up we will help you.”
“But I am cold,” Mel said.
“We have some warm clothes coming for you,” the male voice said.
“I want to get up.”
The man put his arm around her and helped her to her feet. She felt weak and could barely stand without his help. She looked up at the man helping her. He said, “I am Dr. Stephens, but you can call me Ron.”
“I am Mel Robinson.” She said faintly.
“I know who you are Doc…um…Miss Robinson. We know everything about you.”
“I am tired, I want to sleep, can I sleep?” she said in a strained voice.
“No, we have to keep you up to get checked out to see if you are healthy. If you fell asleep know you could fall into a coma and die.”
“What? Why?” she cried.
“We will answer all your questions in time.”
She was dressed, put in a wheel chair and pushed into a small cafeteria where she was fed what felt like her first meal in months. She was in what looked to her like a hospital or lab. After her food settled she was wheeled into an office where a man with a beard in his early 40’s sat behind a desk. He said, “I am Dr. Balkin, but everyone calls me Ray. What I am about to say is going to be a shock to you, I want you to be prepared for it.”
“Uh…ok,” she said.
He began with a deep sigh and spoke slowly. He explained to her, about five years ago there was a virus that began to spread throughout the earth killing a quarter of billion in the first year. Whole cities and towns full of people were now gone. The virus continued to spread and had now claimed over a billion people. There was a talented researcher who was helping us figure out a cure. She had told us that she thought she had found the cure, but then there was an accident and she was killed. We merged our research with some groundbreaking brain and computer research, because the fate of the world was at stake. We were willing to try anything. Six coma patients were chosen to have memories of that talented young doctor implanted electronically into their brains. The simulated memories alone took a team of 50 people 8 months to create. The memories were of this doctor’s whole life down to the last detail and implanted in stages over periods of months. The simulations were also interactive. The coma patient would feel like they were living this doctor’s life. We were also able to monitor the patients’ progress within the simulation by hooking ourselves up to the same equipment.
“It was our hope that throughout the simulations the “mind clones” would stumble onto the cure for this virus when they reached the final stage of the simulation. There was a power surge and one of them woke up.
“You were in stage two of a six stage process,” he said slowly and calmly.
“What are you saying?” Mel said as her eyes welled up with tears. “You are kidding! This is a dream or something.”
“That young doctor I spoke of was Mel Robinson,” he said.
“But I am Mel Robinson,” she said.
“In your mind you are Mel, but in body you are a Jane Doe coma patient and we still want your help. While the other coma patients finish their simulations we want you to try and pick up where Dr. Robinson left off.”
“Take me to a mirror. I don’t believe this,” Mel asked.
“There is a mirror on the back side of the door behind you.”
With a little difficulty Mel turned herself around in the wheel chair and rolled herself to the mirror. She looked at the stranger in the mirror tears began streaming down her cheeks and she felt sick to her stomach. She was just confronted with the fact that she is not a real person and that the fate of the world may be resting in her hands.