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Dr. Curry's office:
Dr. Curry stood well away from his patient. Gloves and a mask served as an additional precaution. "Mark, I'm not going to hold anything from you. You've got Varson's Carcinoma. At best, you've got maybe two months."
"Two months? That's not much, Dr. Curry." Mark shifted uncomfortably on the disposable paper covering the chair, causing it to crinkle audibly.
"No, it isn't. There's not even any guarantee that you'll see that much before you collapse. That's how severe your test results read."
"So it's all bad news?"
"Not completely. I checked and found out you're eligible for the Angel Program. If you want to go the Consciousness Transference route, I can probably obtain approval within a month. I'm assuming that you don't mind paying back the government with ten years of service for the operation."
"Me? An angel? Well, it's one way of beating death, I guess."
"It's better than going out with a bang. Would you like for me to arrange an interview with an angel for you?"
There was no need for an explanation of the alternative. Mark knew what Curry meant. Victims of Varson's Carcinoma often lost all rational control shortly before dying. Many had killed indiscriminately without reason until they collapsed or were shot down. Others had gone out in spectacular suicides before reaching that stage. Some of the suicides were arranged and recorded for pay so that their relatives would receive something. Those were all considered going out with a bang.
"Will I really learn more about them than I've seen on Internet TV?" Mark asked.
"Well, I was thinking that this would beone‑on‑one, face‑to‑uh‑face, so to speak, rather than interactive television."
"Then I probably won't learn much about becoming an angel that I don't already know. That makes it seem like a waste of time."
"Very well. I merely thought I'd put forth the offer since I do know one of the angels personally. Does this mean I should arrange for your angel operation?" Dr. Curry asked.
"If I'm really eligible, you might as well. I'm not really looking forward to dying even though I've got no one to live for other than myself."
"That's good to hear. I'll put this procedure into immediate action. In the meantime, think of it as upgrading yourself to a Mark II version instead of dying."
Clinton Memorial Hospital:
The special room was immaculate and bare except for two items visible within its electric-blue kill lights meant to inhibit infectious diseases, though nothing as yet had worked against Varson's Carcinoma. One item was the Consciousness Transfer frame that suspended a single, disposable seat. The other was the crash cart Mark stood beside. He couldn't help but stare down briefly at the Maiden's Helmet that Dr. Curry would place upon his head. Hundreds of small nodes filled the inside of the helmet. Each node contained a recording needle that would be shot into his skull. For a moment, Mark felt squeamish. Then he remembered that he really had no choice. It was either transfer his consciousness and memories to the halo connected to the top of the helmet or die. At least the failure rate of less than one percent was on his side.
"You need to undress now so I can apply the sensors. Otherwise, Dr. Curry won't know when the operation is truly over," the nurse said.
For a moment, Mark turned and stared at the nurse. "In front of you?"
"Does it really matter? I'm going to see you anyway. After all, I'll be attaching sensors to you once you're undressed."
"Um, yeah, you're right. It really doesn't matter where I undress," Mark said. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt and removed it awkwardly as it was still tucked inside his pants. He finally tossed the shirt down after a moment of indecision about where to place it only to conclude that for once in his life, he didn't have to be neat. He kicked his shoes off to land on the shirt and dropped his pants to the floor. He stepped out of the pants and finished stripping by removing his socks and underwear. He didn't know that a rack or chair wasn't provided for his clothes so he'd have to drop those on the floor to be swept away.
Copyright © 2005 David L. Kuzminski