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art by Junior McLean

The Rules of the Regeneration Manual

BAndrew Findlay was born in Middlesbrough, the skid mark of Englandís tighty-whities, where muggings and teenage pregnancies are as certain as death and taxes. Luckily, excrement makes a great fertiliser for the imagination. He believes in grammar over God, and is still deathly afraid of paedophiles.

Rule five of the Regeneration Manual: The database in which all subjects are recorded must be monitored at all times, as failure to do so may result in errors for which your employer will not be liable.
Doctor Monveve tells his colleague, "You've been on duty for eight hours straight. I'll take over for now."
"It does get quite emotional," she says, standing up from the computer and stretching. "Thanks, Harold. Someone's due out soon, so don't get too comfortable."
Doctor Monveve ushers her out and takes his place at the computer. He magnifies the data, brings it up in holoform, and reads.
The next revival--Leon Gretson, aged sixty-six, early cancer of the oesophagus, cryo-preserved in 2012--is due to be regenerated in only fifteen minutes.
Doctor Monveve asks the computer to show him where Leon Gretson's cryonic chamber is (he almost says coffin). The computer brings up CryoCare's customer database, and highlights the row and number.
Row: 102. Number: 1502.
Since money brings about these early regenerations, Doctor Monveve looks up the prices of cryopreservation in 2012--just to ease the boredom. It cost only $120,000 to preserve someone back then, and just eighty thousand for neural-only.
He laughs. Cheaper than my son's first car.
CryoCare's maintenance fees were just nine hundred dollars per annum: less than five percent of today's prices. Inflation will always beat interest. Doctor Monveve thinks again, Poor guy.
He takes the elevator to the appropriate floor, guiding a cart of instruments. Rows of transparent cryonic chambers surround him, and he sets about finding Leon.
Almost all of these customers will go undisturbed until the appropriate time. Long after Leon, and maybe even Doctor Monveve, are dead.
Leon's eyes are closed, and the cryoprotectants in his body have turned his skin pink. Doctor Monveve checks the time. Three minutes remain.
Rule three of the Regeneration Manual: Do not regenerate a customer until the appropriate time has been reached, unless their insurance and/or funding is depleted, as this may lead to legal repercussions for which your employer will not be liable.
If Doctor Monveve regenerates the man too late, he'll be penalised by CryoCare for wasting resources.
Rule one of the Regeneration Manual: Always consult this manual during each regeneration, as failure to do so may result in mistakes for which your employer will not be liable.
Doctor Monveve siphons the fluids that help prevent harm during vitrification. As it drains from the chamber, he notices how old Leon looks for only sixty-six; his skin already wrinkled, his hair already grey.
Doctor Monveve opens the chamber door, and cold shock makes him gasp, makes his throat burn and his eyes sting.
Rule nine of the Regeneration Manual: Never inhale the cryonic gases, as it may result in lung and/or gingiva damage over time for which your employer will not be liable.
Doctor Monveve prepares to introduce the appropriate nanomachines into Leon's system. He places the long needle into Leon's ear canal, feels a slight pull as he perforates the eardrum; the instrument begins to twist in the doctor's hand as its sensory tip maneuvers through Leon's inner ear. As it reaches the spongy resistance of his brain, the instrument vibrates and releases the nanomachines.
Rule twelve of the Regeneration Manual: In the event a customer's insurance and/or funding is depleted and they are not in a state of information-theoretic death, attempts must be made to regenerate the customer fully, as failure to do so may result in legal repercussions for which your employer will not be liable.
Doctor Monveve closes the cryonic chamber and waits for signs of the nanomachines' success.
He stares as Leon's skin slowly turns from pink to white, white to blue. Doctor Monveve locks the chamber door.
Leon's eyelids rip apart. He inhales, sucking up the swirling, white oxygen until chest meets chin. His right hand twitches.
But Leon doesn't exhale.
Rule fourteen of the Regeneration Manual: Do not attempt to resuscitate in the event of failure, as unsuccessful regeneration causes information-theoretic death, at which point the regenerated ceases to be a customer of your employer.
Doctor Monveve pulls out a nicotine shot and injects himself. He leans against the cart of instruments, gazes at the row of chambers stretching further than he can see. He wonders if Leon thought anything while taking that one breath. If it were him, he'd want a shot.
Rule twenty-two of the Regeneration Manual: During publication of this, the seventh edition, tissue regeneration technology cannot repair damage caused by oxygen deficiency or cryoprotectant toxicity. Failed regenerations will be the responsibility of neither you nor your employer..
Doctor Monveve unlocks the chamber door to begin preparations for Leon's transport.
Rule seventeen of the Regeneration Manual: All unsuccessful regenerants must be transported to your allocated organ house, as failure to do so may result in a financial loss for which your employer will not be held accountable.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, April 4th, 2011

Author Comments

Cryopreservation has interested me ever since I was deceived into thinking Walt Disney was frozen somewhere. Every time I read stories in which people need only shake off ice crystals and stretch to be good to go, I cringe; that's science fiction minus the science. Regeneration will be much harder than that. But on the plus side, by the time we do figure out how to regenerate peop-sickles, we'll probably have a cure for whatever ailed them. And since Walt Disney was cremated, it's hard to see where those lions got crossed.

- Andrew L Findlay
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