Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dateline 2032: The Life of JAC03225: Part 7

FICTION SUNDAY

In Part 6, JAC03225 was at The Cafe Metropole with MEL03226 and a striking looking woman when he receives an urgent call to come to Evergreen Residence, where his father has been placed.

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At Evergreen Residence

JAC03225 spotted the building from far off. It was hard not to miss, such a structure as it was.

Not far from the bottom of the Dungeon stands a large white-washed building, relieved, like some great whited sepulcher, against the sullen background of mountain-side firs, and other hardy evergreens, inaccessibly rising in grim terraces for some two thousand feet.

It was Evergreen Residence, a ten-story building, white as death on the exterior, surrounded by large evergreens, acting  as it were as natural sentries against an undetermined enemy. Perhaps it was Death. Perhaps it was Life. Perhaps it was Freedom. They were tall and impressive, reaching out to touch the building’s roof-line.  It was home to his father the last few years, placed there by a court order. It was for his own good, the document said, “as a protection against the potential harm he might do to self and others.”

That mattered little now. JAC03225 rushed in through the doors, which opened automatically a few metres before he reached the entrance-way, recognizing the RFID tag embedded in his media appliance. He walked to the central command post, passing a series of evergreen plants placed in a perimeter fashion along the lobby. An android stood at her post. After some niceties including establishing his identity, the android told him to wait a few minutes, and he will be seen by someone.

“What happened” JAC03325 asked the android. “Is my father all right.

“The Chief Protocol Nurse will explain everything,” the android said. “She will be here in a few minutes.”

A tall, dark-haired woman in her fifties walked in confidently, and extended her hand, inviting him to sit on a comfortable chair. The Chief Protocol Nurse efficiently told him that his father has passed away, not more than five minutes ago. She had left an urgent message on his media appliance. 
Your father, as you were previously informed, had low levels of the brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, or NPY, which research has previously shown is a sign of depression.

To combat that he was given, as is usual and in accordance with the Medical Procedure Handbook and DSM-VII (2031), Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) along with a prescribed dosage of 10 mg of AEquus, a mood stabilizer.

Such are the standard operating procedures in conformity to
all the latest scientific and psycho-biological studies. That was the procedure done this morning before lunch. He seemed to respond well, had a light lunch, and placed in his room to rest.
JAC03325 continued sitting in one of the chairs, unable to say anything. His eyes downcast; his lips quavered. The Chief Protocol Nurse continued to thoroughly explain events as they unfolded, much like a film script, or a magazine narrative: 
Your father's telemetry signal indicated he had gone into cardiac arrhythmia and then within 30 seconds entered into sudden cardiac arrest. We immediately called a Code Blue and got the crash cart. The medical doctor on duty, our MD-OD, immediately performed an automatic defibrillation, so as to deliver a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart.
She delivered a round of increasing electrical energy—first 200 joules, then 300 joules and finally 360 joules of energy. But despite our best efforts, it was not successful. We could not establish a normal sinus rhythm to the heart. We did all we could to keep him going. His heart just stopped at 12:47 pm.

You can download a full report, including the Official Death Certificate, tomorrow morning at 9. If it's all right with you, a Wellness Coordinator will see you now.
On behalf of Evergreen Residence, I am really and truly sorry about that, that is, about your loss.
She walked away in the same manner that she came in. JAC03225 remained in his chair, his hands over his face. The Wellness Coordinator, a petite blonde-haired woman in her twenties, slid in beside JAC03225, and gave him further information and, in a clumsy manner, professional consolation.

“I am sorry to hear that you are sad, but we did everything we could, and followed all the procedures mandated us by the State and various medical authorities, including the procedures on how to respond to families after a death of a loved one. Mr. JAC03225, I am only following procedure and protocol; I am only doing my official duty, my job if you like. Now, I am sorry but I must go.

“Oh, silly me, I forgot one more thing. Will you, that is, will you be making arrangement for your father’s final wishes? Or do you want a list of local state-approved crematoriums to arrange your father’s cremation? If you are too tired, we also have a service that we offer here at Evergreen Residence, the Evergreen Crematorium Service. We have a number of packages available to suit your budget or taste.

"Give me a second while I punch in these coordinates on my new updated media device, which I got today. I am still trying to figure out all the great new features. Here it is. O.K., you can see our packages, including a special promotion that we have now. We are throwing in a beautiful faux Ming Dynasty urn as part of this promotion.

Here, take a look at the photo of the urns, which comes in dozens of stunning colours, suitable to match any home decor. Only seventy-nine ninety nine plus taxes. That’s the lowest price this year. Shall I mark you down as a yes?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” JAC03225 said, his head looking down at his shoes.

“Well, you must hurry, the promotion ends tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., and we currently have an opening for a 10:00 am service. We could even provide professional mourners, retired stage actors. They are superb, and add to the atmosphere and experience. It's quite moving."
 
“I’ll let you know by nine tomorrow morning,” he said, looking straight into her blue eyes, which showed little sign of acknowledgment.

“OK-be well,” said the wellness coordinator.”

“Yeah, bye.”

She walked away down the long marble corridor, swaying her ample hips, and joined a group of other employees who were busily drinking coffee. They soon began giggling. The Wellness Coordinator joined in, her high-pitched squeal reverberating off the marble floors and the stainless-steel white-washed walls.

JAC03225 shivered, his body taking on a sudden coldness that only human warmth would cure. He shakily took his media appliance from the breast pocket of his suede jacket and called out, his voice quavering, “Dial MEL03226’s private number.”

He answered in one ring. “You called me on the emergency number. It must be bad news.”

“It couldn’t be worse. Father just died, less than 15 minutes ago. I got here too late.... I can’t handle being here myself...Can you pick me up? I don’t want to be alone just now, MELO. It’s not fair. After all, what’s happened... to me .. to you...”

“I will be there in a few minutes, JACO,” MEL03226 said in a quiet but firm voice. “I am so sorry to hear the news. He seemed fine a few days ago after his monthly check-up.”

“That’s what I thought. Everything was fine.”

“Hang in there, my friend. I’m on my way.”

MEL03226 arrived a few minutes later, sirens blaring, and jumped from the car, accompanied by two lower-ranking officers. People gave MEL03226 a wide berth, in keeping with the respect accorded to the commander of the north-eastern quadrant of Elysium.

When JAC03225 spied MEL03226, he lost all composure and ran to him, sobbing, ignoring everything around him, including the medical personnel and security officers. “I should have been there for Father. I let him down. I should.. have.. been...there.”

“MEL03226 held his good friend tightly in a bear hug, and said. “It’s not your fault. You visited your Father almost every day. You were a good son. I know.”

JAC03225 straightened up, and said, looking into his childhood friend’s eyes. “Thank you, MEL0. I just wish things were different, like they were when we were growing up. When it was so different than today, when we could be ourselves. I want it to be like before.”

“So do I,” MEL03226 whispered in his ear, “It will take time. It will happen.”

“You think so?”

“In the fullness of time, my friend,” he said while leading JAC03226 to the security forces vehicle. “These two men, my finest officers, whom I trust with my life, will drive you home. I have to do some official business, go to a reception in my honor, but I will see you tonight, if you need me. OK?”

“Yeah, I’m OK. And things will get better; we're a team, aren't we? The three musketeers.”

“All for one and one for all. Always together, through thick and thin. I’m sure that in a few days, you will feel differently than you do today.”

The vehicle left the Residence, sirens blaring. JAC03225 was going home.

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To be continued next week (Part 8):

Copyright (c) Perry J. Greenbaum, 2010. All rights reserved.

Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. While the author might have been inspired by some true-life events, names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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