“Welcome back. Welcome back. How were they?” Mr Spoon asks us, meaning our parents.
“Mine were good. Fell for the whole thing. They actually believed I sold one of my paintings. I wish. I’m not that good yet.” I say.
“Yes, that was an excellent lie you came up with. I must say.” Mr Spoon paces back and forth in his office.
“Mine were fine. Of course I would want to go to Europe with my boyfriend. Derr.” Rosie says.
“Parents are sorted then?”
“So sorted.” Rosie says.
“Right. Let’s go to theatre.” Mr Spoon says, flinging his heavy office door open with enormous strength not apparent because of his short little arms.
On the way to the theatre room Rosie tells me she is nervous. I tell her that I’m nervous too. We hold hands and follow Mr Spoon into the room where our lives will change dramatically and irreversibly.
“Good morning Baxter and Rosie. Thank you for consenting your involvement in our project. My name is Humphrey Lisol and this is my assistant Mary Robbins. We are going to look after your bodies for the next twenty days while you live in 2046 and save humanity from this terrifying brain-eating disease Lobadantriosis. You will drink some Gyliptin, but we will also put you in semi-comas so that you do not wake during this time. Rosie, Mary will administer your contraception. You will not have a period until you are awake. As for you Baxter, I will drip testosterone minimisers into your drip once a day so that you do not wake in a most unfavourable state. You understand what I mean don’t you?” Humphrey asks me, and I’m fucking embarrassed. Of course, if Rosie and I are still together in my dreams, we are going to be having sex in my dreams, and if we are going to be having sex, well my body is going to know.
“These beds are designed to act as massagers as well so you don’t turn into a stiff board. They will massage your back, neck and thighs while you sleep. They also have the ability to turn you on your side and on your stomach, with your faces resting in the holes in the front end here. You won’t get bed sores.” Mary says.
Rosie and I look at all the robotic arms surrounding the hospital beds. It appears these beds really do do everything aside from dress us. They brush our hair, brush our teeth, rub moisturiser into our skin, and can massage our feet as well.
The feeding bags which will have tubes going into our stomachs will take half an hour to insert and we will be under anaesthetic for that, so that will be a mini operation in itself I am told.
“Do we get to choose what we eat?” Rosie asks. Of course.
“Yes, actually. I have a menu here for you. A pureed or mashed version will be pumped into your stomach. Your body will then digest and excrete the contents naturally. They will end up in these sealed chambers.” Mary kicks a large stainless steel refrigerated sealed box at the end of one of the beds.
“Ha ha. No steak or burgers for you!” Rosie teases, eyeing the menu.
“Nope. I guess not.” I say, perusing the menu.
“Lemon tart, pavlova and strawberry cheesecake? Oh my God. This is heaven. I can’t believe I’m going to be asleep for all of it!” Rosie is annoyed.
“I get French fries and a soft serve if I want.” I say.
“Chocolate sundaes. Yum.” Rosie says licking her red lips.
“Take these. Tick what you want and in which order.” Mary says handing us blue ball point pens.
“Mashed potato and gravy. Yum. This is like that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where they all lick the different flavours on the wallpaper.” Rosie laughs. I haven’t seen that movie since I was a kid but I know what she is talking about. “It is.” I say. I laugh with nostalgia as well.
We finish ticking our menus and hand them back to Mary who leaves the room.
“Right. Back to business. Undress. Put on these gowns. We are going to scrub in. See you both in ten minutes.” Humphrey says, following Mary out.
When Rosie and I have the gowns on and our clothes piled on a chair in the corner we face eachother on our hospital beds in our gowns that don’t cover our asses, swinging our legs out, kicking each other sillily.
Humphrey comes back in with Mr Spoon who wears medical garb and has a mask over his face.
“My name is Mr Spoon. I’ll be your anaesthetist today. Rosie could you jump on the scale over there for me and shout out how much you weigh for me.” He says, and I once again have to stifle my laugh. A seventy year old dwarf in theatre administering anaesthetic. This is ridiculously ridiculous.
“Sixty seven kilos.” Rosie shouts out, and goes back to her bed.
“Now your turn Baxter. Jump on.” Mr Spoon says.
I go over to the big black industrial sized scale and stand on it, standing with my feet a good ten centrimetres apart.
“Eighty kilos.” I say, knowing I’m not overweight, just tall.
“Very good. Jump down now. Up in bed.” Mr Spoon writes these weights down on a small card and pops it into the front of his blue tshirt thingy.
“Now this won’t take very long. For either of you. Roughly an hour. So we’ll see you in an hour okay guys?” Humphrey says, and we both give our okay before Mary and Mr Spoon are telling us to count to one backward from ten. I’ve never had an operation before and I’ve never been under anaesthetic so I have no idea what to expect and I also have no time to register what is happening to me because I can’t even get to six before I completely zonk out and I’m unconscious.
Rosie and I come to at around eleven am when I can hear voices around me but I’m unable to open my eyes. I can hear Rosie calling my name and I want to answer her so badly, but I can’t speak. I try to tell my brain to tell my mouth to form the word Rose, but it ignores me and reminds me I want to sleep. The world feels hazy and I feel exhausted and fatigued. After what seems like forever, this hazy feeling slowly evaporates into nothing and I gradually become more and more alert and more able to control my mind and myself. Rosie, Mr Spoon, Mary and Humphrey are eating chocolate. Chocolate. What the hell? Why are they eating chocolate?
“I love Lindt. Can never go wrong with it. No matter what they make, it’s always sooo good.” Rosie says.
“Don’t eat too much. We have to see how well your tummy can cope.” Mary smiles at her. Well I imagine Mary is smiling at her. Her tone sounds nice.
“My tummy is coping amazingly well with this.” Rosie says.
“I do have a liking for Haigh’s Chocolates. Now they are divine.” Mr Spoon says, and I now know his favourite chocolate.
“I buy some chocolate from Koko Black every time I get a latte from them. You know the one in the Royal Arcade? They do dark chocolate so well.” Humphrey says.
“Oh yes. I know the one. The little café we went to on our first date. That place.” Mary says, implying their romantic relationship.
“Yes, the very one. It’s still there.” Humphrey says.
“I could talk about chocolate forever. When is Bax going to come to?”
Rosie asks the group.
“Soon. Very very soon. He can probably hear us right now. Go over and chat to him. He will hear you.” Mary says. Rosie comes over to me, and hear her I do.
“Bax. It’s me. Rose. Wake up. Op’s done. All over. My you-know-what is killing me. There’s a tube in it. Ugh. It’s gross. You’ve got one too. You’ll hate it when you wake up. The weirdest thing is this bag. Right now it’s empty but when we drink the Gyliptin, it’ll be full of baby food. Haha. What did you order? I ordered the lemon tart and the cheesecake. For two separate days of course. I’m not that much of a guts. The French Fries are really from Maccas. Mary told me she goes and gets them herself. And eats them with us while we sleep. Mary and Humphrey are husband and wife. Isn’t that cool? I never would have guessed. They are totally different. He is like tall, and athletic, and very stern, and serious, and she’s like funny, and silly, and has coloured bits of hair in her ponytail. I really like her. They met in their medicine degree. Oh baby – you’re awake!” Rosie squeals as I open my eyes and look at her.
“Yeah. I am.” I say groggily.
“I woke up ten minutes ago.”
“I know. I could hear you.” I say.
“You could?” Rosie asks rhetorically.
“Welcome to the land of the living Baxter. How was that? How do you feel?” Mary asks him.
“I feel fine. Like I’ve been asleep for years. But good.” I yawn.
“Alright now that you are both awake we need to run through the future. When you guys realise you’re living in 2046, you could be anywhere doing anything. You might be at home, you might be at work, you might be out with friends. You won’t have any memory of the previous twenty years. You will look older and feel older and think older. And your language and diction will have changed. Accept these changes and embrace them. Do not be scared of yourselves. You won’t know where you live so I suggest looking for your licences as soon as you wonder where your address might be. If you’re at work and you need to go home, catch public transport. Looking for your car might take you forever and wandering around in a car park will make other people think you are both crazy. I haven’t been to 2046 so I can only guess what technology will be like. I’ll tell you now there are no TV’s, ipads or phones. A phone will be a button embedded into your wrist, and your TV may be a button on the floor of your living room that will project a holographic screen when pressed or stood on. I have been to 2039 and things were very much like that then. If you have a dog or a cat, make sure they don’t walk on this button. The TV also acts as your calendar, your home computer and your home phone. Make calls and surf the internet with this button. I won’t tell you how because you guys are the technology generation. And it’ll all be pretty straight forward anyway. You’ll figure it out. Any questions?” Mary asks us.
“Yes. What do we do if we get stuck?” Rosie asks.
“If you get really really stuck ask your robot. And if you don’t have a robot call this number. It’s mine. And if I don’t answer call this number. It’s Humphrey’s. If we don’t answer, send us emails. Email chains will exist in your software either on your wrist or at home. Read through them. It’ll help you gain a sense of how you have spent your time between 2026 and 2046.” Mary finishes.
“Ok. Are we ready? Remember it’s only twenty days. Do not panic. Do what you can. You’ll go forward twenty years. Organza will ask you to look for the Proxy formula. Focus on finding the Proxy formula.”
“Ok. We will.” I say.
“I will.” Rosie says.
“Can I kiss her?” I ask them. Mary nods her assent, and then pulls back the curtain to give us privacy. I grab Rose’s face in my hands and lunge myself forward. Her lips taste like chemicals. Like anaesthetic perhaps. It’s what mine would taste like as well. However when I taste her tongue all I taste is Lindt chocolate. I run my hands through her blonde hair, and she moans with content.
“I love you. I’ll see you when you’re old.” I say. She laughs.
“I love you baby.” She says, and we end our make out session not because we want to but because we have to.
Mary pulls back the curtain and tells us to lie down on our own beds. We do as we are told, letting the tips of our fingers touch a little while longer before bringing our arms to our sides. I glance down at Rosie’s Hello Kitty socks. I want a memory of her I can keep.
“This is Gyliptin. You both must drink it at the same time and at the same pace. 100mls. It looks, smells, feels, and tastes like water. I will count to three okay?” Mary hands us the glasses and we both stare down into them seeing nothing but transparent, wet, fluid.