I’m in the infirmary.
The tub is like a molded jacuzzi for geriatrics, it is mainly upright, you can sit in it as it fills. I suppose this isn’t what the real mold actually looks like – those ones must have a front you could swing closed so it could fill all the way up to my face.
Everything is so clean. The bright white mold of the tub, the infirmary. The nurse is taking samples as the tub fills with a thick yellowish substance like custard around my ankles.
The doctor is consulting an AR screen with some sensor data, his hands flicking lazily in the empty air above his desk.
“Do you eat shellfish?” He asks me, surprised.
“My sister catches sea urchins. She lives in Bay city, she brought some recently, I’ve only ever eaten them once before. Can you tell that from the rubber?”
“No, but I have your dental records, they say you chipped a tooth, and you said that you had chipped it on a shellfish …”
“Oh, yes I told the dentist that, I didn’t know it was all on record. Is shellfish bad?”
The doctor seems in some sort of reverie, then snaps out of it: “No. Just strange, that’s all. Have you had sexual intercourse in the past 6 months?”
My mind chokes as it switchs gears. I can’t help making a connections between sea urchins and women’s genitals. The doctor is peering at me as if the follow up question is the most rational laundry list of any routine check-up.
“Yes,” I lie. It had been more than 6 months since I was last with a woman, but I didn’t want to have to explain it to the doctor and if there was anything related I needed to know, I needed to know now. Time is relative, for some people.
They are testing me for allergies to the liquid rubber. The doctor continues asking routine questions as the nurse casually checks my eyes, ears, and nose for any indication of reaction.
“Do you keep animals?”
Are you beneficiary to a custom gene?
One, AR64, my dad is the inheritor, he was born in Cuba
When was the last time you were on the surface?
Ten months ago.
They fill the tub until the cream reaches my bare genitals, the liquid rubber feels to have no temperature, no smell, no sound – it just erases my legs bit by bit as it creeps up inside the tub. The nurse takes blood from my arm and labels the sample. I imagine myself as ancient Hugh Hefner sitting in the sports car molded lines of the oddly shaped hotub, the bright white molded plastic, a champagne bottle, some disco lights, some playboy bunnies stroking his gilded bathrobe, giggling bubbles.
“Are you comfortable?” The nurse is a young med student who’s plump tanned arms are pinched at the elastic wristbands of her less than oversized hospital blues.
I raise my eyebrows and motion to my nakedness
“Im sorry,” indicating my less-than-swollen member. I try to keep a straight face.
“I just fill the tub,” She laughs.
“Wash him,” says a metallic voice behind me.
There is a burly brute of a woman who has snuck into the room strapped into a medvac robe. She is holding a towel and a dripping hose.
The waiting room is bright and clean, and busy with routine professional preparation.
The mountain of a woman shows me the door, and gives me a squirt of antibacterial foam.
She consults her floatscreen, then turns to a young boy sitting with his feet on the chair, knees drawn up to his chest. She fixates on him like a sea urchin ready to be cracked and eviscerated.
Space Camp. At least that’s what we call it, a 20th century meme from an old movie. If only back then we knew that there was really nothing for us in space …not yet. No, I will not be leaving the planet, I will be traveling into the future. Space camp is mandatory for most students at my age, at least in our privileged society.
The journey will take an estimated 6,000 years – its a bit of a mind-fuck. We haven’t invented temporal teleportation yet, but we can store a body until we have. We will be packaged up, and all we really know is that at some point in the far-flung future, we are revived and sent back.
Me and the other delegates will be stored in our rubber molds like human sized cubes of tofu. We call it ‘Cryo’, like cryogenic but it is really an anaerobic rubberization. When we arrive we will stay for a period of time, and we are always returned 14 days after we were encased. For most people it is an incredible experience. It is the experience, to say you come back changed is an understatement, by people who have never gone. Maybe you don’t change, maybe you just come back. It’s just space camp. I’m really excited.