“Please, have a seat, Mr. Ramos,” she said, directing him to a chair in front of her desk before doing so herself. As she sat, she realized how her barely used desk chair—from the many hours spent in her laboratory rather than her office—was as uncomfortable as discussing certain situations, and setbacks with her clients.
“Thank you, Doctor Uehara, for seeing me today. I know it’s last minute, and that you’re very busy, but I just needed to talk to you about my wife,” he said, tapping his fingers on his knees—a habit he’d developed as a child that helped him cope with his anxiousness through form of distraction.
“I am aware of your concerns, but your wife’s procedure hasn’t passed the required simulation trial. In order for the consciousness transfer and implantation to succeed, it is imperative that she’s unable to discern from her previous reality, and the one we created according to your conditions, and specifications. Otherwise, you will need to consider termination.”
Anticipating difficulty when receiving bad news, she decided that instead of crossing her arms, and sitting back in her chair it would be best to lean in, place her hands on her desk, and interlace her well-manicured fingers. From her experience working with those seeking to prolong their lives or those of their loved ones, she’d come to the conclusion that it was an efficient tactic when attempting to demonstrate empathy.
“I can’t give up on her now. We’ve made this far,” he said, looking down at the maroon and gold fleur-de-lis patterned carpet, and slowly rubbing his forehead as if attempting to iron out the deep wrinkles that’d begun to form since his wife’s death.
“I need to inform you that, in your case, termination is more beneficial. You’ve run out of financial resources, and, because of the accumulating debt as well as interest, she’ll be kept on a constant loop until the outstanding balance is paid in full. This loop could possibly cause detrimental, and irreparable data corruption.”
“But, Doctor,” he said, exhaling deeply as he sank into his chair. His words seeming to reverberate off the glass of each framed diploma hanging on her office walls. Flooded with thoughts of his 6 year-old son, and the promise he’d made to bring his mother back to him, Mr. Ramos felt his heart being squeezed tightly by desperation. He feared it’d burst, and every drop of blood would seep from him until there wasn’t anymore left to bleed.
“Mr. Ramos, from my expertise working in this field for over 2 decades, I suggest we no longer continue with this project. I think viewing her last simulation trial will convince you. Would you like to see it?”
“Yes,” he said, inaudibly.
Doctor Uehara reached into her lab coat pocket, and pulled out a small translucent tablet that she carried with her specifically for her clients and assistants allowing them access to her work’s most basic information. “Here you are. You’ll only be provided with audio, and a descriptive transcript.”
Holding his finger over the screen for a moment, he felt as if heavy boulders were placed on his chest. Heavy boulders that were his memories of his wife with their son: her sitting bedside him as she read him his favorite book, standing behind him while holding his bike’s handle bars as she taught him how to ride it, laughing after tapping cookie dough onto his nose, placing her hand on his forehead to check for a fever.
With those memories weighing on him as they flashed through his thoughts, he tapped “Play”:
Mina Ramos, Subject #212568. Trial #1532
“Are you ready for bed, my little monster?” Subject says, smiling as she enters her son’s bedroom.
“Yes, Mommy,” he responds, standing beside his bed wearing button-up pajamas with UFOs, and aliens printed on them as specified.
“Did you wash your face, and brush your teeth?” Subject asks, placing her hand on her hip.
“Are you sure?” Subject asks, pretending to be suspicious while tickling him. He falls onto his bed. Behavior, and laughter sample are convincing.
“Alright. Then, under the covers with you,” Subject says playfully, placing a comforter over him, pulling it up below his chin before kissing him on the tip of his nose.
“Sing me my lullaby, Mommy. Sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’.”
“What do you mean, honey? Your lullaby is one Grandma used to sing to Mommy when she was little,” Subject says, leaning back and furrowing her eyebrows.
“It’s my favorite. We can sing it together. Twinkle, twinkle, little star how I wonder what you are,” he sings lullaby, as programmed.
“What do you mean, Elias?” Subject asks, in a low whisper.
“Up above the world so high like diamond in the sky.”
“What’s wrong with the walls? Why are they glimmering?” Subject begins to notice an irregularity.
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star how I wonder what you are.”
“What the hell is happening? Stop it! Stop it, now!” Subject screams, placing her hands over ears.
Trial Failure. Simulation Disconnected.
“We’ve exhausted all of the available memories of her interactions with your son,” Doctor Uehara said, immediately taking the tablet out of Mr. Ramos’ hands before he could look up at her, and plead for another simulation trial.
“What about the ones of her pregnant with him?”
“Those memories cannot be utilized. Accessing them is against the Lazarus Corporation’s company standards, and protocols. Allowing the opportunity for her to discover that her reality is fabricated—that she isn’t truly carrying her child—is considered inhuman, and unethical. Even in our field.”
“How will I tell him I can’t bring her back,” he asked himself, putting his head back, and rubbing his forehead as he shut his eyes.
“I am sure you’ll find a way, Mr. Ramos. I will have my assistant see you out. Good luck,” she said, standing abruptly, and exiting her office without shaking her client’s hand.
As she walked down the corridor to the elevators, she pulled out her phone and made a call to her assistant. “Please have Mr. Ramos confirm termination of his wife, Mina Ramos (Subject #212568), before he goes as well as sign the necessary paperwork. Have it sent in by the end of the day. Thank you.”
Madelin A. Medina is a Dominican-American poet, writer, and Suicide Prevention Advocate currently residing in Queens, New York with her husband, and young son. Her work has appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, The Acentos Review, Dominican Writers Association, and [PANK] Magazine. She is also a recipient of the Nancy P. Schnader Academy of American Poets Award at Hofstra University.