Final Exit: Chapter One, Transition


mriGary Bolton enjoyed the ride from his home in the quiet Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township on this first full day of autumn. The fall colors of the trees on the surrounding hills were at their peak brilliance, the air was crisp and the sky was unusually clear. A perfect day, he thought, but it would be better if his pain medication did not dull his senses so much. The driver introduced himself as Pat but the exchange was a drug induced blur to Gary.

Normally Gary liked to engage the Municipal Access driver in conversation during his frequent doctor and therapy appointment trips. Today was different and he was lost in a fuzzy world of thought about his life and the events to come: has he made the right decision, what would his pro-life daughter think when she found out?

The ride through the Fort Pitt tunnel then breaking out the other side to the vast expanse of the city was as impressive as ever. Out the right side of the van from the bridge Gary could see the Gordon Pharmaceutical buildings along the river on land once occupied by the steel mills. “What a change this has been,” thought Gary, “from the smoky steel city era to the high tech center the city had now become.”

The white van pulled into a portico located at the side of the Gordon Pharmaceutical building. “Are you ready to go, Gary,” Pat asked. “Yes, I suppose so,” replied Gary with a tone of resignation.

Pat lowered the lift on the van carrying Gary in his wheel chair and rolled him into a deserted lobby area. Pat pressed the up button to summon the elevator. After a short ride to the 4th floor Gary was wheeled into a room where an attractive young woman in a white lab coat was standing.

“Mr. Bolton, welcome to the Transition Lab. My name is Samantha but everyone calls me Sam. How was your ride?”

“Fine. It’s a beautiful day, and please call me Gary.”

“Yes it is. How are you feeling today?”

“Good, but I’m a bit nervous and frightened.”

“That’s natural, Gary, but I am here to help you through the process. If you need anything just let me know. Do you have any questions before we get started?”

“No, Doctor Bennett and the attorney explained everything to me very well. I’m ready to go.”

“Very good,” replied Sam. “I’m going to take you to the preparation room.”

Sam wheeled Gary into a small windowless room. It looked much like a doctor’s examining room with a table, sink and chair. An open door led into an adjoining restroom.

“Mr. Bolton I’m going to give you a mild tranquilizer to steady those nerves.” Sam said as she reached into a wall cabinet to retrieve the hypodermic needle and vial of clear liquid.

Gary hardly noticed the injection. Years of therapy and tests had turned him into a human pincushion. What’s one more, he thought.

“Gary, you will need to change into a hospital gown. You can just leave your clothes on the chair. If you like you can wear your socks to keep your feet warm. Use the restroom if you like and take your time. When you are ready just press this red button.” Sam indicated the red button next to the door as she talked then handed Gary the gown.

“Will you be needing any help,” asked Sam.

“No I don’t think so. Thank you,” replied Gary.

Sam closed the door behind her leaving Gary to his thoughts. After what seemed like an eternity Gary returned to the present and continued with his preparations as instructed. The combined effects of the tranquilizer and his trembling physical condition made it difficult to change clothes but he managed cursing the entire time the deterioration that had brought his life to this point.

Though he couldn’t stand any more he went to the restroom to take one last wiz mostly to get rid of the effects of the nervous wee wees. Sitting to pee was somehow unmanly but it felt good even if he couldn’t give it a good shake when he was done. It was reassuring, he thought, that at least this basic bodily function still worked.

Gary pressed the red button and Sam returned after giving a courtesy knock on the door. Seeing Sam, blond, petite and full of life, Gary was beginning to fantasize and have second thoughts. He quickly returned to the present. Besides, he thought, what interest would she have in a decrepit diseased old fart on his last journey like me. I’m not dead yet and a guy can still have his dreams.

Being wheeled down the hall was somehow reminiscent of a funeral procession; a funeral procession of one, two if you count Sam, Gary thought.  Similar to those death row scenes where the prisoner is being escorted to the execution chamber.

“Well here we are,” said Sam as she wheeled him into a stark white room where the centerpiece was a large white machine that looked like CAT scan or MRI equipment. At the right was a control room with windows along the top half of the wall. Through the glass he could see a figure in a white lab coat.

Sam rolled Gary up to the massive machine. The bed, more like table, had been lowered to about butt height.

“Gary, I am going to help you out of the wheelchair and sit you on the bed of the scanner,” Sam said.

The tranquilizer was in full effect and had taken away what little strength he had left. Sam put her arms around Gary from the front in a bear hug like grip, lifted him from the chair and wheeled him around with his back toward the table. Sam sat Gary on the table, laid him down on his back and lifted his legs up onto the table.

“How are you feeling Gary?” Sam asked.

“Fine,” replied Gary.

“Gary, I’m going to cover you with a light blanket,” Sam said.

Gary heard the low whine of some motors and felt the table rise and move into position so that his head was just in front of a round opening in the machine.

Sam rolled another machine up to Gary’s left side. Connected to the machine was a plastic tube with a needle on the end. “Gary, I am going to prepare you for the injection,” Sam said.

Sam put on latex gloves and swabbed the inside of Gary’s left arm with betadine. She then tied a tourniquet around Gary’s upper arm. “You may feel a slight pinch,” Sam said. But Gary felt nothing as the hypodermic needle slid effortlessly into his vein.

Sam then put a cable with a red button on the end, like a nurses call button, in Gary’s right hand. The button was connected by a wire to the same machine as the intravenous tube. “Gary, I want you to try to press this button,” Sam instructed. Gary pressed the button and a red light illuminated on the machine. “Good job, Gary. As you know, Gary, you must initiate this process on your own and of your own free will. This red button will start the sequence when you are ready,” said Sam.

Gary could hear the motors move the bed of the machine so that his head was inside the round opening. “I am going into the control room now. You will be able to hear me and talk to me through the intercom. I will let you know when everything is ready to go. Don’t press the button until I let you know. Ok?” Sam said.

“Ok,” acknowledged Gary.

“You can back out at anytime but once you press the button the sequence starts and there is no turning back,” continued Sam. “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” replied Gary.

Even with the blanket Gary now felt cold and was shaking. This is it,  he thought as Sam went into the control room.

Sam’s voice came over the intercom, “Everything is ready, you can press the button when you are ready.”

With tears streaming from his eyes Gary relived his entire life-like a video on fast forward or fanning through the pages of a photo album; growing up with his loving parents and his two younger sisters, their travels and activities together, his wonderful wife and daughter and the precious times they had together; the parties they enjoyed, the memorable places they went.

What irony, he thought, we start our lives in the womb soothed by the beat of our mother’s heart and here I am at the end inside this machine listening to its rhythmic sounds about to be born into another world.

With a trembling hand Gary squeezed the button and some lights on the machine beside him came on accompanied by a whirring sound. First through the IV tube came the nanobots; nanotechnology robots that immediately found their way to his brain. He felt a strange numbness in the head as if he had imbibed a little too much of his favorite scotch. The scanner that his head was in began to make a low rumbling sound and through his tear filled eyes he could see the reflection of some lights across the room on the control room windows as his brain was reconstructed neuron by neuron and synapse by synapse inside the massive computer.

Gary could feel himself getting tired and he drifted off to sleep. The IV machine continued to dispense fluids automatically, the button slipped from his grip, fell to the floor and Gary was gone.

“Did we get him? Sam asked the control room technician. “Got him,” the technician replied as they smiled and exchanged high fives.

The technicians knew that there were no guarantees with this new procedure and were always pleased with a successful outcome.

Copyright (c) 2001 & 2015, Robert Ivey

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© R. Ivey and vrbob, 2004 - 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to R. Ivey and vrbob with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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