Vitals | Flash Fiction | Chicago Reader

Vitals 

Flash Fiction 2018

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

DANIEL FISHEL
  • Daniel Fishel

In the last hours of your life, the Memori people came to sit with me at Weiss. I watched a machine breathe for you while they told me my options. They offered the memorial biotattoo, the voicebox-hologram combo. I wanted everything, every scrap of you that I could keep, but I couldn't pay for any of it. I stopped listening when they launched into down payments and interest rates.

This spiel had been rehearsed and optimized for the deathbed, I could tell, countless times.

We're sorry we have to have this conversation now, they said, clearing their throats. But you understand—the timing. Then, when I got up to make them leave, throats now clear: There are other, less premium options.

So I gave them my number—a stage of grieving I had not prepared for—the most I could pay to preserve something of you. Your hand was still and warm in my grip.

You can have her dreams, they said.

Days later, I found myself in the little Memori capsule office, stuck like a barnacle on the side of the funeral home on Western where we'd had your service. By then, there was one affixed to every funeral home in the city.

I fidgeted in the tiny lobby, decorated with baby succulents in trendy planters. Icy November rain fell outside. I thought about how you'd become a cold thing in the cold ground, too young. A Memori rep emerged to receive me.

We recommend starting off with something simple, like a small screen and headphones, the rep, Amber, said gently. If you were to interface for the first time in a VR headset, for example, you'd be overwhelmed.

The Somnofeed™ was a database of your brain's REM activity. Through Memori's patented extraction method, data from your most potent REM cycles was harvested and translated into a format readable by a number of consumer devices.

Of course, she continued, We have a selection of cutting-edge hardware available for purchase here, if you need.

Cutting-edge hardware wasn't in my budget. I'd have to ease myself in with my outdated iPhone, then work up to the 32-inch LED TV you'd fought bitterly with me to upgrade before you became too weak to care.

Amber handed me a small silver drive. Everything was in there, all of you that my money could buy.

Remember, the Somnofeed™ shows you only what the deceased experienced, she told me. If you don't sync with a VR suit or room, you'll only get the visuals and audio. In that case, you'll likely experience a disjointed stream of images and sounds. It won't make much sense.

But! She continued, raising her eyebrows and folding my fingers over the drive, Confusing as it may be, this data is priceless! Remember that. The Somnofeed™ allows you to experience some of the most intimate moments your loved one had with his or her subconscious.

Her, I said. Her subconscious.

Amber nodded delicately. We sat there in silence until I handed over my credit card.  v

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Mosquitoes Steep Theatre
September 28
Performing Arts
Just Us Gals Sleeping Village
November 14

Popular Stories