Flash Fiction: “Post-Mortem, Pre-Mortem Report”

Resurrection is great if you’re living in a video game.  Maybe not so great if we ever put it into practice.  But who knows until we try?

 Post-Mortem, Pre-Mortem Report, by Alexander Paul Willging

Word Count: 656

Eyes open to a blinding light.  Someone mutters an apology and the light dims.  I blink and look up at the plastic ceiling.

“You’re back!” Kensington smiles and passes his med-scanner over me.  “Vitals checking out, neural activity seems fine.  Name and birthdate?”

Though my lips are tingling, I manage to say, “John Aaron Cross.  February 11, 2198…”

“And the last thing you remember?” the nurse prompts.

My eyes close.  I search my memory.  These backups are so unsettling.  Always hard to tell my last moments from my remembered dreams.

“Water.  Waves closing down on me.  Something wrapped around my neck.”  I touch my neck, but of course it’s fine.  The clone tissue is still tingling, but it’ll pass.  I’m grateful to breathe normally again.

“That’s fine for now.”  Kensington puts away his med-scanner and wheels over a breakfast tray to my bed.  “Just relax, Johnny.  CitySec will be in a little while to get your statement.”

When he leaves, I try to sit up.  It’s always a pain to come back.  Having to relearn walking, eating, going to the bathroom.  So what if it keeps medicine profitable?  And every time I come back and rehabilitated, I’m always one step behind the Exchange.

Eventually, Detective Wayne shows up at my bedside.  He’s Vulpine-American, an uplifted red fox wearing a CCPD badge on his harness.  Wayne sits at attention while an antenna perks up on his back.  All this to record my statement and feed raw data to the processors back at his precinct.  When I tell him every thing I can, Wayne yips in encouragement and races out of my room with his nose to the ground.

Days pass.  I get through the rehab course and am declared fit to return to work.  When I get my recording equipment back, I find that someone had deleted all my evidence.  I toss the stuff into a trash bin on my way out the hospital.  About time to get something less obvious for my next investigation.

But it’s bad news when I get into the cab outside.  The driver ignores my instructions and takes me to an empty lot behind the hospital.  Someone outside the cab pulls me out and jams a syringe into my neck.  Choking violently, I fall onto the pavement and look up at Ronny’s familiar face.

“How many times are we gonna keep doin’ this?” he asks me.  I see nothing but his dark suit and sunglasses as he crouches beside me.  “You leave the Exchange alone, Johnny boy.  It’s not good for yer health.  Keep hasslin’ us and I’ll make sure yer next backup’s loaded into a turkey that’s about to be my dinner.”

I can’t answer him, even if I wanted to.  So I don’t fight the poison that’s slowly shutting down all my freshly grown organs.  Ronny should know better.  You don’t become a journalist by letting a few setbacks or violent deaths stop you from running leads.

He even made a mistake this time.  While I’m dying, Ronny is still looking down at me.  Unlike the last three deaths, I have enough time to activate the optic-cam inside my right eye.  With rapid-fire blinks, I get snapshots of Ronny’s face and the license plate of the cab that drove me.  My last conscious thought—in this short-lived body, anyway—is to tag those photos and send them straight to Detective Wayne.

Ronny seems impatient.  He slams his shoe against the side of my head.  I gasp and feel myself fade away into the soothing black—

Eyes open to a blinding light.  Someone mutters an apology and the light dims.  I blink and look up at the plastic ceiling.

“Back so soon?”  Kensington smiles and passes his med-scanner over me.  “I don’t know how long you can afford to keep this up, John.”

I crack a bitter smile.  “As long as it takes, Ken.  As long as it takes.”

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