“Internal Conflict”

a novel by Dorian Lassiter

Prologue

July 6, 2009

It was all about the ice — or, better stated: the lack thereof. Ever since it’s birth in 1962, the Achilles heel of cryonics, and most significant medical advancements using it’s technologies, had been the perfection of the elusive, miracle anti-freeze.

In the past month, it had become the norm for MJ and Joey to work late. They were so close to finally solving it, neither of them could bear to leave the lab for extended periods of time. Dr.’s Mary Jean Dalton and Joseph Dwyer met as biology grad students at Columbia University, in 1995. Neither of them were sure how, or exactly when, but somewhere between completing their theses and usurping every obtainable morsel on the subject of cryonics, they managed to fall in love. Dazzled by her flowing ginger tresses and hypnotic aquamarine eyes, Joey had always thought MJ was the most intoxicating woman he had ever seen. In stark contrast, Joey’s lanky, six foot-two frame and squarely featured, pale face could easily serve as a public service announcement to hit the gym and get more sun. his nondescript gray eyes and thick brow made him neither attractive, nor ugly — Joey simply was … well — Joey.

Now, fourteen years later, they had solved the seemingly unsolvable problem. Lazarus 19, running through his glass maze, was the living, thriving proof. Rodent testing began once MJ and Joey were certain they had established the proper ingredients for the cryopreservant cocktail. Unfortunately, it took MJ eighteen tries to get the proportions of the anti-freeze formula exactly right and, as a sad result, none of Lazarus’ predecessors had managed to fare as well as he, or their biblical namesake. This sad fact was probably the reason everyone had silently agreed to drop the numeric moniker and simply call him — Lazarus.

But there he was, in all his living, glory! Certain to become more famous than Jerry, Mighty, Minnie or Mickey. Lazarus, and the technology behind him, would someday save or extend more human lives than every Marvel or DC comic hero combined. This was science, not science fiction — it was real.

Motioning to the overhead microphone which recorded even the faintest of sounds within the air-tight lab, Joey gestured to Mary Jean that the symbolic initial proclamation should be hers. After a brief, congratulatory hug and kiss, MJ stood as erect as her five foot, two-inch frame would allow, and projected in her best disk jockey voice:

This is Dr. Mary Jean Dalton, Chief Cryonic Research Professor at

Cryodine Industries, Research Parkway, Meriden, Connecticut…

Joey fought to control the well of love and pride that flooded him like an emotional damn breaking. Overcome by the brightness of his wife’s life-light and how it illuminated his world each and every day, all Joey could manage to think about, even on the precipice of scientific history, was how amazing that life-light would enhance and illuminate the lives of their children — someday.

MJ continued:

At precisely 10:24PM, on this, the 6th day of July, in the year Two

Thousand and Nine, it gives me tremendous yet

humble pleasure to announce that “Lazarus 19”, a six ounce, white

quadrupedal research mammal, has officially become the world’s

first successful whole-body mammalian cryostasis patient to

be successfully re-animated. The male subject continues to function

without any ascertainable detrimental effect. Continued progress
and ability to thrive will be monitored and updated continuously until

such time as can be reasonably determined that the subject

exhibits no appreciable or sustainable neurologic or physical damage.

Once MJ finished, she embraced Joey again; but this time they held it. She looked into his eyes and saw the love in them. She never understood Joey’s lack of self confidence or his insecurities. While Brad probably wouldn’t be too concerned about leaving Angelina in a room alone with Joey, MJ was sure if Angie ever got to know Joey, Brad would be in trouble; after all, Angelina had married Billie Bob first, and Joey definitely wins that beauty pageant.

At only thirty three, they had just made what would probably be considered the greatest scientific breakthrough in modern history — together. They were a team. In everything and in all things, and Mary Jean wouldn’t have had it any other way. She knew how much Joey had dreamed of having a family of his own, and now that they had accomplished what they had set out to do since college, MJ had every intention of giving Joey the family he wanted — the family they both wanted.

MJ and Joey were so completely engrossed in that warm, self actualizing moment, neither of them noticed when the bio-hazard seals on the lab’s only door compressed, forming an air-tight vapor lock.

Their noses detected the gas only an instant before their eyes and ears did, but the split-second, paralyzed hesitation of wondering who had activated the security system or why, did nothing to further imperil their situation. Even if given an hour before losing consciousness, they wouldn’t have been able to overcome the lab’s fail-safe security features or escape. They were trapped.

The blackness engulfed them quickly after Joey pulled MJ close, for what would be the last time.

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