by T.J. McIntyre

I awoke and the world had changed. It had moved on without me.

Naked and cold I emerged from the fluid. I shook and shivered while purging my lungs of embryonic gel.

"Good Morning!" a comforting voice resounded. I stood and stared into a free-floating projection screen.

Habit and decency forced a reply.

A century had passed since I fell asleep.

"A wise investment," the voice on the screen advised. "ReGenesis costs two-hundred times what you paid on today's market."

Machinery hummed in, delivering bed and blanket. Sustenance was brought, but I couldn't call it food.

The screen expanded. I lay down and watched the history I had missed.

Wars, plagues, political upheavals.

I was disappointed by how little had changed.

Time passed and I grew stronger. I felt more like myself again. I joined the other reborns in the common room we jokingly referred to as "The Nursery." We played chess and reminisced about old times long gone.

Some of the other reborns were from a mere decade before. Others were older, but I was the oldest.

I was trained and taught the basics of quantum genetics. With my previous training, this only required filling some small gaps. They employed me as a technician in the ReGenesis chamber.

I watched life after life spring anew, but always my thoughts turned to her. I saw her in every new face until each face morphed into that of a stranger.

Time passed and I was allowed a vacation. On my way to a beachside town on the newly renamed Bay of New Orleans, I stopped by the old neighborhood. Where the house once rested, stood tall pines strangled by kudzu. Beneath the shade lay a grave.

And then I saw her name.

Etched in stone was my wife's name and below it a range of years. Using the dates on the tombstone, I calculated she died ninety years before.

Below this, an inscription said, "A time to be born, and a time to die..."

Knowing her, I understood she sold her slot for ReGenesis. My "pipe dream," as she called it. It comforted me that whatever she sold it for was useless to her now.

But then again, maybe I didn't know her all that well?

I reread the inscription.

I reached out and touched the cold stone while remembering her warmth. I remembered how warm I used to be with her and shivered.

© 2008 T. J. McIntyre

Stories by T.J. McIntyre have been rejected by some of the greatest editors of our time. He spends much of his free time in his own world until his two boys or wife snap him out of it and bring him back to reality. As his stories usually show, reality is a much nicer place to be anyway. He is the publisher of Southern Fried Weirdness.

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