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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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... previous verses ...
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For that brief spurt of time she was not only awake, she was aware of being awake.
That she was awake was not at all a surprise. The computers woke each traveler in their pod on average a couple times a day. It was necessary to keep the brain functional; long-term stasis sleep could shut a brain down permanently, and the brain could begin to sustain damage after only a few days. So two to three times a day each traveler had their brain ‘tickled’ via computer feeds. Each ‘tickle’ had to be specific to each traveler, matching their particular EEG frequencies across all five (delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma) bands.
But the idea was to just tickle it – just nudge it enough to start the synopses firing and then dial it all back into stasis before the brain reached consciousness. If stasis was not restored in time (and it was assumed that might happen at some point during the decades in space, if not regularly) the computer would instantly recognize the condition and 1) initiate an accelerated stasis protocol if that protocol were not already engaged, and 2) inject the traveler with a powerful sedative intended to both induce unconsciousness and deaden the pain receptors (coming out of stasis without pain killers having been compared to the world’s worst hangover times ten). Each pod came with one more, passive failsafe: they were designed with total sensory deprivation. No sight, no sound, weightless and floating in body-temperature slime dulling the sense of touch. Theoretically it would be no different that emerging from REM sleep, coming out of a dream but not realizing it, and dropping right back into a deep slumber, stasis re-established, the voyage of over 1,000 space colonists silently continuing at half the speed of light.
Only she did realize it. She actually thought, ‘wait a minute, I’m awake.’ She was thinking about her dog, who needed a bath, and was actually creating a to-do list to that effect, which she realized she couldn’t do if she were in stasis. And then she actually tried to cry out, “Ouch! Holy crap!”
Two things had gotten past the designers.
First, the same drugs intended to deaden the pain receptors actually burned like hell when injected, thus spiking the brain’s awareness of consciousness.
Second, in part to keep the traveler weightless, the arms were not restrained. So what she did when the searing pain from the drugs began, and what the individuals in both pods on either side of her had already done, as dozens of others had already done, as hundreds more would do in the years ahead, was grope across her body, grab absentmindedly at what was hurting in her other arm, and succeed in yanking out a number of tubes, ports and catheters used by the pod to supply her with critical drugs and nutrients that would have sustained her during the voyage.
She fought to stay awake now, but of course the pod would drag her back to stasis, brain implants continuing to bind them together. In time it would notice as her EEG frequencies began to weaken. When they stopped altogether, it would flood itself with a gas designed to preserve the body within.
Then it would put itself into sleep mode.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.