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Mark II
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-254-2
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 66 Pages
Published: May 2005

Total Readers: 1

From inside the flap

Mark had a problem. He only had two months to live and he had to decide between going out with a "bang" or becoming an "angel". It didn?t take him long to decide, it was really a "no brainer"... or would be. The Angel Program would strip his memories and personality and save them onto a "halo"; a storage device of magnificent proportions. He?d then be given what looked to him like a "flying bedpan" as a body.

Sometimes you have to die in order to live...

Reviews and Awards


Mark II
Dave Kuzminski
reviewed by Barry Hunter

Mark has just learned that he has Varsonís carcinoma and will have about two months before his body breaks down and he has the choice to go out in an unpredictably bad way or have his memories transferred to an Angel. As an Angel, most of his memories would be transferred to a flying box and then serve ten years in service to the government.

Mark goes through Angel training and is recruited at graduation to be part of the Secret Service as an undercover agent working for Senator Brown ? who wants to stop the Angel program ? and is his partyís Presidential nominee.

This is an interesting idea that reads well and makes one think about whether it might actually work. There is enough action and background storylines that make this another winner from Dave Kuzminski. I find it hard to believe that he continues to come up with such innovative ideas for stories. Keep up the good work.

Mark II (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Dr. Curryís office:

Dr. Curry stood well away from his patient. Gloves and a mask served as an additional precaution. "Mark, I?m not going to hold anything from you. You?ve got Varsonís Carcinoma. At best, you?ve got maybe two months."

"Two months? Thatís not much, Dr. Curry." Mark shifted uncomfortably on the disposable paper covering the chair, causing it to crinkle audibly.

"No, it isn?t. Thereís not even any guarantee that you?ll see that much before you collapse. Thatís how severe your test results read."

"So itís all bad news?"

"Not completely. I checked and found out you?re eligible for the Angel Program. If you want to go the Consciousness Transference route, I can probably obtain approval within a month. I?m assuming that you don?t mind paying back the government with ten years of service for the operation."

"Me? An angel? Well, itís one way of beating death, I guess."

"Itís better than going out with a bang. Would you like for me to arrange an interview with an angel for you?"

There was no need for an explanation of the alternative. Mark knew what Curry meant. Victims of Varsonís Carcinoma often lost all rational control shortly before dying. Many had killed indiscriminately without reason until they collapsed or were shot down. Others had gone out in spectacular suicides before reaching that stage. Some of the suicides were arranged and recorded for pay so that their relatives would receive something. Those were all considered going out with a bang.

"Will I really learn more about them than I?ve seen on Internet TV?" Mark asked.

"Well, I was thinking that this would be one‑on‑one, face‑to‑uh‑face, so to speak, rather than interactive television."

"Then I probably won?t learn much about becoming an angel that I don?t already know. That makes it seem like a waste of time."

"Very well. I merely thought I?d put forth the offer since I do know one of the angels personally. Does this mean I should arrange for your angel operation?" Dr. Curry asked.

"If I?m really eligible, you might as well. I?m not really looking forward to dying even though I?ve got no one to live for other than myself."

"Thatís good to hear. I?ll put this procedure into immediate action. In the meantime, think of it as upgrading yourself to a Mark II version instead of dying."

Clinton Memorial Hospital:

The special room was immaculate and bare except for two items visible within its electric-blue kill lights meant to inhibit infectious diseases, though nothing as yet had worked against Varsonís Carcinoma. One item was the Consciousness Transfer frame that suspended a single, disposable seat. The other was the crash cart Mark stood beside. He couldn?t help but stare down briefly at the Maidenís Helmet that Dr. Curry would place upon his head. Hundreds of small nodes filled the inside of the helmet. Each node contained a recording needle that would be shot into his skull. For a moment, Mark felt squeamish. Then he remembered that he really had no choice. It was either transfer his consciousness and memories to the halo connected to the top of the helmet or die. At least the failure rate of less than one percent was on his side.

"You need to undress now so I can apply the sensors. Otherwise, Dr. Curry won?t know when the operation is truly over," the nurse said.

For a moment, Mark turned and stared at the nurse. "In front of you?"

"Does it really matter? I?m going to see you anyway. After all, I?ll be attaching sensors to you once you?re undressed."

"Um, yeah, you?re right. It really doesn?t matter where I undress," Mark said. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt and removed it awkwardly as it was still tucked inside his pants. He finally tossed the shirt down after a moment of indecision about where to place it only to conclude that for once in his life, he didn?t have to be neat. He kicked his shoes off to land on the shirt and dropped his pants to the floor. He stepped out of the pants and finished stripping by removing his socks and underwear. He didn?t know that a rack or chair wasn?t provided for his clothes so he?d have to drop those on the floor to be swept away.

"Put this on, please," the nurse said while handing Mark a condom.

"Whatís this for?" Mark asked.

"Some men get fully aroused when they transfer. I?d rather not have to clean the walls today."

Mark glanced over at the wall before calculating it to be a good ten feet away. "All the way to the wall?"

"Yes. We?re talking about you feeling the most aroused you?ll ever feel in your life."

"Really? Maybe this process isn?t so bad after all," Mark said as he slipped on the condom.

"Whatever. Would you mind sitting in the frame now?" she asked as she placed a disposable liner into position.

Mark turned to face the CT frame. The seat was a hammock‑like affair that supported him from a swing set‑like frame without blocking access to most parts of his body. The seat swayed slightly and crackled some as it stretched with his weight firmly in place. "Am I seated properly?"

The nurse eyed the disposable plastic liner peeking out beneath Mark. "Yes, you?re fine. The liner is merely in case the enema you used didn?t do its job fully." The nurse didn?t mention that the cheap-to-replace nylon straps and seat would go into the incinerator with Markís body when it was released from the frame. For that matter, so would his clothes. Only the CT frame, the crash cart, and the Maidenís Helmet would be reused. "I have to immobilize you now so you won?t cause the helmet to become misaligned," she remarked as she fastened Mark firmly into the harness by his wrists and ankles.

"Should I make any wisecracks about doing to me what you want?" Mark asked.

The nurse smiled for only a moment. One of her gloved hands slipped quickly between Markís legs to adjust the straps. Her hand barely brushed against him before retreating to pick up several more sensors from a tray. Whether she was trying to be sensuous about attaching the sensors or not, it felt that way to Mark as Dr. Curry lowered the helmet into place.

With a sheepish grin on his face, Mark looked up only briefly at Dr. Curry as the doctor prepared to clamp the burnished metal CT helmet into place around Markís head. Mark could almost picture himself appearing like a saint wearing only a fancy football helmet between his head and the requisite halo in a bright, blue, religious icon. The halo, of course, represented the latest in hard drive technology with the read/write heads located inside the reinforced platter that would store his memories.

"This is going to hurt a lot when I activate it, Mark. I wish I could give you an anesthetic. However, that interferes too much with the consciousness transfer."

"I?m ready."

"Bite down on this, Mark," another nurse said as she placed a pair of decidedly low-tech wooden tongue depressors in Markís mouth.

Dr. Curry studied the monitor as each of the needles inside the CT helmet adjusted minutely until it touched the scalp. Markís hair wasn?t shaved for two reasons. One was that most people feared contamination. Another was that it caused the procedure to seem too much like an execution instead of a transfer, even though it was technically both. The mosaic on the monitor showed him every single needle as viewed by the fiber optic cameras within the helmet. Slowly, the indicator lights all changed to green. Curry nodded to the nurse who shoved the depressors against the corners of Markís mouth with her gloved hands so that Mark felt forced to bite. At the same time, Curry pressed the switch.

Simultaneously, two hundred and fifty-six needles punched through the skull into the brain tissue. Mark jerked and screamed through his clenched teeth as his brain was invaded in one massive assault of pain. By then it was too late for him to realize that the nurse had lied about how aroused he?d feel. Procedure by procedure, his fading consciousness was stripped away to be fed into his angel. Less than a minute later, Markís body slumped lifelessly within the restraining frame.

Already, Dr. Curry was reviewing the transfer results. "I?ll disconnect you in another moment, Mark. It looks like your transfer was very successful. So far, estimates show over seventy percent of your memories appear to have been picked up intact and we?re still collecting."

Static filled the air briefly.

"Don?t try to talk yet, Mark. Give yourself and us some time to check through everything. Remember, your mind has to learn how to control everything just like when you were a baby. Itís going to take a few days before you gain full control of your angel."

Some more static sounded, but only very briefly as if in acknowledgement.

After a few more moments of checking the readings, Dr. Curry disconnected what appeared to be a halo from the top of the CT helmet. He then carefully carried it to a cart where an object not quite as large as a bedpan sat, though it had much the same general shape.

Behind Mark, an angel hovered overseeing the operation. It waited until Dr. Curry connected the halo from the Maidenís Helmet to a power unit. "Mark, this is Ted. Conserve your energy for now until they get you hooked up to your main power supply hub. Then you and I will work together on teaching you to speak again. Once we have that accomplished, you can begin learning how to fly. You should be at Heaven by then, so they?ll give you most of your flying lessons. Just don?t worry about anything. I?ll be near you until you reach Heaven. The doctor said that you transferred well. Most of your memories transferred intact. You should relearn how to speak and control your new body in no time flat. Letís begin with the ABCs. Then we?ll count to one hundred."