BrendaÕs Story

by Glen Gardner

        Not long ago I entered eternity.  Eternal life, eternal beauty, the whole nine yards.  IÕm not sure the tradeoff is worth it though.  You see, immortality comes at the cost of mobility, of freedom.  How did this metamorphosis come about?  How am I communicating this?  WhatÕs it like?  Is it worth it?  Where to start?  I think IÕll start with how I came to be in this condition before I describe what itÕs like and how I feel about it, now that itÕs too late.

        LetÕs start with some background.  My name, not that it matters anymore, is (was?) Brenda.  I was a 24-year-old graduate student until last summer when I stopped aging and entered immortality.  I had studied biochemistry as an undergrad and continued this area of study as a grad student.  The team and project that I chose to work with was studying ways to preserve animals and cadavers so that the damaging formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals were not required.  We developed a compound that when exposed to a certain wavelength of X-ray radiation formed a rigid, permanent, structure.  The specimen is infused with the solution for several hours beforehand; similar to the way embalming or taxidermy fluids are currently injected.  The cells and interstitial spaces throughout the body become saturated with the solution.  The specimen can then be posed and once bathed with the X-rays it is ŌfrozenÕ into position. Once the solution solidifies it is absolutely rigid; there is no movement possible.  All the skin tones and colors of the specimen are perfectly preserved.  There is no washing out, shrinkage, or fading as is evident with current embalming technology.

        We were pretty excited with this discovery.  Our professor and team leader, Dr. Cooper, was an amateur taxidermist who was looking for an easier and quicker way to preserve his specimens.  The solution solved several problems at the same time.  It sped up the process, did not involve toxic chemicals, and eliminated the need for structural reinforcement to hold the preserved specimen in place.  We tried the solution out successfully on many types of animals.  We put the preserved animals through all sorts of tests; we put them into freezing cold, into direct sunlight, submerged them in water; we simulated the hot dry weather of Arizona, the hot humid weather of Florida, and the cold weather of Minnesota.  It was a smashing success.  Word leaked out and soon taxidermists from around the country wanted our solution.

        It wasnÕt long before Funeral Directors too started calling, inquiring about using the solution as an embalming fluid.  Since the funeral business is a strictly regulated trade we had to be careful how we conducted the feasibility studies.  It turned out that Dr. CoopersÕ brother was a funeral director and had the city contract for embalming and burying the John and Jane DoeÕs that are inevitably found in a large metropolitan area.  He was able to secure several bodies on the sly.  We tried the solution, which we code-named Fresol (Formaldehyde REplacement SOLution), on the human cadavers and it worked fantastically.  Just like with the animals, it sped up the preservation process, was not as toxic to the technicians, and lacked the strong formaldehyde odor of the existing chemicals.  But the real difference was in their appearance.  The skin tone and texture was nearly perfectly preserved.  There was no sagging or the general flaccidness that is usually apparent in an embalmed body.  The only difference was that while the skin looked lifelike, it was rock hard.  There was no flexibility or suppleness to it.  As long as no one touched the body you couldnÕt tell if that person was asleep or dead.

        The first cadaver we tried this process on was that of a drunk found in a downtown park.  Once we determined that the Fresol worked as expected and had subjected the preserved body to the full battery of tests, he was buried in the potterÕs field and no one was the wiser.  The next test subject, however, had been a beautiful young lady.  She appeared to be around twenty or so and obviously she took care of herself.  Her hair was stylishly cut and maintained, her nails were trimmed and polished, and her body looked well nourished and fit.  She had died of a drug overdose but was never claimed.  No one reported her missing.  Rather than preserving her lying on the table, we stood her up and posed her like a mannequin before completing the process.  Charlie, another grad student on the team, was positively taken with the preserved figure.  He started calling her Vicky and dressing her up.  We kept her in the lab for a while and she became sort of our mascot.  We couldnÕt keep her there forever though, since if she was discovered there would be legal problems for the lab, Dr. Cooper, as well as his brother.  When it came time to dispose of Vicky, Charlie smuggled her out of the lab and stashed her in his basement.  To help disguise her appearance, he removed all of her hair, used auto body filler in certain areas, and painted her a uniform color.  Vicky now looked just like a mannequin.

        As we progressed with our trials, we perfected the formula.  We got it to where, after the infusion, the solution would thicken enough to hold the specimen in place so we didnÕt have to support the body throughout the X-ray procedure.  Supporting the body left unnatural dents in the flesh where the frame or supportersÕ hands held the body.  Which for a funeral didnÕt matter so much as only the face, upper chest, and hands were exposed but made a big improvement in the appearance of standing figures.  Vicky was soon joined by Janet, another young pretty overdose victim, now turned into a mannequin in CharlieÕs basement.  We had worked out the kinks and felt we had created a product that would revolutionize the mortuary industry.  Dr. CooperÕs brother licensed the patent and went through the governmental approval process.  Fresol passed with flying colors, and then was put on the market. It wasnÕt long before sales took off.  We quickly made a lot of money, some of which Dr. Cooper used to fund some private research that the university did not know about.

        As a pure intellectual exercise, Dr. Cooper had injected Fresol into some living lab rats.  The theory was that if they could be suspended while still alive that would prove to be a valuable research tool.  Once any living being dies, the tissues immediately start to deteriorate.  Decay immediately sets in, making it hard to study some of the intricate structures in the body.  If they could be preserved before death the heart, say, could be studied in mid pump, or the muscles could be studied while contracted rather than relaxed and limp in death.  There were a myriad of delicate body structures that scientists wanted to study that were difficult to do so with a dead specimen.  MRI still had limited resolution.  Working below the radar, as we didnÕt want the animal rights groups distracting us from our studies, we found that there was a window where perfect animate preservation is possible.  Wait too long, and the animal would become poisoned by the Fresol.  Freeze the animal too soon and the Fresol wouldnÕt have time to infuse through all the cells.  We worked out a table of how much to inject and how long to wait based on the body weight of the subject.

        One day I wondered out loud if the specimenÕs brain remained intact.  Was there conscious thought?  Sure, the body and all the organs were rigid; the blood had stopped circulating and become solid as well, but what of the brain and nerves?  Could they still conduct the signals?  They were after all electrical, not chemical, in nature.  Charlie said he might have a way to test this theory, but it would involve bringing in another team member. Marie, his girlfriend / long-standing fiancˇe, was a doctor doing her internship at a long-term care facility.  She worked with patients in comas, and regularly monitored them for signs of brain function using EEGÕs.  She agreed to help us and brought an EEG machine to the lab.  We took an EEG trace of a rat before and after freezing it.  After, the pain area of the brain registered off the chart, but the other areas showed similar activity to a normal living creature.  We concluded that the freezing process was painful, which made sense; we are introducing a toxic substance into every living cell and then rapidly solidifying it, halting the processes of life in a few milliseconds.  What if we anesthetized the animal first?  This seemed to work better, but dulled the brain activity.  That was fine as far as we were concerned at that point; the animal could be preserved intact without subjecting it to an eternity of pain.  This technique was a much more humane way of preserving the specimens, so we used it from that point onward.

        Now, youÕre probably wondering how I wound up preserved forever.  IÕm not dead, nor was I when we decided to test the formula on a living person.  How did we get from preserving live animals to preserving a live, conscious human; namely, me? 

     Why did we choose to cross that Rubicon?  Preserving live animals had genuine useful scientific value.  We proved that it was possible to humanely preserve an animal at the height of life.  Ethically, the tradeoff was worth it; new life saving medicines and devices would be made possible as a result of our method.  But preserving a live human was totally above the realm of animals.  This was something that would usually require a national debate and years of soul searching before it should even be attempted.  Dr. Cooper, on the other hand, was the type to try something just to see what would happen.  ThatÕs why he first tried Fresol on the live rats.  It led to a breakthrough in the biological sciences that could be accepted by the community.  Living humans, though, were a different story.  He felt that maybe he could live with his conscience if the procedure was performed on a willing volunteer.  But who would make that kind of sacrifice; to throw her life away like that?  What was there to gain?  Just to prove it could be done?

        But first he wanted to test if it was even possible to preserve an advanced, much more complicated organism like a human.  Marie mentioned that at the long-term care facility where she worked, there was a girl who had been in a coma for three years.  She had been found in a drug house unconscious and almost dead.  No one knew her name, how old she was, or where she was from.  No family had reported her missing; she had become a ward of the state.  Marie and Dr. CooperÕs brother figured out a way to get her away from the facility without too many questions being asked as we wrestled with the morality and ethics of preserving her against her will.  Would she want this?  Would she approve?

        Charlie had no reservations at all.  Charlie was big into statues, mannequins, and the objectification of women.  He had a large collection of photos and stories about women frozen into statues or mannequins.  Marie was into this fetish as well.  I once went over to their house for dinner.  About halfway through, Marie excused herself and left the kitchen.  When the meal was finished, Charlie suggested we go to the basement rec. room to relax for some after-dinner drinks.  In the corner were the preserved figures of Vicky and Janet, standing there looking as beautiful as ever.  But joining them was another figure.  She wore nothing but a sheer blue bra and a matching thong.  I nearly fell over when I realized it was Marie, standing stock still with one hand on VickyÕs shoulder and the other draped over JanetÕs outstretched arm.  She didnÕt move as I approached and addressed her.  She kept her distant stare and did not acknowledge my presence in the least way.  It was as if she were a mannequin, too.  Charlie came over and led me to the couch; where he sat me down and explained that Marie was into freeze modeling.  He explained that she could remain motionless like that for about three or four hours.  We got to talking about a wide range of subjects, including his interest in statues and the like.  After about two hours of conversation I realized that Marie had faded into the background, that we had just been ignoring her like we did the coffee table or the corner lamp.  She was there but had become no more than an object.  I got up, said good-bye to Charlie and his motionless fiancˇe, then left all without Marie moving a muscle or acting like she even knew we were there.

        I knew Charlie, Marie, and now I would have no problem with preserving ŌJulieÕ, our comatose Jane Doe.  We appealed to Dr. CooperÕs intellectual curiosity and soon won him over.  After all, Julie was unaware of what was happening to her and maybe would even appreciate having her beauty preserved rather than it slowly fading away over the next several years.  We made arrangements to sneak her into the lab.  The goal of our test this time was to study the brain function post-preservation.  We didnÕt want to use any anesthesia as it may have had a dulling effect on the brain and suppressed some activity in addition to killing the pain.  Marie assured us that a cervical epidural would stop the pain sensations before they entered the brain, but would have no effect on the brain itself.  We also were going to freeze Julie with her eyes open.  A few of the animals that were frozen with their eyes open had recorded some blips on the EEG when light conditions changed.  Were their eyes still capable of sending signals to the brain?  Was vision unaffected by the preservation process?  We calculated the quantity of Fresol and time window for infusion, based on JulieÕs weight.  She was heavier than any animal thus far tested.  The heaviest we had frozen was a large dog, but the ratios had held throughout all the animals tested, so we extrapolated the curve to JulieÕs weight.

        Now you know that Charlie wasnÕt about to let us freeze Julie lying on a table.  We infused the Fresol, waited a few minutes, and stood her up in the X-ray chamber.  When the window opened, she started to stiffen up just as the solution was designed to do.  We made some last-second adjustments to her pose and hit the X-rays.  She was beautiful standing there with her arms bent in an inviting, elegant way; her legs paused in mid stride; her chest out and head held high.  Even Dr. Cooper agreed that it was better that we posed her this way rather than waste her beauty in some clinical pose.

        Then we got busy with the EEG machine.  Her post-freezing brain function trace was identical to the trace from before freezing: comatose.  We were pleasantly surprised by the light reaction tests, though.  Her reaction to the light stimulus was the same after as before preservation.  The peaks on the EEG were almost identical.  What we could not tell though, because of her brain damage, was if she was seeing anything or just reacting to the light changes.  We knew that some brainwave activity was happening.  We didnÕt know if higher-level conscious thought was possible.  All we had seen so far was instinctual reaction to light.  There was only one way to find out if higher level brain functions like thought, reasoning, and memory were possible: test the process on a fully aware, conscious person.

        But how could we tell what, or even if, the preserved person was still aware, conscious, and capable of higher-level thought when their body and brain were solid, immobilized?  Marie thought that a way of communication might be possible.  What if, she postulated, certain thoughts hence brain wave patterns, could be learned before the freezing?  Then, once frozen, if higher brain activity was possible, the test subject could think these pattern thoughts and they would be detected on the EEG.  A code could be worked out, similar to Morse code, allowing the test subject to communicate.  If, as we assumed, some form of vision were retained, two-way communication would be possible; otherwise the test subject would be transmitting in the blind, never knowing if we had ŌheardÕ her.

        Which brought us back around to the same question:  What would justify permanently preserving a living, healthy, conscious human?  Sure, there were potential scientific gains that would undoubtedly be made.  Those gains might be ethically justifiable using comatose victims or even those very near death.  There was no need to use a conscious person though; the research could be obtained with brain-dead or unconscious people.  It would take a debate amongst philosophers, religious leaders, and politicians to decide if the costs were worth the sacrifice.  Dr. Cooper had no intentions of becoming historyÕs next Dr. Mengele.

     Yet, I underwent the procedure.  Why?  What changed?  How did it happen?

        We smuggled Julie out of the lab and into CharlieÕs house over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Charlie and Marie had me over for Thanksgiving Dinner.  As we admired Vicky, Janet, and now Julie, talk turned to Charlie and MarieÕs fascination with statues and objectification.  Charlie liked to look for sure, but it was MarieÕs feelings that started the worm turning in my mind.  She said that standing there that evening while Charlie and I talked had turned her on something fierce.  As much as she wanted to participate in our conversation the desire to simply be was greater.  She enjoyed people looking at her as an object but not seeing her.  Sometimes, she said, she wished she had the nerve to take Fresol, but she always held doubts.  What if she hated it?  It was a one-way trip. Once frozen, she wouldnÕt be able to change back or act on her arousal.  With the freeze modeling, she could get the rush of the objectification but retain the control over her life. 

        She talked me into trying some freeze modeling.  She gave me some instructions and some pointers on how she was able to remain so motionless for so long.  We went down to the basement, stepped up on the platform with Vicky, Janet, and Julie, struck a pose, and entered a trance.  Charlie came down and shot a round of pool, watched some TV, and read the paper.  He totally disregarded us as the objects we had become.  It was magical!  I was instantly hooked.  That experience started me down a path that led me to where I am now:  a true object; unchanging É permanent É forever.

        As I got better at standing motionless, Marie was able to get me some gigs posing as a mannequin in the lingerie section of OrrÕs, the downtown department store, during the Christmas shopping season.  I loved it!  I could watch as shoppers looked at me but totally ignored me.  No matter if I was wearing the most revealing garments, looking totally sexy, I was an object.  These erotic feelings, along with my scientific curiosity, lit a flame of desire in me that grew bigger and hotter throughout December and into the New Year.

        The next logical step in our research was to preserve a conscious volunteer, but we hesitated and dithered; caught on the horns of a moral dilemma.  Those results could never be published without a huge firestorm of debate and criticism; there would be serious legal consequences, there were no benefits.  ExceptÉ there were; we had been working on Fresol for four years now; we had developed three separate marketable products; we had proved (to ourselves) that it was possible to preserve a human without killing her, but we still didnÕt know if the brain was preserved intact.  Yet there was no scientifically justifiable reason to find out.  It just didnÕt matter; the knowledge had no use and could never leave the lab.  But we were curious.  Once we proved that the preservation process did not automatically result in death and that at least some brain function was retained, we were curious what it would be like.  Would the last thought at preservation be frozen forever into the brainÕs synapses or would the brain be functional; would active thought be possible?  Would the nerves, neurons, and various interconnections in the brain be functional or locked in; freezing that last thought?  Could conscious thoughts still be had?  Through the testing we knew that the nerves still transmitted signals, but could the brain still process them?  We discussed, and theorized, and assumed, but couldnÕt know for sure.  It was a thorn in our sides; it was an unanswered question that nagged at us and there was only one way to positively find out.  It got to the point where we felt that maybe we could live with our consciences if it was on a willing, informed, volunteer.  But who would make that kind of sacrifice; to throw her life away like that?  What would be the gain?  Just to prove it could be done?  Once the team had their answers they would move on with their lives, their curiosity satisfied.  The preserved person, however, would be condemned to spend the rest of eternity alone, unable to move on with her life, bearing the cost of our curiosity forever.

     Finding out just wasnÕt worth the price.   Or was it?

        It was becoming clear to me that if we were ever to answer these questions that I would have to be the test subject.  Neither Dr. Cooper nor his brother was the type; besides they were too valuable to the team to be lost.  CharlesÕ kink was to collect and objectify women, not be the statue.  Marie would understand, but wouldnÕt actually ever consider volunteering; besides we needed her expertise with the EEG machine.  To go out and recruit a volunteer would take too long and, unless we were very careful, could expose us.  None of us had the desire to kidnap and forcibly preserve someone.  We all knew that would be unethical and immoral, not to mention extremely illegal.  We already were stepping over the line by using comatose unconscious victims; we didnÕt want the added weight on our consciousness.  So it looked like I would have to be the one.  They didnÕt pressure me or force me in any way; heck, they wouldnÕt even have asked me, but the only way to answer those questions would be if someone volunteered.

        On Monday Jan. 4, I made a decision that changed the course of my life.  It was on that day that I told them I would volunteer to undergo to Fresol process.  The team was shocked.  They couldnÕt believe it.  They listened to my reasoning and were still unsure.  Unsure both of my seriousness and unsure if they could live with their part in this.  It was an awfully high price to pay just to answer a few questions that, in the long run, really shouldnÕt matter.  I assured them of my commitment to see it through if we did it as a team.  Unless everyone was on board I wouldnÕt go through with it.  I reassured them that I was a willing volunteer; that I felt no pressure from them; and that no matter what happened, I wouldnÕt hold it against them.  The ball was in their court.  No matter what happened; whether I died or was perfectly preserved, they would have to live with their consciences.  I was prepared to face the consequences and live with the results; they had to be a hundred percent ready as well.

        There were other reasons besides the aforementioned rational ones that I volunteered as well.  I didnÕt mention it to them at the time, but seeing Vicky, Janet, and Julie posed on their stands so lifelike, so beautiful, turned me on.  Charles had done a wonderful job dressing them and posing them.  IÕm sure that had they been able to, they would have approved.  Their beauty, their youth were preserved for all time, rather than lying in a bed unable to communicate or even wake up; their beauty fading as they aged, eventually to slip into oblivion and be placed in the ground like Vicky almost was. 

        Seeing Marie after she hopped up on that platform, then not moving for the entire evening as we talked and, after initially admiring her, treated her as background decoration excited me.  Standing in the department store, wearing the most revealing clothing, and having shoppers casually walk by, ignoring me like they did the walls or roof posts really turned me on.  What would it be like to know people were looking at me, maybe being turned on by my body, but being treated as mere decoration, always?  Those thoughts were in my mind when I volunteered to test Fresol while conscious.

        After much discussion and reassurance of my commitment on my part, we set a target date:  July 31st, my 25th birthday, was chosen as the date I would take Fresol and enter the next phase of my existence, the immortal unchanging phase.  All the testing would be complete and the final formula would be ready well before that date, but we had to cover our tracks.  We had to carefully plan on how to explain my disappearance.  I had to work out and memorize the EEG code with Marie.  I had a ŌBucket ListÕ that I wanted to accomplish before it was too late, so I could take those memories into eternity.  There was a lot to do and we would need all of those seven months.

        Surprisingly, save one incident, I never had any doubts or second thoughts about going through with the procedure.  Once the decision was made and the date was set, I started looking forward to it.  In spite of all that I knew that I was giving up, and all the questions of what it would be like, I was determined to find out.  I knew that I was heading down a one-way street, that there would be no going back, no undoing what would be done.  I was making a permanent life changing – possibly life-ending – commitment.  I was trading my mobility, my freedom and dreams of falling in love, getting married, and having a child for a different future: an immortal, albeit silent, lonely, and immobile future.  I would no longer have control over my body, if or where I was displayed, or what I would be wearing.  Even though what I was giving up what would seem to most as not worth it, I wanted to know what it was like, I wanted to experience something that no one else had ever done.  Even considering the tremendous costs, I wanted to be young and attractive forever.  I wanted people to look at my body with admiration and lust.  I knew that once preserved I might hate it, but I made the choice with my eyes wide open and was prepared to count that cost.  I was not duped, I was not forced, I had all the available information; I volunteered before the team even discussed what the next step would be.  Even if I grew to regret my decision once it was too late, I would at least know that I made that decision of my own free will and that I had considered the consequences even if I did not know exactly what they would be.  I decided that it was something I was willing, in fact wanted, to risk.

        Once those costs were counted I was ready and determined to proceed.  The rest of the team wasnÕt so sure, though.  They tried to talk me out of it.  I donÕt think Dr. Cooper really understood then, or even now, why anyone would even think of doing this.  He couldnÕt understand why I was, in his mind, throwing away my education, my future, and my potential.  ItÕs hard to explain exactly what was driving me or why I was determined to do this.  The best I could come up with was that I could die in a car accident, or a mugging, or by some illness next year or next week, which would also end my future and potential.  This way, I was in control of at least part of my destiny and was deciding that I would exchange an uncertain although free future for a certain, albeit unchanging future.  Charlie and Marie, however, at least could understand why someone might consider doing something like this.  Even so, everything till now was in the realm of play.  All of CharlieÕs writings and collection of stories about statues, mannequins, and objectification of women were just imagination and fiction.  All of MarieÕs freeze modeling and mannequin posing was just that: play.  What I was planning was for real.  This was permanent.  I never knew this kind of kink existed until I met Charlie.  Four years ago when I first joined the team, I would never even have considered this.  But something had grabbed me.  Seeing Vicky, Janet, and especially Julie preserved for all time, knowing that they would never age or die, their beauty never fading had captured my imagination.

        Since the team couldnÕt dissuade me, they made sure I had all the available facts.  We had learned from the animals that Fresol preservation was a painful procedure.  When we administered the cervical epidural to Julie just before freezing her, there was no evidence of pain on the EEG.  Apparently the nerves could transmit signals even when preserved.  We theorized that the preservation process was so traumatic to the cells that there was a lot of pain.  We therefore decided that I would have a cervical epidural and a good dose of pain-killers going in, which would numb all the pain transmitting nerves in my body.  The downside of this is that once frozen I would never physically feel anything again.  Touch, pressure, heat, and cold sensations would all be lost forever.  Since smell relies on airborne particles contacting with sensors deep within the nasal passages and I would not be breathing, we also assumed that that sense would be lost as well.  Taste is a combination of food contact with the tongue and the aroma of the food.  I was not about to pose for all eternity with my mouth hanging open, so taste was another sensation I would be denied.  Of the two senses left, we could immediately rule out hearing.  Hearing relies on the motion of the eardrum and various small bones to transmit vibrations to the nerves.  Since absolute immobility was the one thing we knew for sure was going to happen, we knew that I would be in absolute silence for all time.  Balance and spatial awareness comes from fluid motion in the inner ear.  I wonÕt even know if I was upright, lying down, or even bouncing around in a truck.  Eyesight was the only unknown.  Eyesight is completely passive.  It requires no moving parts.  The light focuses onto the retina and is converted to electrical impulses.  All of our testing thus far indicated that some sort of signal was getting to the brain.  We didnÕt know if it was an image or just some sort of light/dark differentiation.  There was only one way find out and I would be the first to know.  Even though I was guaranteed to be denied four of the five senses with a question mark on the fifth, I was still willing, even eager, to proceed.

        There was a potential I would be alone with my thoughts and absolutely no external stimuli forever, yet I still wanted to continue.  At this point it was probably pure curiosity on my part more than anything; I HAD to know what it would be like.  The wanting consumed me.  No rational person would do this, would they?  Surely youÕd go mad without stimulation, with only yourself as company.  Dr. Cooper could not understand this all-consuming fire and almost pulled the plug on the experiment, saying that it was too big a price to pay with too little reward.  The only result would be the satisfaction of our curiosity.  I persuaded him to let me do it because: a) I was volunteering.  I wanted to do this.  b) I would be the person facing these consequences; I was making the biggest sacrifice; all he had to do was live with the guilt on his conscience.  c) If he could do that, I was willing to live with whatever happened.  Plus, I think his inner desire to know and to take the next research step got the better of him.  What I didnÕt know then was what I didnÕt know, what I couldnÕt know, until it was too late.  I had let my overwhelming desire to know what it would be like to be preserved overshadow what I should have known, or at least guessed, about my character.  I wouldnÕt fully comprehend this until it was too late.

        Once the big decision was made there were many others that had to be considered as well.  Principal among them was how to explain my absence.  There were only two real choices:  Either I would disappear on the 31st like I had been kidnapped, or we could fake my death.  This last choice, ultimately, was what we settled on.  A sudden disappearance would result in an investigation, which was that last thing anybody on the team wanted.  My death, though sure to be shocking and sad, would wrap everything up with a neat bow.  Everyone would have closure and there would be no lingering questions as to what had happened to me.  This would solve the problem; both locally with my friends and classmates on campus as well as with my family back east.  It was hard to talk to some of my friends, knowing I would never see them again.  I had the dual and often contradictory task of keeping this secret while making sure that they and I had no rifts between us.  Many people die with bad, unresolved relationships.  Those people are beyond feeling and donÕt experience the lifelong guilt or hurt that the survivor does.  Since, we assumed, I would retain these feelings, I wanted to be sure I had a clear conscience about my relationships and that I could enter eternity without guilt or remorse.  The easiest part was, believe it or not, my family.  My father had died while I was in High School and my mother had advanced Alzheimer's Disease; most days she didnÕt even recognize me.  I am an only child and didnÕt have any real relationships with my cousins.  I had up and moved to the other side of the country several years ago and had not had much contact with them since.  I went back to New Jersey, told my family I was going on an extended field research trip to the jungles of South America, cleaned up some of momÕs affairs, and signed her power-of-attorney over to her sister.  I bade them good-bye, telling them that I would see them in two years when I returned.

        Then the decision of how I would be preserved and displayed had to be made.  I wanted to be frozen nude.  I did not want any clothing seams, bra strap, or elastic waistband impressions in my skin for all time.  If I was going to be forever frozen, I wanted to be frozen at the height of my youth and beauty.  Since I couldnÕt go back in time and be preserved with my 20- or 21-year-old body, I wanted to go out looking as best as I possibly could.  I joined a gym and exercised regularly; eating right for the first time since graduation.  I had a deadline and didnÕt want to have regrets.  My already toned and slim body took on a fit and athletic appearance.  I regularly sunbathed in CharlesÕ backyard.  I used his yard as it was private and I could lie out nude, practicing posing as a reclining sculpture some days.  I did not want any tan lines etched on my skin forever.  I had all of my hair below my neck removed.  I had some skin tags and freckles lasered away.

        Since I was going to be preserved conscious and, I presumed, with memories intact, I wanted to make sure I had no regrets.  There were some things I wanted to do before I was ... well, beyond the ability to do them.  I went on Spring Break, got wildly drunk, participated in wet tee shirt contests, hooked up with strange guys and had wild unprotected sex.  I did all sorts of things that I would never have even considered nor had the nerve to do before, had I not had that fixed end date.  It can be tremendously liberating to be able to live your life as if there were no tomorrow, since in my case there wouldnÕt be.  I did not have to worry about the future, about getting a job, saving for retirement.  Outside of my outward physical appearance, I did not have to worry about contracting STDs or cancer.  I ate what I wanted, there was no need to worry about additives, or cholesterol, or nutritional content.  I did some non self-destructive things as well, some things IÕve always wanted to do but put off or figured I would never have time or money for.  I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  I ran naked through a grassy meadow and jumped into a cold mountain lake.  I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and watched it set over the Pacific Ocean.  I vacationed to Brazil, which killed several birds with one stone:  I wanted to visit a foreign country; walk down a beach topless; and see the stars of the southern skies.  Most importantly, I used the trip as cover for my planned disappearance and eventual ŌdeathÕ.  I said good-bye to my friends and boarded the plane on my way to my Ōresearch tripÕ.  Upon landing, I dropped ŌÓoff the gridÓ, destroyed my ID, and paid cash for the slow boat and bus back home; finally sneaking across the Mexican border and then staying out of sight for the last five weeks of my life.

        The closer the day got, the more urgent I was to see, do, and taste everything.  I knew that from Aug. 1st on I would have only my preserved memories to sustain me.  I would never again smell an apple pie as it baked or taste the cinnamon in the first bite, I would never feel the warmth of the sun on my naked skin again, I would never again feel the embrace of a lover, I would never have another orgasm.  I would never again hear the gentle wash of the surf onto the beach or the birds calling in the early morning, or the moaning of a satisfied lover.  I would never see another movie, read another book, or dance at another concert.  I would never know what became of my family, or friends, or the world around me.  I would be in the world as an object, but would not be able to interact with it.  I would not know how people reacted when they saw my preserved body or if anyone else joined me in immortality.  I wanted to make sure that I had no regrets; that I had experienced or partaken in as many pleasures of this life that I could.  I knew that once the Fresol was injected there would be no turning back.  Once it was injected there were only two options:  wait and let it poison me in which case I would enter the sweet release of death; or undergo the rest of the preservation process.  Once frozen, I would have the rest of time to ponder the consequences of what I had chosen.  I did not want to have to spend time regretting not having done something, not once it was too late.

        Once all the details were worked out and the formula was ready it was almost time to take the big step.  I had a tag sale, gave away or donated everything else, said good-bye to my friends and landlord, and went to Brazil.  On my stealthy return, I moved in with Charles and Marie for the last five weeks.  I had to stay out of sight, since everyone thought I was in Brazil.  I spent those last five weeks evening up my tan, reading some books I wanted to take with me into eternity, and working with Marie on the code.  I practiced using a biofeedback method, watching the EEG pattern while thinking various thoughts to see their effect.  Once we had four unique patterns, we developed a code to represent the letters, numbers, and symbols.  I had to memorize and perfect it now because in just a few days it would be my only link to the team, the only way they would know if conscious thought was possible while preserved.  This was the only way they could catch a glimpse of what it was like on the other side.

        It really sunk in that I was about to undergo a tremendous transformational step when I got rid of all my possessions and irrevocably severed all my ties to my family and friends.  When I moved into CharlesÕ house I had no job, no possessions, no friends save the team, and no money.  I could not get another job, access my bank account, or use my passport due to my faked death.  As far as the world was concerned I was no more.  I knew this loss was a very tiny taste of what was to come.  I lost everything, some of it irrevocably, but I was still alive, could still somehow rebuild a life if I changed my mind.  Once I took the Fresol, I would not be able to change my mind and rebuild my life.  I was still determined, but as the day grew nearer and my plan was implemented, the ramifications of my decision were starting to become real.  Back in January when I made the decision and in the first few months as we formulated the plan, it seemed more like a dream; a sex fantasy, like reading one of CharlieÕs stories.  In the spring, as I travelled and tried to experience as much as possible, as I got into shape, it was fun but still didnÕt seem real yet.  But once I was declared dead and the government placed my assets into probate it hit home what was coming.  It was real.

        I couldnÕt decide what pose I wanted.  I wanted to be frozen so that my best assets were presented in a way that would make men stop and notice.  Of course, I wouldnÕt get tired or cramp up while holding my final pose, unlike when I freeze modeled, so everything was considered and tried.  I knew that only the team members would see me preserved and that was possibly my only regret to that point.  I was hot.  I had worked hard for five months to tone and perfect my body and only four people would see it.  It wouldnÕt be long till they got over the excitement and I would fade into the background like Vicky, Janet, and Julie had.  They were there, hidden, down in CharlesÕ basement where very few people could appreciate their beauty.  Hope came in the form of an advertisement Charles found a few weeks before Ņthe dayÓ.  The university art museum was soliciting a lifelike life-size sculpture for a new sculpture garden.  He went to their offices and pitched the plan that he would make a lifecast of a woman.  They loved it.  They had some suggestions for the pose and presentation they wanted.  A deal was struck and the unveiling date was chosen.  The garden was scheduled to open with me in place on March 1st.

        That meant that we had seven months to complete all our studies on my preserved body before I would be beyond the reach of the EEG machine and any form of communication.  I would be alone from then on.  It was really only about five months, because Charles needed a couple of weeks to prepare me for display and the art museum wanted my statue delivered in January so I could be installed.  This meant that I had another cost to count.  We were assuming all along that I would be able to have some form of vision.  I would not be able to move my eyes or change my focus but we assumed that I would have at least some light perception and they could, at minimum, blink lights in Morse code to ask me questions and send me some messages.  The curators requested that the statue, me, be lifelike but gold plated.  The gold plating would do two things:  1) blind me totally, absolutely, no light would penetrate the plating; and 2) shield any brain wave activity from being detected by the EEG machine.  I would be in total blackness and absolute silence.  I would be alone with only my thoughts.  I would have no sense of the passage of time.  No sense of what was happening to me.  Had opening day come yet?  What was the crowdÕs reaction to me?  Was it night or day?  What year is it?  What became of the team?  Was I still on display or did an earthquake knock me off my display pedestal?  Would I go mad without stimulation?  I would have no way of knowing.  This was slightly unnerving and caused me to pause and reconsider.

        At that point, July 31st was only 5 weeks away.  My ŌdeathÕ was 2 weeks away and my memorial service was 3 weeks away.  Once that happened, it would be much harder to stop this train, so I had a two-week window left to reconsider.  My mind for the last six months had been consumed with what it would be like to be frozen.  I was obsessed with finding out.  I HAD to know.  But that was with the knowledge that I would be able in some limited fashion to communicate.  I would at least know that is was day or night, winter or summer.  Now I was facing spending all of time in a dark silent existence, beyond any means of knowing what was happening around me.  Since youÕre reading this, it should be obvious what my ultimate choice was.  It only took several hours of consideration before my resolve returned stronger than ever.  I had spent so much time thinking, wondering, and dreaming of being preserved that I really didnÕt want to back out now.  I knew I would regret changing my mind and would wonder for the rest of my life what it would have been like.  My mind had been so set on undergoing this transformation that I had stopped planning for a life beyond July 31st.  I would have to start all over with planning and dreaming for a ŌnormalÕ life that since the New Year IÕd hadnÕt planned on living.  I also felt obligated to the team; IÕd made a commitment and backing out now would mean our questions would probably never be answered.  I thought of Julie, standing forever still down in CharlieÕs basement.  She hadnÕt had a choice and we had subjected her to an eternal unchanging life.  She was unaware and uncaring, so our conscience was clear.  But she was so beautiful standing there.  Her beauty would never fade.  But no one save Charlie and Marie and me had had the opportunity to appreciate her.  I would have the chance to be placed on display for all to see, to be admired and lusted at for all time.  That wasnÕt the deciding factor, but it did make my choice easier.

        I think the biggest reason was curiosity.  As mentioned above, I HAD to know.  Above all else, I needed to know what it would be like.  If I knew earlier, say in January, that I would be blind as well as deaf I may have backed out, the costs would have seemed too great.  But after spending the last six months dwelling on being frozen and making all these plans and commitments, it was too late; I had gone too far down the path to turn back.  If I hated it and regretted it, I would have no choice but to live with it.  I decided that I wanted to chance it.  Even though I only had a small grasp and some vague, unproven, ideas of what was really in store, I decided that I was willing to accept and live with the consequences of the decision.  But, again, I had overlooked one important aspect of my personality.

        Besides, if there were to be followers, someone had to be first.  I knew there was a whole community of people who were fascinated with the possibility of preservation; some might even dare to take that same big step.  By taking this step I could report back on what it was really like.  Those desiring to follow would at least have more complete information on what they were losing and gaining.  I viewed myself as the next Magellan or Columbus, heading off to find the new world, to see what was Ōout thereÕ.  Those explorers werenÕt sure of success or even survival, but they set sail anyway.  This was my destiny; I would set forth, then accept and deal with whatever happened.  Even if the process resulted in death, or there was no conscious thought, or was such a miserable existence that it wasnÕt worth it; I wanted to know; I had to know.  Whether anyone followed or not, I would never know.  I could be the leader of an army of people floating through time in absolute solitude, never to know one another.

        Time seemed to speed up and yet drag at the same time.  Those last five weeks both flew by and took forever to pass.  So much was happening, there were so many details to take care of, because once I ŌdiedÕ, and especially once I was frozen, it would be too late.  The day of my ŌdeathÕ finally came.  That morning the rubber started to hit the road.  Once the announcement of my death was made I was committed to at least living the rest of my life under an assumed identity.  I would no longer be able to visit my family or walk around on campus.  The announcement was made that I had been lost in an accident in the jungles of South America.  The memorial service was set for the next week.  I didnÕt have a great many friends and was not close to my remaining family, so the service would be small.  I had visited many of these friends over the previous couple of months to announce that I was going on the research trip and to say good-bye; only I knew how permanent that farewell was to be.

        Even though they knew the truth, the team members took the memorial service hard.  After all, in two short weeks it would be for real.  My being preserved was going to be hard on them as well.  We had become a close group, having worked together for four years.  Even though I would not be dead, communicating would be so much slower.  I was going somewhere they would not be fully able to understand.  It would change our relationships.  I would become a test subject, something to perform research on, then an object of art.  They still had lives to lead; still had work and obligations; still had relationships to maintain.  I would have none of those.  I would be in the lab for those four months unable to freely converse and interact.  I would be the same as the desk or chair; an object.  Then, come December, I would be irrevocably gone from their lives and they from mine.

        They came home from the memorial service and we all cried.  They shared with me what they shared at the service.  Hearing your own eulogy is not something many people get to experience.  They shared more openly then they ever had about what I meant to them and how much they would miss me.  I was so taken aback that for a moment I had second thoughts.  I had no idea how highly they thought of me and how much they loved me.  When I shared this with them, it was they who reassured me.  Yes, they would miss me dearly, but this had become my dream.  This had become my mission.  They loved me so much that they were facing this loss to help fulfill my dream.  They would move on with their lives, just as I had moved on with mine after my father died.  There would be grief and mourning and they would never forget me, but life would go on.  The work would continue and more discoveries would be made.  I had contributed and now my active contribution was over and they would build on the knowledge gained from my preservation.

        There were now just thirteen days to the big day.  Time dragged, time flew.  I guess itÕs like how a death row prisoner or a terminally ill patient feels; knowing that the end is unavoidable and near.  Except they go into the sweet nothingness of death.  For them, life was over and they would simply cease.  I, on the other hand, was going to be forever.  All the doubts came flooding back:  Would I grow to hate and resent this decision, growing bitter at the team and myself?  Would I go mad with the absolute isolation?  I was apprehensive about what would happen.  I was also impatient for the day to get here.  I couldnÕt wait to find out.  Even though I had no real clue, just conjecture, I couldnÕt wait.  I asked to move the date up.  Everything was in place; why not do it now?  No, we decided, we wanted to stick to the plan.  IÕm not sure we were ready to say good-bye just yet.

        I used those last days to say good-bye individually to each member of the team.  I never had very close relationships with anyone until these last seven months.  ItÕs ironic how a deadline focuses the heart.  This was the hardest step.  I was going to place they were not.  Life for me would be forever changed.  They would miss me but over time adapt, just like we all do when a loved one dies.  I wanted to be sure they were okay with this and that there was no unexpressed feeling between us.  I thanked each of them for their influence on my life, for their love and told them that I would love them forever, literally.  I finished some books and watched some classic movies.  I stayed away from TV shows.  I didnÕt want to get caught up in a series that I would never know the end to.  Every moment was filled with making memories.  All too soon they would be all I would have.  I had a special request for Marie:  would she fulfill something I had always wanted to try?  IÕve had a few boyfriends and quite a number of one-night stands, but had never shared a bed with a woman.

        Two days before the big day I ate my last meal ever.  I needed to have a clean GI tract as the Fresol doesnÕt preserve nonliving things.  We didnÕt want half digested food in my intestines forever.  I made sure it was the best meal I had ever eaten.  I ate all my favorites:  Pork chops, lima beans, mashed garlic potatoes, chocolate pudding, Yodels.  The last thing I will ever taste was a home baked apple pie.

        Finally the day came.  I wanted to be preserved at 10:48 am exactly.  I was born at 10:48 am; this way I will have lived every minute of my 25 years.  I didnÕt sleep that night, in fact no one did.  I was about to venture into the unknown.  I was nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time.  Charlie, Marie, and I stayed up all night talking.  Marie and I freeze modeled together one last time.  As the morning broke, I watched my last sunrise from the roof of the lab.  We went down into the lab and started the preparations.  I took a long shower.  Dr. Cooper and his brother came in at around six.  Marie laid me down on an exam table to administer the cervical epidural.  I would start to learn what it would be like not feeling anything.  We had to start the Fresol infusion at seven.  The window for freezing would open at about 10:30 when I would start to stiffen up and close at about one with my death.

        Marie placed the IV in my arm, hooked up the solution bottle to the infusion pump and stepped back.  This was the moment we all were waiting for.  Once I started the flow, one way or the other, I would be irrevocably separated from them.  After this decision I would only have to make one more decision, my last one ever.  If I started the pump the only decision left would be whether to die or be preserved.  They were all there waiting on this decision.  I could back out.  Until I flipped that switch it wasnÕt too late.  A whole range of emotions washed over me:  fear, doubt, anticipation, love.  All the planning, conjecture, and work of the last seven months came down to this moment.  It was no longer a dream.  No longer something in the future; it was here and now.  It was not just some story in CharlieÕs collection.  This was for real.  Did I really want this?  Was it really worth it?  Was I sure?  It was my decision to make.  I know they would accept whatever decision I made.  IÕm not sure they thought it would ever happen either.

        IÕve had four months to think about it now, and I still donÕt why I flipped that switch. Some part of it was inertia.  We had been working for this moment for seven months.  It was too late to call it off now, wasnÕt it?  Some part was that I knew that if I didnÕt do it I would regret it for the rest of my life.  I would always be wondering what it wouldÕve been like.  But easily the biggest reason is that I HAD to know.  Just as I knew that I would regret not going through with it, I knew that I might regret going through with it.  I might also find some satisfaction.  I knew what would happen if I walked away.  I didnÕt really know what would happen if I took the chance.  Whatever was going to happen, there was only one way to find out.  I couldnÕt not take that chance.

        As soon as I flipped that switch, a feeling of relief and calm settled over me.  I was at peace with the decision and determined to see this through to whatever end there was. The pump worked for an hour then was disconnected.  I now had two and a half hours to wait calmly as the Fresol worked its way into my cells.  There was no pain.  Those three and a half hours were the longest and shortest of my life.  There was so much to say and we didnÕt want to run out of time.  I had a couple of things to say before it was too late.  I expressed my love for each of them.  I especially wanted to thank them for their understanding.  What I was doing was a selfish thing.  I was ending our relationships to satisfy my curiosity.  Sure, their curiosity would also be satisfied, but it was possible to live your whole life without knowing those answers.  It was my overwhelming desire to know what it would be like that brought us to this point.  We all started crying and hugging each other.

        All to suddenly, it was time.  There was only one real choice.  I was not about to just die and subject them to this pain for nothing.  That would be a total waste.  I dropped my robe and climbed into the X-ray chamber.  Dr. Cooper insisted on running the X-ray machine.  He didnÕt want the burden of what ever happened to be on anyone else.  He told me quietly that if I could make this big a sacrifice, he would be honored to press the button.  Marie guided me into position.  The art museum wanted a dynamic outstretched pose, like I was greeting the future.  My arms were out and raised up in the air, my legs apart and straight, my head held high, my back ever so slightly arched.  This tightened my ass and stretched out my abs.  The Fresol was starting to stiffen me up, which was the signal the window was opening.  The stiffening was designed to allow the body to be self-supporting.  I didnÕt need that feature, but it also allowed Marie to fine tune my pose and facial expression without it changing.  Once she was happy, she whispered good-bye and nodded over to Dr. Cooper that I was ready.  Just before he pressed the button to activate the X-ray machine, I took my last deep breath, which shot my breasts proudly into the air.

        You canÕt see or feel X-rays, but I did feel their instantly solidifying effect on the Fresol infusing my body, creating a brief intense pain, which rapidly faded.  I wasnÕt sure anything had happened.  Until I tried to move.  Then I realized that it was absolutely silent.  There was no humming of machinery, talking of my friends, nothing.  It happened!  I was a statue!  I was still aware and thinking!  I began to take inventory.  I couldnÕt hear a thing.  I had never experienced this before.  Even in an absolutely quiet room you could always hear your own breathing, your own heartbeat; something.  Now, not a thing: absolute silence.  MarieÕs whispered good-bye was that last thing I will ever hear.  I tried moving.  Nothing.  I couldnÕt feel MarieÕs hands on my rock-solid body, couldnÕt feel the floor under my feet.  It was disconcerting, to say the least.  But, I could see!  We had hung a tennis ball about four feet in front of my eyes so I had something to focus on.  My eyes were locked on that tennis ball.  I could see it clearly.  Because I was posed looking up, I could not see the others.  I would have liked to have seen their reactions.

        The plan called for Marie to hook up the EEG machine immediately after I was frozen.  I could see her hands as she attached the leads.  I waited for her to get ready and then I started sending the thoughts that formed the code.  It was a slow process and I had so much to say.  The first thing I said was:  Ņcan seeÓ.  They set up a monitor in place of the tennis ball and the first thing they showed me was: me.  Charlie panned the camera completely around me.  I was beautiful.  There was not a blemish on my body.  My pose was completely symmetrical.  My breasts were even.  My face had an expression of wonder and of joy.

        We had programmed a computer to decode the messages I was sending.  It was a slow process, but I wasnÕt going anywhere, I had nothing else to do.  I began to describe in detail what my new existence was like.  I described not being able to feel or hear.  They poked me with pins, put ice, and boiling water on my skin.  Nothing.  It was all so new, exciting, and overwhelming.  I knew that after a while these feelings would wear off and boredom would set in, but right now I had to explore my new existence.

        As evening approached the others were growing tired.  Soon they would have to go home to get some sleep.  They reluctantly left me alone in the darkened lab.  Suddenly, the feelings of aloneness crashed down on me.  I would have to get used to this, this was part of the price of my contribution to the research.  I could no longer join them for dinner, go home, stretch out with a good book and a glass of wine.  This was my eternal life from now on.  I explored my new world that first night.  With no communication to the rest of the body, no external stimuli, no heart rate, breathing or digestion to control, the brain suddenly had extra capacity.  Memories once pushed aside by the brainsÕ need to control the more mundane bodily functions began to emerge.  I could recall entire days from my childhood.  Memories long forgotten, or suppressed, came back.  Good ones, fun ones, bad ones; all came flooding back.  I remembered vividly the first day of kindergarden, my dadÕs funeral, several of my early sexual encounters.  It would give me the opportunity to relive my life, to help relieve the boredom, but there was a difference:  a memory is but a shadow of the real thing.  The memory of an orgasm is not the same as having an orgasm.  Memories, even my enhanced versions, were a tape recording; they wouldnÕt ever change.  There is no interaction with a memory.

        There it was.  I was starting to realize just how great of a sacrifice I had just made.  It was nothing like I had envisioned.  Nothing could have prepared me for this.  Before the first day of eternity had passed I realized the cost of my overwhelming desire to know.  I HAD to know; now I do.  IÕll live with these consequences, I have no choice, but it wonÕt be easy.

        They came back the next morning and we continued our conversation.  What was it like?  How clear is your vision?  Do you sleep?  They stayed away from asking if it was worth it or not.  I donÕt think they really wanted to know; they didnÕt want that burden.  Over the next week or so, I could see it slowly start to happen; once they had their answers, they really had no more use for me.  Sure, they said hi in the morning and typed in a few messages but they were moving on with their lives, with their research.  I was no longer an integral part of the team, I had made my contribution, and now I was becoming an object.  I was no longer Brenda their friend and co-worker, I was that statue in the corner.  I should have realized this was going to happen.  Just like with Julie; once we were done with her, we had moved on.  They would move on, but I was trapped.  I would never be able to change and move on.

        The months flew by.  I had thought that first day that it would be mind numbingly boring.  It was at first.  Once all the questions were asked and answered there was nothing to do but stand there, which took zero effort.  But, after a while with no input, the mind drifts and becomes unfocused.  Time speeds by.  I asked them to blindfold me for a week.  It seemed like only a few minutes went by when they removed it.  I had absolutely no idea what happened during that time.  Was it day or night?  Were they there?  Was anyone looking at me?  I realized I didnÕt care anymore.  Maybe, just maybe, it wonÕt be so bad.

        As Thanksgiving neared I asked to be taken to CharlieÕs.  I wanted to stand next to Julie for a couple of days before I was prepared for display.  Marie often came down, stripped off, and posed next to us.  Marie and I shared a special bond.  We both understood what being a statue was like.  We both had done it and felt the rush.  She above all of them, I think, understands why I dared to undergo this transformation.  I didnÕt understand then, but I know now, that Marie will never join me in immortality, even if Dr. Cooper allows it.  She uses freeze modeling as a means to an end.  She uses it as foreplay, to arouse her.  I viewed it as the act itself.  Standing there frozen was the end I wanted.  It wasnÕt a sexual thing for me.  I needed the experience itself, not the rush that resulted from it.

        It was a strange feeling, being covered in the lab then suddenly appearing in the rec. room.  I had no way of telling that I was laid down in the truck, bounced over the roads, and carried into another building.  Once the plating covers my eyes I will have no sense of time or motion.  I will not know if IÕm on display or still in transit.  I will not know if it is day or night.  I will not now if anyone is looking at me and admiring my body.  If you are on a western campus and you see a golden statue with her breasts proudly jutting out and her arms outstretched greeting the sunrise, stop and stare.  ItÕs okay, I wonÕt mind ... or know.

        I asked Marie to set up the computer so I could record this journal.  Outside of my body on display, itÕs all thatÕs left to say I was here.  I asked Charlie to post it on one of the web sites he regularly visits.

        I think my only regret is the loss of the ability to learn.  I am a curious person.  ThatÕs why I went into research; to learn and to discover new things.  My desire to find out if the brain was still functional and what it would be like to be preserved drove me to undergo the procedure.  I had those questions answered by the evening of the 31st.  Now my future is one of paying the price of learning those answers.  IÕm not sure it was worth it; the price may have indeed been too high.  You see, I did not stop being curious once I had these answers; itÕs a part of my personality.  I already have more questions and ideas that will forever go unanswered.  I see now that my all-consuming desire to know what it was like blinded me to fully considering this possible consequence.  I had allowed my curiosity to blind me to the ramifications of satisfying that curiosity.  On some level, I knew that I was trading one set of answers for another, but I did not have the complete picture.  I couldnÕt really know what it would be like without actually undergoing the transformation.  ItÕs a Catch-22:  The only way to decide if it was worth it was to irrevocably take that step.

        Deep down, I think even if I knew then all I know now, I probably would have done it anyway; just like with memories, the only way to really know is to experience it.  The rest of the team had their questions answered and are moving on, finding the answers to other questions.  IÕm happy for them.  We all had the burning desire to know.  The only way to know was to do it.  I made that choice, took that risk.  My only consolation is that I went into this with my eyes open.  I counted the costs, as I knew them then.  I had decided, even if I wound up hating it and regretting it, that I would accept the consequences.  These sorts of discoveries do not come without sacrifice.  I willingly accepted this role.  Deep down, I think I knew this was going to happen, but I crowded those thoughts out with the excitement of finding out.  I must resign myself to my situation, knowing that this was my free willed decision, made with all the facts then on hand.  The team will move on using the knowledge I provided, my part in this is over.  I can accept this. I must accept this.

        ItÕs almost time now.  The art museum wanted a lifelike statue, but not that life like.  Charlie got out his body filler and touched up some areas; he filled in my nostrils, put some deep in my ear canals, plastered over my nether region, smoothing out my labial area.  He ground down my nipples (remember, no pain), reducing them to tasteful buttons.  He put some sort of filler in my hair to hold it in place.  It hardened to a gentle wind blown look. TheyÕve moved me to the vacuum chamber where my golden coating will be applied; Marie is recording that process, too, while I remain a motionless spectator.  One last camera pan around my body will be the last thing I ever see.  ItÕs getting late; IÕm ready now. IÕve come to terms with my predicament and my choices and am ready to embrace eternity.

        There is only one more thing that I will ever learn:  What will it be like to be absolutely alone in the black silence of eternity?  Will I go mad? 

        IÕll not be able to say; there is only one way for you to find outÉ

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