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White Mirror, S1E5
Submitted by Twitter user @dj_goosebump
The Last Gift
The news hit Steven like a lead soccer ball to the chest. Cancer, Terminal, nothing could be done. The scene. A windowless exam room, sitting with feet not quite touching the floor, an ill fitting gown draped over a mostly naked shell of a once great man.
A faceless Dr leaving him alone with the weight of it all. "You'll be receiving a call regarding hospice and possible organ donation soon" said the Dr on his way out. The words barely registering.
Back out in the world life was moving on as normal. The surealness of it all gave a profound sense of detachment on the walk to his truck. A soft "fuck" being his first words after sliding into the seat.
Slamming the door the "fucks" kept coming in louder angrier succession punching the steering wheel till his knuckles bled. He gripped the steering wheel like a heavy barbell, buried the pain back into the pit of his stomach and headed home to deliver the news to his loving family.
The next morning a phone call came, but not from the hospice center. It was a women calling from a non profit called The Last Gift.
Steven was a candidate for organ donation she said. During his treatments while deep in the endless bureaucracy of medical forms Steven had agreed to be contacted by her new company specializing in a cutting edge process of donating one's organs.
Steven agreed to a video call to learn more, albeit mostly to occupy a weary mind for a time. "Steven, to get right to the point since the cancer is in your bones, your organs are intact and still in a high functioning condition. Making them ideal for donation when the time comes.
When his body was done with the fight and had enough, in the moments before death, Steven's vital organs would be kept viable via machines, but his brain, his thoughts feelings and consciousness would be transferred over to a fully customized virtual world where he would live until suitable recipients for his organs were found.
"Wait so I would be a vegetable, but not dead , except I get to live on in some VR video game world of sorts?" He asked . "Well in simple terms yes." Said the middle Dr on the screen.
The female Dr on the right spoke up. "Steven your must keep in mind that VR tech has advanced light years in the last 15 years since it was first introduced.
We can recreate parts of your world to levels indistinguishable from real life. Your home, favorite places, lakes, hiking trails , vacation destinations and more. But with a twist....
With our technology your family, friends and loved ones can plug themselves into your personal virtual world using our software. Spending time with you during your last days.
Think of it, instead of your family saying their goodbyes over your heavily medicated nearly lifeless body in a hospital bed ,you can spend it with them, having your mind intact, in a custom VR world. You'll really be with them.”
Steven sat back and rubbed his face, he had one pressing, angry thought "tell me with all this technology why in the fuck hasn't anyone cured cancer yet?" “Yes a valid point." said the older weathered Dr on the left of his screen. "Cancer has proven to be the king of all illnesses to this day, amazingly confounding to us all."
Steven grabbed 2 beers and a corner seat in his favorite tavern. His oldest dearest friend from college was waiting for him. "Cheers friend" they clicked bottles and took long slow swigs.
The evening sun hung low, illuminating the table through the window, glistening off the condensation of the ice cold bottles. "virtual beers man, can you believe this shit, feels so real." Steven said. "Friend I have a confession, I've spent my time here in virtual near death land living my life the way I should have all along, spending time with loved ones. We had dinners together, traveled to far off places, hell went VR fishing even. Now it’s the end of the road and we've never been closer. Please, when you tell my story implore people to live this way in the real world because man there's nothing more important.”
Steven's friend asked "after all you been through, what do you think comes next.?" Steven answered, "death is still a terrifying mystery, my hope is that I get to see it all you know, that the secret will be revealed. That I shall receive total consciousness. Like Bill Murray in Caddyshack or something. The truth is that my time VR limbo land has given me a sense of peace, with my family and my fate. Now let's have one more beer for the VR road before I go.”
Back at home Steven stood outside. Family and friends were gathered in a line, hugs were given and tears were shed. Near the door stood several strangers, the future recipients of Steven's organs. They hugged, cried and thanked him for his last most precious gift.
Steven stood on the front porch and gave a last goodbye to his virtual world and stepped inside. His family was waiting, they all embraced for one last time.
Steven's last wishes were granted, to end life in his bed surrounded by his family. They walked to the bedroom, tucked Steven into his cozy bed, as the family held each other's hands tightly for the last time. And Steven went to sleep.