Features

Sleepwalkers


The San Fernando Valley Resuscitation and Recuperation Centre is in a disgraceful condition, as Hugo Fleming writes. Will they listen?

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

10 May

Dear Mr Lithgow,

I am writing to complain about the conditions at your San Fernando Valley Resuscitation and Recuperation Centre.
The living arrangements here are a disgrace. It is damp. It is noisy. We eat, sleep and wash together in the filthiest of conditions. There is no privacy. The bed linen is soiled and there are thick mats of dust under our cots. Power cuts are a regular occurrence.
The light in the toilet doesn’t work and the door won’t shut properly. An airlock in the pipes makes a high-pitched noise every time someone flushes. Our gowns do not tie up properly at the back. One gentleman has no ties on his gown at all despite repeated requests for a replacement. Two of my roommates are women. I don’t need to tell you how distressing this situation is for them. Or for us.

There is nothing to distract from the stultifying boredom of our daily existence. There is no television. No internet. No radio even.
Apart from the corporate welcome pack, (which seemed to consist mainly of an impenetrably long disclaimer, a crudely drawn map of our wing and two dozen sheets of plain notepaper), we have received no information concerning our situation whatsoever.

Access to sunshine and fresh air might help. But we can’t even see outside. The windows are stuck shut with paint. We have to prop open the meal flap in the door with the trash can just to get some air.

This is not the accommodation that was promised in the publicity material from 20th Century Cryopreservation when I signed up with them. Where is the hydrotherapy swimming pool? Or the gym? I see no sign of the cinema, the à la carte restaurant, the leisure garden, the casino, the state-of-the-art medical unit or the molecular nanotechnology laboratory that we were supposed to be offered upon our arrival here.

For that matter, where is 20th Century Cryopreservation Corps? There are rumours on the wing that they went bust and were bought up by a company that was itself bought out by your organization some years ago. But no one knows for sure.

Still no date has been fixed for my operation. The wing orderlies have made vague promises, but as yet nothing has come of them. In this I am not alone. No one I have spoken to has been given a date for commencement of any kind of surgery.

Which raises the question, Mr Lithgow; if no treatment is being carried out here, why have we been resuscitated in the first place?

There is also the matter of my wife, Mrs Bernice Arlene Audsley. Where is she? No one here seems to have the faintest idea. When we signed up for the all-inclusive deluxe matrimonial package we both of us expected to be awakened at the same time. If anything has happened to make this impossible I would have thought that, as her husband, I would be the first to be told.

Yours Faithfully,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

22 May

Dear Mr Lithgow,

It is nearly two weeks since my correspondence of May 10 and I am still awaiting a proper reply.

Living conditions here have deteriorated. The food, if it can be described as such, has got even worse. To say it is inedible would be to honour it. What vegetables we get are boiled to the point of disintegration. The only thing approaching meat is a form of mince (I think), which, for reasons known only to your kitchen staff, is a deep shade of orange. And we only get three spoonfuls of it. We have had no fresh fruit at all.
The toilet has ceased flushing. We are forced to use buckets filled from the spigot on the lower landing. Most of us are middle aged – all of us are ill. We are suffering from muscle wastage due to extended periods in your cryogenic tanks, some of us I suspect have not entirely recovered their critical faculties and we are simply not up to the task of climbing up and down stairs with heavy buckets in this way.

Yesterday, someone stole my shoes. I complained to a wing orderly who made a vague promise he would look into it. I have heard nothing since. No one takes us seriously. No one cares. The staff refer to us as ‘sleepwalkers’ behind our backs. They don’t even care if we hear them.
I have still not been issued with new footwear.

As for my wife, there is still no word. No one has seen her. I am told your company’s archives were subcontracted out to a company in the Philippines and her file may have been lost en route. No one is prepared to look into it. No one takes responsibility. If she is on another wing or in a different recuperation centre or, heaven forbid, she did not survive the cryonic process, I believe I have the right, as her loving husband, to know.

Yours Faithfully,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

11 June

Dear Mr Lithgow,

This is my third letter to your office in a month and I still have had no meaningful reply. It is bad enough being forced to live in conditions that even in my own lifetime would have been considered primitive, without being ignored by the very people who should be doing something about it.

Our already meagre rations have been cut even further. Our three spoonfuls of mince have been reduced to two. Our four centimetres of Soya log has been shortened to three. Portions of boiled vegetables and rice have been reduced, too.

Last Tuesday we ran out of toilet paper. It was nine hours before a member of staff refilled the dispenser – and then with a sub-standard narrow gauge, hard paper product.

Power cuts are the norm now. We are routinely left in complete darkness from five o’clock in the afternoon to seven o’clock the next morning. Mrs Abrahams, one of our frailer roommates, tripped over Mr Sarner’s cot on the way to the toilet and had a nasty fall that required five stitches to her forehead. This would not have happened if the lights in the corridor had been functioning properly.

And then there is the matter of overcrowding. This is becoming an increasingly urgent problem. Every day, more and more people are being thawed out of hibernation and dumped on our wing. If this is due to them being ready for treatment, then I welcome it. But I am alarmed at the physical and mental state that some of them are in. It would seem that the process of resuscitation is being carried out in an increasingly hurried and slapdash manner, because a sizeable minority appear to be brain damaged if not downright catatonic. A new man brought in today just lies in his cot defecating. The wing orderlies have put a nappy on him but I don’t have much confidence in them attending to him with any regularity.

This morning I tried accessing my bank account on Mrs Abrahams’ mobile phone and was refused entry. All I got was a warning box informing me: ‘User ID not recognised. This account identified as dormant. Contact administrator for new assignee.’
Why is my bank account – the one linked to my trust fund – considered ‘dormant’? And who is the ‘new assignee’? And where on Earth is my wife, Mr Lithgow?

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

17 June

Dear Mr Lithgow,

I have still not received notice as to when my treatment will start. Neither have I been told of the whereabouts of my wife.

Overcrowding is such that we are now forced to share our cots. The person I am sharing with is still very cold to the touch. He has not fully regained body heat from the incubation process. He has violent nightmares. At times he seems to be unaware he has been resuscitated at all.

Yesterday, I accidentally stepped on a piece of broken glass and had to have five stitches in my foot. The infirmary here is a disgrace. I’ve seen gas station rest rooms that are cleaner. If I don’t get an infection it will be a miracle. And still I am waiting for new footwear.

If you would take a moment out of your busy schedule, Mr Lithgow, you will see from your files that I was once, like you, the CEO of a major listed company. I like to think I have as good a grasp of business practice as the next man. I know only too well from my own time in commerce that companies are not charities; that shareholders have to see a profit; that bank debts have to be serviced and that economies sometimes have to be made in order to achieve those things. But there are limits beyond which no civilized person should stray.

Yours Faithfully,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

3 July

Dear Mr Lithgow,

It has been well over a month now and still I have not been given a date for my treatment. Nor have I been issued with new shoes. Or been told the whereabouts of my wife. Or received a proper answer from you.

I simply must insist that I am reunited with my wife and that we are given a commitment to a final date for treatment. I paid a substantial sum, probably before you were born, to have our bodies put into a state of hibernation till advances in biology, medicine, computing and molecular nanotechnology made it possible to revive us and restore us to health.

And now that I am here in your Resuscitation and Recuperation Centre, I must assume that moment has come. My patience is wearing thin. I see no reason for further delay.

I am writing to inform you that unless measures are taken to improve the living conditions in this place and bring them to the level that a civilized human being might expect, and that unless a firm date is given in writing for commencement of my treatment, I will be instructing my lawyers.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732
12 July

Dear Mr Lithgow,
I must insist that you give me immediate access to my funds. My lawyers, or rather, the Chinese company that bought them out some thirty years ago, have instructed me that they cannot take on my case until they see proof of my ability to pay. This is no longer a matter of financial impropriety but a clear case of denial of basic human rights.

Still no sign of my wife. No one on the wing knows anything. No one cares.

I must insist that you reply to this letter at your earliest possible convenience.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

18 July

Dear Mr Lithgow,

I am writing to inform you that my replacement shoes have finally arrived. You’ll forgive me if I don’t call them new as they clearly have been worn by at least one other person before me.

You’ll also forgive me for questioning why there was a bill of sale in the name of your company thanking me for my prompt payment included in the documentation.

But above all, you will forgive me, I trust, for demanding to know exactly why and how the payment appears to have been drawn directly from my account.

I thought nothing could shock me regarding the manner in which Second Chance Cryonics chooses to conduct its business; but I now see that I was sadly optimistic in reaching that conclusion. Charging me for replacement shoes – shoes that I have no doubt were stolen by one of your employees – is bad enough; but deducting the funds without my permission and without my knowledge is nothing short of fraud. And it is not as if the sum deducted could in any way be termed commensurate in terms of the goods received. Inflation must be unusually high in this era, Mr Lithgow, to justify such a staggeringly large payment. Even if the replacement shoes were of a corresponding quality to the ones I had stolen, this would be a crime. But they are not. My own shoes were handcrafted from the finest Italian leather. These are made of cheap plastic. Also they are bright yellow. And they have your company logo emblazoned on them. They are not even my size. And they give off a pungent odour when worn for any length of time. My feet have come up in blisters. And the yellow dye has rubbed off on my feet. In short, they are not fit for purpose – unless the purpose is to cause pain and discomfort.

Rest assured that as soon as I am able to regain control of my money and am in a position to acquire legal representation, I will fight you through the courts over this matter, and the other things recorded in this correspondence.

I am not the only person to have been treated in this manner. Mrs Abrahams has also received an invoice for soft toilet paper, batteries, and her hospital treatment following her fall. She has had to sell her engagement ring to pay for it. She has become increasingly frail since her accident (we are all very worried about her) and I don’t believe she should be put under any more duress. The person she is sharing a cot with rolled over in the night and almost crushed her. It took three of us to pull her off. Mrs Abrahams is lucky not to have been suffocated.

I understand that it is extremely unlikely that I will receive an appropriate reply to this letter. I am writing these words for the record, should this matter ever reach a court of law. And let it be known that I have made a copy of every single letter during the course of what I hesitate to call our correspondence.

I will not have you plead ignorance, Mr Lithgow. Should anything untoward happen to anyone here, let it be known that you were always kept fully informed.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

18 July

Dear Mr Lithgow,

This morning, I was issued with another bill in your company’s name. This invoice, as its predecessor, was also marked ‘paid in full’. Closer inspection of the document revealed it, to my surprise, to be for the five stitches I required following my encounter with broken glass on the floor of our wing.

I must confess to being more appalled than I have ever been  in all my time in this place – and quite possibly any other place or time.

Having my shoes stolen by a member of your staff was quite bad enough; having to wait almost a month for sub-standard replacement shoes was an intolerable insult; injuring my bare foot on a piece of glass, which should never have been there in the first place, was a disgrace and a damning indictment of the conditions in this establishment; but getting charged for said treatment is nothing short of an abomination.

You can believe me, sir, when I tell you I was not slow in complaining to the wing orderly who delivered me with this scandalous reckoning.
So outraged was I, that I half-expected her to show some contrition. You can imagine my surprise when her response was to tell me how lucky I was to get any treatment at all – and there were people ‘outside’ who would gladly trade places with me. When I rebuked her for her insolence and threatened to write a letter of complaint concerning her behaviour, I am sorry to have to report that she laughed in my face. And when I enquired exactly what was so funny, her answer was (and I quote): “At least you won’t get charged for that.” Which seemed to tickle her fellow co-workers because they all joined in the laughter, too.

Am I to understand that the reason for this jollity is that no charges could possibly be raised on the posting of a letter of complaint because it would never get posted?

Yet more people decanted from your hibernation units. People are now sleeping on the floor and in the corridors. There is a rumour going round that Second Chance has sold its stock of liquid nitrogen on the open market.

Last night Mrs Abrahams took a turn for the worse and was taken away in the middle of the night. No one will tell us where she is. We are all very concerned for her safety.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

Dr Mr Lithgow,

I am writing to you on a matter of extreme urgency. Even if this letter fails to reach you, even if your internal mail system is nothing more than a sop, a cheap PR stunt, just a valve for us to let off steam, I reach out in the hope that someone somewhere will read these words and find some shred of humanity in their hearts.

It all started this morning, when I was watching a maintenance engineer remove some old copper pipes from our landing. It has been very hot on the wing – the air conditioning system has been out of order for weeks – and it was clear she was feeling the heat. She removed her cap to fan herself. That’s when I saw she was wearing an unusually distinctive hair-clip. I immediately recognised it as having once belonged to Bernice, my wife. I went over to the maintenance engineer – who was identified by her name tag as Consuela – and pressed her to reveal where she had acquired the hair-clip.

To begin with Consuela made up a story that the hair-clip was her own and that she had bought it in a second-hand shop. I pointed out to her that I was familiar with the item; that I would know it anywhere as it had once belonged to my wife. She tried to deny this but under pressure eventually relented, conceding that the hair-clip had belonged to an inmate who fitted Bernice’s description. I neither cared nor enquired whether the hairclip had been bought from my wife (presumably for a pittance) or stolen; all I wanted to know was the location of my wife and whether she was safe or not.

Consuela’s answer to the first part of my question gave me cause for some degree of optimism. Yes, my wife was in another area of the unit -Wing Five on South Block ‘A’. Or at least she had been when Consuela had acquired the hair-clip. But her answer to the second part of my question both shocked and horrified me.

Not that it would have come as a shock to you, Mr Lithgow. Nor do I suspect would it have horrified you very much, either.
You will already know, Mr Lithgow, that Second Chance Cryonics has been bought in a hostile takeover by Goliath Industries, a multinational conglomerate with interests in media, mining, nuclear power, weapons and drugs.

You will also know that Second Chance Cryonics’ assets are in the process of being broken up and absorbed by Goliath Industries into their many interests across the globe. You will also know that the assets in Wing Five South Block ‘A’ were transported yesterday afternoon. And amongst those assets was Bernice, my wife. This I know now from your maintenance engineer who calls herself Consuela.

Human beings have been traded in a corporate takeover.

Times have changed. A lot has happened in the world while we were sleeping. It would appear that business is conducted very differently in these times. I have heard rumours of stock market crashes, riots, wars, famines and ecological catastrophes on a grand scale. No doubt these have played their part in the hardening of this world.

But treating people like cattle is wrong, sir. Referring to the old, the sick and the dying as assets, reducing them to the level of commodities is nothing short of a sin, Mr Lithgow.

I would like to know how you sleep at night. I would like to know how you shave in the morning. I would like to know how you look into your children’s’ eyes.

But above all, I would like to know what possible financial gain there is to be made out of people as ill as us.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics
24719 Acoma Court
Suite 7
Sorrentino Township
CA 94732

23 July

Dear Mr Lithgow,

This morning my roommates and I were subjected to a most unsettling assault at the hands of your staff. My hands are still trembling from the experience. It is hard for me to even write these words.

A squad of orderlies, most of which I have never seen before, some of them armed with batons, roused us from our cots and marched us to the infirmary. One of my roommates, Mr Kirsh, who is fifty-seven with a bad heart, tried to resist and was subjected to what I have since heard described as a ‘distraction technique’ – namely a karate chop to the nose.

Once in the infirmary we were strapped to gurneys. Upon which a Goliath Industries logo and a barcode were burned into our left forearms with the aid of a hand held industrial laser cutter. The pain was excruciating.

We were then taken to a holding cell where we were left for five hours without food or water or medical attention of any kind.

There has been no apology or explanation for this outrage. We have been branded like products in a warehouse. I can only hope and pray that my precious Bernice was spared this ignominy.

If any of our wounds become infected, and we suffer serious illness or death, be assured that I will be holding you personally responsible.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley

From the office of Andy Lithgow
Chief Executive Officer
Second Chance Cryonics

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.SecondChanceCryonics.com/request/thank-you

Jeff Fellner
Chief Executive Officer
Goliath Industries
Lexington
Kentucky 40329

13 November

Dear Mr Fellner,

I am writing to complain about the appalling conditions at your Connecticut Fast Neutron Reactor Plant. The equipment here is outdated. Basic maintenance procedures are neglected. Safety precautions are practically non-existent.

In the inner core, where I work, morale is extremely low. Shifts are long and the workers are exhausted. The turnover of workers is alarming. It doesn’t help that most of them, like myself, are middle-aged, sick and dying.

Yesterday, one of my colleagues forgot to remove some moisture absorbing cladding from a fuel rod assembly before loading it into the reactor. It was only by chance that fuel integrity wasn’t compromised.

Since my induction here, some four months ago, we’ve had at least three radiation leaks that I know of. It’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident.

What’s needed are younger, fitter, properly trained workers to operate the rods and regulate the neutron moderators. We are too old.
But who else will do it if not us? Nobody in their right mind would spend any time here if they didn’t have too. I wouldn’t work here myself if I didn’t have to pay for my painkillers and my Potassium Iodide pills.

On a different note it is my sad duty to inform you that Mr Kirsh died yesterday. He weighed about five stone. The management wouldn’t let us bury him. He was taken away in a lead lined body bag and, I believe, cremated somewhere off site.

My health hasn’t been so good lately, myself. My hair is falling out. I can’t hold down my food. I’ve been passing blood. My memory isn’t what it used to be.

I was once the CEO of a major listed company. I had money. I had status. I had a big house with a swimming pool and a garage. I went on expensive vacations to Europe. I changed my car every year. And now here I am, reduced to this. All my money is gone. I have nothing. And I am forced to work for drugs.

I blame myself. I should never have listened to that salesman from 20th Century Cryopreservation. I should never have believed a word in his damned brochure. I should have known there’d be no swimming pool. And no gym. No cinema, no à la carte restaurant, no leisure garden, no casino. No state of the art medical unit. No molecular nanotechnology laboratory.

To hell with you, Jeff Fellner. To hell with you for what you have done to me. May you rot. And Andy Lithgow too. May he rot as well; and everyone at Second Chance Cryonics, too.

But still there is the matter of my wife. I cannot seem to find her anywhere. I have searched and searched to no avail.

Her name is Bernice, I think.

Yours,

Stewart S. Audley
(Number: A-027920490-1/0)

From the office of Jeff Fellner
Goliath Industries

Thank you for your interest in our product. We have received your request and will be in touch shortly to address your needs.

See more at: http://www.GoliathIndustries.com/request/thank-yo