Bernie and Betty Kapinsky were watching television one day when the slick commercial came on.
“Wouldn't you love to see the exciting world of the future?” said the advertisement. “Wouldn't you love to become immortal? Now the government offers a way. You can freeze your way to forever!”
Watching the commercial, Bernie saw a handsome old man smiling as some pleasant-looking doctors put him under anesthesia. The next image showed the man in a frozen state, followed by an image of the wildly spinning hands of a clock. The man in the commercial woke up from his frozen slumber, and encountered a glorious futuristic world of robots and flying cars. An animation showed the old man morphing into a younger version of himself, after being injected with a youth drug.
The television commercial featured a catchy jingle, one of those TV tunes that are hard to get out of your mind. The lyrics went like this:
Chill, then thrill
Chill, then thrill
Come on old guy
Chill then thrill
“Chill, then thrill?” said Betty. “What does that mean?”
“Don't you get it?” said Bernie. “First they freeze your body, until medical science advances to the point where you can be revived. That's the 'chill' part. Then you wake up in the incredible world of the future, when people are immortal. That's the 'thrill' part.”
The ad gave a URL you could access to get more information. Betty and Bernie arranged a teleconference with a government official. As they were both very old and had many health problems, Betty and Bernie figured they had little to lose.
“So you are interested in the Cryonic Immortality program offered by the government?” said the official. “Do you have any questions I can answer?”
“So if we have ourselves frozen, when will they wake us up?” asked Bernie.
“We can't guarantee an exact date,” said the official. “After all, it will be far in the future, and we don't know exactly when man will develop the medical science to revive frozen bodies.”
“After they revive us, will they be able to make us young again?” asked Betty.
“Of course,” said the official. “Figuring out how to revive a frozen body is much harder than figuring out to turn back the clock of aging. So I'm sure that after you're revived, they'll have some cool futuristic treatment that will let you become as young as you want.”
“What kind of world do you think we'll see after we're revived from the frozen state?” asked Bernie.
“I'm sure it will be super-awesome,” said the official. “Flying cars, talking robots, youth pills, cure-all vaccines, force-field belts, every cool thing you can imagine. You want to see all that thrilling stuff, don't you?”
“Sure,” said Betty.
“So sign right here, and you're all set,” said the official.
Betty and Bernie signed. They were instructed to report to a pier in the nation's largest port, to board a large ship. The ship filled up with people as old as Betty and Bernie.
“We're going to the Cryonic Center in Antarctica,” explained one of the ship's officers.
“Why did they put it in Antarctica?” asked someone.
“It's so that if there's a power outage, everybody will stay frozen,” explained the officer.
The ship took weeks to get to Antarctica. Finally it docked at a small pier. Everyone on the ship could see a large building in the distance, positioned on a hill. A bridge stretched between the pier area and the distant building. The bridge stretched over a crater-like depressed area filled with ice and snow.
“That's our Cryonic Center, filled with the latest medical technology,” said a ship's officer. “Please disembark, and head across the bridge. We will brief you further when you get to the center.”
Walking with Betty and Bernie, seventy old people walked toward the bridge. When they got to the beginning of the bridge, a worker was there with a bottle of pills. He asked that each old person take one of the pills.
“It's a steep walk up to the Cryonic Center,” said the worker. “This pill will help you make it.”
The old people all took the pill, and started to walk across the bridge. When they got to the end of the bridge, they found a gate blocked them from leaving it. They waited patiently for the gate to open.
“Why don't they open that gate?” complained Bernie. “We're freezing out here.”
“I'm going to sit down for a moment,” said Betty. “I'm feeling weak.”
Bernie noticed that many of the old people were sitting down on the bridge. He noticed himself feeling sleepy. Then he noticed that some people were sleeping on the bridge.
At first he thought it was just a little fatigue in some of the old people. But before long he noticed that half of the people were sleeping on the bridge. He felt very sleepy himself.
Finally it dawned on Bernie what was going on.
“It's those pills we took!” said Bernie. “They're putting us all into a deep sleep!”
Bernie tried to run back to the front of the bridge, and go back to the ship. But before he could make it, the pill took effect, and he fell sleep on the bridge like everyone else.
A worker came onto the bridge, and looked around.
“Looks like they're all knocked out,” said the worker, talking to another worker. “Go ahead and dump 'em. Be gentle; nice and easy.” The worker walked off the bridge.
The steel bridge was a specially designed bridge. It was rather like some river bridges made of two halves that can each raise up, so that ships can travel underneath the bridge. But this bridge was made of two halves designed to drop down, so that anyone on the bridge would be gently dumped into the ice and snow underneath the bridge.
A worker pressed a joystick, and the two halves of the bridge slowly dropped down. All of the deeply sleeping old people on the bridge were gently dumped into the icy snowy crater underneath the bridge. Thousands of people had already been dumped down there in the previous months and years.
The government had decided that medical care for old people was costing too much. The Cryonic Immortality program was designed mainly to get rid of old people who might otherwise cost the government a ton of money in health care payments.
“Well, there is today's contribution to solving the population explosion,” said a young worker.
“Poor suckers,” said an older worker. “I bet they thought there was something there in that Cryonic Center, something other than just an empty building.”
“Hey, they wanted to be frozen, so now they're frozen,” said the young worker. “And they'll stay that way for centuries.”
“Do you think any one will ever revive all those frozen people down there?” asked the older worker.
“I suppose anything's possible,” said the younger worker.