Here is the story, about a man who used one of these malfunctioning sleep chambers:
Well, it started when I was in college. The comp-sci program at my state university was pretty boring. Those old men in tweed couldn't teach me anything I didn't know. My parents were wrong. My Mom was always going on about how great college would be, how studying comp-sci would be so great. "You were always so good with computers, honey. Maybe if you had a degree it could get you a good job, and you could get married..." I get the feeling she spent a lot of time crying at night, thinking about me then. I can't make myself care about it though. Not anymore.
As it turned out, I did manage to get a job, even after dropping out. Apparently the corporations needed programmers just about everywhere in the galaxy, if you have the right stuff. I had the right stuff for a new fishing outfit in Ganymede. I thought it would be great. I recalled boyhood memories of fishing for Asian carp in Silver Lake back home in Minnesota. I knew I could make a computer fly a fishing tug by itself. My skills were invaluable, they said. Fishing on Ganymede turned out to be a bit different though. There are only a couple species of life on that big ball of water, and the shortest food chain you ever saw. A couple kinds of plankton, some bugs, a few kinds of fish, and us. We had a hard time pulling them out faster than they could breed. Terraforming has a tendency to do that. I never understood how humans could like fish that much. After a few years of programming drones to lug more fish into orbit than mankind could have eaten in its first 3000 years, I was still bored. There was nothing to spend my wages on in the Ganymede sector, so I blew my savings, bought an old space-tug, and set off for something new.
I spent a few years wandering from station to station, chasing cheap thrills. Actually, they weren't very cheap. The money I had went fast, and I ran up some big gambling debts. Out in space the corporations don't care about the laws they make planetside, and I owed money to quite a few different lenders. I took up hacking, selling information I found as a way to get money. Money to put fuel in my tug. Money to flee from the collectors. Money to fire the lasers. Money to kill. Money to burn. But money couldn't get me out of the hole I had made. I hadn't been planetside in 3 years, and after the first year I didn't even leave my ship except to bring food or parts aboard. The Interplanetary Instrument Corp. collectors finally nabbed me, but by then all I had left was my old blue jeans, my craft, and a criminal record. I could pay them back by coding for them, they said, or I could die on the spot. That's how I met the cryo boys.
They were trying to make cryo sleep work, but the machine automation was giving them trouble. They needed a coder. I was "cheap and available." I worked as one of them, but without pay, and for as long as they wanted me to. They handcuffed me to a terminal, and I coded, night and day. Coded til my vision was blurry. Coded as the cuffs cut into my skin. Coded til I passed out, only to be brought back after a few sleep cycles. Coded until it was done. The cryo chamber was finally working. We could put mice to sleep for months, and once they were frozen we didn't need to use any power, except to keep them cold. With the push of a button the machine would bring them back, shivering and terrified but unaged. Most of the time, anyway, which was good enough for the the cryo boys. I might have even been proud, were it not for my captivity. I still had half a million in debt to pay off by that point, so they also decided I should be part of a secret, illegal long-term test of the device upon humans. The accountants seemed satisfied that if I survived my time in the freezer I could be free, my debts forgiven, my crimes absolved. To avoid the watchful eye of the law, the cryo machine was set up on board my little craft, and my code, crafted under duress, loaded into the ship's computer. The duration of my sleep: 0x0000 0000 0000 0001. One year. After such a long time coding without rest, it's no wonder there was a problem with my cryo chamber...
That was, apparently, a very long time ago. I've been asleep far too long. Long enough for my ship's Russian-made strontium-90 thermoelectric generator to decay to nothingness, its once glowing core reduced to a cold lump of actinide ash. The stored hydrogen for the fuel cell has been mostly spent by the cryo machine in the process of slowly thawing me, waking me up. Everything I knew, except the creaking remains of my old fishing ship, is gone. With no fuel, a few bottles of oxygen, and only enough hydrogen to keep the lights on for a few days, I can only do one thing.
I code a message into my transmitter, it's weak emissions a mere drop in the massive void of an aged universe: "If there are any humans out there listening to this transmission, please come and save me. I only have enough power left to broadcast this a few more times..."
Edited by arfink, 24 April 2012 - 09:20 PM.