Life and death: both are complex. Nothing is simple on mortal earth or within the Unknown Province. So here, dear readers/possible skeptics, I address the subject of frozen phantoms. Admittedly, there are very few of these specters inhabiting the province. Sadly, they are a surprised and unhappy lot.
When a body is cryogenically frozen, it remains alive! That is the whole point of cryonics; it is preservation of a living human (or other animal) at temperatures so low as to sustain life without nourishment. The metabolic rate is so reduced that ‘frozen life’ is possible for an almost unlimited length of time.
Usually, human subjects request cryopreservation when faced with a life-threatening disease for which there is currently no cure. These individuals see their only hope for survival resting some time in the distant future when a cure will be discovered. However, others – as they age – simply want to live forever; they seek eternal life through cryonics. And some misguided individuals might attempt to take an unwilling loved one with them!
Cryogenic preservation is not common. The temperature of the body must be reduced to approximately −180 °C (-292 °F or 93.15 K).
For laymen, we can best envision a condition 292 degrees below freezing!
However, this condition must be accomplished in such a manner that there is no rupture of human cells, a tricky process at best. Furthermore, cryogenic preservation of humans is not reversible at this time. The technology to reversing a cryogenically-preserved human lies far in the future, as does the cure for the patient’s disease.
Currently, less than 300 people have undergone cryopreservation since cryonics was first proposed in 1962. And funding to maintain the cryogenic state must be perpetually at hand through a government agency, or via a hefty endowment from the subject or his trust. This huge sum of money must be awarded to the preservation facility. Once preserved, the subject places ultimate faith in those who will forever maintain his frozen state. But as I’ve said, very few humans are documented to be under cryopreservation. Unless…
Could there be – unknown to the rest of us – some nefarious use of cryopreservation by rogue scientists for purely economic, experimental, or evil purposes? Could these factories of “frozen hope” exist? If so, are they promoting, here or abroad, false hope to wealthy, but desperate, dupes? Anything, I suppose, is possible.
Certainly, this subject is a realm of fiction offering diverse and diabolical plots. Science does not directly embrace the existence of a human spirit or soul because they have no “a posteriori” or empirical evidence to support such. Thus, some scientists could completely disregard — or take a very cavalier attitude toward – the fate that a human spirit might encounter after cryogenic preservation.
If science and corrupt corporations see profit in preservation, such a motivation could lead to a situation similar to the one found in my short story below.
I suggest you keep the furnace turned on, and the comforter pulled snuggly up around you, as you enter my mysterious world of very cold crime.
This little tale, “The Phantom of Hemlocke Hill,” is available from Amazon.
Best wishes, Michael Goldcraft