Ice Bath

What idiot called this thing an ice bath?

Floyd had never been in cryosleep before, and he was starting to wonder if he’d made a mistake. He’d had a hard enough time putting in his breathing tube and sealing it over his face—it felt like using a snorkel while his head was in a plastic bag—but feeling the sting of the coolant as it condensed on his bare skin, clinging to his chest hair like morning dew on the front lawn, made him go rigid.

When the temperature drops to a certain level, human nerve endings no longer sense a difference between excruciating cold and excruciating heat. It just hurts, bad. Floyd, with his eyes covered and without any other point of reference, wasn’t convinced he wasn’t on fire. As the temperature dropped, the coolant became a superfluid and rolled in long arcs across his skin like boulders on in infinite hill. Like hot brands. Like toaster coils.

He couldn’t take it anymore. With every exhale he screamed into the breathing tube, his jaws clamping down on the mouthpiece so hard he thought he might break his teeth. Forget cryosleep; shouldn’t he have gone into shock by now?

And then the world was bright.

Someone in a hazmat suit was lifting him out of the tank. The power seemed to be out, the room dominated by harsh shadows reaching out from area lights on a generator.

“Where there any other survivors?” the hazmat guy asked him through an externally mounted speaker.

Floyd tried to answer but couldn’t stop his teeth from chattering. He’d heard of people biting off their tongue that way. He shook his head. No.

“That was a risky move. You’ve been under for 8 years. We almost missed the intercept; it could have been another 800 ’till the next window.”

Floyd just nodded his head. He couldn’t think of how to use body language to say you didn’t see what I was hiding from, asshole.

“I heard it’s like being in the womb. What do you say? Best sleep you ever had?”

Floyd tried to flip him the bird, but his arms were too weak lift. Funny how tired he was after an eight year nap.

“It’s alright, you can tell me about it later. Let’s get you a blanket, you must be freezing.”

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