Tom regained consciousness not knowing where he was, except that he was lying on a clean bed. Bright lights obscured his vision, he could discern no sound or movement. His chest tightened and panic rose in him.
“Hello?” he called out, his voice, cracked and distressed, echoed back at him.
Memories began to form, an experiment. He had volunteered, in full knowledge of the procedure and risks. Now he remembered.
He heard a door open and voices drawing closer. A deep, male voice addressed him.
“Mr Williams, can you hear me?”
“Yes, what’s happening?”
“I’m Doctor Frank, you remember?”
“You’re OK, you’ve just come around and we want to run some tests.”
Another voice, a woman, who Tom sensed, displayed an edge of concern, “Doctor…..!”
“Quiet,” the doctor said.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing to worry about Tom,” said Doctor Williams.
Monitoring machines beeped into life, more wires were attached to his arms and chest. Tom was worried. There were anxious voices all around, he could sense an atmosphere of unease in the room.
He was fully conscious now and determined.
“What’s happening to me doctor?” this time he spoke with force.
“Doctor, we have to tell him,” the woman said.
“Tell me what?…. what!” Tom screamed.
“OK, OK,” said the Doctor. “Tom, the experiment has not gone quite as planned…..”
“What do you mean?” Tom interrupted.
“Tom, I’m sorry, instead of making you ten years younger you are now ten years older. My initial test confirm this, you have biologically aged ten years in the past twelve hours.”
“What!” Tom sounded incredulous. “Let me see!”
“If you’re sure you are ready for it Tom?”
“Just let me fucking well see what you’ve done!”
“OK Tom, take it easy, but this could be quite painful for you at this stage. Nurse, a mirror please.”
The mirror was placed in front of Tom. He looked, but didn’t believe, fighting against the reality until the cold hard facts were overwhelming. He had been 50 years old, with a full head of hair and little grey, and a face with youthful, almost boyish, looks. The reflection staring back at him was balding and grey. The face had many more lines around the eyes and mouth, the lips of which were cracked and thin. The eyes which peered back at him were bloodshot and yellowing with age.
He was shocked and speechless.
“Tom?” said the doctor.
“What went wrong?”
“We’re not sure yet.”
“I can’t stay like this! You have to do something!”
“Tom, I need to run more tests and check my data. We have been researching ageing and reverse ageing here for a decade, as you know, I have some ideas, just give me a little time.”
“Time! My time has already been cut by ten years!”
“We’ll work it out Tom. I’ll come back later.”
A nurse stayed with Tom, reassuring him until Dr Frank returned three hours later.
“Hello Tom, I have something for you, an idea.”
“Tell me about it.”
“There is risk, let me say from the start, but I believe it will work.”
“Yes. We can’t use the original procedure, after using it once on a subject that is it. But the one I am talking about we performed on chimpanzees years ago and it never failed. But…….”
“There are side effects but we can take you back perhaps 25 or 30 years, think of that!”
“What side effects?”
“The process involves tricking the cells into a time paradox then we effectively force them back in time. That can cause all kinds of crazy outcomes, like skin colour change, reversal of hereditary illness, and changes in mentality and personality, becoming brighter. All positive. You see, somehow this process purifies the DNA. It’s quite incredible.”
“What’s the problem then?”
“There is one other change that can take place.”
Tom underwent the procedure with full success, he was 18 years younger than when he started the program, fitter and healthier than he’d ever been and smarter too. As for the other change, well, Tom is now known as Tracy.