Eric Marshall was hurtling well past the speed limit, delivering the vintage 2025 Dodge Charger to its new owner. This car was seventy-five years old and his favorite.
But there was a sound rising above the familiar growl of the engine, and it was getting louder.
"Don't you dare do this to me now. I just sold you!"
He took his foot off the gas to quiet the engine. It was a woman talking.
"Oh Eric, you won, you won it!"
As he awoke, the Charger dissolved, and he found his wife asleep next to him.
"Again?" He looked at his watch. "Hope, honey, you're dreaming."
"I'm sorry. It was so real. You won."
"I know." He gently brushed the hair from her face. "It's a nice dream, but it's not me."
Zachary Reddington entered cryogenic storage in 2030 with his eyes wide open.
"I've seen the mice too," he told Erica, his senior scientist. "They wobble around, and they're not too sharp for a couple of weeks, but they recover."
She would probably be dead when he resumed decades later. His instructions would be handed down to a later generation of staff at his company. He founded CryoCure with just a fraction of his billions. A Nobel laureate, he developed the first drug to prevent Alzheimer's Disease. There was a pretty big market for it.
"You know as well as I do that those mice were on ice for just two years. You're talking at least sixty. There's not enough data yet. We have no clue how you'll do, or even if you can be resumed."
"Look, I appreciate all that, but I made up my mind a long time ago. I'd rather take the chance than be without her. I'm certain."
Zachary's jaw was clenched and his lips tight, an expression she'd seen countless times. The discussion was over.
"Okay, I'm done, the last thing you need right now is an argument. I just want you to know you've been a great mentor, and I'll miss you, damn it. And everyone else around here will too. You changed the world!"
"Thank you." He touched her hand. "So, let's do this."
She reached for his IV and started to inject the solution. "Lay back and think beautiful thoughts about us, and remember them."
Seventy-two years later, Zachary resumed. It took months before the last of the antifreeze chemicals were flushed from his tissues. The current staff at CryoCure, along with a group of medical assistant aiBots, talked to him daily. Their words now penetrated the fog. Eventually, the staff showed him the instructions he wrote in 2030, and he remembered it all.
Eleanor, his favorite aiBot, was clearly programmed with an attitude. "Your temperature's been normal for a week. Almost time for you to get out of here and get a job."
He wasn't surprised that 2102 brought artificial intelligence-controlled robots with infrared sensors to measure temperature. However, human caregivers with infrared sensing lens implants did surprise him. The innovations derived from a plethora of 21st-century pandemics. Nobody walking around with a fever could hide it. He was still getting used to his own lens implants and the wristband that controlled its menus. Internet access and news were read off the inner surface of artificial lenses. The scrolling took some practice.
That's how he caught up with the past seventy-two years, and ten months after resuming, he was ready.
Sebastian, the current CEO of CryoCure, provided updates to Zachary during his recovery. "We've been in touch with Davis Marshall in the Psychology Department at Virginia, and he's expecting your visit."
"Was he okay keeping it quiet? I really don't want the media to find out I'm back. No distractions."
"No problem with that. I spoke with him, and he's very excited. He's familiar with your name and, of course, the Alzheimer's work. But I think he was a little confused. He kept asking why you wanted to meet only with him. I told him you'd explain."
"Thanks so much. I appreciate your handling all this personally. There's just one more thing right now. I'm ready to hear about Hope."
"Of course, we've been expecting that." He handed Zachary a tablet and pointed to a screen icon. "I've put it all together as a video for you. As you instructed, our monitoring began when she started school at five years old. You can watch it in 3D if you like. The tablet has an integrated holographic projector, so you can view it anywhere in the room."
"This is kind of personal. I think I'll send it to my lens."
Zachary sat in Davis Marshall's office at the University of Virginia. "Thanks for meeting with me, Davis. And sorry for all the mystery, I'm sure you're wondering what this is about."
"That's true, Dr. Reddington. I've been thinking about it since I got the call last week. I'm hoping it's got something to do with my research. I'd love to talk about that with you."
"I've read your work, and I'd enjoy discussing it, but that isn't why I'm here today. So let me get right to it. In 2030 I went into cryogenic storage through my company, CryoCure. You probably know about us. We developed the first freeze and thaw protocols for adult mammals and eventually humans. I had lots of money to throw at the storage problem, and we worked it out quickly. I started the company after my wife, Evie, was severely injured. My thinking was if things went downhill, she could go into storage until medicine solved her problems."
"Like CryoCure has now done for many others."
"Yes, and it's very gratifying. But Evie refused storage, and eventually, she passed away. I was devastated and lost interest in everything I enjoyed. So, I decided to do something you'll think foolish and unethical. I cloned her."
"Are you serious? Human reproductive cloning? It's still verboten, and back in 2030?"
"Practically unheard of then, but feasible. After Evie's accident, I took some of her cells for nuclei isolation, just in case she refused to go into storage. I found a reproductive biologist who agreed to do the nuclear transfer into an egg, and I paid a surrogate to carry the embryo and fetus to term."
"Hold on a minute, am I following this right? In 2030 you create a clone of your wife and then go into cryogenic storage so you might be with her again in the future?"
"I'm missing something. Even if you could find her, she wouldn't be your wife and probably nothing like her. Plus, she'd be over seventy years old. If you're going through all this trouble, why wait so long to come out of storage?"
"I left instructions with CryoCure to resume me only under specific circumstances. They did so ten months ago, after seventy-two years."
"What were those circumstances?"
"It was the death of your father, Eric Marshall."
"What? There's got to be a mistake. What connection could my father have?"
"I'll get to that, but hear me out. For Evie's clone to be anything like her, I knew the early environment was as important as her genes. So, I tried to improve the odds by finding a close match to Evie's family to adopt her clone. Similar parents, occupations, single child, etc."
"You found such a family, and they actually agreed to do it?"
"Yes, after holding her as an infant, they agreed to adopt. They tried to have their own child several times, but it always ended badly. I offered them a lot of money, but they refused. They only agreed to take enough for her education and some charities they support."
Davis was astonished and not pleased. "I can't believe this. Like you said, it's unethical. And you still haven't told me what my father has to do with this."
"The couple who raised Evie's clone named her Hope."
"Oh my God! My mother's name is Hope! Are you saying?"
Davis needed some time, so they ended the meeting and met at Davis's home the next day. Zachary explained that Evie's clone was his mother, Hope Marshall, and his grandparents were the couple who adopted her.
"My grandparents never told me anything about this."
"They also kept it from your mother. We agreed that was best." Zachary told Davis instructions were left with CryoCure to resume him only if Hope wasn't in a serious relationship after reaching sixty years of age. The death of her husband, Eric, in 2102 triggered his return.
"Tell me about Evie," said Davis.
"You're going to find this interesting. I learned Hope is a retired psychologist who loves painting. Evie was a psychiatrist who spent most of her free time painting, and she was good. She could take a scene and reinvent it with colors you couldn't look away from. For example, she once painted the Washington Monument facing the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool that generated incredible emotion." Zachary abruptly stopped talking; Davis was staring at him in disbelief. "What's wrong?"
Davis led him to a bedroom and pointed to a painting above the bed. "That's what's wrong."
Zachary looked up and shuddered. On the wall was a painting of the Washington Monument viewed from across the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Memorial. The colors were intense and vibrant. "My God, Evie."
"Her name is Hope."
There was a long silence before either of them spoke.
"Please help me, Davis. I've come a long way, and I need to meet your mother. Evie and I spent forty years together. We had a great life, full of love and respect for each other. Some of that must be based on our genetics. Maybe it can also work for Hope and me. What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking about my mother. She's still recovering from my father's death, and it may be too soon. And I'm uncomfortable with all of this. You understand this is damn bizarre. I'm worried what'll happen if she finds out she was cloned and who you really are. I'm sorry. You'll have to do this on your own."
"I understand, but I want you to know that I don't plan to tell her. We'll meet as strangers. I've established a new identity. There'll be no press reports about me or CryoCure. The only change in her life will be meeting me. And we'll see where it goes."
Davis sat silently, overwhelmed and torn. His mother was despondent, so meeting Zachary could be good for her. But he feared what could happen if she learned the truth.
"Her best chance at happiness is probably with you. So, I'll tell you one thing, just to make it easy to meet her. But that's all. If you and I meet again, we will because she asks us."
"She plans to teach a beginner painting class at the Arts Center every month. And so far, she only has one student signed up."
Hope placed a set of paints next to the second easel and blank canvas in her classroom. It was a year since her husband died, and she was finally strong enough to get out again. Eric made her promise she would get past it, and Hope revisited that conversation often. It was so difficult to make the promise and nearly impossible to keep it.
A knock on the glass door startled her. A new student arrived early. He was dressed in a sports coat and dress pants.
"Hi, I'm Zachary, we spoke on the phone."
Despite appearing relaxed, his heart pounded, and he worried Hope might hear it. The CryoCure video hadn't fully prepared him. Her smile caught him by surprise. He loved how Evie's smile encompassed her whole face, especially her eyes, and Hope's was identical.
"Welcome. I think you're a bit overdressed for the occasion, but that won't be a problem. You can borrow a smock."
She was immediately attracted to him. His face radiated warmth and kindness, and that put her at ease. She was excited another man could produce such feelings, though twinges of guilt flashed into her mind. As they stared at each other, the second student arrived. Hope led them to their easels.
In the front of the room sat a third easel, which she used for instruction. Nearby was a painting showing a fall scene with nearly leafless gray and white trees, a stream, and mountains.
"This is what you'll paint tonight. I'll take you through each step and check on you a few times."
She began with outlines of trees and then added details. One leaf sat on a branch very close to the front of the scene, and it appeared large on the canvas. For this leaf, she blended some browns. Instead, Zachary delved into the bright red and orange paints. He created a leaf that seemed out of place in a setting dominated by shades of gray and brown. His colors were the peak fall landscapes of New England, where he and Evie spent time.
After speaking with the other student, Hope turned and approached his easel. She studied the painting for a moment and then leaned closer to him and smiled.
"This is wonderful, Zachary, I love your use of those colors."
Davis watched Hope sitting at the dining room table in his home. She was clearly unhappy. "Would you like more dinner, Mom?"
He whispered under his breath. "Here it comes."
"Davis, I can't believe it. Why did you wait so long to tell me? In three weeks, you'll be in Switzerland for two years, and I find out today. A prestigious fellowship like this. You must've known about it for months."
"First of all, I'm not disappearing for two years. We're a jet flight apart, and the fellowship includes travel money, so I'll be back for meetings and holidays. And you'll visit me too. We'll see each other a lot."
She stared at him and teared up. "You said we'd never be more than a few minutes apart."
He approached her and smiled softy. "That was after Dad died. I didn't know how you'd do. And it was before this guy showed up."
He looked toward Zachary, who was standing quietly in the corner perusing a bookshelf, a safe distance from the fray. She reached out, inviting him closer.
Zachary took her hand and said, "I'm not going anywhere."
Davis nodded. "I know. If I thought you guys weren't serious, I wouldn't have accepted the fellowship. Mom, haven't you seen each other every day since the painting class six months ago?"
"Yes, I can't believe we found each other again." She reached into her purse and removed a tissue. "I'll be right back."
As she left the room, Davis grabbed Zachary's arm. "She said you found each other again? I thought you weren't going to tell her?"
"I didn't tell her. She's hinted this idea to me a few times, but I've ignored it. At this point, I still agree. She shouldn't be told, but we'll have to see where it goes. If it progresses, and she suspects the truth, I won't lie to her."
"But how can this be? What process could allow a nucleus extracted from Evie to transmit memory?"
"I wish I had a good answer. We know there are non-genetic inheritance mechanisms. It must be some type of chemical effect within the nucleus. If she begins to recall more detailed memories, it would be amazing. It would mean our experiences can leave an imprint in the nucleus that can reconstruct memories after cloning. We're talking reincarnation."
"Detailed memories? Do you think it's possible?"
"I don't know. Her memories may be limited, sensed as something more like déjà vu. However this turns out, I promise my only concern will be your mother."
She returned and put her arms around them.
"Sorry, I had a maternal moment there, but I'm okay now." She looked at Davis and gave him a kiss. "I know how important this fellowship is to you and how it could help your research. I'm so proud."
She picked up her coat and handed Zachary his. "I'm tired, let's head out."
Zachary looked at Davis and smiled. "I think everything's going to work out fine."
Davis walked them to the door.
As they were leaving, Hope stopped and turned around.
"You know, Davis, I've had a feeling for such a long time that you would do something big with your research. Maybe it's that strange dream I keep having where your father won the Nobel Prize." Then she looked at Zachary. "Kind of silly, though. Like I told you, Eric restored and sold old cars."