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Away


Author's Note

APPOINTMENT



Gene flipped through the synaptic discs, pausing to flex his arthritic fingers. He selected one, angling the polished disc to catch the light: the holographic imprint shimmered, displaying a double helix emblem embossed with the year 2093.

Ah, yes, he thought, my second time around the block.

Gene slid the disc into a slotted column protruding from the surface of his ebony desk. The desktop displayed thumbnails of memories, and each frame bore a date and time in bright yellow text. He tapped the edge of the desk and the image carousel spun, advancing in time several years.

Gene smiled, pressing a gnarled finger to the picture of a young man and woman dancing beneath blue and green lights. The desktop darkened; an animated hourglass turned end over end as the synaptic recording loaded. Gene sipped a flat ginger ale, smacking his lips, and leaned over the desktop. The entire surface became a window into the past.

He watched, the corners of his mouth twitching, as a tuxedo-garbed youth twirled a flawless beauty around a polished dance floor. Gene tapped his foot with the music, bobbing his head and humming. So young, he thought. On-screen, the young lady laughed, her silvery gown flowing and sliding through the air.

"And so stupid," he mumbled. Gene jabbed the screen twice, stopping the playback, and scowled at the grinning, wrinkle-free faces from the past. He gummed his lower lip, eyes studying every feature of his younger self.

Gene shut off the video and opened his personal calendar. He selected today’s date, calling up a magnified, hour-by-hour list of activities. He highlighted the afternoon time slots, scrolling through fifteen-minute blocks, and zoomed in on a red, bold-faced entry: '4:00 p.m. appointment with Dr. Platz, Next Time Clinic.'

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