Prompt: “Due to a lack of donors, you sacrificed your own heart for a young child. Years later, the child learned the secrets of life and death, and was determined to repay you.”
Situs inversus is a condition found in about one out of every ten thousand people. It’s a medical condition where people are born with their hearts and lungs are mirrored. Instead of having a heart beating on the left side of your body, it’s on the right side. That’s a condition I’ve lived with for over 50 years without many health problems. Now, not everyone is that lucky. Sometimes people who have situs inversus have suffered from cardiac problems. That was the fate of a young girl named Nova.
I first learned of Nova, when her story was featured on the local news. A 12 year old girl was in desperate need for a new heart due to health complications tied to situs inversus. A girl who didn’t just need a heart, but a heart that was mirrored from what people normally have.
You hear all the time about how people die waiting for vital organs. Regular people waiting on regular organs can’t find them in time, let alone someone with this condition. My heart went out to this little girl and her family. She had so much life to live but her time was running out. That’s when I made my decision to donate my heart.
Now I know it is pretty unusual for someone to agree to this. When living people donate their organs, it is usually something they can live without like a part of their liver or a single kidney. But a heart is something you absolutely need to keep. But I had lived my life. I had used this heart. It was time for someone else to take it.
I sought out Nova’s family and spoke to them and a series of doctors. Their were long, tearful discussions on what we were going to do. The doctors we spoke with were reluctant to take my heart and end my life, but I knew it what I had to do. Eventually I signed a thousand different forms so the hospital couldn’t be sued by family or friends (not that I had many), I said my final goodbyes and prepared myself for surgery.
Nova’s family met with me one final times and thanked me over and over again. Tears filled their eyes as they expressed their gratitude. My sacrifice would give Nova a chance at life. That was worth it to me. I remember Nova giving me a hug and thanking me. I wasn’t sure if she really understood the gravity of the situation, but I did. I knew that I was breathing in my final breaths and feeling the last heartbeats in my chest.
I was lead to a surgical room where they hooked me up to an IV. Different chemicals were pumped into my body as I started to feel numb. My breathing slowed, my eyes got heavy, and I slowly drifted off.
“Test Project 5v. Powering on.”
A strange voice seemed to enter my mind. At first I thought it was a voice of a nurse or doctor. Or maybe I was dreaming. I didn’t see anything or feel anything, but yet I heard these words.
“Power on. Test subject look stable,” Another voice said.
“George Oswald, can you hear me?” The first voice said.
“Voice online,” The second voice said.
“Hello? Hello? What’s going on?” I asked.
There was a quick expression of excitement between the two voices.
“We’re so happy to hear from you, George,” The first voice said. “My name is Nova Wu. Do you remember me?”
I took a moment to think. My mind felt fuzzy like I had just awoke from a very long sleep. The name and the voice were both familiar, but distant. It took another moment but finally the name came to me.
“Nova? The girl? The little girl that I..I gave my heart to,” I said.
“Yes, that’s me,” Nova said.
“Memory banks look stable,” The second voice said.
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“This is Alejandro. He’s my partner and co-founder of The Frankenstein Project,” Nova explained.
“I think we are ready for phase two,” Alejandro said.
“Are you sure? We don’t want to push it too fast,” Nova said to him.
“I think we’re ready,” He said.
“George? How are you feeling?” Nova asked me.
“I’m…well I’m confused. How are you there and I’m here? What’s going on? Why can’t I see anything?”
“Don’t worry, George. We’ll explain in a moment. You aren’t feeling any pain are you? No discomfort?”
“No. No I don’t think so,” George said.
“Discomfort?” Alejandro asked.
“I’m easing him into it,” Nova replied. “George, what is the last thing you remember?”
“I… I was going into surgery. I had just met with you and your family.”
“Think back further. What was your mother’s name?” Nova asked.
“My mother… why are you asking -“
“Do you remember your mother’s name?” Nova asked again.
“Yeah… I… Her name was Harriet. Harriet Young,” I said.
There was another bit of whispering between the two of them.
“Ok, George, one more question. The day you walked into the hospital, you talked to a nurse at the front desk where you checked in. What color were her eyes?” Nova asked.
I thought for a moment. What a totally bizarre question. How was I supposed to remember that? I talked to this woman for only a few minutes. But as I thought, the memory came back to me. It was almost like I was reliving the moment.
I remembered standing at the desk. A nurse greeted me. She was a woman about my age, wearing greenish scrubs. She wore black-rimmed glasses and had deep hazel eyes.
“Hazel,” I said.
Another gasp of exitement.
“He’s ready,” Nova said.
“Alright, George. We’re about to show you a glimpse into where you are. Try to stay calm. We will answer all your questions,” Nova said. “Take a deep breath.”
I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but out of instinct I took a breath. Except I didn’t. A strange sensation came over me where my brain told me I was breathing, but I felt no movement in my body. I didn’t feel a body at all.
“Eyes coming online,” Alejandro said.
Suddenly the darkness I was in, gave way to light. At first it was blinding, but eventually the spots disappeared and I was able to look around me. I was in some sort of lab. Standing before me was two people which I presumed was Alejandro and Nova. I looked around me. The room was full of computer equipment and large screens hanging on the walls. I seemed to be in some sort of glass chamber.
“How are you feeling, George?” Nova asked.
My eyes were still adjusting, but I focused on her. She was no longer the 12 year old girl I remembered, but a woman who was either in her late 20’s or early 30’s.
“How? How is this possible?” I asked her.
“Well that is a long story,” Nova said. “First I want to play something for you.”
Nova held a tablet in her hands which she tabbed a couple of times. The room was then filled with a rhytmic thumping sound.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
“That’s the sound of my heart. Your heart,” Nova said. “Without this heart, I would have died. But you gave up your own life for me. For that I’m eternally greatful.”
“The surgery went great. You are alive. Which means… I’m dead,” I said.
“You are dead. But not exactly. Your physical body died that day when your heart was transferred to me. Your soul. Well I’m not sure if you were a religious man, but your soul went wherever your soul went. But your mind was saved,” Nova said with a smile.
“My mind?” I asked. “I’m very confused.”
“Long story short, your brain is now an AI,” Alejandro said.
“Alejandro!” Nova turned to him.
“Sorry, but you were going so slow. I just wanted to rip off the band-aid,” Alejandro shrugged.
“Nova, is this true?” I asked.
Nova turned back to me.
“Yes, George. That’s correct. Following your surgery and death, your memories were converted to data and saved on a hard drive, Nova explained. “Now over two decades later, Alejandro and I have taken that data and merged it with the most powerful artificial intelligence we could get our hands on. We call it The Frankenstein Project.”
“That’s…I’m…I don’t quite understand.”
“Stress levels rising,” Alejandro said turning back to his computer.
“George, you did something unbelievable for me,” Nova said. “I wanted to repay you for your sacrifice. This way your heart lives on giving me life and your mind lives on in a digital space.”
“Plus this isn’t really you. It’s just a copy of your memories being used by an Artificial Intelligence,” Alejandro added.
“It’s life after life,” Nova said.
“This is a lot to take in,” I said. “I went to asleep thinking I was giving my heart to a little girl and I woke up now being some sort of robot.”
“Well-” Alejandro began, but Nova rose her hand to cut him off.
“You provided a great service to me by giving me your heart,” Nova said. “Now you can do an even greater service by giving the world your brain.”
“But… how? What am I even supposed to do?” I asked.
“We are working on possible applications for your programing,” Alejandro said.
“But we believe that this new process of intertwining human memories with AI code will lead to a new revolution for personal assistants, smart cities, and so much more,” Nova said. “Others are trying to program humanity into AI, while we are starting with humanity.”
Nova’s eyes lit up as she spoke.
“You’re on the bleeding edge of technology, George,” Nova said.
“Welcome to the future,” Alejandro said turning back to his computer.
Header Photo Credit to Medical Expo E-Mag
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/salmontail