I gently prodded him to consciousness. "Mister Galway... Mister Galway, can you hear me?"
He finally responded by opening his eyes and looking in my direction. "Yes, I can--holy crap, I'm naked! I'm--wait, this isn't even my body!"ou
I grinned. "That's right, Mister Galway, you absorbed that very quickly. Good for you! That bodes well for your recovery process."
He covered his loins with his hands and quickly moved to a table he could stand behind. "Okay, cut the crap. What's happened to me?"
"Well," I began, "you died in 2028 A.D, by the old calendar. Per your living will, your head was separated from your body just moments before you would have died anyway, and it was cryogenically preserved against the possibility that you might be revived later.
Over 186 years have passed since then, Mister Galway. The technology needed to perform such a revival is now quite mature, so per the stipulations of your will we have done just that. Your cranium is in here." I gestured to the Biopod standing in the middle of the room, only a meter high and 30 centimeters in diameter.
"And as you've already guessed, that body isn't yours. It's actually a loaner cyborg from Tesla Cybernetics, which you're free to use while you decide how you wish to proceed."
"Um... what are my options?"
"Well, the investments you made toward funding a future revival have been growing for nearly two centuries, so you won't be surprised to learn that you're now quite wealthy even by contemporary standards. So you can afford to take one of three options.
"First, you can continue in your current state. That BioPod incorporates the latest life support, virtualization and communication technologies, and is designed to keep your biological self alive and healthy for many centuries. You would be able to live through cybernetic bodies like that one, or even forms far more specialized for flying, or diving, or even space exploration.
"Second, you can go all in, and have the pattern of your consciousness transferred into a self-powered crystalline matrix called an Eternity Gem, which would make you effectively immortal. There would be some changes in your personality due to the massive increase in mental quickness, but you would essentially be the same person, and you could continue to learn and mentally grow almost indefinitely.
"Third, you now can have your complete body cloned and your brain transplanted into it. This technology is still quite new, but if successful, you would be fully human again and still have two or three centuries of lifespan ahead.
"Personally, I'd recommend the first option. It is the cheapest and seems the most conservative, but--"
"I'll take the third option," Galway interrupted. "I want a human body again."
"Sir, I understand how you feel, but please understand that it will only take a few days to become fully accustomed to your cybernetic sensorium, and after that the sheer number of options you'll have--"
"No, I've made up my mind. I want to have a complete body."
"But sir, there are many ways to experience the sensation and freedom of a full body--"
"Stop. I've made my decision. Get going on that clone."
I sighed. "Yes, sir. Remember, though, that the cost of growing a clone to apparent adulthood is quite expensive, but well within your means. If you decide not to go forward with this when the clone is ready, you can certainly opt to continue in your current state."
"That's great," Galway said, "but it won't be necessary."
Eleven weeks later the clone was ready. I had spoken repeatedly to Galway about his options, but he was unmoved. The other possibilities of a second life did not appeal to him if he could not literally have it all, a full human body with all its foibles. He was unable to settle for less than that even if it was almost godhood.
The surgery took eleven hours, and finally it was complete. The clone brain, made not only insentient but nonviable by the process of accelerated development, was redirected to other medical purposes. Galway was left with his new body in an induced coma as nanomedics swarmed through his braincase, connecting myriads of 247-year-old nerves to their weeks-old complements.
Hours later a red light over his recovery pod started strobing, as the status screens flashed the same message over and over:
R E S O N A N C E C A S C A D E F A I L U R E
It was a literally fatal error. A quirk in his neurological makeup, one which we did not yet have the technology to diagnose beforehand, had led the nanomedics to connect certain critical nerves into cycles. This had created self-reinforcing feedback loops which were already burning out his mental processes and rendering him, though still comatose, totally and incurably insane.
I called a supervisor, who came down with Galway's appointed legal representative, and they both reviewed the situation and approved that I stop the reconnection process and submit his body for immediate liquefaction.
"I've seen your reports," the legal rep said when he saw how stricken I was. "You did everything you could to convince him not to take such a risky course. I did as well, but Galway was a very stubborn man, you know."
"I know," I said, consoling myself. "I told him that I'd helped a thousand of the revived through the process, and I pleaded with him to practice temperance in these first days after revival, and take the more conservative course.
"'Please, Mister Galway,' I begged him, 'Revel in your second chance at life, and quit while you're a head.'"