A scientist attempts to solve the world’s climate crisis, but unwittingly unleashes forces bent on the destruction of all mankind in this riveting 23,000 word science fiction novella.

The near-future. Coastlines around the world lay submerged under water due to the rising sea levels. Cryobiologist David Boreas proposes a bold plan to the IPCC. Every human being on the planet will enter cryostasis, with a rotating twenty million let out into the world each day, drastically reducing mankind’s carbon emissions. A year passing between each day lived.

The plan is quickly adopted.

The planet heals itself, the winters slowly return, yet a growing resistance emerges. David soon watches as each succeeding day reveals the aftermath of an increasingly violent year. Will he be able to convince his project leaders to alter their course? Or will the unforeseen consequences of his creation rise up to destroy the world he set out to save?

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Excerpt from Stasis © Copyright 2022 Parker Eldred

Chapter 1

Yesterday was a year ago. The cryostasis chamber opened with a pneumatic hiss and David emerged in a white fog of evaporating air. The thought repeated itself. Yesterday was a year ago. He sat up, eyes still closed, and swung his legs over the side of his pod. The mild nausea he’d encountered the previous mornings now gone. A major improvement. His body now acclimatized to the vitrification process, the fresh water solution replacing the antifreeze in his cells that prevented them from bursting during their cryosleep hibernation.

He sat there and took a minute to wake up before he set his feet inside his sandals and tapped his PIN into the touchscreen on the face of the locker beside him. Grabbing his cotton robe from the hanger and the necklaced keycard from the cubbyhole, he put them on. He stood up and shook off the last of his sleep and made his way down the broad aisle towards the elevators, past the hundreds of identical chambers in dozens of identical rows. The machines humming softly as he passed, their faint reverberation bouncing back upon him from the high steel ceiling above. All of it uniform and sterile and precise as clockwork.

He exited the glass double-doors into the foyer and called for the elevator and looked out the tinted window at the end of the hall. The morning light rose in the east. A pillow of clouds in soft coral and tangerine watercolor. The sun a small dot of scarlet incandescence above the dense woodland that surrounded the complex. He glanced back through the double-doors and looked at the final pod in his column, its chamber door frosted over. He wondered what she was dreaming about.

David emerged out of the underground parking garage and drove across the large lot. Bright-eyed and caffeinated, he and his car freshly charged, he threw his hand up in a wave as he came upon the armed security guard at the front gate. The man nodded in receipt and a moment later the electric fence slid open, the chain-link and crown of concertina wire disappearing into the reinforced concrete walls that surrounded the complex entire. The Boreas Stasis Center of Western New York towered behind him as he headed away from it through the woodland road, its obsidian glass façade sparkling brightly in the morning sun. He drove towards the highway, south towards Ithaca, to Cornell University, and remembered that he needn’t worry about making good time this morning, or indeed any other morning. There would never be traffic again.

The world looked different this year, he thought. Or maybe just felt different, the vague uncanniness an aftereffect of his ongoing adaptation to this new experience of time. Because though it had only felt like seven days since he first committed himself to stasis, in actuality it had been seven years. It would just take some getting used to, he told himself. Yesterday was a year ago.

Not far from the highway, he came upon a small herd of sika deer standing in the middle of the road. He slowed and crossed into the opposite lane and stared at them as he drove by. The deer stood picking at the leaves of a low-hanging Miyabe maple. The buck rose his head and looked over at David as he passed. As if he were simply a curiosity to him. The others didn’t even bother to look at all.

He rolled his window down to take in the autumn air, the surrounding woodland foliage in vibrant crimson and amber and marigold. Yet it was much cooler than he’d expected and he smiled to himself as he rolled his window back up. It was a good sign. There hadn’t been a brisk November in many years. Maybe the world really was different.

David had stood before the executive committee of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just three years prior. A Professor of Biology at Cornell University and the world’s leading cryobiologist, he’d been summoned to speak before the IPCC to address the climate emergency. His recently published paper in The Lancet had stirred the international science community and with coastlines all around the world already under water, they were running out of options.

“There would be a cryochamber built for every human being on earth, all housed in hundreds of separate facilities across the globe,” said David.

“And twenty million people would awake each day?” said one of the vice-chairs.

“That’s correct. A separate twenty million. Every day. While the rest of us remain in cryostasis until our particular day arrives, thus drastically reducing our global carbon footprint.”

“Would you wake up on the same day every year?”

“No,” said David. “I would propose a rolling schedule. That way each day feels like the next, which it is, just a year in the future. But everyone would still be able to celebrate birthdays, holidays, religious observances. They’d still get to experience the seasons changing. Plus, in my opinion, reliving the same day for the rest of your life would lead to various neuroses.”

Another vice-chair spoke. “So we would experience a full year, but in reality it would be three-hundred and sixty-five years that had passed?”

“That’s correct,” said David.

“Jesus.”

A silence. The chairs looked around at one another. One finally leaned forward.

“Dr. Boreas, what is your opinion on the likelihood of humanity’s willingness to participate in such an undertaking?”

David nodded in receipt of the question. He’d thought about it with great regularity.

“No one is going to like this. I don’t like this,” he said. “But we’ve all watched over the last few years as our coastlines have shrunken dramatically and cities have been swallowed up by the ocean. New York, London, Rome, Tokyo. Millions of lives lost and a mass migration inland that has caused a crisis of habitable land and clean water. And so despite the considerable inconvenience, despite the sacrifice that will need to be made, I do believe that mankind will nevertheless rise to the challenge and do what’s right. If properly presented, I believe that the world will see that this proposal provides a way forward for us. Perhaps the only way. That with cryostasis, humanity has another chance.”

The Stasis Project, as it was thereafter titled, was presented the following month to an influential coterie of eminent scientists, climatologists, indigenous representatives, and activist celebrities during an emergency IPCC session at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. It was quickly championed. And surprisingly, the immense cost of constructing hundreds of cryostasis facilities around the world proved less of a hurdle than expected, with dozens of the superrich pledging billions of dollars to the cause. Perhaps it was purely philanthropic or perhaps, with numerous of their luxury Manhattan and Malibu and Miami homes already under water, it was a kind of Ahab-esque vendetta against the sea. But either way, with the finances secured, it wasn’t long before world governments began constructing the requisite cryostasis centers.