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by Bertil Falk

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Chapter 3: A Life-and-Death Struggle
Infranet synopsis

Infranet is the story of a strange kind of induction. A Nameless Detective appears, but he is only an extra, and this is not exactly a detective story. The story has cyberpunk tendencies but is cyber without punk. Darwin and Teilhard meet Oriental creeds, but it is not a religious story. It has Freud and Jung sweetened with Fodor, the paranormal, and Tibetan Buddhism, but it is nevertheless not a story of the occult. It has some elements of a thriller but does not fit that genre, either. In short, this is a story in the “kitchen sink” genre.

Unfathomable is the soul’s selection of ways.
— Erik Ivar Holola

The ambulance came howling over the wet concrete of the broad motorway at a furious pace. A squad car with a blue light whirling like a helicopter blade indicated the way for motorists, who then discreetly slowed their speed and pulled over to the right.

It was as if the fog from the Sound had been waiting for the caravan of the ambulance and police cars racing against time. As soon as the ambulance arrived, the fog once more came in from the Sound and covered the motorway. The traffic had to move slowly as the dense wall arose and darkness embraced the fog.

The surgeons at the operating table had already put on medical gloves. Other doctors in green hospital uniforms were waiting at the casualty inlet. The apparently lifeless body was carried in and put on the operating table. Rapidly, expertly and methodically, the work to save a human life began. Everything went according to checklist.

“No pulse,” one of the paramedics had reported. The surgeon who received the information resolutely hurried into the operating room where other doctors were already opening the patient’s chest; that is, what had not already been ripped open.

Heart massage! The seemingly lifeless body was soon surrounded by industrious hands. The medical team worked industriously, without hesitation, but as though in a daydream. They swiftly analyzed and nimbly proceeded with the operation.

Hands and scalpels and special instruments were lowered towards various parts of the body. Some syringes were filled with blood, while others were filled with liquids to be injected. Years of study and experience took on renewed purpose at this moment.

* * *

Journalists had heard of the accident over the police radio and were already scrumming the superintendents at the central guardrooms in Malmö and Lund. The first efforts to get hold of some relatives had begun. Starting with the plate number of the VW, they soon found that the car had been stolen and belonged to Edvard Sundled, a bank clerk living in Skara.

At the same time, a police car stopped by the car wreck and two uniformed police officers jumped out. In order to inspect the crash, one of them let a dog out of the back seat of the police car.

“We heard it on the radio,” she said. “How is it?”

“We shall see.”

All of a sudden the dog became excited. It showed an intense interest in the wrecked car that was lying in the drainage ditch by the side of the road. The dog sniffed and nuzzled its way into the wreckage. The policewoman knew that the dog had made an important discovery.

“What is it?” a plain-clothed detective asked her.

“What do you think?” she replied.

“Maybe another victim is under the debris?”

“The dog is trained to find something else.”

One of the policemen whistled. “You mean that... Yes, of course...”

The dog had found a small black box in the distorted wreckage.

“I’ll be Donald Duck if this isn’t dope,” the policewoman said. She was not Donald Duck.

The black box was empty, but there had been drugs in it.

Soon they found the bag filled with money. One hundred thousand crowns in banknotes that later were found to be counterfeit.

* * *

While the policeman made a note of this new aspect of the accident, the fight to save the life of the victim continued at the hospital. Medical workers had gotten the heart going again. It had taken an electric kick to get it beating.

The surgeon, who had performed the heart massage up to this point, was satisfied to see that the heart was beating on its own. But it was weak and in need of assistance. It had been one and a half minutes since the body had been brought in without a pulse. A brain would be able to manage for seven minutes without succumbing to lack of oxygen.

Others concentrated on the bloody head. None of them noticed a faint movement in the air above the operating lamp. And even if someone had glanced upwards, he or she would not have seen anything. Yet it was from that perspective that Martin saw the surgeons gathered around his body. He felt fine. He did not feel like returning to his body.

Martin had seen his body disappear into the ambulance through the darkness of the night’s fog. He had followed his body and experienced himself floating above the well-organized stir around the operating table. He felt an intense pleasure that ceased the moment the surgeon opened the chest of what had been his body and began massaging his heart.

Martin resisted once he understood what the doctor was up to, but he struggled in vain. The surgeon’s massaging fingers were far stronger than his own willpower. When the electric kick reawakened his sluggish heart and the tattered and torn chest took a bloodstained leap, Martin perceived the increasingly strong suction from the body on the operating table. His resistance weakened. In a whirlpool of feelings and thoughts, he relapsed into the mortal frame raised from a dead state. At the moment he rejoined that body, his consciousness was cut off.

The physicians at the table had no spare time to enjoy their triumph over impending death. To them there was only one thing to do: secure the conquest that now was within reach. A blood transfusion granted the body life-giving nourishment. But the neurosurgeon shook her head as she stood there, looking into the destruction under the brittle shell that had shielded the patient’s brain until it split.

That man will live as though dead, she thought. Then she left the thought to its fate and grappled with making the best of the situation. Thirteen hours later, the traffic victim’s patched-up body was transported from the operating room to the intensive care unit. And Martin would not wake up for a long, long, long, time, time, time...

Proceed to Chapter 4...

Copyright © 2000 by Bertil Falk

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