Barton Marshall’s tooth slipped from its gummy pocket and hit the porcelain sink with an unceremonious clunk. Every sign he’d ignored before now took center stage in his mind. Releasing a long, sour sigh, he knew no matter how hard he tried, there was no denying that he’d been duped.
“You’re an old man,” he said to the reflection in the bathroom mirror. His eyes, nestled atop bulging dark folds, stared back and, through the fading steam, offered a wordless agreement. Lightning bolts of pain chimed in from his lower back with a “Here. Here”. His creaky joints extended the only audible notes of solidarity.
He shuffled his way out of the bathroom and into the sterile room he woke up in. Lifting his feet seemed like an inefficient use of the little energy he had left and his well-worn slippers scuffed across the tiled floor. Reaching the bed, he plopped down, allowing gravity to do most of the work.
Barton’s friends and family had begged him not to do it. But to him, they were overreacting. Back in the twenty-first century it wasn’t uncommon for people to donate blood for some extra cash. He’d even read about people going as far as donating their sperm. Their eggs. So what was a few years?
A few years.
When he woke up, he had a bad feeling, but chalked it up to post-surgery haze. And even though making it to the bathroom had been a chore, he swatted away the thought that they had taken more years than he had agreed to. Hours ago, he would have had the strength to fight. To allow his rage to run the show. But hours ago he was a twenty one year old with his whole life in front of him.
Staring at the spots on the back of his wrinkled, fleshy hand, he figured he must be somewhere north of eighty. The thought added eighty pounds of tired on top of his already exhausted, fragile frame. His head hit the pillow and his body softened atop the stiff mattress.
As his mind drifted and sleep wove its way through every part of his rapidly aged body, Barton hoped when he woke, he’d discover this had all been a nightmare. Or at the very least, that he had enough money to buy some of his years back.