In the 1930’s a researcher from the University of California called Robert Cornish embarked on an ambitious project to see if it was possible to bring dead dogs back to life by using a mixture of adrenaline, anti-coagulants and a see-saw style machine that would rock the corpses up and down in order to help the recirculation of the blood. Incredibly the process worked and some of the dogs were brought back to life though severely brain damaged.
In 1947 Cornish resurfaced armed with a heart-lung machine made out of parts from a vacuum cleaner and other devices and declared he was ready to test out his process on a human. A death row inmate volunteered for the experiment however Cornish was refused permission. This much is public record. What the public did not know was the real reason he had been refused permission.
Three years earlier, at the start of 1944, the US Government had already brought a man back from the dead.
In November 1943, a thousand American scientists were shown a film by their Soviet counterparts demonstrating the process by which the organs of dead animals could be coaxed back to life outside the body. The video concluded by demonstrating what the Soviets claimed to be a dog being killed and then brought back to life 15 minutes later no worse for wear. A family of dogs, who had been experimented on in the 1930s, were paraded showing that the animals went on to live normal long lives, and even reproduce. In the throes of total war, the possibility that Allied scientists may be able to revive dead soldiers offered a strategic advantage that should not be overlooked. The imaginations of the scientists, the generals and the politicians were captured. If possible, a straight forward war of attrition would result which Germany and Japan could not hope to win.
The approval for a research program into reanimating recently killed humans was swiftly approved and supported from a secret military research fund. Dr Conrad Kissinger, a sixty one year old researcher was appointed the head of a team of twenty who set up their operation in an undisclosed military base in the ‘Battle Born State’ of Nevada. Taking the research of their Soviet counterparts as the starting point, Kissinger’s team hastened by war canvassed the prisoners on death row at Ely State Prison. A handful obliged to give consent for the experiment when the proposal was sweetened.
“The execution shall proceed as previously discussed. In the morning you’ll have the opportunity for a last meal and a priest shall come to take confession if that is something you would like. Your execution will be monitored by a representative from the attorney general’s office and an independent doctor, who will verify that you are indeed dead. After which we will move in and begin the revival. Do you understand?”
Kissinger observed his volunteer through steel rimmed glasses. The Caucasian male was about 6’1’’ in height, well built – formerly employed by the construction trade – and with dark brown hair. Frank Swan, convicted arsonist and multiple murderer, sat up on his cell bunk.
“And after you work your magic… I’m free?”
For Swan, Kissinger’s face was inscrutable. The scientist barely exercised a muscle in his face to reply with reassuring words. “You were sentenced to death Mr Swan. Once you’re dead, you’re debt to society is paid.”
Swan turned his eyes to stare at the gray wall of his cell opposite and nodded taking a few deep breaths. He signed the documents provided by Dr Kissinger and laid back down on his bunk when the researcher left. One last sleep, then he would be born again.
He awoke to a clanging on the bars of his cell in the early hours. A shave, a wash, a good last meal of steak and potatoes… it was effectively breakfast but he didn’t mind. It was the best meal he’d had in six years. No family visited him. There was nobody left to visit him. His closest relatives, two cousins were overseas fighting in the Pacific theatre. The priest came but Frank had no time for him. He would have felt like he was cheating God if he had given his last confession and the experiment to revive him worked. No, Frank told the Priest he would make his case in person when he’s ready. The waiting after the meal was the most unsettling time. He had spent days since being moved to his final home listening to men screaming, wailing, and begging to escape the gas chamber. Yet all Frank felt was not terror, but nerves. He wasn’t sure what to expect but just clung to the freedom he had been promised.
As Frank was being led into the gas chamber he noticed a cluster of researchers scurrying around an anteroom with an odd looking apparatus, getting ready for their experiment. The DA’s representative and other witnesses observed him coldly through the glass of the chamber wall as he came into view. He sat in the centre of the room, glancing briefly over his shoulder to the door that led out to the men who were entrusted with bringing him back. His legs and arms were strapped to the chair. Swan waited as his crimes were read out.
For the arson of his family home…
For the murder of his wife and two children…
He had been condemned to death.
“Do you have any last words?”
The gas was released. At first Frank instinctively held his breath but remembered the advice he had been given about the death being worse if it’s fought and tentatively inhaled the colorless gas that surrounded him. From outside of the chamber it appeared he simply went to sleep, shaking a little, but otherwise without struggle. The independent Doctor monitored a Bowles stethoscope that was strapped onto Frank’s chest inside the chamber and pronounced him dead at 8:02 am.
At 9:26 he woke up to the roar of an engine and the rocking of a van speeding over uneven road surfaces. He groaned as his entire body ached. The grotesque face of his prison guard loomed into view.
“I’ll give you this you rotten bastard. You got balls. I can’t believe you agreed to that ungodly experiment!”
Franks throat was dry, “I can’t believe you agreed to let me. When can I… leave… ?”
“Leave? What are you talking about? Until we get to the military base your still my responsibility.”
Frank coughed. Tried to move, and found that he was restrained. He identified three straps; one over his legs, one across his lower waist and the other his upper chest.
“Kissinger… said I was free if… if it was successful…”
The guard grinned at Frank and shook his head.
“My word, he sold you one didn’t he? They just brought you back from the dead Swan. You’re their lab rat. They’re never going to let you go till they have prodded and poked you back to death! You belong to the US Government now.”
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