Superman Meets Superdoc
From "Science Fiction For The 21st Century' by R Bartlet (March 1994)

'Call a doctor!' George exclaimed excitedly . . .

'Superman' had discovered he was no man of steel - and there wasn't a speck of kryptonite to be found anywhere. During a break in rehearsals, George - the actor who plays the one who's faster than a speeding bullet - had gone backstage by himself, attached a silencer to a loaded pistol he'd secreted behind the curtain, held the gun to his temple and coolly pulled the trigger. Miraculously, he didn't lapse into unconsciousness until he'd cried out for a doctor.

Rushing backstage, the producer faced the tragic scene, realised what the muffled sound reaching her ears had been, and momentarily froze in astonishment: 'It makes no sense at all! Lately, George has been even happier than usual. Could he have actually believed he'd be able to move his head away before the bullet reached it?'

At the hospital, George was immediately prepped for surgery. Doctor Crusher lamented that there was no time to do an M.R.I.. The patient's life could not be stopped from ebbing away while one of the world's most skilled neurosurgeons awaited Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans which would reveal the projectile's exact path of destruction.

Not that it mattered - before she'd finished scrubbing, George was clinically brain dead. Apparently numbed to tragedy by the reality of confronting it daily, most of the staff returned to their routines -the emptiness inside each of them would have to wait until the doctors and nurses were off duty before it could be dealt with.

Dr. Crusher, though, stayed. 'I can still save him, if I get in the O.R. quickly enough! All I need is a few seconds with the patient, the opportunity to do some lab work and that gizmo I invented after being inspired by, of all things the movie "Ghostbusters".'

In the operating room, she picked up a wooden spatula and obtained a sample of cells from the inner lining of the mouth. Then she dismissed the few remaining attendants with 'You may all leave now, I'll finish up in here.' After the last attendant strode out and she heard the outer door close. she grabbed the shoebox-size 'Ghostbusters' gizmo kept inside a locked panel of one of the many high-tech machines.

Flipping a switch caused its ultra-sensitive electronics to search out George's non-physical doppelganger - his soul, if you like - which, according to Dr. Crusher's previous hypothesising, was now separated from his physical being and pausing in the room for a few minutes while getting its (or his) bearings. When the display registered George's location, he was data-compressed (a process which, in effect, miniaturised him) and 'stored' in the gizmo's electronic memory.

From the O.R. the doctor went straight to the hospital's remarkably well equipped laboratory, where the spatula's cells were genetically engineered to prevent illness and ageing and to increase the rate of healing a trillionfold, then cloned into a replica of George's old body. 'Nice,' thought Dr. Crusher, 'but without my Ghostbusting gizmo, this would only be a 20th century version of Dr. Frankenstein's monster.'

She reversed the gizmo so George's BITS (space-time equivalents of computers' BInary digiTS) were data-expanded and downloaded into the clone. So the actor's encounter with a speeding bullet ironically transformed him, via the futuristic bio-technology performed by a 'Superdoc', into a virtual man of steel.

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