It was time.
Actually, it wasn’t. But, Ella Rudson believed she deserved to treat herself. It would be the third time she undertook the procedure. Her body age was only forty-two years old. She was still considered biologically young for the procedure. However, it would feel so great to be eighteen again.
Matthew Brooks tried to dissuade her. He liked her the way she was. He had gone through the procedure only once. Matthew was seventy-three years younger than she was in actual age. They had been seeing each other for just a couple of months. He couldn’t possibly know what’s best for her or for them.
It was frowned upon to undergo the procedure before fifty. Nevertheless, Ella outperformed at her work at the Organization every single year in the past five years and got a special permission from the Organization. Her job at the Veracity organ was important. Computers were constantly monitoring the individual spheres, the global sphere and everything in between. They were looking for discrepancies. Ella’s task was to restructure the data to eliminate these discrepancies. It was helping getting everyone on the same page. It was mostly small things. It was for the good of the Organization and it was for the good of the people. She was making a better world.
The procedure was invented by John O’Connor a while ago. He funded the O’Connor Institute and, first, he invented a technology to slow down aging dramatically. He quickly acquired fortune and fame. Later, he found a revolutionary way to transfer human minds from old bodies to younger ones. The whole mind was shifted, from the global neuron charges to the quantum states of every particles. He then got greedy. He refused to share the procedure with the people. He refused to share the procedure with anyone. Fortunately, the Organization elders stepped in. They took over the O’Connor Institute by force. John O’Connor disappeared. The Organization elders then decided to sacrifice themselves. They vowed to never used the new procedure on themselves. Instead, they promised to ensure the people will be the ones benefiting from it.
At first, everyone had access to the procedure. Unfortunately, people started abusing it. The new bodies were unanimated dolls with a blank state. It required time, energy and man power to grow them. The Organization couldn’t bare the costs. The elders decided to divide the people into two groups. The first group would be living in the upper city. People of this group were selected by the Organization according to their estimated worth. They will be the ones working for the Organization. In exchange, they will have access to the procedure. Ella was proud to be part of this group. The second group would be living in the lower city. These are people that the Organization can’t used and didn’t need. They will be provided generously with everything for the rest of their life and they won’t have to work a single day. However, they won’t have access to the procedure. It was a fair system.
A calm tone accompanied with a dim blue light stopped her thoughts. She had arrived at the O’Connor Institute. She stepped lightly out of the bus and paused for a moment. She then felt the bus going away by itself, silently floating a few inches away from the ground. She entered the building with a smile at the corner of her lips.
Everything was exactly like she remembered. The ceilings were high and it looked more like a train station hall than the entrance of a building. The comically enormous bust of John O’Connor that was welcoming visitors before has been replaced years ago. Now, stood a globe made of pure gold and, on it, one could see hundreds of inch-tall figurines representing our people. The front desk receptionist looked twenty year younger. She must have gone through the procedure relatively recently. She did looked stunning. She greeted Ella with a warm “Miss Rudson, we were waiting for you.” and pointed to the elevator.
The elevator knew where she was going. It stopped on the seventh floor. A round pale purple light was waiting for her in the air. It guided Ella to her room. Three men were waiting for her. One recognized her. He said with a smile “Welcome back, Ella. So, what do you think?“. Inside a transparent tube, her new body was here, floating in a heavy brown placenta. New bodies didn’t have to be perfect clones. Slight variations in genetic code were allowed. She had ordered some minor improvements including this turned-up shape nose. She had always wished to have one. The results were beyond expectations. After thoughts, she should have also asked for a bit more prominent cheekbones. Maybe next time.
She nodded with a small smile. The men went back to their stations. They were getting ready for the transfer. She stripped from her clothes. She then stood still, her back against the padded wall used for transfers. She was just five feet away to her new body. She had a last look to it with a bigger smile. She nodded again to the operator and faced straight. He typed a few commands. A large white plastic sheet moved towards her. It covered her entire body and warped it tightly to the wall. She couldn’t move. It was mildly uncomfortable, but she knew it was only for a few seconds. Like the last time, she felt life fading away. Her closed eyes saw the familiar white light.
The smell was first to kick in. It wasn’t the usual smell of placenta being removed. Instead, it was a disgusting rancid odor. A mix between decay and spoiled meat. It didn’t felt she was in a new body. She tried to open her eyes, but couldn’t see anything. The place was perfectly dark. She could barely breath. She felt stuck. She was surrounded on all sides by some sort of flabby bodies. Her whole skin was covered by a granular viscous oil. She was still naked.
Ella slowly managed to climb up. She extracted herself from this putrid mix and felt on the side. She caught her breath for a few minutes. Her eyes began to acclimate to the bright light. She realized she just came out of a dumpster. She looked inside. She saw horrified a stack of maybe thirty naked human corpses. It looked like the bodies people were switching from when they were going through the procedure. Until now, Ella thought the Institute was incinerating these bodies. She couldn’t believe they were doing it this way. She felt like throwing up. She had a massive headache. It wasn’t unlike the ones she was getting after trying new drugs at the club. She looked around. She was probably somewhere in the lower city. It looked like a back alley of what must be a bar. They were a few passerby. Some looked at her with some interest, but oddly without surprise.
She just wanted to go home.
–reprinted with permission by @hartator