A Twisted Tales Entry.
|I looked into the mirror and I didn't see my own face, or more correctly, the one I was used to seeing. Oh man, I thought, I must be at least ten years older. Clive was going to pay for this. There didn’t seem to be anyone around and that pissed me off even further. The main room was a mess, the bathroom I entered was fit for a hobo, and I was simply livid. Being naked, looking for clothes was next on my list. When I opened the tiny closet, I probably turned beet red. The clothes were from another era and fit for a dumpster. However, running around in the buff was not an option. I found pants that fit and a shirt that went out of style before I was alive. There wasn’t much else in the room, and aside from some kind of prison weapon, I had nothing. But thinking about the circumstance, anyone wanting to off me would have just done it. No, Clive needed his butt kicked!
“Clive!” I tried to yell. But being out for who knows how long, it wasn’t loud.
“What?” He must have heard me getting up. “Come down and drink some juice.”
“Juice?! What the hell did you do?”
“I can try and explain, and Doc is here, but you gotta come down and talk.” Clive was my hired man and looked the part, old and grizzled. He used to be tan and wrinkled, but now he was pasty white with many more wrinkles. I'd paid to flip him twice, because I needed him a few years younger. Though now, I'd be loathe to do it again. It wasn't cheap. I planned to have a few new young assistants interviewed and back checked. It was time to move on, but I had to settle into my new set.
Anytime there was a flip, there was a time of adjustment. Things smelled a bit different, tasted a bit funny perhaps, but nothing major. Not with a short one in any case. This one seemed longer, and it seemed things had changed. Looking around as I marched downstairs, the view didn’t fill me with any confidence. The place where we were lodged was simply not up to standard.
“Clive. How old am I?” I drank some of the juice, but it seemed a little bitter.
“Well, sir, we did the math. Getting something more suitable would have four more years.” Clive responded.
“So how long was I out?”
“Two years,” His caretaker said reluctantly.
The loathing I felt inside must have been palpable. “Two… years… For this old body?!”
“It’s different now!” Clive explained while Doc nodded. “We didn’t have the credits to flip you back!”
“What?” I said, taken aback, “Every BTU has access to my credits!”
“None of those transfer units are still functioning.” Doc interjected. “Even then, piled up dead bodies are useless.”
“What are you two talking about?!” I exclaimed.
Clive responded by turning on his video screen. There were street scenes of riots never been seen in recent history, it looked medieval. They had attacked facilities when they discovered the super wealthy had found a way to move consciousness from one body to another. With a bribe of three or four years of living in extreme luxury, the poor would forfeit their being and bodies to the buyer. The problem was, as people discovered, it was non-negotiable, and no one went willingly at the end.
“Look, sir, it’s not that we didn’t try, but we only had credits for a body with cancer.” Clive explained.
“Cancer was a big thing in the past.” Doc said. “Seems it has made an ugly comeback. It's fatal, and that body hasn't much time.”
"How much?! If I die in this, I'm gone! How long?" I yelled.
"A month, at best, but probably less." Doc wasn't any medical designation, he was just someone who worked with the people and equipment for transfers.
Clive spoke. “They froze the bank accounts. We traded off a few valuables of yours to get some rogue credits. It was all they'd use at the private site. Not sanctioned, because right now nothing is sanctioned. The Unders haven’t won, but it’s an ugly stalemate.”
“Unders?” I asked.
“Yeah, like the people who can’t afford stuff.” Clive said.
“So why put me in a dying body?”
“Because this conflict could be long, and you know the physics.” All of them nodded. "Backing up four or five years doesn't make you immortal."
“So what do you need?” I looked at Doc.
“It’s almost impossible, sir. To find a young man willing and healthy within five years of your body age?” Doc shook his head.
“I asked how much.” They told me. It was possible.
They put a pad and a drawpen down on the table. I wrote SUI 87654-2X on it, and drew Clive near me. I whispered a pass-code in his ear, made him whisper it back to me, and repeated it one more time. He'd better remember.
“That should be more than enough to cover the flip, your costs, and a very nice bonus.” I told them. “Do not mess this up.”
“What do you mean?” Doc asked.
I told him, “I have plenty of credits all over the globe. Working for me is good. I had better wake up on a nice beach!”
We finished our business and they left. We had a time, a place, and a plan. This body was so painful, it was difficult to imagine a time when such a disease was prevalent. I was glad I’d soon be out of it, and hoped humanity would be free of it again soon, too. I took the car to the facility, and aside from people milling about, things seemed calm. I hoped the procedure would be just as smooth.
I awoke on a sandy beach, and the sun was shining down, tanning some and burning others. My face crinkled with a smile. Two lovely young ladies passed by, but when I turned to look, everything hurt. It was agony! I tilted my head a bit to glimpse at the body, and it was wrinkled, old, and had no business on the beach. It seemed an odd last thought to have.
“Do you think he figured it out before he kicked? That we dumped him into a dying body?" Clive asked, before sipping his drink a few yards away, "...and that we did put him on a nice beach?"
“No clue. But he fell for the whole story and the riot videos!” Doc replied with a chuckle. “I just wonder if he really had stashes all over the world.”
“No matter!” Clive explained. “He’d have never given us as much of it as we got from the one account.”
“True enough!” They toasted.
Then the strong hands hit them on their shoulders like a rough hug. They both turned, stunned at my appearance. It wasn’t my body, but close enough that it didn’t matter.
“Hello, boys.” I said.
“How the hell…” Doc spat out.
“We’ve been in robotics and transference tech now for years!” I sort of chided them. “Do you think I’d leave my very existence up to you boneheads? From now on, I just get my oil changed!”
“But when did you have it done?”
“Probably while you were cutting those silly videos to show me.” I said with a hint of sarcasm. I gave him a hard stare.
“Well, perhaps we should just catch the next portal out, eh?” Clive gave a weak smile.
“What? No no! I won’t hear of it. Enjoy the hospitality.” I smiled. “After all, one of my worldwide holdings is this island.”