You got supplications? But can you pay the price, that’s what I want to know. Everybody comes here wanting an end to their suffering, but what you got to know is this: the cost might bring even more suffering than you already got. Do you understand me? Cause I don’t think you do. Beg all you want, but you have to stand up on your own if you want to get what you think you want. And the entrance fee, for me, is nothing compared to the pound of flesh he’ll expect. Last chance, you sure you want to see him, or will you do the smart thing and turn around and run?
After taking the measure of a man, 37 seldonics in this case, a high indicator of potential future contributions, the corporate directors decided Walt Sievers should be transferred to the home office located in Southern California. He obliged, knowing full well that he didn’t really have a choice in the matter. So it was that he greeted the high dessert, with its exceedingly sunny weather and outdoor airport terminal rimmed by palm trees, with a sarcastic and skeptical half smile more with his eyebrows than with his lips.
if he could only dream, Lambert often wondered, then maybe the pinging in his head might stop and everyone would stop looking at him like he’d stepped in something better left to compost into the verdant earth. He’d done it again, trailed off with no firm destination, just words that followed each other, a string of coal cars on a train that extended beyond the horizon.
Sleep was no problem. More than once he’d found himself at his desk at work, or in his car, or in the middle of nowhere, waking up and unsure of how long he’d slept. With no dreams, there was no experience of time, no external ruler by which to measure one moment’s passing and the birth of the next. Dreams, he was sure, would alleviate his abstraction from the rest of the world. At least he hoped that was the case.
“Hey, Wilson, why so glum?” Thompson tipped his newsie cap back and scratched his forehead.
“I’m down two, that’s why.” Wilson spit on the grimy sidewalk.
“Me, I’m even for the day, so I can’t complain. Bad trade?”
“Yes, it was a very bad trade. Seems like I can’t ever get one over any more. The other guys, they all seem to have the aces or something.” Wilson picked up a chunk of brick and threw it down the alley. It bounced a few times of the rough pavement before careening into a door. “Always a bad trade.”
“Down two. Too bad.” Thompson shook his head. “That’ll take you a week to earn back.”
“Don’t I know it. Lose any more words, I’ll have to go back to the school to earn more. I got to make a good trade. I just got to.”
He stepped out of the body and hung the loose flesh-sack on the hanger. He had to admit it was a nice sporty model, but even with the daily rejuvenation treatments, after that virtual skiing accident in the alps, a riskier lifestyle just seemed so yesterday to him. The clerk had reassured him that the trauma from breaking both legs, collapsing a lung, and shattering one of his clavicles wasn’t engrained physically and that he could always sign up for a neuron scrub if he wanted the psychological damage to be removed. “I know a great forgetful-est if you’re interested,” said the young looking clothier.
“No, thank you,” the man replied. I think I’d like to try out something more sedentary. Do you have anything in a dad bod.”
“Oh,” said the younger man. “Retro is hot right now. Let me see what we have in stock. If I can’t find anything, I’m sure we could bio-print something up for you in no time.”