It took me three months to find a reputable Synth dealer. You had to take precautions these days. You always heard the horror stories, faulty parts being sold for full price, life-support batteries failing the day the warranty ended, or a poorly-insulated wire wiping some poor sap’s memory. The salesman, proud owner of a Synth body himself, seemed to have heard all the stories himself. He tried to calm any possible worries by explaining each part of the synth on the table in great detail, though I could only make sense of the most basic components. The strips of grey fibres were synthetic nerves and muscles that would allow me to move this cold machine as if it were my own body. The heavy black disks looked like some kind of gyroscope, though I couldn’t imagine what their purpose was. The rest of the inner casing was filled with important-looking chips and machinery, which the salesman claimed was amongst the best in the fast-moving field of artificial body technology. For the fortune I was paying, it had better be. I wet my dry mouth with a cup of something called Ice-Tee from a dispenser in the corner. It had an acidic, coppery taste and was tooth-achingly cold, and I forced it down my cracked throat with stinging gulps.
The salesman closed the Synth’s inspection panel with a click. His own body was a work of art, finished in the clean minimalist style of the twenty-first century style that made the heavy, utilitarian machine on the table look primitive by comparison. I couldn’t begin to imagine how much a custom like that would have cost. Selling bodies must pay well.
We made our way from the showroom into an empty office, one of several floor to ceiling glass tubes that filled the large shop in a concentric spiral. The room was sparingly decorated and I disappointed, but not surprised to notice the lack of chairs. No need to sit down when your mechanical legs didn’t get tired. The salesman touched the surface of a low circular desk in the centre and it rose with a hum to stomach height, its polished surface dancing with orange holographic sparks. A tap and a swipe and the dots diluted into charts and tables that I couldn’t make any sense of.
‘So this will be your first Synth body, is that correct?’ His voice synthesizer was good, but not quite perfect. There was an audible static in the space between his words that set my teeth on edge. I wondered if he ever noticed it anymore.
‘It’ll be my first, that’s right.’
‘We don’t get many first-time buyers for this line of Synth, you’ll be interested to know. Most of our customers at this price band tend to be more experienced users, and other customers in your sort of medical circumstance tend towards one of our more affordable models. However, an oncologist’s recommendation, on top of your most recent medical scans, do qualify you for a sizable necessity discount. Your medical insurance will cover a portion of the bill, of course. You’ll be paying the rest yourself, I understand?’
I nodded. No matter how often I thought of my reasons for buying a Synth, the price never lost its sting.
The salesman’s metal head bobbed as he worked.‘Now, the procedure you’ll be going through is rather complicated, though the science is very well understood.’ He flicked his finger across the table and points of light converged into a rotating hologram of my body. ‘What we’ll first do is extract your brain and spinal cord from your body, which will then be transplanted into the Life-Support Interface Casing, or LSIC. Your brain and spinal cord will stay in that casing from then on, no matter what Synth it’s installed in. Additionally, this will keep your brain alive for the rest of the three-hour procedure, as it will be disconnected from external life support sources…’
He went on as the sequence was animated in precise detail. I stared at the evolving diagrams with mute interest, though I knew all the details already. Who didn’t these days?
‘Just read this, Mr Edmonds, then thumb in to confirm that you completely understand the conditions of the procedure.’ A tablet slid towards me with a metallic hiss, its thumb glowing with an inviting blue light. ‘Once this is all done, we can get started with the surgery, and you should be able to walk out of here with your new body by the end of the day. Come and see me at the front desk when you’re ready.’ There was a brief sparkling in the lights across his faceplate, a mechanical facsimile of an encouraging smile, and he left the office. The door hissed into place behind him, sealing me off from the showroom…
Part 2. to come.