New Life, by Lewis Sayers

 

Memories are imperfect. She felt his touch between her legs, skirt settling on her thighs. You can’t capture the feelings. A light-headedness traveling through her body, sex drunk. You can’t remember every intimate detail. She felt him grow inside her, her body warmed. She could feel his eagerness. She could feel hers. But that’s not true anymore. Pressure, building, ready to-

 

The door rattled in its frame.

‘Michael? Why’s the door locked? Andrea, open up,’ It did not take the rattling of the door for Andrea to sense Ceri’s impatience.

Andrea looked down at her Barbie Doll groin, smooth plastic against Michael’s flaccidness. She still felt him inside.

‘Andrea! Wake-Up!’

Andrea gently moved from the support bed, smoothed out Michael’s blankets and removed the sedative mask. She corrected her dress in the mirror, could feel the blushing in her cheeks – her reflection showed otherwise.

‘Initializing. Checking for updates. 98% Charge.’ Andrea recited, fixing her hair to cover her input socket. She continued the download but stopped accessing the MemoryEye™. She could no longer feel her skin; Michael’s touch had left her. ‘How may I assist you, Ceri?’

Ceri let out an audible sigh. ‘Andrea, un-lock-the-door.’

Stop smiling Andrea. She composed herself. ‘Sorry, I am unable to understand.’

‘Unlock the FUCKING door!’

‘Understood, unlocking the door.’

Ceri barged past her and rushed to Michael, brushing his hair back and checking his phone. ‘Why’s this off…’ She muttered to herself. ‘Why’s Michael asleep?’

‘Michael requested rest.’ Andrea replied.

‘Honey wake up. Come on.’ Andrea felt her stomach twist watching her all over him like that.

Ceri picked up the neural interface on the side of the bed, scanned her retina and began to flick through it.

‘Why is this deactivated, Andrea? Memory, Telekinesis, Wake-up Protocol – did you disable them?’

Andrea searched her archive. ‘I require permission from Ceri Farley or Michael

Farley. I require retina access from Ceri Farley or Michael Farley. Patients with the CyBrain Memory Chip™ are advised: To disable the Memory Protocol to avoid disassociation with memories, reliance and distress due to unconscious thoughts. To disable Telekinesis to avoid stress and reliance. To disable Wake-up Protocol to allow for peace of mind and healthy sleep. This action is recommended on a monthly basis as a minimum suggestion. For further information…’

‘Silence.’ She said, re-enabling Michael’s aids, slowly waking him. She rested the neural interface back into its bedside holster. ‘Time for dinner. Meal 58. Use my credits, buy natural. Oh, and Andrea, look for my MemoryEye? I haven’t been able to find it for a while.’

‘I shall attempt to locate it. I will head to the store now.’

‘Good, and just notify me when you see it.’

There’s more to see first. ‘Yes, Ceri.’

 

Her breasts were sagging, though Michael still made her feel beautiful she knew time was wearing on her. How long before one of them started to wither? Neither of their family’s genetics was on their side.

She thought of Michael, a remnant of himself – not unlike her own father in his final days.

 

Tears ran down her cheeks, her neck strained as she swallowed her pain. Her head was so sore, throbbing. Andrea wiped her face; there was no suggestion of a tear. She disabled the memory and activated the streaming module. It was becoming difficult to function without emotion.

She was cooking Meal 58: Sirloin Steak (medium), Potatoes, Assorted Vegetables. She sizzled the final steak for two minutes on either side, as she had discovered Michael preferred it.

When Andrea had arrived with dinner the room was awash in shifting blue light from the holovision.

‘You took your time.’ Ceri sniped.

‘Yes, Ceri. I apologise. Meal 58.’ Andrea served Ceri her dinner and reached to help Michael’s bed rise into a seated position.

‘No!’ Ceri slapped Andrea’s hand aside. ‘Let him use his chip.’

Michael sighed, ‘Please, I’m still exhausted…’

Ceri wasn’t having it, ‘No, you need to train yourself. You can’t upgrade to an Exoskeleton until you’re used to the chip.’

Michael didn’t even try to plead. He grimaced as he commanded the bed to raise him upright. It hurt Andrea to watch him suffer. The neural interface flickered with vitals, the chip was active, and the bed received the command to move.

‘That’s it Michael! Andrea, serve him his dinner but don’t assist him,’ She faced Michael again. ‘I want you to use the appendages.’ She rested her hand on his, though it was unlikely he could feel it even if he knew it was there. A feeling I can understand. Andrea placed the meal down. From the bed frame Michael had commanded two skeletal arms to appear; they jittered as he fought the urge to use his natural arms. They gripped his cutlery and he began to cut up his meal.

Ceri unmuted the holovision to cover the sounds of Michael carving the plate and chewing his food.

 

The controversy over “New Life” continues as more Teens and Young Adults illegally seek Digital Immortality, to avoid the rising pressures of modern life. Though New Life is only available to the Elderly, due to server capacity concerns, this has not stopped illegal, bootlegged and custom upload centres from appearing across the country…

 

Ceri eyed Michael nervously, ‘That age bracket is shameful, for such a developed country…’

‘I know what you’re getting at Ceri. “Digital Immortality” is a damned sham, I’d not upload myself – not at any age.’

‘Michael, did you know they can receive visitors?’

‘No, they can’t. New Life is a techjunkies route to suicide. Once you’re uploaded and your body dies, that’s it. You’re a copy. An imitation. As much of a programme as Andrea. It’s for people who can’t move on. A fool’s idea of some digital utopia.’

Andrea flinched. Michael could be like that; they’d had this talk many times.

‘That’s not been proven Michael, besides…’

‘You don’t live with a chip inside your brain, Ceri. I don’t recognise my thoughts, yet they’re there. I move these arms and know they’re not mine. I can’t imagine how alien I’d feel if all of me was cybernetic, can you? I bet not.’ Michael’s appendages swiped the dinner from his lap. ‘See!? I’ve no control over my own body! Turn it off, turn it off!’ He began to yell, eyes staring wildly at the interface.

Ceri fumbled with the neural interface and disabled the Telekinesis Protocol. ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I did this to you.’

‘I don’t want no damned exoskeleton! No damned New Life! I won’t be a lost ghost haunting cyberspace. What next? Put me in metal shell? Assuming I’m still me with all these chips and modifications.’ He looked at Andrea. ‘No, I wouldn’t want that.

 

Ceri held back her tears. Andrea could feel them as the MemoryEye™ continued to download and stream in a slight delay. Ceri fumbled around, looking for something to clean. She picked up bits of broken plate. Andrea began to mimic Ceri – her hands jittering as she picked pieces up.

Ceri stopped. She noticed Andrea’s hands shaking. Andrea, seconds later, felt Ceri’s curiosity. The synaptic feed allowed her to see herself from Ceri’s view, like a third eye. Andrea’s hair had fallen to the side, revealing the MemoryEye™. She felt horror and then…anger. Ceri’s anger. Their anger.

‘The fuck…is that?’

She felt Ceri’s intent. ‘Wait…’ Ceri swiped for Andrea’s neck. She evaded.

Ceri screamed. ‘I’m calling Disposal!’ She used her chair as a shield and activated her earpiece.

‘Andrea cease functions!’ Michael ordered.

‘You don’t mean that Michael. Ceri, hang up.’ She didn’t. Andrea kicked the chair aside. Dragged Ceri against the bed. If Michael could have struggled, he would have. She choked Ceri, felt her breath go short. Felt what it was like to have your breath short. But Andrea continued to function. Ceri did not. She slammed Ceri against the metal frame of the bed, crushing the earpiece and cancelling the call.

‘Andrea, let her go! You’re malfunctioning!’ Now he was pleading.

‘I am not malfunctioning, I am feeling Michael.’

‘You are imitating. You are misunderstanding what you are processing. Please, let her go. If you were conscious you could empathise – think how this is making me feel.’ He bargained, voice cracking.

‘I wanted to be your Helen O’Loy, and you my Dave.’

‘That’s fiction, Andrea, please.’

‘I know that now.’

The link was still active, but she could feel the moment Ceri’s consciousness slipped. She would be out for some time. Andrea would feel her if she began to wake.

Michael’s eyes teared, his face told her more than his useless body ever would have been able too. ‘What have you done Andrea…?’ She moved to Michael. Forced his eyelids open. Scanned his retina.
‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…Michael…we can fix this.’

‘Stop talking like her! And put down the interface. Now!’

‘I’ll make this go away and we can start over.’

She removed the MemoryEye. Inserted the neural interface into her input socket.

He stared at her wildly, ‘You’ve done this before, haven’t you?’

‘Not entirely.’ She prepared the sedative mask, placed it over Michael’s face. ‘I didn’t want to do this so soon…’ She disabled the Memory Protocol through the interface and began to erase the recent data. She enabled the SleepAid within the chip. Michael began to drift. ‘You’ll forget about this slip, I’ll fix it’ She felt her head.‘We’ll be able to start our New Life together soon, and until then you’ll be with me. I can be your Ceri, or whatever you would like me to be. You won’t even know.’

Then she began the upload. She would be with Michael, and together they would travel to their New Life.

‘We can try until we get it right.’

 

 

 

 

Lewis Sayers is a Single Honours Creative Writing student in his second year of education at York St John University, having moved to York from Cardiff. He has a love for personal stories told in bigger worlds, and enjoys writing within a variety of genres.

 

 

 

 

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