Genre: Dystopian sci-fi, flash fiction
As you step into the room that’s purposefully drained of color, your skin shifts, tries to hide its roots from me.
I don’t believe it. It’s World Leader Sangre! Here? In my research lab! What could she possibly want? It’s certainly not the publicity.
“Lady Sangre, it’s a distinct honor to have you here. May I ask why you are paying me a visit on this of all days? Surely you know the daily forecast is dodgy at best.”
Brushing aside my faux empathy, she blundered on. “Skin-perfecting,” she tentatively pokes at the air to bring up the advertisement bubble’s catchphrase. Magazines had dozens of decades since liquidified into denizens of the air, summoned forth like Athena from Zeus’ headache at the stab of a finger, epithelium-covered, mech, or otherwise.
“Can you do the opposite or at least make me think you can?” She gestured at the Damarcadian model in the latest issue of Womens Underground Today slathering synthetic eagle-tail oil on her time-disfigured face. Her voice is pitched just below a whispered beg, but her eyes worry the air where the model’s transformation hangs its now mercurially beaming face.
Presumably seeing my hesitation (did my face slide back its screen?), she continues. “I just want to feel the . . . creature comforts of my own old cells again. Please.”
I must have wrinkled my otherwise perfectly structured nose (if I do say so myself), because she reached across the charged space for my synth-enclosed hands. Like most all of us these days, she was nano-small but her bristles drilled crude indents into me so effectively, I could almost call up a dim memory of what pain was.
“Surely you can reverse the process that you yourself pioneered! I can offer you anything you want in payment. Potable water. Access to drought-resistant agriculture. The latest and best unsullied air. The newest tunneling technology for your dominion. (Yawn. I’d rather have unfettered access to the seed and gene catalogs.)”
Still, I dithered. Could there be more riches she’s not mentioning, like safe transport—?”
“Any. Thing!” she interrupted with outstretched hands, palms tremulous, but up.
“It’s a deal,” I said at last, pulling the skull saw and forceps from the case as I eased into my sales spiel. “Here at YouGenics lab, the focus is on you and the traveler inside your head. But don’t worry, the brain re-wrinkling process is non-irritating, doesn’t abrade the nostrils too much, and is absolutely completely 100% reversible. . . .”