This is a very short story I wrote in 2003 somewhere on a train in Europe. It takes place in a European capital some time in the future.

How will I know it's me 

Vaclav had been in hospital for the  three weeks. His doctor assured him he didn’t have long to live, and that everything would soon be fine.

But Vaclav was still worried; how would he know it was really him? How could he be sure that when he opened his eyes in his new “Bodi” that it was really him, and not some machine that just thought it was him?

This fear had preoccupied him through the whole of the previous night, but he knew there was no alterative. Cancer had spread throughout his body, and his fear of death was greater than his fear of the transfer.

The only thing he could think to do was to stay alert until the moment the transfer started. Surely, if the transfer was successful, he’d carry his state of mind from his old body to his new one, and that way he could be sure of himself.

Yes, he knew there were flaws in this approach, but so far it was the best he could come up with.

The doctors promised him the transfer would be quick and painless, and that there would only be a brief interruption to his consciousness. They assured him that they would capture all of his memories, along with all his personality traits, and once installed in his new bio-mechanical body, he would be like new again.

When he asked the doctor about whether his soul would also be transferred in the process, the doctor scoffed, “you’ll have to go to a priest for that one”.

And when he protested, “but how will I know it’s really me?” the doctor laughed, “when you watch your cancer-ridden body being turned to ash in the crematorium, you’ll know it’s not you in that box.”

The doctor, realising his glibness was inappropriate, added: “The cells in your body are completely replaced every seven years. This body you’re so attached to is completely different to the one you started with seventy years ago. Just think of the transfer as this natural process accelerated.”

But somehow the doctor’s reasoning didn’t make Vaclav feel better.

His friend Miroslav had died from heart disease and was very happy with his new Bodi, which was styled around a handsome 25 year old. Vaclav couldn’t quite get used to Miroslav’s new found youth. They met a few times soon after Miroslav’s transfer, but somehow their friendship wasn’t the same. Miroslav was more interested in chasing young women than talking about the old days.

Vaclav’s fear gripped him again; how would he really know it was him?

Perhaps, his wife was right. Perhaps, it would be better not to try to play God. Perhaps it would be better to let nature take its course.

His wife was religious, and she didn’t like the fact that he was tinkering with the natural order of things.

“Talk to a priest before you do this,” she implored.

Vaclav also suspected she was also worried that he would leave her. For this reason he selected a new bodi that was based on his existing body; superficially he would look like his old self. The bodi salesman was quite surprised at his selection.

The salesman had started his spiel with: “So what do you want? Do you want to be young, strong, healthy, good looking? If you want a ten inch penis, we can do that. Would you rather be a woman? We have models for all tastes and requirements. And don’t tell anyone I told you this, but there’s a good chance that by the time your new Bodi wears out in two hundred years, the Mortality Laws will be repealed.”

When Vaclav asked the salesman how he would know whether it was really him, he answered: “I’ve sold thousands of Bodis to everyone from old people about to die, to rich people who want to be young and good looking, and not one of them has ever come back wanting a refund. If that’s not proof of a quality product, I don’t know what is.”

Still Vaclav didn’t feel comfortable about the transfer.

Vaclav’s contemplation was interrupted when his doctor entered the room.

“So what do you think of your new bodi?”

Vaclav was shocked. He thought he’d had some warning before the operation.

“Oh, you didn’t realise we did the transfer — yes, we did it about an hour ago. You didn’t feel a thing, did you? Felt instantaneous? We erased the last hour of your memories before the transfer to make your entrance into your new life was as seamless as possible.”

“You fool,” Vaclav thought to himself, “you had nothing to worry about, here you are alive and well.

“So doctor, when can I go home?”

“Now, the transfer went perfectly. We’ll keep your file backed up in case there are any problems, just come back in a week so we can do a diagnostic.”

The doctor shook his hand and left the room so Vaclav could get dressed.

His clothes were a little loose; his new bodi was a little more trim than his old one. As he was checking that he hadn’t left anything behind, a man rushed into the room.

“Vaclav, I’m Father Novotny, you called about an hour ago – you said there was something urgent you wanted to discuss.”

“I don’t remember Father,” replied Vaclav happily, “but as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. My operation was a complete success.”

Posted Sunday, February 18th, 2007 at 10:03 pm
Filed Under Category: Short story, Uncategorized, Writing
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