Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tell me.....

For what, is there........
to be happy about?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"How much of me can you replace and still be me?"

The man had that unstable look Sean often seen on people recently. As though he were looking at the same room that Sean saw - the same two chairs, facing each other, the diagrams on the wall, the notices on the LCD bulletin board announcing new insurance options for cybernetic implantation - but seeing something else. His last patient had looked like that, before and after the surgery.

It was a strange question Mr. Collins asked.

"To answer your question, Mr. Collins," said Sean to the older man, after thinking scattered thoughts for a moment, "uh... I think that might be more a matter of philosophy than medicine." Guiltily, he glanced at the clock. His next consultation was at 3:00... or maybe 3:15. Either way, time was hurrying right along.

Mr. Collins nodded distantly, and the afternoon sun glared from the long-bald patch spreading quickly from his brow to the crown of his head. He looked up, turning his shaky gaze on Sean. "Huh? Oh. Well, what about one of those full-body prosthesises?"

"...sir, you... well, it wouldn't be covered by your insurance. Usually, full-body prosthetics are only for multiple amputees, or quadriplegics..."

"Oh, I'll pay for it," Mr. Collins said, shaking his head. His eyes hovered on Sean, then flicked to the certificates on the wall. "I've got the money. I just want a new me." And he laughed a laugh which, Sean thought, sounded awfully like someone crying.

Sean's coffee had gone cold. Still, he lifted his cup, thinking. Mr. Collins was still smiling vaguely, his eyes hinting at... desperation, Sean realized. Sean set down his cup.

"If you're interested in cybernetics, I would definitely recommend an eye replacement, or something along those lines." He stood and reached over his desk, grabbing two pamphlets from the drawer. When he handed them to Mr. Collins, the older man stared at them for three seconds, then looked back to him.

"I heard that, with the full-body one, they have software that works with your brain."

"They do. Interface software, mostly. But you can run most of the same programs with just an eye replacement."

Mr. Collins fidgeted in his chair. His own cup of coffee had been empty for twenty minutes. "But like, there's nothing that could change... my personality or something?"

For a moment, Sean's mouth tried to form words that his mind could not. "Uh... no. There's nothing like that." He struggled through a moment of silence and said, "My recommendation is, take home those pamphlets, do some more research on the Internet, and think about this for a while." He nodded for emphasis, trying to catch Mr. Collins' eye.

"...okay." Mr. Collins stood, for which Sean was extremely grateful. 3:05. "I'll think about it, doc."

"Good," said Sean, standing and leaning on his desk. As he reached for the door, Mr. Collins' cell phone rang. The default ringtone. He reached for it, checked the caller ID, and turned it off with a wince.

He was halfway out the door, but Sean had to ask. "Mr. Collins?" A tinge of almost-fear as the unstable gaze came back to him. But he had to ask. "Is that what you really want? To just... get a new body and reprogram your personality?"

As soon as he said it, he wished he hadn't. His heart sank, watching the eyes of his would-be patient.

Mr. Collins, however, didn't notice Sean's regret. "Oh, yeah," he replied. "But I still wanna be me, though."

He laughed again, a laugh that could just as easily have been a scream, and left.