Alyce was ready. The high-heeled orderly returned to the room at the blink of her mech-piece’s command, this time with a hoverchair. Dr. Greyson reached for a syringe from the trolley and Alyce looked away as the needle pinched her arm. She looked forward to the near future where its pinch would no longer hurt, and a burn would merely glance off her temperature-proof new skin. She thought of the Pioneers and how brave they must have been in the old times where pain was an ordinary part of life. She silently thanked them as the orderly directed her to the waiting chair and floated out of the cold examination room.

The medication the doctor had given Alyce began to take effect, her arms and legs prickling in slow numbness. Her head began to droop in sudden drowsiness, every sound magnified and echoed off the corridor walls. All she could hear was the sharp click, click of the Mod orderly’s shoes as they proceeded down the hall and through the automatic doors of pre-op. Rows of curtained beds lined the large wing, and Alyce was led to one near the end, past more disoriented-looking boys and girls. She did not notice more orderlies arriving to move her to the uncovered bed, strip her of her clothes, and pull a hospital gown over her head. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, Mods lifting her arms, connecting monitors to parts of Alyce’s body that no longer seemed her own. A highly upgraded orderly with neon-tinted skin removed her boots and took them away, dangling laces still undone.

Alyce’s vision was becoming more and more blurry, but she noticed another bed rolling past her own. It stopped near the foot of her bed in front of the doors leading to the operating theatres. The dark-haired boy, Jacob, lay flat on the mattress, head turned in her direction. His eyes blinked twice in recognition, the nervousness on his face in the waiting room now replaced with dazed calm. A mask covered his nose and most of his face. Alyce noticed that his eyes were a soft green, and their expression was kind. She absently wondered if that would change.

The faceless orderlies remaining around Alyce’s bed then blocked her view of Jacob, placing a similar mask over her nose and mouth. She breathed steadily in and out, and the Mods pulled her bed next to the door.

“Relax, now,” one of them said, “You won’t feel a thing.”

The End

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