Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sudden Short Story 35

He entered the facility warily.  It seemed empty for a moment, but then he was greeted by someone in the door at the other end of the hall.
"Ah, N," he said, "Come along.  Your memories should return more quickly once you see the rest."
"I..." he started, but it felt so familiar.  "I am N."
His host had come along the corridor by this point.  "Sometimes it's a bit bewildering.  After you, if you prefer," and he gestured for N to lead.
N - as he seemed to be called here - started along slowly at first, but was at a determined pace by the time that he reached the other door, for that now was no time to let these strange feelings get to him.  "Which way?"
"Right.  It's good to see that you're coming back to your old self."
"Just to be clear, this is the place that's to give me a new body, right?"
"That's correct.  You'll see them soon enough."
"Just for my own edification, why all the secrecy?  It seems that you could do a bang-up business on the open market."
"Well, resources are still scarce.  It's all that we can do, so far, to give you a new body every generation."
They stopped at a door.
"I've been here before, then?"
"Yes, of course.  Oh, once you open the door, there's a fainting couch just to the right, though there hopefully won't be any actual fainting going on."
"You also just said that you had multiples."
"Well, no - Only one is new, you see.  You'll remember more once you see it all.  Do go on."
N paused for a moment to consider things.  Seeing no harm in just looking, he opened the door, to look inside.
The walls of the small laboratory were lined with large tubes, all but one of which - the one labeled with his own name - housed human bodies.  He set himself upon the fainting couch.  The faces and names all brought with them such familiarity.  The layout was itself obvious - only one of the bodies was young, and it came just after the empty tube.  The bodies served as reminders, and as reference points, and as a backup in case N should be unable to continue his work, for that they were the only subjects on which the procedure had been performed in any way.  There was the mental impulse transfer device, and there were the notes on the lives....
N managed to avoid fainting, but was glad for the couch, which allowed him to recline while taking it all in.  After what felt like only a moment, his host seemed to get his attention.
"Yes, it tends to overwhelm you whenever you're brought here under other circumstances.  Of course, by now you probably remember that the duplicity is only a reminder trigger, used only when you forget so badly that you miss your appointment."
"Yes, I remember it all, now.  So, shall we bring out your assistant and get started?  I'm not getting any younger, you know."

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