Sometimes, there are no perfect solutions to a problem.
Auribus Teneo Lupum
THE GRAFT CHUNK AWARD
I remember how they called us; the Unemployables. Certainly demeaning, but also dead accurate. This new world held nothing in store for us.
Except for that one thing, of course.
“Now spread your legs and let me see”
I willingly obliged. Customers grew rare these days, especially ones who have access to orbit credits. Maybe it was nostalgia, since orbis could satisfy their needs better and cheaper than any of us. Maybe some still prefer the real thing as compared to brain stimulation. Maybe he just wanted to test his new body on me, I could tell it was an enhanced model.
I had not been able to upgrade much yet, only replace some failing body parts for cheap. Biggest issue is my brain, without the BCI and competitive assulae hardware, I was useless for orbit. Yet those are expensive to come by, only the rich can afford the new models, even hyper-productive people had to content with older used models. We Unemployables had neither, otherwise we could join in this new economy of minds too, albeit at the bottom.
My dreams were bigger.
“Are you done already?” He looked disappointed. Another lost customer, I guess. At this rate, I’ll not make it.
His name was Zeus. Preposterous, I know.
But he made an offer I could not refuse. Full upgrade. On the conditions that others could watch our interactions and I would not be allowed to back out, no matter how long it took and what he would do to me.
Was it technically considered rape when I consented? Or torture?
When he first started beating me, I imagined I could take it. Once the gadgets came, it began to dawn on me that he was not in it for his sexual pleasure. He craved to break me, in any way imaginable and unimaginable.
The more I needed him to stop, the more I was pleading, begging, bargaining for my release, the more futile it became. Until a silent fear crept in and turned into certainty: My existence was dispensable to him, useless, unworthy of my own agency or his concern for my humanity. He was a posthuman, after all.
Every time I passed out he would patiently wait until I regained consciousness. At first, I did not understand why he needed me conscious for his experiments. I never knew how much time had passed. Days? Weeks? An eternity? It would’ve gone on forever if I had not realized what he and his customers were really after.
It was that one thing, of course. So I finally took control of it.
That one thing for which I had sacrificed my body, my dignity and my sanity sounded simple;
Crude, plain, authentic suffering.
Our sole bargaining chip left in this utopian world. Misery was the single ordeal orbis was programmed to never offer nor provide, therefore posthumans sought to explore it through Unemployables like me.
Sick bastards. I sensed their eyes penetrating me even as I was done playing their game, once I came to collect my reward.
“I’ve paid my dues.” I announced as calmly as I could, knowing that their reluctance now was just another opportunity to sip off my desperation. I was not going to give them that, despite a pelvic injury so agonizing I might pass out any moment. My intestines will have to be replaced for sure, like so many other parts of my body.
I didn’t care. Today I will become their equal or superior, and once my brain is connected to the orbis system, it will end all my suffering for good. All torment will be over, forever. By tomorrow, I will have evolved into something useful, maybe finally gain purpose in this world. Orbis will see to that.
“Let’s get this over with”, I declared through grinded teeth.
When I woke up, I was still me, but different. I thought I would be completely out of it, but only I was allowed to initiate mental change; orbis protocol required it that way. The virtual interphase on the inside of my retina was too bright, I was barely able to thought-maneuver myself through the command menu. There were a lot of choices to be made, boiling down to one decision:
Progress or perish.
The true mantra and only real choice left to make in this new age.
Eventually I reached the memory section. Past memories… ‘Confirm deletion [Y/N] ?’
I did not hesitate for a second.