Recently I asked my FB friends to send me a picture and promised them 1000 words. A friend hit me with this:
I said: okay, not normally the kind of picture you’ll find in my library, but – CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
This is what ensued:
Chud looked in the mirror. It had finally arrived after 24 weeks and it fit like a glove. It looked better than Chud could ever have hoped; even the clearly photoshopped catalogue pictures hadn’t done justice to the chiselled abs, neatly carved biceps and overall “slab of beef” vibe his new body gave off in person. If Chud could’ve smiled, he would have had a manic grin from ear to ear. And after waiting so long, it was now time…to test it.
First things first, thought Chud, and took a step toward the mirror. Hmm, nicely balanced. Good takeoff and landing. Intuitive controls. Now, a step backward – nice. Easy to get the hang of. Time for something a little more challenging – a ninety-degree turn to the right, perhaps. Again, piece of cake. Chud had downloaded the user interface app at the time of purchase so as to familiarise himself with the controls; after 24 weeks studying them and using the practice modules, moving around for real already felt like second nature. He was ready for a challenge. He grabbed his runners.
As Chud pounded the pavement, intending to do at least a mile before stopping, he noticed something unusual. Not about himself, but about the other people on the street. They all seemed very interested in him, some to the point of staring. As he progressed on his run, he took more notice of the people he passed and of the people who passed him – the staring not only continued unabated but he now noticed something else behind it. At first he thought people were admiring the contours and angles of his body, as he’d initially hoped, but the way people were looking at him – intensely, a bit sideways, a little too wide-eyed to be the simple ogling of his dreams, glancing away when he attempted to meet their gaze – gave him pause. It was like they were wary, even afraid. Chud wondered what they could be afraid of, what they could possibly fear from him. He stopped running. The young couple who’d been walking towards him from the other end of the street also stopped. They froze briefly, as if deciding what to do, then turned at right angles and started to cross the street. They didn’t see the truck.
Chud saw it in all its dusty, engrimed glory and motioned towards them, intending to shout a warning, but even if he’d managed to do so he wouldn’t have been heard over the truck’s blaring horn and screeching tyres. Chud sprinted across the street, well aware of the damage he might suffer, and aimed for the couple. As he shoved them out of the path of the truck with his outstretched arm he felt a glancing blow on his opposite shoulder. His phone, still in his hand from when he was taking selfies of his new body, tumbled from his grasp and hit the pavement. It shut down. So did Chud.
Chud awoke, suddenly. Someone wearing a surgical mask was staring into his face. In his peripheral vision Chud could see his body, lying on a bed. His body had a badly bruised shoulder and other abrasions down one side. The bed itself was strange. No sheets. Just stark, cold, polished metal with what looked like a drainage hole at one end. That’s not actually a bed, is it, thought Chud. This is a morgue! They think I’m dead! This guy’s not a doctor – he’s going to cut my new rig up! Chud realised he had to get the attention of the coroner. He started to make every noise he could think of – singing, whistling, even making desperate beeping noises. The coroner glanced over at Chud with a slightly annoyed expression on his face. Chud kept making noises. The coroner semi-stomped over to Chud, picked him up from the tray, put a finger on his face and said “How do I make you shut up?”
“Oh, thank Christ you can hear me,” Chud sighed with great relief.
“Jesus, have I answered a call here? Hey, whoever you are, you’re on speaker. Speak up!”
“No, I’m here,” said Chud. “You’ve picked me up!”
“I know I picked up,” said the coroner, “I’m talking to you! Who is this?”
“No, I mean literally. You have literally picked me up.”
“You’re not making any sense here…”
“I’m not on the other end of the phone,” explained Chud, “I am the sodding phone!”
“Pull the other one. I don’t have time for this –“ at this point, Chud set off his camera flash. “Woah! Did I do that?” asked the coroner.
“No, that was me. That was – again, quite literally – ME.”
“How can you be a phone? Is this some hidden camera shit? Am I being pranked? Simon? SIMON! Are you screwing with me?” the coroner was shouting towards the door.
“No prank, doc. Seriously now, I need to know if my body will be okay.”
“Look, whoever you are and wherever you are, your – that – body is pretty much kaput. Didn’t even have a pulse when it got wheeled in here an hour ago. It’s missing a head, you know.”
“Eh?” Chud was indignant. “I’m it’s head, thanks very much!”
“Now you’re truly yanking it. I’m no spring chicken anymore but I’m not some demento. Even these new vat-grown bodies need heads.”
“Yeah, me. I. Am. Its. Head.” If there was a way to speak in bold type, Chud got pretty close.
“The hell? How does that even work?”
“There’s an app for that.”
Chud activated the user interface and booted up his body. After a quick diagnostic and a damage report, the brand-new, still-under-warranty iCandy 9000 sat up then stood shakily on its feet. “There,” Chud said, “good to go.”
“You need a doctor.”
“Nope. I need a Genius Bar.”
The coroner watched as the headless yet perfectly sculpted body made its way gingerly toward the door, one arm extended and holding its smartphone.
Chud was going to be alright.