Kade looked down at his body and grimaced. This would not be an enjoyable job. Of course, none of the bodies they gave him were in wonderful shape, but some were better than others. One time he had lucked out and gotten this billionaire who was mostly healthy, but didn't want to get a colonoscopy. He'd taken the guy's meat to the doctor, spent a few uncomfortable hours getting a tube shoved up his ass while high out of his mind, and spent the rest of the 24 hours getting paid for strolling around in some random guy's body until it was time for him to report back for surgery. Thank God for that 24 hour minimum.
He jumped around a bit and groaned. How did a person even get their body into this shape? He tried to touch his toes, and stopped just before his knee. He took a deep breath. Well, at least this guy didn't smoke. He was about to reach into his pants to see if he should request any break hours in this body, but stopped when he remembered that Osson was standing right in front of him. She saw his attempt and rolled her eyes, looking at her phone to read off this particular guy's request.
"He wants the Bodybuilder Deluxe" she said, "this guy's ideal body weight is 49kg, but of course you can go lower than that." Kade chuckled. Technically accepting requests to go below the person's ideal weight were illegal because if a person was requesting TrueFit to put their body weight at a far lower level than healthy, they might have an eating disorder and the company wasn't legally allowed to take advantage of that. But realistically, if TrueFit refused clients who were very insecure about themselves physically, they would lose their entire clientele. That said, with the Bodybuilder Delux package he was also going to have to build a bunch of muscle, so it was likely that he was going to end up a good bit higher than 49kg, but Osson's job was to tell people what to do, not to actualy know what the fuck was going on.
"He also wants full flossing, dental work, all his vaccinations, and a haircut." Fairly standard requests, although getting a haircut was unusual. It didn't really seem so onerous that a person would be willing to have their brain surgically removed from their body, cryogenically frozen for a month, and another guy's brain stuck into your body so they would be the one forced to sit in the chair for half an hour, but who knew what rich guys wanted. Didn't matter much so long as they paid. "No entering the state of Washington." Again, fairly typical because people generally didn't want those they knew seeing their body when it was controlled by somebody else. "Any questions?"
"Nah, all good." Kade sighed, feeling out his client's body a bit more. It was easily 140kg. Maybe higher. Osson nodded, expressionless, and Kade walked out, rubbing the stitching where the top of his skull had been separated from the rest of his body. They could do a better job, one that left nearly no scarring, but they weren't going to waste the money on the extraction surgery. They would do a better job on the final surgery, where the client's brain was put back in his body and Kade's was put in whatever body needed him, or sometimes into his own original body. He rarely went into his own body, although he had been hoping to do so recently, just to check in on his family and maybe take some time off. They hadn't let him last time he asked because apparently he had to do a few more clients before taking a break. It wasn't a huge deal though. This way he got free food and board, and his pay was sent back to his family. Also, he didn't like the expression on people's faces when they saw his body. Yes, anybody eighteen and over was allowed to work in this industry, but an eighteen year old working as a bodyhopper was really not something that people liked to acknowledge as a regular occurrence.
Kade hopped down from the pull-up bar, vomited profusely into a nearby drain, and jumped back up. Supposedly it was less painful to vomit when you remembered that it was somebody else's body, but that had never worked for Kade. Vomiting was horrible. Unfortunately it was something that any bodyhopper at TrueFit had to deal with frequently since human physiology was not designed for the amount of strain that he was required to put it through so more often than not, any food that the client had left in their stomach before giving it to Kade would get thrown up due to overexertion. He was three days into his thirty day job, and he had done pretty well considering what he had to work with. People said it took the better part of a year to get a guy like his client into the shape promised by the Bodybuilder Deluxe package, but it could easily take a month. All that was required was absolutely no consideration of the physical comfort and mental health of the brain inside the body that needed the treatment. In fact, he had to get it done in less than a month because the last five days of the 30 they had to work with was for stuff that wasn't supposed to happen. People claimed that they took their body to TrueFit to get healthier, have longer lives, etc, but any bodyhopper knew that was bullshit. People wanted to look good. They wanted to have a body they could be arrogant about, one that they could show off, one that made up for all their other failures. The standards that the client's body had to meet after the bodyhopper was done with their work varied based on the region that the TrueFit facility was in, because the goal was not health — the goal was to make the client look good, and the definition of 'good' depended on where you lived. So the last five days were for the stem cell surgery.
After the first 25 days of working this body to exhaustion, Kade would go under for surgery. They would cut away the excess skin that developed after losing so much weight, of course, although that usually wasn't much because of the amount of muscle he was supposed to build. This was legal, and the client was aware of it. After that however, they would touch up the skin with stem cells they had collected from the body at the beginning of the thirty days, making it look nicer and smoother. They would touch up his face, sometimes working with the cartilage, fix up his hair follicles if he was balding. Nothing seriously noticeable, of course, but enough that when the client went away they were delighted with the result. They told themselves that this is how they would naturally look if they had taken better care of themselves, and the changes were subtle enough that this could be true. Besides, it's not like a client would come back and complain about looking too good.
At first they did the surgery without the worker's brain in the body — just an empty skull cavity. It became a problem though because clients would complain about being sore after they got back in. Supposedly, it was an important part of the process for Kade to stretch his muscles before and after he went under. These stretches weren't entirely conscious, just the instinctive moving of his shoulder or neck, but supposedly essential. Seemed weird, but he would be the last guy to complain about being paid for unconscious stretching.
He vomited again into the drain, and spat some blood out of his mouth from the agonizing flossing he had done that morning. Nothing like being a bodyhopper to make you appreciate the lack of dental hygiene the average person had.
After another hour on the pull up bar, he started running around the long track they had around what most bodyhoppers called the "playground." After half an hour he stopped vomiting because he had no food in his stomach. Like most bodyhoppers, his only food source was a daily injection in his wrists designed to supply him with the protein to build muscle, and some nutrients to keep his bones and skin strong. If he began to look sickly he would take some sugar, but this was rare. This sort of food deprivation was technically illegal, but were the two to three hours of sleep he got a night. He had 25 days to make the client happy, he wasn't going to worry about his own mental health.
"Does this hurt?" The doctor moved his head in a wide circle checking his neck's flexibility.
"No discomfort." He'd done a decent job getting the body up to flexibility standards.
"This?" She stood behind him and pulled his arms behind him until the back of his hands were pressed together.
"This?" She pushed on the side of his knee. He felt a minor discomfort that he had been feeling occasionally while running. The guy had probably hurt his knee before coming in, and it would need to get fixed up during the surgery.
"Yeah, there's a tweak in the bone. Minor." She jotted it down on her phone, tested the other knee, then went on to his torso.
Kade had finished his 25 days of doing what he could to get the client's body to meet the standards of the Bodybuilder Deluxe. He could deadlift 300 kg, run over an hour before reaching his anaerobic threshold, press his palms to the ground with his knees unbent, and a whole host of other minor requirements. Most importantly however, he looked strong. Now all that was left was the current bone damage and flexibility checkup, dental work, vaccines, and the haircut. After that he would go under for surgery, spend a day recovering, and get sent to another fucked up body and do it all over again.
That last bit always bugged him a bit. Most bodyhoppers grew out of this quickly, but Kade still felt attached to the bodies he worked on. It wasn't so much that he wished he could reap the benefits of the work he'd done, although that was part of it. It was more that the body he was working on was almost certainly going to have a better life than the body he had left behind, which was freezing in a cryogenic chamber for the time being. But as long as they paid him, it didn't matter much.
The doctor looked at her phone and snorted. "This client of yours," she said, "has sixteen vaccinations he needs to catch up on." Kade shared the laugh, and stretched out his arms. She left to get the vaccines, came back, pricked him eight times on each arm, and marked them all off on her phone. He thanked her and went downstairs where Osson had asked for him.
"Man, this guy is rich. I mean, I knew he founded HealthGuard, but he's like an offshore account owning, eccentric, private island rich guy." Osson shook her head. "He wants his dental work done by his private dentist in Washington. Same with his haircut."
Kade hopped in place, enjoying his few days with a well-functioning body. "He wants his hair done by a private dentist?" Osson didn't respond, and Kade laughed. "You're telling me you're surprised that the man who founded the largest health insurance company on the planet has gotten too rich for his own good?" Osson continued to ignore him.
"The issue is that he doesn't want you in Washington because he doesn't want his friends to know that he's going to TrueFit, and he doesn't want them to think he's acting oddly. He doesn't know his dentist or hairdresser that well, so you could probably go there without them thinking you're acting too out of character. They haven't seen him for a while, so they'll probably think the dramatic muscle growth was done over a long period of time. The issue is if you meet his friends. To avoid that you'll have to drive in at midnight, get a haircut and tooth cleaning, and leave at three. This should work, since we're using his money to pay his dentist and haircutter and it's enough that they shouldn't complain about being nocturnal for a bit. Worst comes to worst, try to act like an idiot with billions. Shouldn't be hard, since you're already one of the two." She walked off, texting him the time he needed to be ready.
Kade, now masquerading as Christopher Connery, was either higher than he had ever been in his life, which was saying something, or experiencing the most technologically advanced and most skillfully conducted tooth drilling ever to take place in the country, if not the world. The room looked more like a lounge than a doctor's office. It had marble floors, and those abstract stone statues that looked vaguely like humans. Kade was lying on a springy bed big enough to allow him to fully stretch his arms out, while the dentist, Dr. Moore, was spraying water at his tooth to remove the cavity. There was a funny tingly feeling, but no pain whatsoever. When Kade asked why, Moore told him that the water was vibrating at the natural frequency of his cavity and the nerves in his teeth had been numbed earlier. Kade didn't know what the dentist was talking about but he pretended to understand what that meant, since he had the feeling that at some point in Connery's life, somebody had explained to him what resonance was. So he just kept his mouth open and let Moore do his job.
After he was done, he rinsed and spat out the cavity gunk, and let Moore use his fingers to fill in the hole with what he presumed was some sort of plastic. Then he used something that looked a bit like a paintbrush to coat the tooth with some weird substance that dissolved, and let him watch TV from Connery's account while it worked. Man that guy had shit taste in shows. Then Kade washed his mouth out, he got his teeth coated with enamel, and headed out to get his haircut.
Kade had never known so much could be done with two and a half inches of hair. The barber guy was putting things in it that Kade was fairly certain shouldn't be done with anything but industrial materials, but hey, it wasn't his body. He zoned out for the first half of it, grateful for the break, when a man walked in, and looked over at Kade like he knew him, because of course he did. Why on earth did Kade think he would be allowed to have a peaceful night out to get Connery's haircut?
"Chris!" He yelled, confirming Kade's fears. "I know it's 2am, but I need to talk to you now about something." He raised his eyebrows, signifying something that Kade, with a nauseous feeling, knew was important.
He used his best arrogant rich guy voice to say "Sorry, but I can't talk now. Tomorrow maybe?" The man shook his head urgently. "It's really important," he said with a look clearly supposed to convey something, "finish up and meet me outside." The man left.
After he was finished with the haircut, Kade seriously considered running. The issue with that though was that if he got caught, the real Connery would have his relationship with that guy screwed up, and he might sue TrueFit. If Kade were responsible for a lawsuit he would definitely be fired and they would probably find some way to make his life worse beyond that. He'd done this a few times before and it usually went mostly okay, so he figured he'd just try to talk to the man and make the best of the situation.
The short man looked him over. "Shit, Chris, you're looking good!" He raised his eyebrows sarcastically. "All due to healthy living, I'm sure? Natural changes?" Kade laughed, uncertain about how much he should admit. The change was obvious enough that he wouldn't be able to fool anybody who knew him well, so he just hoped that this encounter wouldn't come up in conversation later, so that the real Chris wouldn't figure out that he had met the short man in the time that Kade was in his body.
"Look, a small hiccup came up in the testing. It's not a huge issue, but I need your input, okay?" Kade nodded, looked serious, and tried to keep himself from running in terror from the room. His input was needed on something that he knew nothing about and was contractually obligated to have no input on. Also, he needed to figure out the man's name.
"The issue is with the organ transplants. We had one client who needed one and they were on our ImmortalX package so we had to give it to them for free. But it turns out the liver we gave them was infected. Not a disaster, when the patient got worse they came in for surgery and while it was expensive on our end, it's just one surgery and they lived. The issue is now the insurance companies, the hospital, and just about everybody involved wants to know where the infected liver came from. And it came from TrueFit."
A liver from TrueFit? They were in the business of donating livers these days? He wondered if he could get a bonus from giving away his liver. Did he have multiple livers, or just one? Could he live without it? How much would they pay? The short man continued.
"So, we really have two choices. We report what happened, claim that we had no idea where TrueFit was getting its organs, and then shut down the whole system, or we could try to hide it. Both are terrible options, but we need to choose one." Okay, Kade had to get out of this situation.
"Could we talk about this in the morning? I'm really tired." A terrible excuse, but hopefully it would work. Thankfully, the man seemed to have expected this, shrugged, said that he just wanted to make sure that everybody was aware of the situation and hadn't been expecting a resolution tonight, and nodded towards him respectfully as he left.
Kade got back in the chair and waited for the haircut to be over. When he was done with it all, he headed back to work, found a mat in the playground, and slept for about an hour before getting back to work.
"Do you want some time off in this body?" Kade stopped, shocked. Generally they tried to give him as little time as possible off. In fact, the last time he had taken a day off in-client was probably six months ago. Still, he should probably turn it down.
"No, I'm good. I'm hoping to save up some hours so I can get some time alone in my real body." Osson nodded.
"Understandable. However, I should probably tell you, we're shifting away from encouraging bodyhoppers to use their own bodies for vacations. It's still an option, but it's much harder to get leave now. We would encourage you to take some time off in your clients body. I figured I'd let you know." Kade nodded, a bit confused. Why was Osson explaining things to him like she gave a shit? And why was it suddenly okay to take breaks in your client's body? "You need to head over to the med bay for surgery." She said, before walking away.
Kade relaxed in his small hospital bed, playing a game on his phone. While he was still in the middle, the doctor came up to make sure Connery looked good enough to swagger properly. He held out one of his arms for injection with the neuroleptic, and was quickly out.
He woke up, a bit bleary eyed and confused, but able to think reasonably coherently. The drugs they used were optimized to do the least damage to the brain possible, since bodyhoppers went through this hundreds of times in their lives. The side effects of this meant that the drugs took a while to wear off, which had never made much sense to Kade. If the drug did less to your brain, why did you feel it more after waking up? It seemed like it worked though because after hundreds of these surgeries he was still reasonably sharp. Well, at least not much dumber than when he started.
Osson walked into the room, unfortunately. She looked at him, as always seeming to have a difficult time recognizing that Kade was human rather than an extension of the furniture. "Connery needs a colonoscopy," she said. "We'll ship you out to Washington at midnight. The night after that we'll put him back in his body and we'll give you a new one." She headed towards the door, and Kade sat up in shock.
"Wait a second. You're sending me out on another all-nighter? Post surgery? Why the fuck didn't you tell me this earlier and why couldn't it have been the night I was out for my teeth?" Osson turned back, exasperated.
"His instructions included a request to ask his doctor what he needed, and do everything recommended with the people who generally did it for him. If he didn't have somebody who regularly did it for him, our doctors would do it. One of the doctor's instructions was a colonoscopy. We were going to give it to you while you were out, but we just rechecked the instructions and it turns out he has a gastroenterologist that he visits regularly. So we're sending you out there instead of using one of our people." She turned around and walked away.
Of course. They couldn't have checked the instructions thoroughly before, they had to tell him now. To alert him before it happened would be too considerate. He sighed and tried to get some sleep in before they shipped him off to Washington.
A quiet beeping woke Kade up from the back of the car. It was nice to be able to ride in Connery's car. The bed was comfortable, and there was a table that came pre-stocked with some chips and fruit. There was also that old theory everybody knew about where in the event of a crash, the self-driving mechanism in an expensive car would be more protective of the passenger's life than in a cheaper car. The auto companies universally denied it, but there had been some investigative research which indicated that when two cars of the same brand crashed, the person in the nicer model almost always fared better.
Most people lent TrueFit their cars because if their body was seen riding in any car but their own, that would raise questions. He sat up, waited for the doors to unlock themselves and open, and hopped out of the car.
It was dark outside, but the streets were well lit enough that he didn't have trouble seeing where he was going. As Kade expected it was a nice area of town, and he briefly considered stopping at one of the many cafes and bars that lined the streets. He thought better of it though, since he had to get to his appointment on time. Also despite having Connery's body, he still had Kade's money. He continued following the map on his phone to the doctor's office.
It surprised him how many people were up at 1:30 am. People in their twenties and thirties mostly, wandering around in packs of five or so in varying states of intoxication and inebriation. Every once in a while one of the groups would burst out laughing at something they all seemed to find hilarious, or at least funny enough to pretend was hilarious. Sometimes they would step into some shop that sold some bizarre commodity. One place was dedicated entirely to selling Tibetan rugs, another which sold old graphic novels. A surprisingly well dressed man tried to sell him some stress relief drugs which he declined. Occasionally somebody would walk out of one of the bars or cafes on their own, fixated on some phone call they were having on a headset. Several of the younger ones seemed to know him, or at least recognize Connery well enough to wave at him and call out his name. Two people actually stopped him and tried to get his email so they could send him their resumes, but he easily brushed them off.
Eventually he made it to the building, and took the elevator up to the office. Surprisingly he didn't have to sign anything, and was quickly led into an office where he laid back in a chair and waited for the doctor to come in.
When you signed up to be a bodyhopper, colonoscopies were just one of those things you had to get used to. They were unpleasant, but so was pretty much everything else a bodyhopper did, so you really either got used to it or quit.
After the dental procedure though, he was expecting something a bit less painful than the average job, and he wasn't disappointed. Instead of the regular deal, the doctor told him to swallow what looked like a small, chrome pill. He did, and after a few seconds he felt a strange fluttering feeling in his throat like he had swallowed a flying insect. The doctor then proceeded to play a video game on his phone for a few minutes, which surprised Kade quite a bit. He would have expected more professional behavior on the part of the doctor. After a few minutes though, the doctor handed him his phone, so he figured it hadn't been a game.
"Don't touch," he said, "but you can look if you want. People usually like to see their small intestines. Not so much their large ones though." He chuckled quietly. On the phone screen, next to some directional arrows and buttons with acronyms on them, an image of a strange reddish tube that was apparently Connery's small intestine. The doctor smiled at his shocked expression. "Here, I'll finish you up." He reached out for his phone, and continued his work. After a few minutes of sitting, looking around at the room, and eventually playing a game on his own phone, Kade felt a weird fluttering feeling. It got stronger, until he sat up with a yelp as something that looked like a metallic fly flew out of his ass into the air in front of him! The doctor chuckled again, and used his phone to steer the fly into the sink. He then put on a rubber glove, smashed the fly with the heel of his fist, and turned on the water to let the metal bits go down the drain. He took off the glove and shook Kade's hand, told him the results would be sent to him by next morning, at which point Kade left and headed back to the car.
While walking back to the car, however, Kade saw something odd. There was a young boy running down the street on his own. He smiled and waved at the kid, wondering what trouble he had gotten himself into which could have possibly sent him bolting down the sidewalk at an hour when the only other people up were probably not going to remember anything that had happened the night before.
The boy didn't wave back however, and as he came closer he saw that the kid was crying. He considered stopping to help, but figured it was none of his business. He'd probably just end up making things worse. He quickly realized that that would not be an option however when the kid slammed into his legs, nearly knocking him over. Kade stepped backwards, got down on one knee, and put his hands on the kid's shoulders. The boy was about nine, and fairly small even for that age, so it wasn't all that difficult to hold him there.
For about ten seconds, the kid struggled wildly, calling him some names that he was fairly certain even he had not known at that age. After he was done with his tirade, the kid looked at him with an expression of pure hatred. "You're a killer!" He yelled, now sobbing uncontrollably. "They said you were going to kill these people!" He curled into a ball and started crying on the ground.
Kade looked down at the boy. He should probably head back to the car, but there was also the chance that Connery knew the boy, and the kid was dressed well enough that was certainly a possibility. He also looked a bit like Connery, although it was hard to tell since the boy had a hoodie with the hood pulled down over most of his face to hide the tears. He put his hand on the kid's shoulder again, a bit uncertain of what to do. "Who said I'm a killer?" Hard to go wrong with that. Also he was a bit curious who Connery was trying to kill, if that was indeed the case.
"Your lawyer guy! I dunno her name. She was talking to somebody downstairs and he said that" After this, the boy broke down in tears again. Kade wasn't sure what to do, but he hugged the boy and did his best to comfort him. Then an alarming thought came to him.
"How did you know where I was?" he asked, trying not to sound too accusatory. Then he winced. That wasn't something you should say to a child when they were crying like this. The boy answered anyway.
"I tracked your car." He slowly stopped crying, and began to breathe heavily. Right. He had taken Connery's car. Was this boy his son? No, Connery's son, he reminded himself. He was going to give up this body tomorrow, and it was never good to start pretending it was his own.
"Explain to me who he said I was killing. I promise you, I'm not killing anybody." He wasn't so certain what Connery's morals were, but for him to be a killer seemed unlikely.
"They said that you were taking stuff from people and selling it!" At this, he resumed trying to punch him. Kade didn't resist, since they helped the kid let off his anger and they didn't really hurt.
"I promise you, I'm not killing anybody. I don't know what that lawyer was trying to say, but I promise you I have never killed anybody in my life and I don't intend to ever. Okay?"
The boy looked up, uncertain. "Could you come home and talk to the lawyer guy? She really thinks you want to kill them."
Home. So the boy was his son. Could he say no? From what he had learned so far Connery didn't seem particularly kind, so it was possible his son was used to him being a jerk and he could walk out of this. Still, looking at the boy, he didn't know if he should. He was just a nine year old kid, and nine year olds shouldn't be left to cry by themselves on sidewalks, regardless of how expensive those sidewalks were.
"Okay, I'll take you home. I gotta go quickly after though, alright?" The son nodded. They walked over to his car. He realized in a panic that he didn't know Connery's address, although it was probably close by if the boy could have run from his house. Thankfully though, the kid typed it into the car before lying back on Kade. He sat in the back with the boy's head resting on his lap, while the car drove them home.
He wasn't too surprised by Connery's house. He was expecting something pretty huge and extravagant, and that's what it was. Thankfully, he had the boy whose name he would need to figure out soon to guide him around to the room where the lawyer was. Did Connery have his lawyer live with him? Weird. His confusion ended when he saw the office. The lawyer, a tall woman, was working at a desk. The desk had a large desktop computer on it, which she wasn't using. Instead, she was using a small laptop that was presumably her own. So the lawyer was borrowing Connery's office for the time being but didn't live there. He walked in, nervously, with the boy next to him. The lawyer looked up.
"I don't mean to bother you, but for whatever reason, my son says that you were saying I was going to kill people. I'm sure that's not what you said, but could you just assure him that I'm not going to kill anybody?" The lawyer smiled at his boy.
"Don't worry, Jason," she said. So that was his name. "Your father's not going to kill anybody, or hurt anybody. He's a good person. Alright?" Jason looked back, still crying.
"Then what were you saying then? You were telling a man that the people were not going to have enough parts in them to be humans again and that it was the same as them being dead!"
Kade looked back at the lawyer. Either Jason was misremembering or he had walked into the middle of some bizarre religious cult. His lawyer shook her head again. "Jason, we were just talking about a show we were watching. This isn't real. Everything is fine." Jason didn't seem to believe her fully but at the very least he had mostly stopped crying. He sniffled a bit but at least headed out.
The lawyer looked back at Kade. "Is there anything else you needed to tell me?" Kade shook his head. "Alright then. Sorry about the confusion with Jason. I'll be more careful about what I say in front of him in the future. That said, I do recommend you be careful. Your son is right - you are killing people. And even if you don't care about the ethical connotations it's going to start messing things up soon. I know that TrueFit says it'll keep its boddyhoppers out of their original bodies until they die, but what if they aren't able to? They aren't nicely surgically removing the organs either. I've seen the room where they store the bodies, even if they were to replace the organ that they took it's unlikely that the body will still be alive." Kade froze. This was not something that he had expected to hear. He wasn't even sure if it was something he fully believed. TrueFit was awful, that much was certain. It was a parasite that used the abject poverty of one portion of humanity to prop up the insecurity and selfishness of another portion of the population. But he was pretty sure they were too smart to actually go ahead and break the law in such a blatant manner. One thing he was pretty sure of is that even if they were doing this, if it were being done to his body, he would have known. He might not have had much of a say in it, but he would have been informed at the very least.
The lawyer continued. "Look, I understand where you were coming from when you made this decision. You are a good person and wanted to provide organs to everybody who uses your health insurance. You trusted TrueFit to behave ethically but they didn't. They decided to take the bodies of nearly all their boddyhoppers, which was not your original intention. You re a good person, it's the fault of the people at TrueFit."
Kade was able to stand silently in a room with somebody discussing the possibility of the mutilation of his original body, but this ass kissing was too much for him. Kade thanked her, and went into the hallway where he saw Jason walking. He instinctively turned to the boy.
"Hey, boyo, you wanna play on your console upstairs?" He hadn't seen any consoles, but assumed Connery owned one. Jason looked at him, confused. Was it the term 'boyo'? Probably. He couldn't help it though. Jason looked nothing like the original 'boyo', Kade's younger brother Nalk, but Jason was about the same age Nalk had been when he was shot. Jason shrugged, and kept walking. Asshole kid. He went out to his car, and got some sleep before getting back to the playground.
Kade rarely went upstairs. Not because he wasn't encouraged to go up there, but because it hurt badly enough that he wasn't allowed to live a normal life without seeing the managers who were, but he didn't have much of a choice at this point.
The man he wanted to talk with was at a small desk in the corner. Kade walked over and tapped the guy on the shoulder. He looked over irritatedly, and nodded for Kade to talk.
"Hey, so I was wondering if I could sign up for an in-body break? Just to see my family? It'll only be for a day." The man nodded, and typed something into his computer pulling up a sheet. He looked at it a bit, asked Kade his name, and then turned back to him.
"Would you consider an in-client break? We'd consider it work so you would be paid for your time. You could visit your family in this body." He gestured to Connery's body that he was in now. Kade shook his head.
"I was actually thinking of leaving this line of work." he said, somewhat truthfully. "I'm thinking of maybe doing something else. I'm eighteen after all, I should probably be doing something that will push me along in life, something more in line with my interest." That was a complete lie. If he quit this, he'd get an equally shitty job, but hopefully a job that kept him alive rather than cutting him apart. The man looked concerned.
"Okay," he said, "I'll talk to the people in charge of that. What is your name?".
"I'm Kade Alco." The man nodded, and asked if Kade could wait at his desk for a second before going off into a sideroom. After a few minutes in that side room, he came back, looking nervous.
"I'm very sorry sir, but I don't know if I can approve this. Let me talk to some other people?" Kade nodded, and went downstairs to grab the stolen key card from his locker.
One of the first things he had done after getting a job at TrueFit was steal a key card from one of the managers. It had been a move that could easily have gotten him fired, but one that he had to do. Nalk had been shot while helping out in the department store that Deken, Kade's dad, had run. He might have been able to get away from the shooter if he had the key to the storage closet. Probably not, but there would have been a chance. As irrational as it was, Kade wouldn't work in a place where he didn't have access to every room — it scared the shit out of him.
Kade halfheartedly jogged around the playground until it was late enough for the managers to have most likely headed home. He ran upstairs and hopped into the sideroom that he had seen the man go into, and saw more or less what he expected.
Connery's lawyer was correct — the bodies were certainly not being well taken care of. They were sealed in bags which were stored in a freezer so they weren't decomposing, but the organs seemed to have been removed with no intention of the body containing them ever being inhabited again. He walked about a bit, until he found his old body towards the bottom of a stack.
It was mostly intact, which was more that could be said for many of the others. There were only two incisions - one on the lower right side of his stomach, and another up towards the top of his chest. They looked like they could probably be healed given proper medical care, but if the incision had been made to remove organs, that seemed like care which would be more expensive than anything he could reasonably expect to achieve in the near future. He left his old body and headed back to the playground, where he slept until he was called in for surgery.
Kade had an hour until he was expected at the med bay. He went back upstairs where most of TrueFit's management worked, headed back to the room where his body was stored, and kept walking until he had reached the primary medical center where the brains were stored.
He had been here a few times before, back before they stored the boddyhopper's bodies nearby. The first time was when he started working here. The second time was when he had been bored and wanted a place alone where he could sit around. A third time he had been curious how it worked, but didn't get any answers. The best he could tell, in each pod, there was the name of the person, and their brain, presumably, was stored inside.
He walked along the pods, reading the names listed on top. Each of these brains, doing nothing, kept in a stasis that apparently didn't feel like anything, not even leaving memories of dreams. Waiting to get moved into someplace warm, where they could get back to being brains.
He stopped at one of the pods. On the screen on the top were the words "Christopher Connery" in large blue letters. He pressed the "open" button, confirmed that yes, he wanted it open, then confirmed again that yes, he really really wanted the brain out and understood the consequences and was licensed to open it. It had a thumbprint reader, and Kade had a chunk of road in his hand. He smashed the lock open fairly easily.
The small pod popped open, and freezing air flowed out. Inside was a brain soaking in some sort of liquid, with strange bits of metal lightly touching it from the sides, covering the top. If he had been a professional, he would have understood how to safely remove the brain, but he had no idea whatsoever. Not that it mattered. Kade had built up his body well, and his fist easily tore through the delicate machinery and into the soft tissue that was Christopher Connery.
Kade got out of his car, and went into his house over to his office where his lawyer was working on her laptop. She looked up when he walked over to the desk. He wasn't sure if this was how he was supposed to do it, but he knew that even if it was wrong, what he was asking wouldn't be questioned. "Could you transfer five million to Aerok and Deken Alco?" She looked up, confused.
"Aerok and Deken Alco. Unsure of their address, but I'm sure you can figure it out."
"What for?" She seemed even more confused. Kade shrugged.
"Because." She blinked in confusion, then nodded. He left, and walked upstairs. He wouldn't miss the money, and there were just certain things one had to do in life.
After a bit of wandering he found his son's room. He knocked, but there was no response, so he opened the door and strode in. It was mostly empty, except for a few game consoles. Jason was in the corner, playing on one of the consoles. Kade tapped him on the shoulder, interrupting him. "Hey." Jason looked up. "Wanna go climb the tree?" Jason shook his head. "Wanna get ice cream?" Again he shook his head. "Wanna go to Egypt?" Jason looked up this time.
"Could I fly your jet?" He seemed hopeful. Kade shrugged.
"Yeah, sure. I'll teach you." He had no idea how to fly a jet, but he could probably figure it out. Couldn't be that difficult. He went downstairs with Jason, letting the boy lead him to the jet he had out in the back. He let Jason get in the front seat, and quickly discovered that it had autopilot so he didn't really need to teach him much. They landed in Cairo airport early the next day.