“A chance for immortality. Be free from disease. Live to see Humans spread across the stars.” Torka read the words on the back of the tube in a sing-song voice. “This cream is imbued with the most sophisticated technology to come from The Cloud. Tried and tested by millions across the world.” With a thud he placed it cap down on the table and looked across at his sister. “Have you really thought about this?”

Essie scowled at him, her young brow wrinkling. “Of course I have. What do you think I am?”

“Stupid, that’s what. It’ll kill you as soon as make you live forever. Look what happened to Dard and his girlfriend.”

“They were unlucky; just as much chance that a ripper could have killed them in the street trying to snatch their implants.”

“Yeah, right.” Torka blew upwards so a mass of fizzy red hair floated out of the way. “The Cloud don’t want no good for us; they’re just after the bodies to fill their zombie ranks. Have you even read the small print?”

“Sure, and I’ve watch the preacher streams about it. I understand what could happen.”

Torka picked up the tube again. He made a play of holding it close to eyes as if the text was too small to read.

“Then I suppose you know that if it doesn’t work and you die ‘your body will become the property of The Cloud to be used as is necessary.’” He put on a nasal whine as he quoted the guidance.

“Give that here.” Essie jumped up and reached across to snatch the cream from her brother.


“If you’re not going to read it right, I will.” She prodded at the tube so the relevant bit of print enlarged, pushing the other words out of the way. “Here you go. ‘Users should be aware that five out of eight people encounter no problems during the change, however, of the small number who do suffer adverse effects The Cloud is often able to rescue their bodies.’” Essie stared across the table. “That don’t sound too bad, now does it?”

“Doesn’t mean nothing, just that you could die and then your mind’ll get sucked up by the AI.”

“You used to be the smart one in class,” Essie teased. “I thought even you would have read what the scientists say.” She scrolled the text up the pale blue plastic surface. “’There is no doubt that the chance of immortality is worth taking, especially given that 60% of accidents happen in the home. Why take that kind of risk? Dr Hans Voraz, Gnim Research institute, Estonia.’ Do you want me to read that slower so you can follow?”

Torka ignored the jibe. “I don’t know, I still don’t trust ‘em.”

“Well I do.” Essie pushed back her chair. “I’m going put this on. If you don’t want to that’s your choice, just don’t fall outta your chair and break your arm.”

Torka watch her swagger into the little box room where she kept her bed. He gave a sigh as the door closed behind her.

It was twenty minutes before he heard any movement through the paper thin walls.

“You alright in there? Gonna come out and speak to us mortals?”

The door opened and his sister stepped into the room.

“How does it feel to be …” Torka stalled as he saw the blank expression on his sister’s face. “No!”

He rushed to her, but she was already turning and heading towards the front door of the apartment.

“This shell is under control of The Cloud. Any form of interference with the work it undertakes will be punishable by law.” The voice came from within Essie but her mouth did not move to form the words.

Torka collapsed to the fall. Soon his sobs were the only sound.


22 October 2010
This week saw the first United Nations World Statistics Day.

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