Excerpt from "A Most Peculiar Job Interview"

You can always tell, if you look closely and know what to look for, when someone is in a new body. Having grown up without any movement, the expressions that would flit across a person’s face would be slightly too stiff, too sharp. The lack of history shows if you know what to look for. The face looks a little too stiff, not quite like plastic but definitely weird.

I shrugged in my jacket, a nice enough one but people would know that it was second-hand from the dated style. One of the few upsides of the so called post-needs society has been the sheer volume of stuff that is thrown out. Being homeless is not the struggle that it once was. Rain pattered down as I gazed into a window, wondering, as I often did, why people still paid money above and beyond the cost to go to a restaurant to have a meal that they could have the molecular equivalent of at home. I didn’t begrudge them though; the ongoing need to continue going to restaurants made it easy to make sure that I had enough to eat.

Preempting the inevitable complaints from the restaurant, I began to mosey on down the street. A sickly looking fog whirled around my legs and the legs of everyone else that found themselves walking down the street today. The weather channel continued telling people it was just fog, I assumed, but I knew otherwise. From the wet cough that I had every morning, regularly coughing up chunks of something semi-solid and a bone coloured white, I knew that this was the pollution sweeping in.

“You know,” I mused, “this is going to be how they get rid of us once and for all.”

“Oh?” the voice in my ear said.

“Yeah. Everyone with either enough money, or who is able to secure the debt, can just buy the latest model of a body for themselves. One that is adapted for the pollution. Meanwhile, those of us who can’t afford it are just going to die off.”

“How does that make you feel, sir?”

“How the fuck do you think it makes me feel?”

“That’s fair. My apologies.”

I sighed and continued walking down the street. I knew that something had to be wrong with me. Why else when so many people were doing so well would I still be living on the streets and being of no use to anyone.  I didn’t know what the problem was. I just didn’t fit into this new world. Maybe I was supposed to be born fifty or a hundred years earlier.

“Spare some change, sir?” I asked a passerby, putting on my best manners.

“Yes, fine fine,” he responded, waving his phone about. I quickly struggled with mine and waved it in line with his to accept whatever pittance he would give me. It wasn’t going to go to food or clothing, those were easy enough to find. I wasn’t going to spend it on false memories or something else to forget the state I was in. I was smarter than most people on the street. I was saving up for an upgrade.

That was my plan. It wasn’t a great plan for long term, but it was a plan. Maybe if I could get a body that was at least a little adapted to this pollution I could get my way into an interview without coughing through it. Maybe even trick people into thinking I am part of that upper class and not the impoverished piece of shit that I am.

For the umpteenth time I wished that I had performed better on my psych eval so I could have been one of colonists that got sent out to see what we could make a go of colonizing. Rumour had it that it was no better than being down here on earth, but that’s what the bitter would say, isn’t it?

“Sir, would you like me to submit another application for a position as a colonist?”

“Yeah, sure. Its not like anything is going to change.”

“Certainly sir. Shall we change anything on the application?”

“Uhm, maybe send in an updated psych eval? Its all I can think to change.”

“Very good, sir. Maybe this time they will reconsider.”