“Beer o’clock,” I said.
I unplugged from the system, ending my day’s work as a virtual worker. The job description’s hype had sucked me in: “See the solar system! Work on Mars from the safety and comfort of your own home!” It was drudge work, but safe, and secure. Didn’t pay too bad — didn’t pay too good, neither — about the same that I used to earn as a teacher before they downsized and privatized me out of the education system. It was either fly drones with the military, stock boy, or vee dub. You see why I decided to be a vee dub. No, it wasn’t great but the job provides me with security and keeps me off the streets even if there was no chance to advance. Once a vee dub, always a vee dub. At least I’m employed.
Mail and marketing bees immediately swarmed me. One bennie of being a vee dub is that the system protects you from bees while you’re working. But unless you pay for the filters, they’ll get you as soon as the shields go down. I’d subscribe to filters, but I can’t afford them.
So I endured the bees as their messages were delivered for shit I can’t afford, like more health insurance, dinner on the moon for two, solar system cruises, and visiting Heaven Above Earth. Then the next to last bee said, “Congratulations. You’re a winner.”
Bullshit, of course, I thought, ready to say, “Trash.”
The bee said, “You’ve been selected to receive a new body.”
“Wait. What? Repeat that.”
The bee did. Just like I’d heard.
Jesus, a new body. A new body. I jumped and danced around my module. A new fucking body. I couldn’t believe it. I’d entered the lottery, of course, spent twenty on tickets (yeah, I know, not much, but I’m frugal), but I’d never expected to win.
A new body, just what I, a sixty-one year old man, could use, a new fucking body. My current body, the one I was born with (ha, ha), had become overweight and creaky. Its hair was thinning and graying, its spine was stooped, and its fucking eyes didn’t work right. There’s treatment for all this shit, but, hey, do I sound like a big earner? No, I think you’ll agree. Medical treatment for things like bad eyes is for the upper classes, not vee dubs.
Euphoria diminished, stage two of coping with unexpected happiness kicked in. I asked myself, was this real or a scam? What’s in the fine print? Is it a real new body, or somebody’s cast-off? Movie stars and the upper classes get new bodies all the time. I don’t know what happens to the old ones but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re recycled, right? Can’t you see that happening?
I didn’t know. Understanding that the means to buy a new body were waaay beyond my circumstances, I hadn’t bothered with such minutiae. It took enough of my brain power just to keep up with my carbon points. And, okay, my body had done me right until like three years ago. Then it was like the warranty expired, and it all started coming apart.
I listened to the bee’s full message, and queried it extensively. It linked my phone to multiple review sites along with the lottery’s web page. The systems all pointed to yes. I’d won the lottery.
I was getting a new body.
The process took almost a year, almost a fucking year of completing forms, being scanned, selecting choices, and making arrangements. I hadn’t expected choices. I thought I’d be me at some young age again. The choices surprised. Taller, bigger (ahem, anywhere)? Everything was up.
Of course, I had to endure a lot of propaganda and make videos enthusing about how excited and grateful I was. Half the population knows the New Body Lottery is a tool to appease the desperate masses and keep the Revolution Clock from striking midnight. The rest believe NuBod (yeah, cheesy, right?) wants to share its largesse because it’s a kind corporation.
Bottom line with the choices, I stayed white and male (but not as pale as my natural genes made me). I’d be put in a twenty-two year old body, but I would be four inches taller. Sweet. Of course I had my vision fixed. I opted to change my eyes to blue and my hair to blond.
Yeah, I took the option for a bigger pecker, too. Can’t hurt, right?
I was pleased as fuck when I finally got my body. So weird to not grunt as I stood from a chair, run out of breath while doing some shit, or squeeze my belly into a pair of jeans. I could see like I’d never been able to before, and I heard better, too. I didn’t know how bad my hearing had become.
I thought it would take a few days to get used to the new body but I acclimated within hours. Several companies donated new clothes and shoes to go with my new body. All I had to do was let marketing bees hover around me to inform everyone what was I was wearing. Of course, I agreed. What’s a few more bees, right?
Then it was so cool. I’d walk into places, and everyone would gawk. We’re a pretty small and intimate town, population about sixty thousand, mostly ex-educators who became vee dubs, so they all knew I was the guy who’d won the new body. I got coupons and discounts for the movies, filters, food, and travel. I still couldn’t afford most of it, but I was sure that was going to change. I was a new man. There were also a few guest appearances on talk shows and radio interviews. They were fun but they didn’t pay anything. Part of the fifteen minutes, yo?
I’d taken two weeks off in real time to get the new body and become acclimated to it. When I went back to work, all the others came by to check me out and bullshit with me. I felt like the king of the damn world.
I understood exactly why all those rich people get new bodies all the time. It changes everything.