Shattered felt absolved. He floated through the warm liquid. It caressed every part of his body. Nourished him. Mouth and anus became obsolete. Entrance and exit is meaningless, inside and outside, gone! I am free … I am pure Experience. And so his days, no longer notable or noted, went on like this. And time left him. Time is the problem. It prevents us from doing anything. Time, ever-moving, leaves us frozen! He neither slept nor kept awake. He neither ate and drank nor grew hungry or thirsty. He… he… he… Why I am a ‘he’ – biology, yes; millions of years of evolutionary biology: testicles, and so on, but is it essential? Is it really something so important to partition off into language? His naked body floated on like this, for what those on the outside called months, and he knew neither time nor ageing nor death. What is death? Just another biological certainty that does not have to be? A light. Cold air. A gasp.
Thick liquid over his bare skin, Shattered sat on the ground in the large room; his eyes adjusted to the light. His lungs awkwardly, yet reliably, took in the air. Kyoto and Mar stood above him. Mar wore a long, white robe and Kyoto wore a long, black robe. They looked like sisters for a minute. Vision. Blobs and blurs. The gel over Shattered’s body hung close, keeping him warm.
“Ah, you look no older than when you were twenty!” Mar exclaimed. Continuing, “Yes, this does seem to have taken a good deal of weight off your shoulders. A bit confused? That’s normal, darling. Negentropy can be disorienting, even if it is just an enhancement of a natural process!”
“As it’s his first time, I suggest we activate protocol seventeen.” Kyoto said, keeping her eyes on Shattered.
“Yes, I agree. He needs to see the doc!” Mar put her hand out and Shattered, slowly remembering how to lift his own arm and hand, grasped it. “That’s my boy! Come along, come along, old doc Olanrewaju.”
The ‘old’ Dr Olanrewaju did not look a day over twenty-and-ten years old. Shattered knew, felt, that age approximation here could no longer be taken seriously. Mar had been altered too; she had changed. Looking almost a contemporary of his former age. One of the doctor’s main offices was just adjacent to the large wombs’ room. Large, well-lit with soft ambient lighting, no windows, and fitted with the usual warm, gelatinous yet semi-hard floor of Marin’s many corridors and buildings. Barefoot all, they sat on a large half-circle cushion. Dr Olanrewaju sat on a cushion that hoovered, about half a meter off the ground, around, and had supports for his neck, back and arms. He got off the device. He stood tall.
“Two point one meters.”
“What?” Shattered looked confused.
“The first question I normally get asked from outsiders is how tall are you? So I have learned to get it out of the way before it is asked.” Dr Olanrewaju’s deep, calm voice vibrated in Shattered’s newborn ears. His vision returned slowly. He seemed enraptured with each moment. His eyes made maps of Dr Olanrewaju’s dark, bald head; his royal purple sleeveless shirt; his large, yet delicate hands; his muscular arms; Shattered, for the first time in many years, felt a deep sexual attraction toward another man. This did not shock him, and although it, the sensation of wanting to physically be with another man, had left him feeling odd the last time, he never felt ashamed. For the majority of his life, Shattered had preferred his sexual companions to be women, and they had been few. Actually two. And then there was Malachi Maddow Paine, the eldest of the Paine children…
“You with us?” Mar said, looking over at Shattered. He had an erect penis. No one took note or, if they did, seemed bothered. Shattered noticed his excitement after coming out of his trance. He felt mildly embarrassed. But nothing like he would have felt before. Before the womb.
“Shattered,” Dr Olanrewaju, spoke, “You have been with a placental synthesizer for quite some time. The advantages are great. On and off world technology, as you may know, allowed us to move from VR ‘therapy’ – such an anachronism that has over twenty-five thousand of our people in perpetual sedentary animation, a kind of escapism – to these new genetic retro-causal and negentropic wombs.”
“Excuse me? Um, on and off world technology?”
“He has the security clearances to know…” Dr Olanrewaju’s eyes scanned back and forth, “yes.” Mar interjected, “Those came while he was in treatment, Bill. He hasn’t been briefed.”
“What, um, how long was…” he reached for the word, “in there.”
“I will tell you some of the effects you are bound to experience: time will feel different, at times it will feel heavier, and at other times lighter than usual. Much heavier, much slower. Or much faster. A week may pass in what feels like a moment, a moment may take a week. This is temporary. You had trouble with the word ‘inside’ – your conceptions of inside and outside are temporarily…. offline. We do not know the exact reason why, however, I speculate that the way the biogel interacts with networked syntheses of the posterior parietal lobe and the right superior temporal cortex. Further nanodiagnostics are needed. Regardless, the right superior temporal cortex and the subsequent lateralization of spatial awareness parallels some of the neuronal activity in the superior temporal gyrus… Ah, enough neurology for now. In short, Shattered: you need a bit of rest. Nantech is monitoring your biological, chemical, neurological activity — your entire fleshthought physioprofile … is in order.”
“Where is your accent from?” Shattered found himself just now recognizing differences in voices.
“A place formerly called Nigeria.”
“How old are you? How old am I? I am as old as you because we are both a part of the same field that generated this reality.”
“Alright, darling,” Mar stood up, “time to go, this is a lot to take in.”
“No, I need answers now…”
Shattered feel asleep.
*featured image: Enso Courtesy of Daily Cup of Yoga.