Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

We called the rich kids ‘Upgrades’.

They were the ones that had been born with all of the benevolent tweaks and cellular advantages that money could buy. Longer life spans, all possible congenital defects erased, optimum health, even faster mental response times.

You’d think that we would envy them. Well, we certainly envied their bodies. They looked like gods. Like they’d stepped out of commercials and into real life.

What we didn’t envy, though, were the mental changes that the parents felt justified in doing to their children.

The Pixelator was one such augmentation. The rods and cones on the back of the eye were enhanced for better-than-perfect vision. However, a filter was placed between the brain and eye to make sure that all nudity was seen as pixelated blocks of colour. It was put there to keep the kids from seeing naked flesh before they reached the age of majority or until the parents deemed it acceptable to remove the block.

Of course, it didn’t work. Kids were having sex anyway. The entire experience for them visually became a jumble of oversized flesh-tone boxes. They lied to their parents about being virgins.

When the mental/visual block was lifted, some of the kids went and had it secretly reinstated. One glimpse of actual nudity, of actual sex, and they were turned off. Their entire sexual awakening had been in a haze of blurry cubism and they wanted it back.

Playing with the body is one thing, but playing with the mind was always something I felt uneasy about.

I’m grateful that my parents never had enough money to change me.

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