Author : Andrew Bale

“Your three o-clock is here to see you, sir.”

“Show him in, Reggie.”

The door opened barely enough for the mousy little figure to slide through. Short, skinny, pale, and balding, his physical appearance only reinforced the image of a timid man afraid of the world. Nonetheless, his file showed that he had been able to turn his talent with mathematics into a partnership in a prestigious investment house, with billions in personal assets.

“Doctor Carpenter, I’m Erik Applegate, your relocation counselor. Have a seat!”

The man managed to make the everyday act of sitting down look awkward and unpracticed.

“I have your file here, and there are a few things I would like to discuss with you before I show you our initial offer. All right?”

“Um. All right. I guess?”

“Good. I have been reviewing your medical and psychological results, and I am afraid we cannot offer you exactly what you requested.”

“What?! Why not? In infinite worlds you – ”

“Doctor, the ‘infinite worlds’ thing is just marketing, as we explained. There are only about 40,000 qualifying universes in our database right now, and I could neither identify nor assist with an unqualifying universe even if I thought it was a good idea. Dropping you into a world where you were biologically incompatible, or where you would be identified as an imposter… anyway, I think we can still offer you a good match to what you actually need.”

Improbably, his shoulders slumped more. Clients always knew that they were asking impossible things, but hearing it was still disappointing.

“We ran a model of your physio-tailoring options and compared that to our physique surveys, and we simply cannot make you a – “

He had to glance at the screen for the unfamiliar name.

“ – Schwarzenegger – on any surveyed world without doing irreparable damage. We can make you more fit and better, ahem, endowed, and we can place you in one of the universes that tends to slimmer builds, but you will still be within two standard deviations of the norm.”

The little man perked up at that. Being stronger than 95% of the world must sound pretty good to a man who was probably still physically intimidated by many tweens.

“Now personality is much harder – we have some therapies that will improve your social confidence, and can train you a bit in conversation, humor, and seduction, but we want you to still be YOU.”

Well, a little lie is sometimes necessary in sales.

“So we needed to find you an edge. And we found it here – Dahlgren-23.”

The wall behind him faded into a video of short, slender people walking about in a world reminiscent of 22nd century Earth. The video zoomed in, catching conversations and reactions.

“Can you see it, Doctor Carpenter?”

The narrowed eyes squinted more, the sharp mind behind them picking out patterns.

“Do they… are they blushing?”

“Yes doctor, and they don’t know it. A quirk of their nervous system makes their skin tint red when they lie, but their visual range is slightly narrower than ours. They blush when they lie, and only we can see it.”

The client seemed to grow in his chair.

“Six months of physio and psycho-social tailoring, a corneal operation to enhance your ‘lie detection’. Our advance team goes in, sets up an identity with some prestige and wealth, based on your existing skills. Six months, and you can live in a world where you are handsome, strong, a visionary … where no one can ever lie to you.”

The little man actually grinned.

“Where do I sign?”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows