Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Lie back, Daniel Sixteen. This will be over in under five instants.”

I swing my legs up and settle into the logro, feeling the soft curves adjust to the contour and temperature settings supplied by my envi. Things have definitely come long way from my last forgetting. Not that I remember the exact details, but the echo of certainty – what used to be called déjà vu – hints me true.

Yarrie Four-Twenty Clone smiles and rests her hand on my brow, her entire forearm tailored to convey reassurance and gravitas with that single contact: I am safe in competent hands.

“Please drop your envi.”

A simple request that causes me more discomfort than the fact I am about to have three decimillennia defragmented. When one lives forever, the little things become so tiresome: shower temperatures, seat posture preferences, tea flavours and strengths, they all take up time and matter. So we have attotech personal processors – envi – to carry those environment invariables and free our matter for living.

I drop my envi and feel a lack that I cannot name. Then a grey twisting streaks across my conscious, is gone, and I feel lighter. My envi restarts without prompting.

“Arise, Daniel Sixteen. You are cleared.”

Man’s technology has allowed him to live forever. In conjunction with the need to limit the number who are permitted to do so, there is a need for those of us who are permitted immortality to remain sane – some early horrors taught us that lesson well.

The postulated problems with memory turned into hard limitations until selective memory removal became a science, two centuries after its genesis in the torture chambers of MK-Ultra. Amnesia is not enough: an amnesiac has simply lost the way to a memory, not lost the memory itself. Brains have a finite capacity and only a limited way to tidy up – after all, organically we’re still designed for around a hundred years of thinking at most.

The memory removal process has retasked an old term, and ‘defragmentation’ is what immortals voluntarily undergo. Formative memories – the first four decades – are inviolate. Apart from that, you can choose what you keep: the Euphorics only retain joyous events, Glooms keep their disappointments close, Screamers retain extreme events, Horrors retain catastrophes, and so on. The gamut is similar to the old book and film genres, but since we can come back from anything bar a total brain incineration, we are our own entertainment. Vicarious pleasures are a thing of the past for the eternals, and those who do not qualify for immortality can watch us for their entertainment.

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