Author: Nilgin Yusuf
I had so much more to do. Physically, I’d almost reached the seventh milestone and according to the Decree of Zenith, that was it. Show over. But mentally, no. There were planets I still wanted to visit: Copernicus, Vellium, Quadus; men I wanted to impregnate, new drugs to experience. I wanted to whizz out on Axis B, all crimson and gold, preferably with Brett. But here I was, at the edge of my existence, and it didn’t seem right. Brett gently swung in his anti-gravity pod, as I nervously paced up and down.
“Hey, man,” said Brett. “There are ways. And means. Twice, those fuckers have tried to check me into the Plant. Fuck that. I’m hanging onto these organs. They can fuckin’ go harvest someone else.” I stopped and stared at him.
“It’s somewhere safe, on loan, from a friend.”
Brett had balls of iron. The punishments for anyone caught in possession of a Regenerator were terminal. It was rumored the plutocracy had one in the Chambers of Judgement and that our leaders were actually eight thousand years old. But us cogs came with a finite warranty; keeping us into old age was not financially viable. My wrist vibrated and a vermillion message glowed. It was my check-in date for the Plant; my seventieth birthday.
“First things first,” said Brett. “You might want to bite on something.” I slipped off my foot pad, placed it in my mouth, and clenched my jaw muscles. Brett took a small blade from his boilersuit pocket, made a neat incision inside my arm, and chivvied out the microchip.
“Cyborg no more and officially deceased. Do you want to say goodbye to that Travis, Travis?”
“So long, pal,” I said to the microchip.
“Let’s go. There’s no time like the past.”
We zoomed along corridors and down endless flights of stairs, eventually arriving at a steel-lined, concrete bunker in the basement. Inside, a large, spherical, transparent structure balanced onto a metal base.
“In you go. It might feel stuffy but try to relax. Regenerating cells takes time and love.”
“Put your details in there, your DOB, and let it know how many years you want back.”
What did I need? Another ten? Twenty? I should have gone with ten. As the door closed, Brett stood outside, his boyish good looks giving me courage.
The Regenerator emitted a low-frequency sound and the temperature begins to rise. I held onto a bar and the digital screen displayed 69. I began to perspire, sweat breaking on my forehead as the humming intensified. The numbers began to descend, 65, 64. Brett was watching me. My back pain of several years disappeared and the grey hair on the back turned chestnut brown. 55, 54. My body started to retract. I looked down to see my middle-aged spread evaporate. 48, 49. As the divine spirit of youth reenergized my veins, I seemed to be glowing from within. I felt new strength as a muscular definition re-contoured my arms which felt firmer, more sinuous. My younger body felt incredible. I wasn’t going to the Plant! I would do all those things. Brett was no longer smiling. He had moved closer to the glass door and was staring at the control panel. 27. 26. Jesus! I hadn’t wanted to be this young! Brett was banging on the wall but I couldn’t hear him and noticed my clothes were suddenly too large. My trousers were slipping down and the control panel seemed to be changing position, growing larger, until I had to look up to it.