Author: Michael T Schaper

Serena felt a little strange as she stepped out of the clinic and into the street.

Not surprising, since she’d just made herself immortal.

She stopped to check the road before going any further. It was full of people going about their business. She thought she might recognise some of them, but then she’d never been good with faces.

No one seemed to have noticed her. Good. She slipped into the crowd, just an ordinary member of the public. The only difference was that one day they’d be dead, and she wouldn’t.

It had been boring in the clinic, she remembered, and the time had passed excruciatingly slowly; apparently it took a long while to download her entire consciousness. A headache was surely on its way.

But it was worth it, as long as she wasn’t caught.

This was still a highly experimental process, the legality of which was questionable. Enough people had died to make medical regulators reluctant to authorize it.

So all of this was on the sly, an ethical and practical grey zone. Even the clinic had been keen to get her away and out of sight as soon as they’d finished.

No wonder she was feeling uptight.

Serena noticed a movement out of the edge of her vision as she walked down the road, and tensed up momentarily. But it was just a woman walking past. For a moment Serena thought she looked somewhat familiar, which made her suspicious. But then reason won over and she ignored the stranger.

Be calm, she told herself.

Serena settled down at an outside table at the next cafe she came across. Best to act normal, as if she’d been doing nothing in particular.

She thought about what she’d just done. Amazing, really. She’d set in train the continuation of her own personality, all downloaded and stored electronically somewhere. Then a few skin grafts, so her DNA could also be preserved. When she passed away, it could all be downloaded into an avatar and – viola! – she’d be back. Or at least as close as possible.

Speaking of which, she realised with a start, where was her copy of all that data? The clinic had promised they’d upload it all up into the cloud, and also send her a backup copy. But she’d left in such a hurry they seemed to have forgotten.


A figure loomed up out of nowhere and faced her across the table.

Serena realised with a start that it was the same woman who’d passed her just minutes ago. The face was somehow familiar to her. Friend or foe?

The stranger sat down, summoned the waiter and ordered two cafe au lait. “One each,” she declared. “I’m sure it’s still your favorite. And the caffeine might help your headache.”

How did she know that? Serena’s heart started beating rapidly. Had this woman been watching her come out of the clinic? Who was she?

They sat there in the midday sun, silently, awkwardly, and drank their coffee, Serena petrified as to what might happen next. An arrest?

She cursed her luck. All that angst, and at the end of it she didn’t even have her download. She could feel the headache continuing to pound away.

“Are you following me?” she finally summoned up the courage to ask.

The stranger looked over once more, and smiled. “Of course I am. I’m going to be with you for a long time to come.”

“Are you?”

“Well, it’s what was paid for.”

Serena studied the woman opposite her one more time, and then realized the face she was looking at was her own. And if that was the case…

“You’re my backup, aren’t you?” she asked, relieved to have figured it out.

The woman just smiled at her, a sad pitying look.

“No. You’re mine.”