Better

It’s my first time at the Persomod. Tann, who’s been my best friend since my family moved to Set, took me as a surprise gift for my birthday. We planned it carefully; Mom and Dad are traditionalists, static to the core. Let their only daughter get a personality graft? No, thank you.

I sliced through the snooper circuits on the security system and snuck my way out into the communal garden across the street. Tann was waiting for me, smiling as she perched on her aquamarine bike, the color clashing horribly with the deep red of Setian skin. “Ready for the new you?” she asked with that mischievous smile I had quickly come to associate with my friend.

“Absolutely.”

Personality additives developed about a century ago, but it wasn’t until the last twenty years or so that the technology really became safe. Back then, unbuffered transplants got slapped directly into the mind, an instant fuse. Sometimes it worked. But other times, people just shut down. Or they went crazy. You know, messy stuff.

Inside the pristinely white store, I wander around aimlessly, trying not to feel lost as I study the clear plastic display units that each heralded the qualities of the personalities within. I can’t quite control my excitement—a small smile keeps sneaking onto my face as I browse, almost like being in a toy store as a child.

Today, templates are used for personality grafts. People choose their dummy personality, an artificial construct specifically designed for the grafting process. The dummies are safe to use—they have no memories so no one goes crazy. It’s a lot better.

“This one.” Tann stated definitively, her finger lingering on a display. She smiled at me. “It’s perfect for you.”

“Are you sure?”

The girl’s smile didn’t waver. “This one’s good. Trust me.”

I do trust Tann. She’s an expert on grafts and had her first when she was twelve. Since then, she’s had a lot more, maybe six or seven, I’m not quite sure. I asked her once what she was like before but Tann just smiled and shook her head. It didn’t matter, she said.

Everyone says you’re a lot happier with the grafts. You can be what you want. Who you want. And it’s still you, only better. Tann thinks I’m too shy, that I don’t make enough friends. She says this will help. I agree; I wouldn’t mind being better.

Tann handles the credits while the technician leads me into the grafting chamber. I sit in the soft white chair, my hands pressed flatly against my thighs. I’m not scared. Just nervous. The technician nods to me and leaves the room. I wait.

There’s a vibration in my head. It’s faint and annoying, like a small hover engine. It grows louder and louder. Is this what’s supposed to happen? My hands clench tightly. I’m having trouble thinking.

A bright light flashes.

When I wake up, Tann is standing in front of me. “Well?” she asks softly, her face leaning directly into my field of view. “How do you feel?”

I smile back without hesitation. I know that something in my smile echoes something in Tann’s. I’m different now. I know it. “Better.”

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