Akkah blinked. Once, twice. Nothing happened.
“Ah, you’re awake.” A familiar voice. Familiar how? “Wait a second, please.”
Akkah felt something strange, like a controlled electric current, and then everything flooded back in, in a instant of searing pain, as if someone had driven a sword directly into their skull.
And then it was gone, and Akkah knew who they were. And recognized the voice.
“Dr Iwu, I’m glad it’s you.”
“Of course it’s me. Were you expecting someone else?”
“Alright, you can move. Be careful, though.”
“I know, I know.”
Akkah raised their hands and looked at them. They liked them. Hm, they knew where this was leading. They sat carefully, feeling the familiar bout of nausea, but they closed their eyes, then waited for it to pass. Then they turned to face the side of the slab (Dr Iwu hated them to call it so), legs dangling, and finally stood.
They paced towards the full-body mirror.
Akkah saw a stunning woman standing naked and staring back at them. They turned this way and that, appreciating their frame. They smiled.
“You like it?” Dr Iwu asked.
“A lot. It looks fantastic. You’re a genius, Doc.”
“Well, I’m glad my work is fully appreciated. Only the best for my customers. And don’t call me Doc.”
“I think this is my favourite body so far,” Akkah said, and continued examining themself in the mirror.
“I’ll leave you to get dressed.”
“Aw, Doc. Couldn’t we try it out?”
“Akkah…” Iwu admonished.
“One day, Doc…”
“Never, Akkah. You’re a patient of mine.”
“I could find another doctor.”
“I’m sure of that. I’ll leave now. And, Akkah…”
“Stop doing this. I’m running out of bodies.”
“That’s not true.”
“With your standards? Yes it is.”
The door swooshed open and then closed behind him. Akkah still stayed a few more seconds in front of the mirror, then went to dress. Iwu had left a pillbox on a table. Akkah picked it up and placed it on the palm of their hand. The box melted onto their skin and the nanites extended upon them. They went back to the mirror.
Akkah sneered. Dr Iwu chose gorgeous bodies even for themself, that was beyond any doubt, but their taste in clothing was flat. Akkah wished the nanites to rearrange themselves.
“Damn. A single-model dress? I’ll have to buy new clothes.”
But of course. Nothing of his could have remained after the last time they had died. Akkah pouted at themself in the mirror, then shrugged. Well, that was unavoidable.
Akkah recalled the accident. They really should have slowed down when they reached that corner in the circuit, but hey, where was the fun in that? But they hadn’t, and the classic, fossil fuel car had slid, and the slid had become a somersault, and regardless of the safety measures there had been a spark, and unlikely as it was, the car had ended up a bonfire, with Akkah trapped inside.
A pity. Akkah had liked that body. They had had some fun with it. Hermas were really enjoyable. Akkah sighed.
They kept staring at themself in the mirror. They thought back to the last year. Akkah knew Dr Iwu had been exaggerating, but still… it had been a lot of bodies, hadn’t it? Three males, two females and two hermas. Plus this new one, raising the females to three.
Perhaps they should try and settle down a bit, like Dr Iwu had suggested. Akkah entertained the notion for a full couple of seconds, then rejected it outright. What was the purpose of life otherwise?
Akkah just loved life. They enjoyed life, they squeezed joy out of life. Maybe they took it a little too far, what with their keenness on adventure sports. they could agree on that. Maybe they pushed themself too far.
Others didn’t. But then others didn’t burn through bodies like Akkah did. Point of fact, people tended to behave like they always had, according to the history books. And so their bodies lasted a long time. As it should be, Akkah heard Dr Iwu’s voice in their head.
They shook their head. Nonsense. Akkah had had some bodies they had loved, and had enjoyed for a long time. And they would never go against the law and commit suicide. That banned you automatically from getting any new body, that’s why it was the only way to die. Well, usually, of course; someone could still break the law and give a suicide a body. Akkah shuddered just thinking about it. What would one be then? A zombie?
It was then that the alarm went off.
Akkah ran to the door, only to be hit by a wall of fire. They stepped back, and the door slid closed. They shook the smoke that had filtered in for a second. Akkah let her training kick in.
They located the door control panel and wished the nanites to make a glove and harden. Then they punched the panel, getting a satisfactory crunch. The door stayed closed.
Then they looked around.
The awakening room was not really the best place to be trapped in a fire. It was basically an operating theater, but of course no operations were performed any longer. There was no need.
The grills were on the ceiling. And they were large. That had to mean wide ducts as well, or so Akkah hoped. If only they didn’t fill with fire. They pushed the slab under the grill and jumped on it, and examined the grill. One, two punches, and the grill buckled in. Akkah grabbed it and pulled, and the piece fell with a satisfactory clang.
They climbed up into the duct and stopped for a second. Air coming in from their right. Fresh air. They started crawling that way. Here and there, Akkah crossed small grills. Smoke didn’t come from them, but they weren’t large enough for them to punch their way through either.
They felt the air draft increasing. It was slow but steady. And then they heard a faint whupping sound.
They rounded a corner and saw it. A large fan blocking their way, its blades chopping the air.
“Aw, shit. I really loved this body!”
This is my entry for this week’s Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Ten Random Titles. This is one of Chuck’s classic challenges: he gives you ten random titles, you choose one, you write 1000 words.
Obviously, I chose A Year of Bodies. I had the most basic idea of a future when getting a new body was routine, then decided to just start writing and see where it took me.