The upgrade

excerpts from the In silica series, an upcoming sci-fi literary adventure

The upgrade

I remember how they called us; the unemployables.

Certainly demeaning, but also dead accurate. This new world held nothing in store for us. Except for that one thing, of course.

“Now spread your legs and let me see”

I willingly obliged. Customers grew rare these days, especially ones who have access to orbis credits. Maybe it was nostalgia, since orbis could satisfy their needs better and cheaper than any of us. Maybe some still prefer the real thing as compared to brain stimulation. Maybe he just wanted to test his new body on me, I could tell it was a enhanced model.

I had not been able to upgrade much yet, only replace some failing bodyparts for cheap. Biggest issue is my brain, without the BCI and competitive assulae hardware, I am useless for orbis. Yet those things are expensive to come by, only the rich can afford the new models, or the hyper-productive people a used model. We unemployables, neither. Many hope the next generation of assulae will be handed out to us, the forgotten. That it will allow us to enter in this new economy of minds, albeit at the bottom.

Not me. I had bigger dreams.

“Are you done yet?”, I asked once he rolled of me. He looked disappointed. Another lost customer, I guess. At this rate, I’ll not make it.

His name was Zeus. Preposperous, I know.

But he made an offer I could not refuse. Full upgrade. On the conditions that others could watch our interactions and I would not be allowed to back out, no matter how long it took and what he would do to me.

Was it technically considered rape when I consented? Or torture?

When he first started beating me, I thought I could take it. When the gadgets came, it began to dawn on me that he was not in it for his pleasure. He wanted to break me, in any way imaginable and unimaginable.

The more I needed him to stop, the more I was pleading, begging, bargaining for my release, the more futile it became. Until a silent fear crept in and turned into certainty; I was dispensible for him, useless, unworthy of my own agency or his concern for my humanity. He was posthuman, after all.

Every time I passed out he would patiently wait until I regained consciousness. At first, I did not understand why he needed me conscious for his experiments. I did not know how much time had passed. Days? Weeks? An eternity? It would go on forever if I had not realized what he and his visitors were really after.

It was that one thing, of course. So I finally took control of it.

I had sacrificed my body, my dignity and my sanity to aquire control of that one thing.

Suffering. The sole currency left in this utopian world for us unemployables. Misery was the only feeling orbis is programmed to never provide, so the posthumans paid to find it through me.

Sick bastards. I could sense their eyes penetrating me as I was done playing their game and came to collect my reward.

“I’ve paid my due.”, I announced as calmly as I could, knowing that their reluctance now was just another opportunity for them to sip off my desperation. I was not going to give them that, although the pelvic injury was so agonizing I could pass out any moment. My intestines will have to be replaced for sure, like so many other parts of my body.

I didn’t care. Today I will become their equal or superior, and once my brain is connected to the orbis system, I will delete all my suffering for good. All torment will be over, forever. By tomorrow, I will have evolved into something useful, maybe finally gain purpose in this world. Orbis will see to that.

“Let’s get this over with”, I declared through grinded teeth.

When I woke up, I was still me, for now, but different. I thought I would be completely out of it, but I guess nothing changed on its own. It was me who had to initiate, orbis protocol required it that way. The virtual interphase on the inside of my retina was too bright, I was barely able to think-maneuver myself through the command menu. There were a lot of choices to be made.

‘Confirm deletion of past negative memories [Y/N] ?’

For this one, I did not hesitate for a second.

Progress or perish.

The mantra and only true choice left to make in this new age.