Half Hidden Truth

Half Hidden Truth

View my artwork; animals; creatures; funny stuff.
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Muscle Memory

An alternate world where you can rent out someone elses body.

Deviant Art

Deviant Art

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Muscle Memory

You stand barefooted in a cold white room, looking down on your lifeless body with the eyes of a stranger. It had seemed impossible when the men outside had tried to explain what had happened, but they’d spoken the truth; you really are dead, there’s no doubt about that. You avert your eyes, there’s something profoundly wrong with the sight, it’s so unnatural you just don’t know how to react. The image remains imprinted on your retinas, no matter where you look all you see is yourself, frozen in the throes of an agony you never felt.

You turn away, burying someone else’s face in hands that were never like your own as you struggle to comprehend the enormity of the situation. There are others around you, standing near the walls watching you mourn your own passing. There’s a man at the door wearing a body identical to the one you find yourself stuck in; he seems to find the sight of himself in tears almost as unsettling as you find the image of your body crumpled on the floor.

Nobody says a word, they just stare unblinking as you swallow the emotions that threaten to overwhelm you. Slowly you leave the room, barely noticing the way the others react to your distress. You just can’t stand to be in there any longer.

Once outside you are confronted by the man whose body you’re in, you meet his eyes but can see no sympathy there. If anything he seems angry, as if he finds it insulting that you’re looking back at him from a perfect copy of himself. There are a few minor physical differences between your bodies; he stands a fraction taller, and you are slightly paler, but the only real difference is that his body was born naturally, whereas the one you’re in was grown in a lab.

You break eye contact and turn away, but you are stopped by a firm hand on your shoulder.

“I’m sorry, I know this is a difficult time for you, but we can’t let you leave with that body. You see, legally it still belongs to your employer.” One of the guards turns you so you’re facing him, he’s apologetic but you can see in his eyes that he’s deadly serious.

While you’re still trying to take everything in a woman in high heels walks up to your mirror image and briefly whispers something to him, his face is unreadable as she walks away, her heels clicking in a distinctly irritated fashion. Once she’s gone he looks you up and down and says “It’s nothing personal, but that body’s worth more than you are. I don’t want anything to happen to it, understand?” You are unsure if the last part was addressed to you or to the guards closing in around you, but either way you’re chilled by the coldness of it.

The hand on your shoulder gently pushes you forwards, still shaken by what you just witnessed you allow him to lead you back into the facility. You don’t know what they’re going to do with you now you can’t return to your own body; now you’re dead. You glance back at the man pushing you onwards but he refuses to meet your gaze; a sure sign that whatever’s waiting for you isn’t going to be pleasant.

You’ve never heard of this happening before; you are probably the first person to survive your own death. The idea is a strange one, so bizarre that it seems almost amusing, but it offers you little comfort as you are taken deeper and deeper through the sterile hallways.

The building itself is familiar to you; it’s where everything related to these cloned bodies takes place. It’s here where they’re grown, stored and most importantly, it’s where minds are transferred from one body to another. You’ve only ever been here before to inhabit other people’s bodies, you weren’t lucky enough to have clones of your own. If you had you could have just ben transferred to one of them and not had to worry about what happened to minds with no physical body to return to.

The rich would pay good money for others to live in their clones while they weren’t using them, muscles tended to waste when left in stasis and often there was additional money involved if the body were returned in a better state than it was given in. Those who could afford to would pay people to keep their bodies in perfect condition, so that they could be fit and healthy without ever having to worry about eating healthily or exercising.

People like the man whose body you were now in, for example. He was a strong believer in muscle memory, the theory being that if other people trained his bodies to the point where the action was almost instinctive, then he’d never need to learn that skill himself. You don’t know how well it works in practice, you’ve only been in this body for a day and you have no idea what he’s got other people to teach it.

The hand on your shoulder steers you into one of the countless whitewashed side rooms sprouting off the long central corridor, you know you’ve left the public part of the facility behind because of the metal pipes running along the ceiling; in all the rooms before this they’d been concealed behind white panels but in this area they’d made no attempt to hide them. You glance backwards just in time to watch the door slide shut behind you, locking into place with an ominous click.

You are shoved forwards and as you stumble you notice a man standing in the corner, hunched over a console flicking his fingers across a screen tilted so its display is just hidden from view. He glances over his shoulder as you regain your footing, but doesn’t give you a second look. It’s not hard to tell that everyone around you has been briefed on what’s about to happen to you, which seems suspect, since you could only have been dead a few hours. The machine taking up most of the right wall slowly grinds to life as you are forced down onto the shelf-like slab; its metallic frame shudders as unseen gears lock into place.

As the man who escorted you here prepares to strap you down you realised where you’ve seen this before, if the room were smarted up and the staff were dressed in the mock hospital uniforms of the upper floors then this could almost pass for one of the transfer chambers. However, you have no illusions that you’re being transferred to a different body, the atmosphere of guilt and reluctance tells you all you need to know.

You look up at the man holding you down, he’s clumsily unravelling the mesh of electrodes that allow consciousness’s to be mapped and transferred; doing that one-handed is taking up most of his attention so he doesn’t have to look at you. The hand on your shoulder’s only lightly pushing you down, but his arm is tense; you can tell that he’s ready to be rough should you give him cause to. His companion presses one last button on the console and walks over to you, he has a determined look on his face that suggests he’s spent a while talking himself into doing this.

“You’re going to kill me.” The statement surprises the guard; he starts and drops the electrode mesh on the floor. The other one continues to ignore you, seemingly come to terms with his role of executioner he reaches under you to pull out three black straps. 

“Already dead.” The guard mutters to himself, picking up the electrodes and continuing as if nothing had happened.

There’s only one way out of this room for you, because if they remove your consciousness from this body with nowhere to put it it’ll be the end of you as a person. Resolving not to just lay down and die you tense, awaiting the moment when you’ll have the best chance to get away.

The brown haired one glances back at his console and you seize the opportunity, pushing off the arm on your shoulder and getting to your feet. You only stand there for a moment before a fist collides with the side of your head. You fall back down and are winded by the guard’s weight coming down on top of you, you struggle and lash out as best you can but evidently fighting is not something this body has been trained for. The edges of the straps cut into your skin as the other man tightens them, then the world blurs out as something is injected into your arm.

Lights flash and you’re staring up at a white ceiling, clumsily trying to move in your new body. You bang your head a few times before you successfully sit up; next to you is the real you, suspended inside the machine. Something bothers you about the sight, an image of a body sprawled on the floor flashes for a moment and suddenly you’re not sure which is real, but then you’re sitting on the bed again and your body’s still in stasis. You stand up, your vision blurs then memories start trickling back, you remember a locked room with two men, and a death… You know it was someone important but the identity eludes you. You close your eyes and concentrate, trying to fight the muddiness clinging to your thoughts.

When you open them again you find yourself on horseback, in a field somewhere you swear you’ve never seen before. You can’t seem to move at all, you feel the movement but you have no control over it. Unwillingly you urge the animal into a trot, then a gallop, skilfully adapting to the horse’s changing gait. The hands on the reins aren’t yours, and as the trees fly past you realise the memory isn’t either.

But just as you start to wonder whose it is the grass and the trees melt away to leave you sitting in an office, talking to a woman in high heels who seems somewhat familiar. You start speaking but at first you can’t hear the words, but as the memory comes into focus you begin to make sense of the conversation.

“… It’s a necessary sacrifice.” You don’t know what the rest of that sentence was, but the woman you’re talking to seems horrified, although she tries to hide it.
She says something in return that you don’t quite catch; the person whose memory it is obviously didn’t think it was important enough to pay attention to. You guess that this is one of the body’s real owner’s memories, and you’re pretty sure he wouldn’t want you to see this.

“The mere ghost of a memory isn’t enough.” Your mouth forms the words but you’re clueless as to the meaning behind them. The woman in front of you seems to know though, and she’s looking at you with contempt.

“The last subject practically died! And for what?” She pauses, taking a moment to regain her control.

He leans back calmly; he must have been expecting this sort of response because he ignores the accusation. “Think of it, having the sum of another’s life, all their knowledge and experiences…”

She looks on the verge of walking out, but instead she stays. “You do realise this is murder you’re talking about?”

He seems pleased that she’s still there; he seems to count her unwilling acceptance as a personal victory. You feel his lips pull back as he flashes her a grin. “Not if they’re already dead.”

Eyes open, blinking at the harsh light.

“Hey… I think it’s awake!”

Three fuzzy shapes loom dark against the whiteness.

“That’s impossible, the procedure was successful.”

Hard to think, things are different; something’s missing. Something important…

“Just stick it back in stasis and forget about it. It’s probably nothing.”

Darkness falls.