Thursday, 26 March 2015

THE PROCEDURE


Colin was sat in the opticians at the help desk, trying to surreptitiously get the assistant's attention. Eventually one of the staff saw Colin’s squinting face and made his way over. “Can I help you sir?” asked the sweaty, slightly balding shop assistant. “Yes I’d like some information on the head-in-the-jar procedure.” “Certainly” said the shop assistant as he sat down opposite. He opened a drawer and got out some marketing materials. “Ok, sir what would you like to know.” “Well, firstly I’d like to know how safe is it?” “ As a company we have a 99% success rate with this procedure. And it is much safer to live as just a head-in-a-jar than as a full-bodied human.” “How does that work?" “Well first off, you don’t move anywhere at all you are just on a shelf in one of our luxury storage containers. Secondly, you are getting rid of 95% of your organs, that saves an awful lot of energy and also it means there are less things you can die from.” “That’s good to know. What’s it actually like?” “People who have the procedure describe it as a permanent feeling of being on holiday. Just deeply relaxing. You can read some testimonials in our information leaflet.” Colin opened the booklet and had a glance, there was a list of different jars you could have your head in. “Do people not get bored just floating in a jar all day?” “No not at all sir, we have several hundred virtual reality worlds we can immerse you in as well as access to 700 digital channels and of course an internet connection.” “Do people not miss their bodies?” “No not at all. So say you feel like you want to go for a walk, you just click one of the walking modes and through digital sensors installed in your head it feels like you are actually walking.” “What about touch.” “Again, digital sensors. A loved one's hand. Stroking a cat. Pricking your finger on a thorn. There are thousands of options and if we are missing anything we can design something bespoke for you.” “And it all feels real.” “Yes of course, sir.” “What if you don’t like it and want to go back to having a body.” “There are procedures out there but as a company we don’t offer them or endorse them. Also, you’d have to find a new body. As part of our contract we sell the organs from your body.” “Really?!” “Yes it’s how we make the procedure affordable. 40% of the revenue raised from organ sale goes to covering the procedure and then 50% goes to servicing your head in a jar.” “And the last 10% ?” “Insurance, legal costs, admin it’s all here in the contract.” “Do people ever want their bodies back?” “It’s weird at first, but most get used to it. It’s more friends and families who have the problem, we can pretty much make you feel like you feel right now but with none of the responsibilities that come with having a body.” “If I can feel pretty much how I feel why don’t I just keep my body?” “I’ve heard it’s very liberating getting rid of your body. You’d think just your head in a confined space 24/7 would be claustrophobic and limiting but apparently not. Living as a head in a jar is scientifically proven to extend your life by a minimum of 100 years.” “Fascinating.”

Colin was taking this all in it was a lot of information to process. “Oh that’s what I was going to ask, the liquid in the jar what is it?” “Okay, so you don’t have a body so you can’t digest food but you still need sustenance so it’s a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and chemicals. And a bit of sugar for energy.” “Does it taste disgusting?” “Some people like it but we have six different flavours for those who don’t or fancy a change. Strawberry, Coca Cola, Vanilla, Orange juice, bacon and pop corn.” “Only one savoury flavour?” “Sorry, two. I meant to say salted popcorn.”

Colin was struggling to get his head around the concept. It sounded too good to be true. “Could I meet one of the heads in a jar.” “I’m sorry sir, friends and family only. I’ve given you our marketing materials so the best thing to do is read our literature, do a bit of your own research online and then if there are any further questions you can chat to me or another advisor.” “It’s so weird.” “It’s very popular.” “Yes.” Colin picked up the leaflets and shook the advisor's hand. “Well thanks very much, a lot of information to process. I’ll be back in if there are any further questions.” “Okay sir, we look forward to seeing you then.”

Colin had so many questions but he hadn’t wanted to waste anymore of the assistant's time. What did you do about brushing your teeth? Was it possible to date another head in a jar? Did you have to stay in one of their luxury containers or could you still live in your own place? What if the company went bankrupt and they couldn’t service you anymore? He was walking along leafing through, when all of a sudden he realised he’d been so lost in thought he’d walked right into the middle of the road. He looked up and a bus was bearing down on him it was too late to move out the way. Smack! It crashed into him at full force, knocking him several feet in the air. Like the old cliche goes, his whole life flashed before his eyes. The poverty, the failed ambitions, broken relationships, shit flat, childlessness, hated jobs, depression. His family and friends, the few holidays he'd had and his cat. He landed straight on his head and died instantly.  

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