Nicole Bassey, Nigeria.
A raving lunatic is cured of insanity through new scientific advances but the side effects threaten his future greatly.
I do not suffer insanity, I enjoy every minute–Edgar Poe
Eket-Atlantic State, Deltania (Former Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria) August, 2113.
It’s been fifteen years since Nigeria split into seven sister states; ten, since I was reconfigured. The technology for Operation RESCUE–REconfigure Schizophrenics &CUre Electronically had been available for years but the Mental Health Foundation got approval for human testing in 2101. We were pioneers. The goal was to cure schizophrenia by creating Schloids–a hybrid species, part man, part android.
Thereafter, we received intensive rehabilitation and the best academic training available. Some of us became doctors, lawyers, actors and artists. I became a nuclear physicist. Cerebral implants magnified my mental abilities, I became a super-genius overnight. Miraculously, the voices vanished, the restlessness too. The side effects were trivial before I met Tari. Now they are terrifying. Would Tari accept me? Riddled with permanent sterility and loss of all memories but one? On cue, the lone memory plays back…
I walk down a deserted beach at twilight. My hair flaps behind me in clumps and my stomach growls. A whiff of roasted fish teases me in the wind. I sniff, but it’s gone. Dogs bark in the distance, waves crash onshore. Above me the sky is a canvas of colour, blue, orange,purple. Voices thunder in my head. I shout back but they scream louder. Waves lick my ankles, salty water stings cracks in my calloused feet. Lights appear from my right. I turn and head towards the rocks. They chase me in large black trucks. I run faster, if I make it to the rocks I’ll be safe. Something hits me and I fall. Then there’s sweet warm darkness.
The Foundation provided jobs. Mine was at a nuclear power plant at Eket. I met Tari at an ecology conference. She looked astonishing in a biege dress that hugged her ample curves. We were the same hieght, 5″10″ and the same shade of cocoa butter brown. After we met, things fell into pleasant rhythm. Tari was my love and my soulmate. For the past six months I have avoided talking about my past. Now I have decided to tell her. It is torture imagining rejection but worse living in limbo. This is my chance,a shot at happiness or doom and I’m taking it.
We strolled down the park in sync. Tari ‘s long black tresses danced in the wind, implants, but they suited her beautifully. An avid photographer she kept clicking away with her Camero glasses. I pushed my hand into my pockets and felt the ring in my right and the Kleenex in my left. My heartbeat trebled. I hoped I wouldn’t need the Kleenex.
We found a comfortable place and set out our things. She wore an emoticon on her neck. It glowed green, which meant she was happy.
“Baby , I need to talk to you.” I said.
The green turned brown–uncertainty. She came closer and our eyes were level. I held her in a loose embace, drinking in her sweetness for what might be the last time.
“Tari , you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. The past six months have been the best of my life. You have made me love in ways I never thought possible. I want to spend forever with you.”
My throat was burning. Too late, I had to finish this.
“But first I need to tell you something. I am a schloid and I am sterile. I know it is hard but if you love me and you believe we can work it out…
I knelt down “will you please marry me?”
Tari knelt beside me, crying. I dabbed the tears with my Kleenex. Fear gripped my heart and wrung it like a cloth.
Tari wiped her eyes and whispered
“Alan, I know. I have always known. I was an intern at the Foundation when you were brought in.”
I froze, she kept talking.
“There are ten billion people in the world, we can adopt, clone, or forgo parenthood…. Yes, I will marry you.”
I hugged her so hard my arms ached, I was crying too. We cried,laughed and held each other. Her emoticon burst into a rainbow of colour. It was real. I was loved, i was wanted. I was ecstatic, no I was Ecstasy, Tari loved me! For the first time in my life I felt complete.