I awoke to a sharp pain, it seemed to be coming from all over my body. I could not open my eyes. I attempted to scream out, no noise came. Then suddenly numb. The pain was gone. Then I felt nothing.
“Please stay calm” said a voice. “Everything is going to be ok”
I tried to respond, to inform this all knowing voice that everything was not ok. Far from it in fact, yet again I could not. My whole body began to ache, the kind of ache you get when you have been on a long run on a cold November morning. Although why I know how that feels I’m not sure, I can’t remember running, in November or otherwise.
“Please stay calm. Do not try to move or speak until a representative can attend to you. Your recovery is important to us, but all our representatives are busy right now.” Said the same voice as before.
What?! I am on hold? I’ve waited in queues for a long time but I’ve never felt anything like this, well at least I think I haven’t. I opened my eyes and from where I am laying peering through my bandages, I can just about make out all four upper corners of the room. Everything is white, very clinical. That is very re-assuring when you are strapped down to a bed breathing through a tube with your face bandaged, you wouldn’t want anything to be non-clinical in that situation. I can’t make out any natural light, no windows, the not so dazzling light above my bed was flickering slightly, in a protest about me doubting it’s ability to be the only light source.
I try to sit up. I can’t as a thick strap surrounds my torso and my bed I decide against struggling. As I am now feeling quite dizzy. Then came the voice.
“Please stay calm. Do not try to move or speak until a representative can attend to you. Your recovery is important to us, we thank you for your patience a representative will..”
“Number 27?” a female voice from one of the four corners. Due to the tube I am breathing through. I can’t respond although I'm sure she was talking to me. Like a movie star I can’t quite remember, I’m pretty sure I am the only one here.
“Number 27. I’m sorry for the delay in getting to you.” She came closer and looked into my eyes, close to my face. Her red hair all tied back except one run away strand that she brushed away from her bright green eyes. “27, oh you are alive in there! I’m Stephanie your recovery representative. You will be pleased to know your procedure went well.”
She was quite, quite beautiful, although that could have been the dizziness goggles. What procedure?
She continued “I’m going to remove your breathing tubes, I’ll try to be as gentle as I can. I know these aren’t nicest things.”
What was I to do, I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say yes either. But a breathing tube coming out had to be good. I watched through my bandages as she unhooked the straps to my breathing mask which held the tube in place. Those striking eyes met mine again as she said “This is going to be the worst of it. Try to relax”
She began to pull tubing from my throat, I felt a huge urge to be sick, the plastic tube her slender fingers grasped may has well been made out of razor wire, it felt as though it took my throat and all my internal organs up with it. Yet strangely, I can feel very little pain.
“Don’t try to talk yet. Let your throat adjust. The tube is out”
I did as I was told. Again I had very little choice.
“Next we’ll remove your facial bandages.” Stephanie continued. “Then when your face is out to the air, we’ll do the rest of you. You will be swollen for a few days, and you are probably feeling a little dizzy now. But you will be amazed with the results.”
I broke my silence.
“What… “ I began huskily “What results?”
“The results of your procedure will be available for you to view as soon as we get you upright. It’s a laser generated picture, it shows you exactly what you’ll look like once the swelling goes down.”
“Picture?” I’m babbling now, dizzy and nauseous.
“Ooh we better get those bandages off, you are feeling a little sick now aren’t you?” Beautiful and perceptive. “That happened to me too.”
I didn’t try to speak again properly until she had freed my face from the fabric dressings. I still don’t know what the hell happened, maybe my stomach does and is trying to tell me through the form of interpretive dance.
“I’ll remove your head strap first, prop you up a little, then remove your facial bandage completely.
“Urgh” is the only witty retort I can muster. She moved my bed after releasing the strap that had been holding my head, another reason why I could get up, my head started to swim.
“Yes that’s healed up nicely.” Stephanie smiled. As the bandage was removed, I briefly thought she managed to make scrubs look sexy. My stomach was in no mood to be outdone by my libido though, as it made a dirty protest all over her thankfully through the slightly more glamorous oral end.
“Don’t worry this happened to me too.” she said, waiting patently like some kind of non-squeamish angel whilst the contents of my stomach emptied into the dish which she managed to grab just a second too late. But hey at least I felt better now.
She took the dish away and returned with a fresh one and new pair of Scrubs, this time a pastel green, which set off her eyes amazingly. Now my guts had finished escaping I sat back in post vomit stupor. Aching returning to my freshly exposed face.
“Feeling better?” she asked.
“Yes. Sorry about getting you there.”
“Quite alright. Hazard of the job. Would you like to see your results now?”
“Results?” I said, still dazed.
She went to foot of my bed, took out a tablet computer.. Tapped away at it. Then a red light sprung from it. The red light pooled on the white wall to the far end of the room and then bounced towards me before I had time to duck. She then passed me the tablet. I looked into the eyes of the digitised face as Stephanie’s fingers pinched it to zoom in.
“Is this me?” I asked.
“Not now,” she said. “But it will be when the swelling goes down. They’ve done a great job. You’ll have no problem in the re-assignment pool.”
“The re-assignment pool.”
“Yes, I heard you.” I said. “What is that? I wasn’t a woman was I?”
She laughed, not heartily but a laugh all the same. She replied.
“No. As far as I can tell from your charts you always were a man. If you were once a woman your testosterone wouldn’t be this high.”
“Ok,” I said still peering at my digital self. “The re-assignment pool, what is that? Why did I end up here? In fact where the hell am I?”
“You have a lot of questions don’t you. Well people go to the re-assignment pool after identity cleansing has been performed to recover. You are at St James’ Secure Hospital in London. Some people come here out of choice. You unfortunately, were sent here by your employers.”
“Identity cleansing?” I hadn’t interrupted because this had sent my brain spinning. “What is that?”
“It’s the posh name for this procedure you had. Here take a look.” She flicked her fingers over the touch screen as I held it. “Here’s your breakdown.”
Facial Re-contour (100)
Cranial Engineering (97)
Body mould (98)
ID Cleanse %
I read with horror. Firstly shocked that someone I work for would pay nearly $40 million for a procedure to change 98% of me. I understand why I can’t remember anything. I slumped back onto the bed. Who was I?
“See you had the top treatments.” Stephanie said.
“Forty million. What did I do? There is barely any of me left.”
“Of course you don’t remember. You won. They are making you a star.”