Mass Produced Tailoring
“Some things don't change you know. You get all this quick high technology, little probe goes in, little probe goes out and look at me. I get this."
“At least it disappears straight into the analysis machine, at least you don't have to wander around carrying it," said Annie chirpily.
Tom was beginning to wish he could have gone to work this Tuesday, he was finding the whole procedure rather galling. He was standing behind a white curtain on a small white bench covered in a piece of plastic. His trousers and pants were around his knees. He kept alternating between standing up and sitting down.
“It's for your own good," said Annie meekly.
“Doesn't stop this being rather embarrassing," said Tom sheepishly. "Can't you take your clothes off or something to help me out here?"
“No, Tom I can't do that, she'll be back in a minute," Annie said admonishing him.
“Well I'll try and use this magazine," Tom moaned, "You would have thought that they'd at least have a hologram to watch."
“This isn't Amsterdam you know or halo 69, it's Phoenix, and you are supposed to be clinical about it. You're lucky that they have got anything at all to help you out."
“This is going to take me a while. I'm not turned on by a vile plastic sheath and this magazine is full of women in cowboy hats and cowboy boots. You know I don't like cowboy hats and cowboy boots, besides none of them are shaved."
“Tom, just shut up and get on with it, I don't want to be here all year."
“Can't you at least do that thing with your breasts so I can see you or we 'II be here all year. Please Annie, please."
Tom poked his limp member from between the curtains. He says, “Please help me, I'm not used to performing here, Wiggle here, I need help."
“Tom! I can't play with my breasts here!
Tom poked his head out between the curtains.
“Annie, seriously, please," Tom said with sobriety. With resignation Annie slipped off her blouse and bra.
The curtain tweaked slightly as Tom watched his wife's face take on a mock libidinous expression as she worked a pencil around her breast in ever decreasing circles until her nipples stiffened.
Tom at last felt his indifferent and nervous penis enlarging properly. He had spent the last ten minutes watching it oscillate between half up and entirely down. Not a good performance.
“How are you getting on?" said Goldie Schwarz as she popped her head around the door.
She caught sight of Annie rapidly covering herself with her blouse. She looked like she'd just been caught with a boy in her room by her mother.
“Er, urm sorry," said Annie hesitantly.
"No, I'm sorry, don't worry.!"
Goldie gave Annie a knowing look. She beckoned her over and spoke softly in Annie's ear.
“Having trouble is he?"
"I'm afraid so."
“Don't worry it happens all the time, I shouldn't have run in on you like that" said Goldie reassuringly.
“Look, I shouldn't do this," said Goldie "but it might help."
She reached into her pocket and produced an electronic lock card.
“I shouldn't but, look, here you are. I'll be back in half an hour. Don't tell anyone will you or I'll get into trouble."
“Your secret's safe with me. Thanks Goldie."
She leant over and whispered something in Annie's ear. Annie became slightly flushed but then started giggling.
“Okay,” said Annie.
Goldie left the room.
Actually she gave all her clients the electronic door lock card. It was one of her trademarks, it made people feel special.
It took considerably less than half an hour in the end. Tom put the phial in a metallic cylinder in the cubicle, which turned around with a hiss, delivering its package to a lab in Phoenix.
“I wonder what they'll find?" said Tom.
“Provided they get the most promising one, that's the main thing."
“Thanks Annie, I just couldn't have done that without you," said Tom with a wide cheesy grin.
Annie screwed up her eyes and face. "You are wicked."
“I knew I would get my way in the end," Tom said haughtily.
Annie pressed a button by the door. Within a few moments Goldie had come back.
“Finished?" she said brightly.
“Yep," said Tom trying to suppress a grin.
They walked down the maze of corridors towards Goldie's office.
“Well that's all the biological bit over with for now. We'll find the best of the batch by tomorrow. If for any reason we have a bad batch and we cannot find an optimal one or one broadly representative of your tests Tom, we'll have to get you back again. Sorry about that but it is unlikely.
You should be alright though; you've a very high count comparatively: 190.The normal range is between about 10 and 40. You should be okay, I shouldn't worry about it, but I had to warn you.
You've done the tests so all we have to do is sign the bit of paper and deal with a bit of admin.
You are going to be parents in five weeks, how does it feel?"
“I don't really know what to expect. Someone said to us the only rule of being a parent is to make it up as you go along. You never can quite prepare yourself. Of course you know about sleep deprivation and so on but it's all theoretical until you have experienced it," Annie stammered.
“Yeah, I'd go along with that," said Goldie laughing, "You just wait! It's a bit of a shock at first; you wonder what on earth we go through it all for!"
“I can't wait!" shrieked Annie.
“Have you been thinking about names yet?"
“To be honest we've been so caught excited with initiation that we haven't really thought about it."
They entered Goldie's office, as they walked in the colour of air around her office changed to light green. Everyone could see in through the green haze but they couldn't hear anything.
Goldie had a beautiful vase of voluptuous irises on her desk, which were waiting to burst into colour. Behind her desk was a portal view into the centre of the dome with the endless tubes and space suited figures walking around serenely.
There was a flat screen embedded in Goldie's desk. She ordered it to bring up some documentation which now shimmered before them both. It was the seal of agreement, at the bottom and top it had the logos of various legislative bodies, government and non-government.
“Now before we sign this I want to make absolutely sure that both of you are happy with your decision since as you know it's non reversible. And you know the reasons for that, we might end up with lots of unwanted little ones if we weren't firm about it, which we would feel would be immoral, unlike some other places which just terminate willy-nilly. Well you've heard about that on the news recently, I think it's disgraceful. We were all shocked that sort of thing went on still. Sorry got side tracked. It’s a bit of a personal hobbyhorse that one." Goldie shook her head disapprovingly. She composed herself.
“Now, where were we? Ah yes, you've selected T24, which I think really is by far and away the best option for you. It's exceptionally good value and it's by far the best selling option in this sort of price range. It's better than anything else you can get anywhere else for the same money and that's guaranteed. If you did find something better somewhere else, then those are the only grounds we would accept for terminating and re-imitating with a matched option policy. You know how important our reputation is to us here. So no turning back."
Annie and Tom nodded their heads.
“You might think I'm old fashioned and this may sound a bit crude but if you can't turn the clock back naturally why should you be able to now? It's important that you feel 100% prepared for this and you are giving this 100% commitment. You know by law I have to say all this but that doesn't mean I take it lightly."
Tom and Annie nodded again solemnly.
“Now, T24 gives you a rounded set of enhancements. It doesn't augment anything in particular in an extreme way but it elevates a variety of different skill sets. Given the tests on your profile it did emerge that Tom potentially could have been very musical but you never had the opportunity to do anything about that did you? Now you know by law I can't show you the tests...”
No, my parents actually piled most of my enhancements into music, which to be honest was a bit of a waste." Tom hesitated. Discussing such things about his parents brought out invidious emotions, but Goldie knew virtually everything about them now.
Goldie smiled, "Tom its okay. You don't have to go on. I understand, you don't have to explain. I get a lot of people through here with wasted talents, gifts that they haven't been able to use. It's always been the same. It's an old cliché but an untarnished enhancement is a wasted one. The philosophy of buying enhancements has changed now. You’re not alone Tom, not alone at all."
Goldie's bubbly face radiated again.
“The great thing about T24 is that it builds strongly on inherited talents, Annie your agility and latent strong co-ordination will work particularly well with T24. And you'll be helping your child in lots of different ways rather than one specific way. That's how most people do things now, that's what we feel is the best possible option."
Goldie's voice dissolved until it sounded like golden honey.
“We don't make the mistakes our parents made now Tom. Your child will benefit from the errors made in Creation in your own generation. From the initial tests your child has a lot of fortune to build on," said Goldie smiling.
“I bet you say that to all your customers.”
“No, I don't actually, I avoid the issue. It's just as well that people don't get their tests results back I can tell you; some people might feel their confidence knocked for the rest of their lives! But that's between you and I."
Goldie always said this to her clients but she did feel it every time. She became very embroiled in the whole process herself and wished the best for the parents.
“Now, you can come and visit anytime at all you wish to. You know ongoing holoview comes free with T24 and you've got all the codes to access seeing him as he grows, if you can't make it out here as often as you'd like. You know you get two free visits here over the two-week period. The limo will pick you up. "
Tom and Annie's face brightened. "No, we didn't know that."
Goldie tutted. "They should have changed the literature on T24 to cover that by now. I'm sorry about that, I'll make a mental note to make sure that's changed.”
Goldie reached down into her draw.
“Now Annie. This is the connection."
Goldie brought out a small pink object about the size of her thumbnail.
“You know what to do and where to put it," Goldie tapped her chest, "you have the specific marks over your heart don't you? Now, a week or so after initiation it will flash and beep which is time to put it on. We'll also contact you to check you've remembered and let you know that everything is fine.
We'll also let you know when transfer is completed successfully."
"We'll go out and celebrate I think," Annie said solemnly.
“You do that."
“That's everything. Shall we sign?" Annie's eyes were slightly moist.
“I think so."
“Ah! Annie it's all going to be okay.”
“I know, I'm sorry it's just I didn't think."
"Well I'm glad for you, you deserve it."
Annie and Tom placed their hands over the screen beneath the agreement and felt the slight warmth as their hands were scanned. Next to their handprint they signed on the screen.
Goldie went over to a black cupboard and got three glasses of sparkling wine out and gave one glass to both Tom and Annie. She opened the wine slowly and raised her glass high.
“To your new family and all of your happinesses," said Goldie smiling wide.
Unbeknown to Annie and Tom, Chuck and Kandie were in a different part of Phoenix.
Chuck had not wanted to come to Phoenix for their children. He made up all sorts of pseudo-rational reasons why he didn't. The bottom line was that he didn't like Phoenix's relatively cheap image.
Kandie told him his pseudo logic was based on unbridled snobbism and he confessed. He told her he wouldn't like people to know they'd had a Phoenix child. Kandie told him that Phoenix's image was fast changing and besides, being practical they had bigger resources and better technology than anyone else and that was what mattered. Image was secondary to safety, service and the best technology.
"Besides," Kandie had said putting her foot down, "they have a bigger bank than anywhere else which means we get more choice."
That clinched it.
Chuck acquiesced like a grumbling child who knows they ought to put their coat on when it's cold.
Chuck's impressions had been entirely shattered since he had arrived at Phoenix anyway. They were in the negotiating penthouse, which was at the top of the geodesic dome. It had views over the surrounding landscape and the floor was clear so they could see all the activity that was going on below, in the control room. It looked like a giant mixing desk in a music studio.
They sat taking earnestly with a woman in her late thirties; a bottle of champagne lay lazily in a bucket beside them. She'd told them casually about how many business people and celebrities had used Phoenix. Chuck began to feel much more comfortable about the place and now felt a bit foolish he'd had any reservations about it.
They were discussing the issue of Chuck's infertility and buying some sperm. At first Chuck had felt incredibly uncomfortable with the discussion but had gradually become more pragmatic about it.
“So you're saying that we can't ever know the identity of the donor?”
“No, not if you take sperm from the bank, that's the law. Although obviously if you choose a friend to give the sperm then you would."
Chuck smiled inwardly. He knew there were ways to find out whom the sperm belonged to, it was just very illegal, took a long time - about six to eight weeks and cost a lot of money.
“We have already discussed the friend's option," said Kandie, "and we're not very happy with it, while it's a nicer idea in principle in practice I think there could be difficulties with it."
“It's a very personal decision, I can't give you the answer or even best advice but, speaking personally, I entirely endorse your view. I think it could potentially be difficult in later life to discover that some close friend of your 'father's' was actually your biological father. I think the whole thing is much better if it's anonymous."
She sipped some water.
“Let me tell you a bit about our bank here. We have the biggest bank in the world and the samples are clustered into different brackets, here let me show you.
An image popped up before them, displaying a schematic diagram of the Phoenix sperm bank. There were boxes in different colours and lots and lots of connecting lines. It looked vaguely like a circuit board.
"There are various broad cost bands which relate to the different characteristics of the material you are buying. Now from what you said you'll be looking at the platinum band so you are already starting well. Beyond this, once we've done the tests on you Mrs. Ellephanie, we can create a tailor made package for you both dependent on your exact requirements."
The three of them talked at length. After long and lengthy deliberation they chose a sperm bracket \ and went along to see a tailor about the enhancements. They had arrived at about five o'clock and didn't finish until three in the morning but Phoenix put them up in their special guest suite.
It took that long to put together the entire projections of what their child would turn out like given certain stimulus. In all honesty it was time Chuck could ill afford but it helped to take his mind off things, besides, he consoled himself, he had been in constant touch and he was gambling on the fact that the protest would die down and go away.
Before they left Mrs. Ellephanie had taken her tests to assess her material, they had chased their sperm and they had waded their way through a selection of some three thousand different optional enhancements. They had whittled it down to a perfectly synergistic set of three hundred and their optional set was noted down as T.Ellep. 300. Their child would have grey eyes, which was very much sought after at the moment.
All that remained was for Mrs. Ellephanie to have an egg removed. The female doctor had just the right mix of informality and courtesy.
Mrs. Ellephanie opened herself and the doctor inserted the new little bionanotech machine, which was known in the trade as a 'chicken chaser.'"It will have chased the most closely matched egg to requirements by the end of the day," the doctor said to her as Mrs. Ellephanie put her clothes back on. Although this doctor was fully qualified, medics still rather irreverently gave doctors in this field the nickname: the 'midwife.