Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 48 of 61

“But what about meds?”

“Your problem isn’t a chemical imbalance, it’s a mental defect. Your brain is broken, son. All that meds will do is mask the symptoms, while you get worse. I can’t tell you what you want to hear, unfortunately. Now, If you’re ready to take the cure, I can retire this clone immediately and get you restored into a new one in 48 hours.”

“Isn’t there another way? Please? You have to help me — I can’t lose all this.” I couldn’t admit my real reasons for being so attached to this singularly miserable chapter in my life, not even to myself.

The doctor rose to go. “Look, Julius, you haven’t got the Whuffie to make it worth anyone’s time to research a solution to this problem, other than the one that we all know about. I can give you mood-suppressants, but that’s not a permanent solution.”

“Why not?”

He boggled. “You can’t just take dope for the rest of your life, son. Eventually, something will happen to this body — I see from your file that you’re stroke-prone — and you’re going to get refreshed from your backup. The longer you wait, the more traumatic it’ll be. You’re robbing from your future self for your selfish present.”

It wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed my mind. Every passing day made it harder to take the cure. To lie down and wake up friends with Dan, to wake up and be in love with Lil again. To wake up to a Mansion the way I remembered it, a Hall of Presidents where I could find Lil bent over with her head in a President’s guts of an afternoon. To lie down and wake without disgrace, without knowing that my lover and my best friend would betray me, had betrayed me.

I just couldn’t do it — not yet, anyway.

Dan — Dan was going to kill himself soon, and if I restored myself from my old backup, I’d lose my last year with him. I’d lose his last year.

“Let’s table that, doc. I hear what you’re saying, but there’re complications. I guess I’ll take the mood-suppressants for now.”

He gave me a cold look. “I’ll give you a scrip, then. I could’ve done that without coming out here. Please don’t call me anymore.”

I was shocked by his obvious ire, but I didn’t understand it until he was gone and I told Dan what had happened.

“Us old-timers, we’re used to thinking of doctors as highly trained professionals — all that pre-Bitchun med-school stuff, long internships, anatomy drills… Truth is, the average doc today gets more training in bedside manner than bioscience. ‘Doctor’ Pete is a technician, not an MD, not the way you and I mean it. Anyone with the kind of knowledge you’re looking for is working as a historical researcher, not a doctor.

“But that’s not the illusion. The doc is supposed to be the authority on medical matters, even though he’s only got one trick: restore from backup. You’re reminding Pete of that, and he’s not happy to have it happen.”

I waited a week before returning to the Magic Kingdom, sunning myself on the white sand beach at the Contemporary, jogging the Walk Around the World, taking a canoe out to the wild and overgrown Discovery Island, and generally cooling out. Dan came by in the evenings and it was like old times, running down the pros and cons of Whuffie and Bitchunry and life in general, sitting on my porch with a sweating pitcher of lemonade.

On the last night, he presented me with a clever little handheld, a museum piece that I recalled fondly from the dawning days of the Bitchun Society. It had much of the functionality of my defunct systems, in a package I could slip in my shirt pocket. It felt like part of a costume, like the turnip watches the Ben Franklin streetmosphere players wore at the American Adventure.

Museum piece or no, it meant that I was once again qualified to participate in the Bitchun Society, albeit more slowly and less efficiently than I once may’ve. I took it downstairs the next morning and drove to the Magic Kingdom’s castmember lot.

At least, that was the plan. When I got down to the Contemporary’s parking lot, my runabout was gone. A quick check with the handheld revealed the worst: my Whuffie was low enough that someone had just gotten inside and driven away, realizing that they could make more popular use of it than I could.

With a sinking feeling, I trudged up to my room and swiped my key through the lock. It emitted a soft, unsatisfied bzzz and lit up, “Please see the front desk.” My room had been reassigned, too. I had the short end of the Whuffie stick.

At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform, but the other people on the car were none too friendly to me, and no one offered me an inch more personal space than was necessary. I had hit bottom.

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