The Procedure. Short Story.

Edit: Sorry, this went up early, I’m obviously very technologically advanced!

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The table was laden with every kind of food imaginable, around it sat twelve guests, all gorging themselves. Plates piled high with meats and fruits. Each guest had a large glass of wine that was refilled the moment it emptied. The hall itself was lavishly decorated, everything was either gold or gold leaf. The chairs were ornate, carved from wood and stained a deep, dark brown. “I’m telling you, it’s the only way to go. There’s no other option really, and just look at me!” The host stood and spun in a circle, her tight dress highlighting her lack of curves. “I don’t know what I did before this. Of course the excess skin had to be removed, all those years of decadence caught up with me. Still, you simply must do it.” Sandra looked down at her body, she wasn’t that fat yet, but it would be a good boost in their standing, make her blend in a bit more. It was a rare procedure still, only the very rich could afford it. She would talk to Blayze when she returned home. “I’ll certainly look into it, you look marvellous.” “Oh, I know.” The host smiled, her red lips parting to reveal jewel encrusted teeth. Sandra repressed a slight shiver. She’d never go that far. Never. No one around them seemed to notice, but why would they? This was normal to them, they had grown up with it. They didn’t marry into wealth like she did. She took a sip of her wine to calm herself. Normally Blayze would be here to help her traverse the social waters, but he had taken ill unexpectedly. Still, she only had to stay for a few hours, it wasn’t that bad so far. The host, Rainwater Starlight-Forest, had been helping her, despite her reputation, she had been kind to Sandra, despite her “funny name.” She was a rare oddity amongst these people, one of the few who had married up. In the last thirty years, there had only been two others. Really it was just luck that they had met. Blayze’s parents hadn’t been too impressed, they had arranged a wedding for him previously, to expand their business and consolidate their power. They had married in secret, having eloped to the third moon. Once it was done, it was done. No turning back, well, unless one of them died. Even then it was frowned upon for a widower to remarry. They should be immobilised by grief for the rest of their lives.

The party was still only just beginning when Sandra finally excused herself, Rainwater had even walked her to the door, a rare honour. As they went they talked about nothing and everything. That was one of the things Sandra had always been good at, rich or poor, they were all the same. Their own little worlds of hierarchy and back biting. She didn’t like it, but she did it out of necessity. She left The Woods with little fuss, she already had security clearance. The driver knew his role well and they ignored each other until they were out of range. “Thanks John for being so fast.” “No problem Sandra.” “How’s Blayze doing?” “He was still under the weather last I heard, one of The Doctors were on their way, he’ll be right in no time.” “I was thinking maybe I should do something nice for him, maybe get a few things in. Could we stop off somewhere?” “I’m sorry, it wouldn’t be a good idea.” “No, you’re right. It was silly of me.” Kidnappings were getting more frequent, besides, it would cause a scandal if she was found in a market area. People like her were supposed to have people to do it for them. She had hoped she could continue living her life in some normal way, that she could bridge the two worlds, but that was not the case. It was one or the other. Sure she was able to see her old friends occasionally, but the visits grew less and less. It wasn’t that surprising, their worlds moved at different speeds, held different people. It became harder for them to relate to one another, all their stories held names of people that were unknown or known only from magazines. She grew tired of her friends constants gasps or exclamations of “you know them!?” She still helped them out here and there if they really needed it, same with her parents, but beyond that she had little to do with them lately.

When she arrived home Blayze was already with one of The Doctors, they’d give him something and he’d be fine. It was always the way. She wondered what he had picked up this time, last time it had been cholera. He kept insisting on eating ethnic cuisine. She told him where it came from but he didn’t care, he just kept going back for more. She shuddered, she had seen how it was made. It was almost a sport, a bragging right amongst these people, to have eaten what the poor can barely afford. The recent outbreak of Ebola X had only made it worse, sure there was always a risk of dying from it, but the risk became greater. It had raged through the communities, inundating The Doctors. That was really the problem. The disease was curable if it was caught early, but so many people were infected that not everyone had been reached in time.  Blayze had not caught it thankfully, she remembered how awful the symptoms were, hell, she had seen people dying in the streets from it. She knew that one day there would be an outbreak of something incurable, like Parasitic Nodules or Essex Disease. Maybe after this disease he’d slow down a little, perhaps she could convince him to only get it once a year. She had been trying to find a cook who would be able to make it without the dangers, but so far the search had been unsuccessful. The Doctor walked by her, she had been so lost in her own thoughts she didn’t notice, she tried to hold her breath as he passed but it was too late, the thick smell of antiseptics had filled the hallway. She always hated The Doctors. There was something wrong about them. No one had ever seen one without their masks and coverings. Well, no one who saw them realised they were Doctors. Theories abounded about them, all baseless and all equally scandalous. Robots, alien hybrids and a thousand other reasons were given for why they were never seen without their coverings.

Their room smelled of garlic, the shades were drawn. She looked at Blayze, lying on the bed, he was so pale.  She shook her head. Vampirism again. Great. He’d be back on his feet soon enough, but he’d be tired for at least a month. She leaned over and gently kissed him. She was safe as long as blood wasn’t exchanged. “How did you get it this time?” “Well, I heard there was something new out, Scorlax, had to try it.” “It’s not new. That was around when I was a kid. It’s made out of blood. No one ever asks whose blood it was. Case in point.” “I got an injection from The Doctor, I’ll be fine soon.” “One of these days you’ll get something dangerous you know.” “How was the party.” “It was fine. The usual, you didn’t miss much. I’m going to go for a swim.” “Ok, I’ll be here.” As she walked out he turned on the TV, then winced, he lowered the screen brightness. Well, there went their holiday to the Sunshine Galaxy. Sun sensitivity was one of the symptoms. She didn’t know what the medical term for the disease was, it’s symptoms were like that of Vampires, mythical creatures that came in and out of vogue. No sunlight, hatred of garlic, pale skin, sensitive eyes and ears. At least he didn’t have the crazies with this one. Last time they had to lock him up for five days while he screamed and shouted.

She entered the pool house then set the coordinates. She had a strong need for sun light. The room floated gently into the sky and started to move, the glass ceiling parted, opening itself to the air. Sandra went into the changing room and stripped down, she stood at the mirror, looking at her body. She was getting a little pudgy, something that would have been hard to believe a few years ago. She remembered the days when she was a child, when she would be almost too weak to move. Her father off, obliterating his mind with anything he could swallow, her mother off in one of her dazes. Blayze didn’t mind, at least not yet. Still, she couldn’t let it go too far, he always told her how gross the other woman could look. Their entire bodies undulating as they struggled to move. She’d have to do something about it. Maybe Rainwater was right. It might be a good idea. She stepped out of the changing room, naked, and dove into the pool.

She swam until her arms were sore, then she stretched out on one of the sun loungers. She enjoyed the freedom she had up here, the house was surrounded by a protective sphere that allowed them to look out, but no one to look in. She sat up, noticing how her stomach protruded, that decided it. She’d book an appointment tomorrow.

The surgeons office was bland, everything was white, sterile. She was waiting in her own cubicle, in front of her there was a screen offering a selection of entertainments. She preferred to wait in silence. When it was her turn the door behind her opened and the doctor called her in.

Sandra didn’t like the way the surgeon smiled, it was too big. She didn’t like the colour of his skin, it was too blue, everything about him screamed for attention. Even his eyes were at their largest legal limit. Perhaps even bigger. She had never met a surgeon before, but she gathered that they were all like this. Still, he had been recommended by Rainwater. She told him what she wanted and his smiled grew. “Of course. Now, before you share any of your concerns I want you to know that those participating in this have volunteered and that they are living a better life because of it.” He pressed a few buttons on the table and a selection of before and after pictures appeared. “As you can see they were dying, struggling to survive, but with our help they’re able to live healthy, full lives.” She looked at the gaunt faces, then the chubby, smiling ones. She wished a programme like this had existed when she was younger. She looked at the women, how fat they were before, how thin and beautiful they looked. “Now, I must warn you, this is all still experimental, however in saying that there have been no problems or complaints so far, everyone has been completely happy with it.” “let’s do it.” “Of course, we’ll get started right away, if you could just do a money transfer please.” The pictures were replaced with account information, she approved the bill. “Thank you.” He began to explain exactly what would happen but she could barely follow any of it. It seemed to be that any calories she ate would be redeposited to someone else, she would feel full, as would the other person, and the weight would equal out. She had a calorie cap of twenty thousand a day, beyond that she’d need to pay extra for more people. She was shown a group of nine people and told they would be her calorie over spill. They were connected to other people, but they were her primary group. If she had any calories left over at the days end, any surplus from any other client could be given to her primary group. She agreed to it all. She would be thin and happy. They would be full and happy. It worked out best for everyone.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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