• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 09
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Social Mobility for the Dead

Grieving, I came from overseas to pay my respects. You might have been asleep, except there was no snoring, no breathing. Not a scratch, no mess, no blood. I don’t know how long you must have lain immobile, eyes opaque as traffic passed. Your friends, I cannot imagine their horror. I could never bring myself to ask, nor as the years ticked by, to reminisce.

You were buried perfect, over-dressed, in a dark suit; your mother’s choice. If you had been on life support they may have discovered the little card you kept in your wallet for organ donation alongside your preference for cremation. Stuff we joked about as we made plans for better or worse. You living little longer than Jesus is tragic.

Obscenely we stood on that overly sunny day. I with your family and my betrothed, whilst your newest fling sobbed, bewildered and adrift. The nub who’d come between us stood hidden by shades and ironically comforted by your best friend. Years after our divorce you casually told me how you had a child in South America. Fruits of a holiday fling. I wondered if it were meant to hurt.

Wailing, your mother climbed into your grave. Almodóvar would have been proud, but this wasn’t fiction. A choke broke through my tears as I read in italics under the order of service, a single caption: fallació cristianamente.

Dying like a “good Christian” is no longer relevant. Times have moved on. Bio-engineering, cryogenetics and freezing matter at -196 °C is now efficiently combined with nanotech. Thanks to an outreach campaign you were nominated for re-building. A kind of Bernstein social mobility for the dead, to ensure the populous isn’t over run by the rich and famous when the bots rebuild our entire civilization.


Social Mobility for the Dead

Genetic prints are kept in a clinical warehouse. Human remains provide the cells for the bodies to be re-crafted. But yours is not ready. Every day we read to you. We aren’t as you would recall. But we, your lifelong acquaintances, will re-form your memories as you formed ours. Remember your ambition to read a book a day? Your selected collection was uploaded to the database. Our voices are simulated to assist in the rebuilding of your neural pathways. They began with contributions from your siblings, then diaries, stories from friends and descriptions of Instagram-photos from your life.

The biblio-bot sits by your side each day. It selects the materials, voice, pace and tone. Gently you are being filled. The scientists are still working with prototypes so it isn’t yet known if simulated images of our faces will contribute anything. It’s no longer about appearance but content. You will be rebuilt with more knowledge than we could have imagined. Your inner world, your thoughts, your long-term memory is encapsulating a breadth of detail and beauty beyond any human before you.

As you and your kind grow, you’ll listen to our thoughts as sustenance that flows in transubstantiation. Our words becoming your flesh.