Joe wiped off his drool. Debra was passed out on his cock in the middle of a drugged out blowjob. He shoved her away and stood up.
That was a mistake.
He wobbled, sat back down and waited for the room go steady again. He felt the wall give way, crumbling in bits and pieces. He turned to the right. Oh, yeah, his right arm was augmented. So strong, he had punched his way inside the wall by trying to maintain his balance.
How could he possibly have forgotten that?
He pulled his arm from inside the wall, throwing debris and pieces of brick on the floor. Not that the floor was clean in itself, there were beer bottles, beer cans, torn condom wrappers, a used condom, still looking sticky, a broken e-cig that only had a weak blue light permanently turned on, and his socks underneath Debra’s legs.
Oh, right, he was feeling cold. He kicked away Debra’s legs and put his socks on. She groaned and sat better on the sofa, still asleep. The sofa had been some kind of colour at some point, but now it was unmistakably grey. He slid the socks on his cold feet by using his hands, of course, just line any person would. Then he realised that the augmented arm was working just fine, it didn’t bother him at all. He remembered having issues with it at some point, he distinctly remembered needing to get to the mechdoc and fine tune it or something. Joe rubbed his eye. No, it wasn’t his arm.
It was his leg?
He pulled the sock halfway down. No augmented foot there. Then the other. Nope. Both feet, fleshy and cold. He put the socks back on and pulled his pants up and zipped himself up.
He considered his augmented arm. It was cheap, naturally. He didn’t have an insurance and he couldn’t afford retail, just refurbished crap of whatever the Doc had lying around at that moment. He shouldn’t complain, he was lucky he didn’t end up with a regret-aug, one of those stupid things people bought and then instantly regretted, like vibrator thumbs or laser pointer fingers. Nah, this one was actually quite good, no stupid shit on it, not as far as he could tell.
He threw some water on his face in the bathroom sink and blinked to pull up the veil data. Joe always went flight mode when he was about to get stoned, he didn’t want some idiot messing up with his hard-earned drug trip.
What had he shot up last night? He didn’t really remember anything. And yeah, Debra’s blowjobs were forgettable, definitely, but not remembering nothing about the whole night? That was unusual, he wasn’t a lightweight.
He went back to the living room, slash study room, slash dinner table. He couldn’t afford much, just a dank hole in the middle of Athens, what everybody called a garconniere, a tiny bachelor pad. One big room that had most of everything, kitchen, sofa, bed, a table, a chair, the sink, and in a corner there was a shower. Why wasn’t he drugged out on the bed, you might ask? Well, Joe had a rule about that. No shooting up on the bed. It was bad karma.
The room was one big mess. He needed to clean up the kitchen, throw away the trash and replace that single light in the middle of the ceiling, which was, of course, broken. There was a smidge of light coming in from the single window and the blue light of the e-cig. He left the light on in the bathroom and also left the door open so he could see where he was going.
He put his shoes on and got outside into the night. It was a bit chilly but he liked the way it woke him up. No coffee back home, he knew that already. He went to the nearest coffee corner and ordered a frappe to go. The girl on the coffee shop looked tired and forced a smile. The corporation after all, demanded that she did so. Joe checked his balance on his veil, the amount showed up in augmented reality with flashy numbers. It was low, way too low.
He was sure he had some money last night. Or, did he spend it all on blow? It wasn’t good business snorting your own merchandise.
He checked his pockets, he knew he had one bag somewhere. There it was, in the back pocket. Good thing he hadn’t left it at home or Debra would have snorted it by now.
“Mr. Chip?” the girl said and gave him his coffee.
He swiped his paycard, wincing at the cash leaving his account. He needed to recoup some, like right the fuck now. He turned away into the night, looking around at the streets. It was kinda quiet, just a few passers-by and some cars, a few people exiting a nightclub that was shittier than his garconniere. But what the heck, he needed money, right?
He got to the nightclub, the sign above was messed up, he could barely read ‘Ubik.’ “Hey, Yorgo,” he waved at the bouncer.
“Hey, Joe,” the bouncer nodded and stepped aside to let him in.
He got inside, it was even darker in there despite the lasers and shit. There was no smoke, people had kicked that bad habit years ago, but thank the gods, they had taken up others. It didn’t take him long to find some rich kids slumming it with some of the local girls in the VIP booth. They were half-naked, they were easy, and they were all over the rich kids. Joe observed their dynamic for a while. One of them, a girl, seemed to call the shots. She picked out the prettiest and cleanest of the local girls and pushed her up against the wall, cupping a feel. The rich boys clearly had set their eyes on the beauty but their alpha had chosen first, so they fought over seconds. Not that there was much to choose from, these birds were worse than Debra, for fuck’s sake.
Joe went for it.
The girl turned her eyes up at him, while her local bird kept licking her neck. The girl’s eyes darted from his face down to his augmented arm. It wasn’t polite to stare, but people tended to check you out like that. You never knew what someone was hiding in his augs, it was always a variable. “What do you want?”
“I see you like to party.” Joe licked his lips.
“You’re not my type,” she dismissed him, the bird now cupping a feel herself, putting her hands under the girl’s bra.
“No, no. I mean, you can’t have a party without a little something extra,” Joe said and turned his palm over, showing the bag for a second.
“Oh,” the girl said, making a perfect ‘o’ with her lips that just begged to be fucked. “How much?”
Joe leaned in and told her, asking for ten times the street price. “Best shit around. I’m on my way out, I just happened to see you.” He yawned, tapping his mouth with his augmented hand.
“Okay, wait!” the alpha girl said shoved her paycard at him.
He tapped it with a flourish, checking to see the transaction confirmation on the veil. He smiled wide and passed her the bag. “Pleasure doing business with you.”
The bird’s eyes went wide, looking giddy to score some. The alpha girl grabbed her by the neck and stuck her tongue down her throat.
Joe got a reaction from that and left the place. It was too loud and he was horny now, but he had cash, and that was a good thing.
He got away from there and found his supplier, leaving a coded message up on Agora.
A self-driving taxi swung by and he got in, a man sitting inside. A local, Greek, running the streets. They said nothing to each other, simply sat next to each other. Joe palmed his paycard in his left hand and discreetly sent over the money. The taxis had cameras and were recorded, but nobody actually saw them if there wasn’t an incident.
The man grunted and repositioned himself on the back seat, sniffing. He discreetly brought out the smack and palmed it.
Joe held his coffee cup, empty now, between them.
The Greek threw the bag inside the cup with a sleight-of-hand that even a magician would have envied. After a couple of streets, the self-driving taxi stopped and let him get off.
Joe took the taxi all the way back home, restocked and happy to go.
Debra waited for him like a puppy at the door. “Did you score some?” she said, licking her lips. She wasn’t dolled up, her hair was a mess, and she wasn’t pretty to begin with. Joe had no idea why he tolerated the strawberry. It’s not like he wanted to fuck her, she was a mess.
“Yeah, shut the fuck up, I think the entire building didn’t hear you,” he said, pushing her aside.
She followed him around, feeling him up, his pockets, his belly. “Come on, I need some. I’ll let you do me up the ass, please.”
“I don’t want that!” Joe said, pushing her away, again. He really didn’t like doing it. It was too much work to keep spitting and pushing to get it in and then sure, it was nice and snug, but it got his cock dirty and he always regretted it afterwards.
“What do you want, I’ll do it,” she said, hopping in place.
“I want you to leave me alone.”
“Okay! Give me some and I’ll sit over there, by the corner. You won’t even know I’m here,” she begged.
Joe sighed. He opened the bag and gave her some.
Debra just took it on the spot and then went and crawled in the corner in the foetal position. It was pathetic.
Joe cleaned up the dishes and took out the trash, he didn’t want to wake up in the same mess of an apartment again. He should have gone for groceries, but the overnight shop was too far away and he felt tired.
He took some of his own product and leaned back on his sofa, never on the bed. He made a fist of his right arm and relaxed it, it was so weird seeing the pistons and artificial ligatures move at will.
He kept doing that when the drugs kicked in and he smiled, tilting his head back into sleep.
Joe woke up with Debra’s face on top of his cock, in a forgotten blowjob. He opened his palm and shoved her away, then winced. Had he killed her with his augmented hand?
He held it up to his face, it was so dark in here. Nope, fingers, nails, flesh. Why did he think he had an augmented hand? Did he dream about it?
Debra was fine, her neck intact. She was drugged out beside him, her skinny limbs leaning over the edge of the sofa.
Joe zipped himself up, and then felt cold. He searched around for his socks. Why the damn strawberry always liked to take off his socks he never understood, she had a serious foot fetish. As he put them on, he felt his leg. Augmented. Oh, yeah, it was giving him problems, he’d wasted so much money trying to fine-tune it at the Mechdoc, the damn thing kept making him trip. His dignity was under some serious fire over here, so we spent the money and the Mechdoc fixed the damn thing.
Debra groaned and put her thigh over his legs. Joe shoved it away and stood up. He pulled his pants down and looked down at his legs. Sure enough, his right leg was augmented, all the way from the femur. A cheap thing, anyone could tell. As long as he didn’t trip over himself it was fine by Joe. But why was he under the impression that it was his hand that was augmented and not his leg? Damn drugs, did the Greeks cut them with something again? They’d sworn that they wouldn’t do that again.
“Ooh, pants-off time!” Debra cooed, misinterpreting his intentions. She fell on the floor and started to kiss his feet over the socks, pulling them off.
“No, Deb. Come on, stop.”
She got one sock off and started to lick his big toe, looking up at his eyes as if it was a blowjob. The fucking strawberry might be better at sucking toes than sucking dick, but he wouldn’t know because that action did nothing to get him horny. On the contrary, his feet were cold and he was uncomfortable.
Joe forgot all about Debra for a long while and stood there, thinking. She kept sucking his toe. He kicked her away, “Come on now, stop it.”
Joe pulled his pants up, hopping away from the fucking cunt and splashed some water on his face. He stared at his hands in the bathroom under the only light in the garconniere. Normal hands, just the way he remembered them. That spot where he had a burn mark, that cut in his thumb from a knife, cutting straight through his fingerprint. So weird, thinking he had augmentations.
He got back in the main room. Debra’s tits were half sticking out, she was sticking her face into the pillows, snoring. “Ugh, cover up, Debra,” he said, and left the apartment.
He had product to sell, and he needed people to sell it to.
He went for his usual cup of frappe at the overnight shop round the corner. The girl there was familiar, tired, smiling up at him.
He got his usual cup of cold coffee full of sugar and milk, paid, and was about to turn around and leave, when she spoke again.
“Got any, you know?”
It took him a second for the thought to register. He was used to buying in here, not selling. “Oh, sure.”
He told her the street price, he wasn’t gonna gouge a local kid, and she paid him with her paycard, palming the little bag. “Thanks,” she said, seeming grateful.
Joe shrugged and said goodnight.
He went back to the Ubik nightclub. Same deal as always, too much noise, too little light, packed and shitty with smelly bodies. He nodded at Yorgo at the door and went straight inside, looking for customers. The VIP booths were empty, dammit. There went his easy sell. He’d have to work for it for a change. He looked around, ordered a drink. Sealed bottle of beer, never an open drink in here. It was always bad. He took a sip and looked around, searching for the usual signs. It was easy to spot junkies, if you knew what you were looking for. The proper local kids that were in there were dressed up, proper, out to have a good time. The junkies were always messed up, hair, sunken eyes, their movements either too jittery or too methodical, like when you’re completely drunk and are trying to align your key with the front door.
He found some, a bunch of losers in a corner. They were sipping the same empty drinks, which meant they were either broke or saving their money for something else. Joe decided to go there before they gave up and spent it all on booze.
“Hey, looking to score?” he said, cutting straight to the point.
The junkie looked up at him. He was a mess, a blond kid. He should feel bad. But Joe was just doing his job.
“Yeah, you carrying?”
“What if I am?” Joe asked, suspiciously.
And then the other junkies surrounded him. “Let’s see it then,” the blond shithead said, looking all smug now.
Joe was not much of a fighter, but he had one trick up his sleeve. Or up his pant leg, to be precise. He wasted no time, he simply raised his augmented left leg, and slammed it down on the blond shithead’s leg.
“OW!” he cried out in pain, and before the other junkies could shake their heads and realise what had happened, Joe darted out of Ubik. Yorgo wasn’t at the door, he was probably inside, dealing with some asshole that was drunk and feeling up women that hadn’t consented. Better for Joe, he just shuffled out of there, aware of his augmented leg. That was helpful tonight, but he hadn’t sold anything. And he couldn’t get back in there. There would definitely be a scene and the last thing he wanted was for someone to call the cops.
Junkies couldn’t be reasoned with, not when their eyes were glazed out like that and their fingers jittery.
No, the smart thing would be to get back home and wait. It was a tough night, but shit happens, man.
He got back inside, Debra waiting for him behind the door like a goddamn puppy. “For fuck’s sake, Deb, again? Do you smell me coming or something?”
“Can I have some?” she said, ignoring everything else in the universe but he blow in his pants. She felt him up, groping his ass and cock.
He shoved her away. “Same kind of crap every time…” He got in the bathroom and took a piss, then got out, leaving the light and the door open.
Debra was on the bed, biting her nails. “I waxed for you…” she said softly.
Joe ignored her. He sat down on the sofa and leaned forward to the coffee table. He splayed out the product on the table, measuring grams.
Debra kept bobbing back and forth, biting her nails, airing her pussy for him in case he decided to give her some. She knew not to reach out and grab any without him saying so, she’d gotten a good beating that day she’d tried that.
Joe had forgotten his own strength and had slapped her with his augmented hand-
No, that can’t be right. He stared at his hands in the dim light coming in from the bathroom. They were flesh and blood. He pinched them to make sure. He was sure. And he wasn’t high, so that was out. He shook his head. He felt fine, considering. He had a needy strawberry leeching off of him, and he hadn’t sold anything tonight, but other than that he was fine. Perhaps he was hungry? When was the last time he’d eaten something? He couldn’t remember.
Debra moaned and groaned, looking anxious. She turned her pussy at his direction, as if the sight of that filthy slit would entice him to give her some of this and then some of that. Even letting her filthy mouth around his cock was disgusting for him.
Oh, Joe did like pussy. And he had had his fair share of strawberries, it wasn’t morals that were stopping him. It was just Debra man, he was sick of her. The sight of her made him wanna hurl. And there she was, in his home, the only place where he could relax and lock out the shittiness in this city.
He split up the product, made his calculations and logistics in his mind, then tossed a bag at her.
Debra didn’t catch it, of course. She fell on the floor, scrambling for it, scratching her knees. She found it, ripped it apart and snorted the whole thing. Then she tilted to the side and just ran the trip, you know? Her ass up, pussy staring at him, hands like a broken doll.
Joe snorted. “Fucking cunt,” he said, and gathered up his product. He took half a baggie and leaned back to enjoy it.
Joe had the most horrible dream. He saw he was a brain in a box. Someone had broken in, those junkies, Debra passed out on a half-finished blowjob on his crotch, and they drugged him more and hauled him off somewhere. Some people in white jackets cut of his brain, oh gods, he could hear the circular saw going around his skull, and then the squishy shlop as they separated the top of his skull, exposing the brain. And he had to be conscious for some reason, and they prodded his brain and asked him about cats and dogs and fucking pictures of oranges, and then they were satisfied and they cut off his brain and put him in a box.
He was a brain in a box, in the darkness, all fake. It was all fake, that’s why his limbs weren’t real, they kept changing, that wasn’t possible, right?
Joe woke up. Only there was no process of waking up, there was simply unconsciousness, and then suddenly, consciousness. Like flipping a switch.
He could see nothing, he could hear nothing.
He shouted, “Hello, Debra?” There was no sound coming out of his mouth.
He couldn’t move.
Then suddenly, light.
He could see, but what he did see was far too weird. He wasn’t in his shitty apartment. He was in some sort of lab, clean and sterile. And there was a woman standing there in a lab coat. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t place her.
She turned, carrying a tablet and taking notes. “Oh, you’re awake, Joe.”
“Debra?” Joe squinted at her, making a frowny face. Only he didn’t have any muscles to squint with or frown with. “What is this?”
“Oh, Joe, you still don’t get it?” Debra chuckled. She seemed healthy, fine. Pretty, even. She wore glasses, for god’s sake.
“Get what?” Joe snapped at her. “Why can’t I move? Did you drug me, you cunt?”
“Yes, I did, actually. But not the way you think. Let me refresh your memory. Remember last year when you were out of money and you answered an ad for a clinic, hm?”
“Yeah… So what?”
“Well, you signed a lot of documents with your digital signature, if you recall.”
“So. Fucking. What?”
“Yes,” Debra said, fixing her glasses. “What you signed for was to let us scan your brain…”
“Hermes,” she said, her teeth held together. “You don’t remember?”
“Okay, now I do. Okay, fine. I got scanned, so what? They said it was for some autistic or epilepsy treatment or something.”
“Yeah, that was, and is, the original goal. But you see, you are the copy.”
“I’m the what?”
“Of Joe Chip, organic person. You are a digital scan of that person, a copy effectively.”
“I have rights!” He didn’t even feel a tongue in his mouth.
Debra chuckled and fixed her glasses. “Ha! No, I’m afraid you do not. You waived those rights in the documents you signed.”
“And where is Joe? My body?”
She looked around. “Oh, I’m sure he’s happily back to his pointless life. Dealing drugs, screwing junkies, you know.”
“He’ll look for me,” Joe said with a broken voice.
“Joe Chip has no clue that you exist, I assure you.”
“And what do you want with me, Debra?”
“We’re already doing it. We’re testing drugs that help with the psychological trauma and ease the augmented limb assimilation process,” she said, mimicking a smoothing out motion with her hand.
Joe could remember that skinny hand around his cock, jerking him off, semi-passed out. Was that even real? Did that ever happen?
“Is your name even Debra?” he spat out.
Debra laughed heartily, throwing her head back. It was eerie. Then she muted him.
A couple of hours passed and they both said nothing. Debra just checked things in her tablet and inputted parametres, mumbling to herself, deep in thought.
Joe couldn’t speak, no matter how much he tried.
“Okay,” Debra finally said into her tablet, making a recording. “Subject is ready to be imprinted into a fully fabricated body.”
Joe suddenly felt his gaze just shift, from the spot he was placed on, to about five metres behind that. He could see the pedestal where they had placed his copy, where they had placed him. But now, he was suddenly behind that in an instant, without any warning, and he was inside…
He had a tongue, but it was rubbery.
He had hands, but they were artificial.
He had legs, but they were augmented limbs, just like before in his… dream? His reality? He wasn’t sure any more.
He looked down. Even his cock was a fabricated tube.
Debra stepped close to him, she looked all confident and smug. “And now, for the next test.”
“What are you gonna do to me?” Joe wailed, his hands up, clawing his face, feeling nothing but augmented parts.
“We will test a full augmentation,” she shrugged, pursing her lips. “You know, replacing everything but your mind.”
Joe snapped at that moment. Crazy, he went crazy. Nuts, nuts and bolts, and coffee and…
Joe woke up, drooling. Debra was on his crotch, passed out in the middle of a half-finished blowjob.
He gripped his morning wood with his augmented hand and rubbed it on her face. The electronics of her face scratched at his cock, but he didn’t really mind. It was, after all, just an orange dildo. He pulled Debra up towards him by the pistons on her waist and shoved his cock into her mouth, parting her silicone lips.
She woke up and carried on her payment for blow as if no time had elapsed.
Joe leaned back on the sofa and enjoyed it all, her rubber tongue on his dildo, her augmented hands down his metal toes.
None of this seemed any weird to Joe at all.