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  • Writer's pictureNic Benson


‘I’m…I’m not sure I want to go through with this.’

They always say this. The bravado of the cold-blooded murderer is stripped away when he finds himself seconds away from sharp steel, leather straps and cold liquid entering his veins.

‘Oh really, Sir? What do you plan to do instead?’

I continue with my offices while I allow him his last-minute doubts. Checking his observations, shaving his head and the back of his hands, swabbing the shaved areas with lemon-scented antiseptic, tightening the arm and leg straps that affix him to the chrome gurney. A glass panel on the wall blinks hypnotically with lights and numbers. I adjust the temperature upwards a few degrees and turn a dial to release a lavender scented gas into the air.

‘You’ve completed, what? At least twenty years of your sentence? I suppose you must have, if you were deemed eligible for The Renaze Process.’

He nods, a series of short upward jerks of the chin that bring to mind the electric chair we no longer have any use for. The Renaze Process has made such barbarism redundant. This person has no idea how lucky he is.

Who wouldn’t want to be reborn?

It’s somewhat of an unfortunate irony that only the very worst criminals in our society are currently offered such an opportunity, but if trials continue to be successful, The Renaze Process will be available to all who can pay. And what price a fresh start? To use a cliché; the sky’s the limit.

I continue crooning.

‘That makes you, what? Forty? Well, if you decide to pull out of the process now, you may well be looking at your lifetime so far again, locked up in some hellhole with a new parade of psychotic miscreants and reprobates. Oh yes, we’ll have to move you. We’ll do our best to protect you, but the jungle drums being what they are, I don’t think it will take long for you to be exposed. We’ve seen it happen to our other refusers. And then you’re left with the problem of resentment. You’re going to be among some angry men. Some of them will have another ten, fifteen years before they’re even eligible for testing. Some of them will never be eligible at all. And there you’ll be, the fool who threw away his get out of jail free card. It could make your life very difficult indeed…’

As I spoke, the light in the room grew gradually softer and pinker, creating a womb-like atmosphere. When he spoke next, the spaces between his words had expanded and softened.

‘Will I… make it?’

‘Well, of course you will, Sir. You’ve passed all the tests. You’re in the optimal mental and physical condition for withstanding the procedure. We have the best speech therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists in the country waiting to school you through your rehabilitation. Within six, seven months, you’ll be back to full strength, making brand-new memories to replace all the painful ones you carry now. We’re offering you a fresh start. A clean slate. A clean record. Of course, if you don’t want that, I can…’

I moved towards the glass panel; index finger poised to strike. That was usually the last little push they needed.

‘Will it hurt?’

Not as much as being raped, beaten, strangled, burnt and left for dead, you pathetic coward.

‘Of course not, Sir. You’ll be placed safely under anaesthetic before the procedure begins. I do apologise - you should have had all this explained to you at your Enlightenment Sessions. No, you won’t know a thing until you’re waking up in a nice, comfortable Rehabilitation Suite, with a kind nurse mopping your brow, and a lovely new fresh identity all waiting for you to slip into.’

He laughs, which relaxes him enough for me to press his thumbprint onto my Palmscreen. There’s a soft ping as his biosignature registers: Commitment Completed.

Before he can change his mind, I press my own thumbprint onto the glass panel; in precisely two seconds, the wall behind the head of the bed glides open, and in whisk two orderlies in snow-white coats, who wheel him away to the Transference Suite.

It will take about seven days to download all of his brain data into the nominated Vessel. After that, he’ll be left essentially a baby – soiling himself, unable to walk and talk. But the idea is that he’ll learn again. In time.

And the Vessel will continue to lie there, hooked up to the same machines it has been for years, but with a massive input of vile memories, damage, trauma, addictions and other assorted delights populating its amygdala; which is currently like an empty attic, waiting to be filled with junk.

Persistent Vegetative State; handy for the storage, analysis and eventual eradication of criminal tendencies, while the ones we don’t kill go forth anew. Cured.


Of course, there are those who plead for the human rights of the Vessels. Ignoring, of course, the fact that, without The Renaze Programme, their machines would have been turned off years ago. They are getting a chance to contribute to the society that keeps them alive.

Tell me, how is that any more an infringement on their human rights than organ donation? Being butchered in the name of science?

I check my screen for the timing of the next Commitment. Nothing until this afternoon. Good. Time to get some rest and oxygen before lunch.

As I approach the smoked glass doors of the Renaze Staff Welfare Suite, the soft, filtered air is torn into shreds by the screech of an alarm. I spin around and run for the central atrium, while all around me doors seal with hermetic shush-clunks. Armoured guards seem to appear out of thin air holding sleep guns, and people are screaming. No-one screams here. It just isn’t done.

‘What..?’ I gasp into my mouthpiece. The reply appears in my earchip instantly.

'The's...oh God...they're waking up...'

Image by geralt via Pixabay


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