Part I: Reinventing Bone Structure - Chapters 1 - 6

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Chapter One

The height of the low-down blues occurred when I met my match in 5-stud poker. She stole three-fifths of my money and practically all that remained of my pedigree.

The way Amy spoke reminded me of my mother. Didn't waste time on details. Gave the barest of explanations, and only upon repeated inquiry. Efficient and time-saving like a self-cleaning vacuum. Part Korean, part Swiss and part Midnesian, she was drawn to defy convention, but only when it was endorsed by a select number of people. Into aggressive music and people she could knock around a little, she glossed over me at first, but I was persistent.

Black glitter, graffiti and baby's breath were the standard décor of the Hypocrite Wedding NightChapel, one of Generik's most popular establishments, prime in both location and clientele—within wasted stumbling range of my greenhouse, and full of well-maintained, perfect aspect-ratio bodies of all persuasions who I'd either never seen before or barely remembered.

Tonight was one of the Wedding's exclusive promotion nights. I received weekly notifications and had agreed to direct embedding of the passcode for guaranteed access. I passed through the turnstile as it scanned me, and into a dark haven of dirty synthpop and people who would shed their designer clothes in 30 minutes or less.

With the Plus 1: Sound and Vision injections coursing smoothly through my veins, I headed for the dancefloor without hesitation. Slow strobes beat in stuttered syncopation across the dancers' bodies—orange, yellow, green, violet—illuminating faces and curves, paper pink lips and hard-won muscle definition. I began dancing with a tawny blonde male but wasn't really interested, he reminded me of someone I'd had just last week. Over his shoulder I eyed a group of women, all under five feet tall, all dressed in these magenta and silver lycra mini-dresses. Except for Amy. Her mini-dress was red and gold. Her eyelids matched the shiny trim on her dress and she had short, jet black hair that was cut at an angle.

I bumped into her not by accident and made my apologies. She gave me the once over, no doubt concluding that I was more than suitable.

"I'm Amy. Will you take Ceremony?" She extended her thin white hand and placed it limply in mine. If this was any indication of her Ceremony skills I felt dubious at best, but also wasn't inclined to turn down someone beautiful, passive, and willing.

We took the elevate lift to the chapel's basement. Walls painted matte black, red and violet lighting, treats and sweets and complementary electrode stations positioned every six feet.

We plugged in. We shot up. Vision was at 150%, Touch at 200+. Endorphins and adrenaline at maximum.

Amy produced two Infatuate pills from her little red clutch. They shimmered softly in the red light, pulsating with manufactured promises and the latest formula. She straddled my lap.

"How often do you come here?" I slid my hand up her thigh. A pale pink blush crept across her angular cheekbones.

"A couple times a week. I'm a regular," she said softly.

"So am I. How come I've never seen you here before?" Her lingerie was the exact same shade as her dress, ruby red, with gold metallic lace around the edges.

"Maybe you don't remember." She dipped her head, speaking against my lips. "People who come to the NightChapel a lot tend to forget."

She began kissing me in earnest as I removed the last traces of ruby red cloth. I had to turn down the settings on the machine—my nerves were beginning to sizzle, sparking like loose wires in my temples and extremities. Amy was obviously an experienced pro at this. So was I.

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