Part I: Reinventing Bone Structure - Chapters 7 - 12

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Chapter Seven

Your legs are mine, your heart you can keep.

There's two ways to tell when a person is lying to you. One is of course that he or she won't look you in the eye. The second is when he's staring right at you and what he's telling you sounds pretty good. But then he smiles a little too brightly, and the fine print on his forehead starts to show, letters barely discernable that you would read if you could, but there's too many words and you just can't be bothered.

Al Junker always lied the second way. Although I knew this from the get-go, his fine print had never resulted in more than the smallest of inconveniences. Going along with Junker, with G.P.B., was always easy. Going against them was tough and offered little reward. A girl I worked with at Infrastratos once tried to transfer to another sector—she didn't like the restaurants nearby and the fact that everyone here tended to wear dark clothing—but faced with paperwork a meter high, she gave up and starting wearing charcoal sweaters.

It was Thuesday and ambushing Junker was at the end of a long list of tedious things I had to do. Most of them out of the way or handed off, I headed down the too-wide corridor to his office, on level TS3 and preceded by a drug scan, a retinal scan, and a heart serial number scan. Intoxication level: 28%, acceptable work condition. Retinal scan conclusive, access granted. Heart serial number: 00821A5BV1.

"Come on in." Junker sat behind a desk spanning nearly the width of the room, his office consisting of squares within squares like novelty containers, everything steel silver and streak-free. The blue-green fluorescent lights were on too high for my Plus-howevermany eyes. Junker's irises were an impossibly bright orange today, two candy marbles with grids of black lines criss-crossing them, a 128-bit tiger in a cage.

"What can I do for you, 008?" He asked without looking at me, focused on a set of small square blocks atop his desk, sliding around and reforming in random patterns for a bit of teckie office amusement. His suit was perfectly pressed and his tired scalp showed signs of the latest in a long series of hair transplants.

I had a seat in one of the oversized aluminum barstool chairs lined up in front of his desk. Before I was even situated, it rotated me counter-clockwise to meet Junker's eye level.

"I have some questions about ProProject," I told him once I stopped being dizzy. "I'm scheduled for it next week, and I never opted in. I'd like to get out of it."

"Hmm, let's see here..." Junker's newly purchased jungle eyes scanned the data on his console left to right, left to right. "Aha! I see what happened." I waited for him to explain.

Junker leaned forward, finally looking at me, but not really, more like looking through me. It was probably due to his upgrade. "You recently added four inches to your height, did you not?"

I tried to remember the list of items on Doctor Marc's last bill. The list was too long.

"I think so."

"Well, there you have it." Junker went back to watching the metal cubes on his desk, seemingly done with his explanation.

"What does my height have to do with it?" I was a little worried he might think it was a stupid question, but Junker wasn't my direct manager, and I doubted he cared either way.

"You're a prime candidate now. We had to select you," he said, face expressionless.

"So I can't get out of it?"

"You can't get out of it."

"Well, I'd hate for this to cut into my hours at work. It could affect my performance," I lied.

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