The Docks are scary for most of the children. Here we landed, 500 years ago. The skeleton of the Enterprise is still visible, on the center. Around it, our oldest buildings, already green, covered beyond recognition by the sticky fungus that seems to love our old aluminum and steel. I’m happy my building is made in plastic and carbon fiber, I could not live in a place like this.
We leave the tube and walk through the bridge to the round square at the door of the Institute. I look above me to the dome that covers the Docks, remembering what the girl at the onsen told me. Sunlight. I’ve never been very interested on astronomy, but one thing I know: if I need to be exposed to the outside radiation for more than a couple of hours, I will be cooked in my suit. Which reminds me my dreams of the beach.
The cameras and the guardians of the Institute dedicate only a few seconds to scan us. After that, my sensei seems to speed up, and I run through the maze of corridors to follow him. The Institute is as empty as usual. There’s not enough crime to dedicate a building to it, so we share it with other functions, like the Environment central control.
The room we enter is more or less the size of my apartment. At the center, over a table, a body lies, surrounded by cameras and robotic appendices of ominous purpose. Around it, the screens float, some of them filled with images, some of them ready to be used. I get closer. She’s opened, her chest divided into two symmetrical halves. There’s no blood, everything is extremely clean. Actually, she looks more a toy model than a person.
– Go ahead – says my sensei – and touch her.- I do so. She’s cold. As expected. Her skin has a strange consistently, like plastic. I look closer inside, through the transverse cut. Her heart is visible. Doubting about it, I poke it. Also of plastic consistency. Tentatively, I grab her intestines. They feel like lubricated pipes. No blood, no rigor mortis. What’s this?