sing this corrosion to me – part one…
A friend who came in from San Angeles once remarked on just how bad the acid-rain corrosion gets here and wondered how people can stand to deal with it on a day-in-day-out basis. It’s the kind of noob question you treat with RA1N C1TY-branded cool/condecension if it comes from a stranger, but it’s different when a friend asks.
The answer’s actually as obvious as it is simple – we accept it because it is and we’ve got no other choice. Living here means two things are veryreal for you:
1) It rains – about 70 percent of the time.
2) About 50 percent of the time the rain corrodes your clothes, anything you carry with you, and sometimes even your hair/skin – unless you take steps to protect all of the above.
How you do that depends a lot on what you can afford. Like anything else with a negative environmental impact, somebody somewhere tries to cash in on the fallout, and rain-coping’s evolved into a growth-industry as big as urban paranoia.
It’s sad really. You can’t help but think that if this much attention and resources had been devoted up-front to dealing with how fucked-up the environment was getting back in the day, we wouldn’t be forced to spend so much of our our national and personal GDPs rightnow just so our day-to-day approximates something liveable. Okay – rant over. The real’s the real and you have to deal – so let’s get back to how people do that.
Like so many other things in RA1N C1TY the answer’s all about whether you’re Zero or Ichi. If you’re Zero you scrounge whatever you can by whatever means necessary and cover yourself. Sometimes “whatever means necessary” implies more than just dumpster-diving. If you can max your pity-factor enough, there’s always the chance some Ichi will give in to their guilt-reflex and toss you some part of their wardrobe.
That doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. There are so many Zero practically everywhere that it’s hard not to tune them out as visual white noise. Then there are those of us who tune them out by practiced desensitization – or even by design. The guilt-reflex has been chemo-ID’d now, and like anything with a sales potential for big-pharma, a syndrome’s been diagnosed for it. The tag-acronym’s “CERS” (Compulsive Empathic Reaction Syndrome) and if you can find a doctor who’ll diagnose and prescribe, you can pop a pill once a day and your guilt’s cleanly – non-invasively – gone.
The implications of having your guilt-capacity chemo-assassinated are so bigscale they require a separate post – at least. For now, let’s dialogue more on what can happen if some Ichi popping the guilt-fix goes into the SUCK with some verystyle rain gear.
The least that goes down is somebody remote-scans the design, copies it, and tries to sell you a black-market knock-off like the coat I was stupid enough to buy last December.
Then there are the green-muggings. People get targeted for their rain-gear here. It happens a lot – and if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, with your guilt in coma – it can happen to you. If it happens above-ground the cops will retaliate. Mugging is bad for tourism and if the Zero perp can be ID’d and caught, they can count on a beatdown, with a second course of arrest followed by a full course of neuro-intimidator therapy.
If you get green-mugged below-ground – you’re on your own.
The Ichi have more options when it comes to rain gear – and most of them don’t involve embarrassing yourself or criminal activity. If you can take the financial hit, there’s a whole menu of designer-poylmer fabrics, sonic umbrellas, and rain-block cosmetics, but more about them next post. Until then, more about Kiku – and the therapy she had.
They could do that now – the men who made the masks. If a part of your body was changing in a way you didn’t want – they could make it stop at a molecular level – use repressor proteins and antisense RNA sequences to make sure the unwelcome changes didn’t happen. The procedure was highly involved – still very risky. The early stages of its development had produced some deformities – more than a few carcinomas. But that was several years ago – at the hands of men less skilled than Kiku’s father. Now it was at least relatively safe – but not so safe that it was considered acceptable to use it for anything other than medical emergencies – not so safe that Kiku didn’t have to resort to extreme measures to get her father to do it.
What she did was starve herself – until her father became convinced that the only way to get her to stop was to make the changes she wanted. It hadn’t been easy to get him to go back on his decision – it had taken close to a year. Just before she’d turned fourteen Kiku’d asked her father for the first time – he’d told her that there was no point in having a reduction mammoplasty – her body was still developing. She’d countered that she knew it was possible to stop the development with DNA-invasive techniques. He’d replied that was a chance he was unwilling to take with his only daughter – there was still too much risk. He’d also said that even if the risk had been minimal, using the techniques for cosmetic purposes alone was highly questionable ethically – he wasn’t going to do it. His response had that finality about it – the kind her father used to indicate a discussion was over. After that he’d shut down – so there was no point in arguing. She’d have to think of something else to get him to change his mind – that was when she’d stopped eating.
She hadn’t gone on a hunger strike or purged after she ate – neither of those things would have worked. Her father would have seen them as a melodramatic temper tantrum – all she did was to gradually eat less and less. At first the hunger was difficult to deal with. Then a friend at school told her about a new type of weight loss drug – one that worked by targeting specific receptors in the cortex and lateral hypothalamus – it also increased the level of circulating insulin in your cerebrospinal fluid. You didn’t just want to eat less – you used up the body fat you already had stored at a much greater rate. There was even a nutrient supplement to keep you going while you lost the weight – it was the perfect diet pill. It was one of the first drugs designed at the NAKAMURA INSTITUTE. It was exactly what Kiku’d been looking for – she began sinking her entire allowance into it – eating it like candy. Several months later she’d wound up in the hospital showing the first signs of malnutrition – that was when her father’d finally given in.
Things were different between them after the second surgery – she knew why – it was more than just a compromise. Her father had sacrificed his principles for her – he would never forgive himself – or Kiku. She’d made him part of a dirty little secret – the kind of thing you did in a moment of weakness you weren’t very proud of. There was nothing magical about this – it was guilty – very furtive. The mammoplasty and rhinoplasty were done during normal clinic hours with two attendants present. The DNA-invasive part of the procedure was done at night – with Kiku and her father alone. Her father barely even looked at her during the two hours of preparation – the eleven minutes of injections. She imagined that this is what it must be like between a prostitute who was being paid by someone she didn’t want to have sex with – and a client who wanted the sex verybadly – but was ashamed of the way he had to get it. Only the roles were reversed. She was the client and she could tell – from the only time their eyes ever met during the injections – her father felt verymuch like the prostitute. There were several more injections in the weeks that followed – there was also a series of tests to be sure the procedure hadn’t caused any genetic anomalies. Each time it was the same – it would always be the same from here on in – she could never ask her father to do this for her ever again. Kiku felt guilty at first – then the exo-dermal protectant came off – the DNA-invasive techniques began to take effect. By the time she was sixteen she knew she’d made the right decision – she’d started modeling then.
See you spaced cowboy…