Much to Sammy’s chagrin, Splice of Life’s operational regulations required her to remain in the wheelchair once the procedure was complete. For three years already she’d been confined to it, and she was ready to be free of it, if just for a little while.
Before the accident, she’d loved another pair of wheels: the two bound together by the aluminum frame of her bicycle, an older street model that she’d restored herself. Oh, the joy that machine had given her, and the hours she’d spent riding the city streets. Her favorite was to zip down the hills, wind in her face and her arms held out, away from the handlebars. It was a crazy, gonzo thing to do, she knew, and yet as the wind whipped around her it was almost as though it took hold of her, lifted her up. It was almost as though she flew.
Until the driver of a certain hovercar, failing to notice the red light of the traffic signal, clipped her wings permanently.
The following three years of recovery, three years of attempts at reconstructive surgery, three years of failed physical rehab. Three years of the chair.
And then, finally, on her birthday, came a simple box, the attached card signed by all the various members of her family. Inside there was nothing but a lanyard, and an access badge marked ‘Temporary,’ and embossed with the DNA helix of Splice of Life.
Such a thing must have cost a small fortune, but her family members refused to confess how they’d obtained the money, no matter how much she badgered.
And now it was going to waste, as she sat again in the damned chair. As a Temp, she only had so long to enjoy her gift.
For the Perms, the gene splicing treatments offered by Splice of Life offered lifelong solutions to the cruel quirks of biology: a set of liver spots and wrinkles erased; a myocardial birth defect repaired; a genetic predisposition to obesity corrected; a cancerous mass reset. There was nothing they could do, however, for a broken bone, or a severed limb, or a ravaged spinal chord. DNA therapy could only go so far, for now.
No, the treatment Temps like Sammy recieved was technically cosmetic, albeit deeply invasive. For a fee, Splice of Life would create a custom animal trait DNA blend. While the host body would inevitably reject the genetic transplant and require a reset back to its original state, for a limited time a person could enjoy being genetically spliced with the animal type of their choice, to share their form and function.
There were some who took on fish blends, so as to breathe water or explore the dark depths; runners who took on horse traits, or sprinters who became cheetahs; it was en vogue amongst a certain demographic of women to take on marsupial traits immediately post-partum, so that they might raise the newborn inside a pouch, rather than bother with the fuss of carrying and nursing.
Sammy had, after some contemplation, made her choice. She’d gone to the required classes, studied the forms, had the consultations. Of the procedure she remembered very little, save for an uncountable number of needles.
Finally, three days afterwards, her doctors cleared her for activity. Her nurse, a kind-faced and attentive woman, wheeled her to the elevator and took her, in a ride that simultaneously seemed to take forever and only an instant, to the roof, and the very edge of the landing pad up there.
If Sammy was afraid, she did not feel it. Instead she stepped out of the chair, on legs that were not her own, and spread her arms. She was ready, and more than ready.
She stepped off the edge.
It was really very easy. There was a sharp updraft between the buildings, and the winds, rising around her arms, caught hold of the new feathers and lifted her up. The shout of joy that escaped her mouth was like that of an eagle, wild and free.
The winds took hold of her, and for a little while, she could fly once more.