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The Transplant

Karl El-Koura works a regular job in daylight and writes fiction at night. Visit ooterspace.com to learn more about his work. This is his fifth appearance in Daily Science Fiction. Comments When I came across the concept of fecal transplantation (bacteriotherapy), my initial thought was, "Ew." My second was: "I'm so glad we have this. (I hope I'll never need it!)" Later, as my writer brain digested this knowledge, my next thoughts were more speculative: what if, one day, fecal transplantation could cure all kinds of diseases? Would some people, who exercise and eat well, sell the stool produced by their healthy guts? Would an ultra-rich person have a stable of healthy stool-producers on hand? It seems that genetic closeness between donor and recipient might play a significant factor in the transplant's effectiveness, so what if that stable of healthy people were in fact clones of the ultra-rich person? That last thought led me to think of another kind of transplantation that such a situation could open itself up to.

Music is amazing, isn't it? Just has the power to transport you, to change your mood, to give you energy.
Of course I know why you've called me. Actually, no, I don't know why. One of my clones died in an accident--why is that worth a call?
Let me get this straight--I didn't fill out an insurance claim for my clone, so that set off some kind of alarm in the suddenly efficient bureaucracy of our government? I didn't want the headache of dealing with the insurance company over one clone--I don't need the money, and nothing can be done to restore that clone now. Do you think I live alone in a private satellite above the Earth because I enjoy company? But now you've appeared on my terminal to tell me I still get to have the headache, just without the payoff, is that right? And not even a real person--do I have that part right too?--but a clone is calling me?
I'm glad you're highly trained, and I appreciate your real is very busy and that you speak on her authority. I suppose a clone's death is still worth looking into, just not worth a real person's time?
Of course I can tell what you are. Do you know you haven't looked me in the eyes once in this whole conversation? Clones are trained not to do that, keep their gaze around the person's chin. You clones could probably pick people out of a line-up based on chins alone.
And tell me--what is the subject of investigation? Willful destruction of sentient property--wow, that's a mouthful. Is it a fine? Can I just pay it, if it ends this conversation now?
All right, do your job, ask your questions. Let's get this over with. Before we start, do you know that I have two other clones?--or familiars, if you want me to use the polite term... I see how you wince every time I use the c-word. When I was born, my parents made and raised three familiars of me. We could afford it and they felt I should have options. They thought--
All right, go ahead.
It was an accident, like I said. My familiars live together on a dry-cell level of this satellite. They live like kings. They eat the healthiest food we can grow, have their choice of exercise and recreation. A couple of times a day I'll visit them to hang out, check in on them, collect their stool--you know about fecal transplants, don't you? You should get your real to look into it. She can take your excrement and inject it right into her own body--gives her gut microbes like she's been eating nothing but salads and veggies all her life, while actually gorging herself on anything she desires.
Anyway, sometimes I'll even exercise with them, sweat with a bit of racquetball, shoot hoops. Yesterday I thought I'd challenge One to a swimming competition. He went ahead of me--I needed to relieve myself, if you must know. Somehow the tiled floor hadn't been properly mopped up. He tripped, cracked his head open against the side of the pool, drowned before I came out of the change rooms.
Of course I did what I could to save him. Do you think I'm happy about this loss? It was a lifelong investment my parents made. Because you know what's really interesting? Clones are becoming more expensive as people find more creative uses for them. Why should that be? Shouldn't something just cost what it costs?
Many people today use them like you're being used--sending them out on tasks that require a certain degree of intelligence but that they don't want to bother with. Like an extra pair of hands. But that financial advantage has driven up the cost--some people spend their lives financing the debt their parents took out to give them a leg up with a clone. Sorry. And I'm using a lot of body imagery because originally that's how they were used--as harvest farms. If the real person (what a term--as if there's something fake about us!) needed a kidney, there they were--ready to serve. Then people realized they didn't need to wait until something failed in their bodies--the clones could be raised to exercise and eat healthy while the real person ate and drank--
What do you mean? I never said that. I didn't say "us."
I see. I don't remember giving my consent. Did you tell me you were recording this conversation?
No, no, I understand. You don't have to sound so angry. Listen, I--
What?
Is this a--
All right. Fine. You're right.
Well, I'll tell you then. It's easy. Genetically we're exactly the same as them. The only difference between a real and their clone is a chip that goes into a clone's brain at birth. If you have access to medical facilities, a trusted friend . . . and are willing to put up with a bit of pain and a chronic headache . . . well, after that you just have to study your real, learn their habits, figure out how they do their jobs, discover their passwords. Then switching places is as easy as them taking the wrong step down the stairs--or a slip-on wet tile near a pool. And you have to remember--look people in the eye... and be careful with your words, especially at first.
Indeed.
About this recording--?
Yes, I would appreciate that. Tell me when you're ready.
Now?
Music is amazing, isn't it? Just has the power to transport you, to change your mood, to give you energy.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, May 17th, 2022


Author Comments

Karl El-Koura works a regular job in daylight and writes fiction at night. Visit www.ootersplace.com to learn more about his work. This is his fifth appearance in Daily Science Fiction. Comments When I came across the concept of fecal transplantation (bacteriotherapy), my initial thought was, "Ew." My second was: "I'm so glad we have this. (I hope I'll never need it!)" Later, as my writer brain digested this knowledge, my next thoughts were more speculative: what if, one day, fecal transplantation could cure all kinds of diseases? Would some people, who exercise and eat well, sell the stool produced by their healthy guts? Would an ultra-rich person have a stable of healthy stool-producers on hand? It seems that genetic closeness between donor and recipient might play a significant factor in the transplant's effectiveness, so what if that stable of healthy people were in fact clones of the ultra-rich person? That last thought led me to think of another kind of transplantation that such a situation could open itself up to.

- Karl El-Koura
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