Janice tried to set down her wine glass and steady herself against the countertop at the same time. The result was a glittering galaxy of imported handblown glass shards across the pristine granite floor and an expanding pool of aged cabernet. But at least she hadn’t fallen and injured herself. That was suddenly of paramount importance.
“I’m sorry, you must be mistaken.” She was speaking to the hologram projected onto her cornea from her Innernet implant. To Janice, it appeared that the customer service representative from her insurance institute was standing in the kitchen with her.
“Mrs. Irving, I cannot overemphasize how much we regret this unfortunate circumstance. On behalf of myself and everyone at Life Ensure Limited, I’d like to express our deepest apology and assure you that we’ll do everything in our power to make this right.”
Janice clutched her heart. She could feel it aging with every beat, wearing down and growing weaker. “All of them? They’re all dead?”
“We prefer the term nonviable, but yes, ma’am. The accident affected the entire line.”
Janice’s husband, Henry, entered just then. “What is it, dear?” He walked around the android maid tending to the spill and held his wife’s hands.
“The clones,” she said. “They’re gone.”
“Well, that’s why we have backups.”
“No, all of them!” She was becoming hysterical. “Forty years! We’ve been waiting and paying for forty years, and for what? Dead clones?!” XoC technology—Xfer of Consciousness—had outpaced that of rapid cloning. For those who wanted to ride XoC into a younger version of themselves, they had to wait for the body to grow in real time.
“We prefer the term genetic vessel—”
“Oh, shut up, you heartless imbecile!” Janice yelled at the empty space over Henry’s shoulder and terminated the call. She wrapped herself around her husband and wept inconsolably. He said nothing, idly making comforting motions as his mind drifted elsewhere.
The maid finished its duty and slipped quietly away, barely registering the unintelligible outburst from the complex and irrational creature in the kitchen.