Chapter 1:- Life Preservation, Where the Memories Live Forever
"Welcome to Life Preservation." Mr. Neeling's slick smile didn't touch his eyes.
Susan shook his hand, minimizing the contact. The whole visit made her squirm. She took the seat he indicated.
"How may I help you today?" He sat with his knee brushing hers, his expensive silk suit contrasting with her polyester skirt.
"I'm here about my mother," Susan said.
"Ah." Mr. Neeling's practiced smile reflected sympathy.
Susan imagined sharks smiling the same way as they circled for the kill.
Life Preservation was not what Susan had expected. The whole campus reeked of culture and money, nothing so crass as death and burial. The tea parlor, cozy and elegant, was the last place she expected to discuss death.
Mr. Neeling retrieved papers from a drawer in a Victorian writing desk. "We have a variety of packages available. The basic is one hour, once a month, in our communal lobby visiting area." He flipped an assessing glance over her clothing. "For you, I would recommend the ultra deluxe package. Unlimited access to your loved one in a private room decorated to your specifications." His smile grew teeth.
"How much?" Susan clutched the purse resting on her lap.
"Please, let us not discuss such mundane matters, not yet. Life Preservation is not a funeral home. We preserve life here."
"How, exactly? I've heard rumors of suspended animation, cryogenics. People frozen like popsicles."
"Nothing so crude, I assure you." Mr. Neeling leaned forward, a textbook confidentiality booster.
Susan's fingers clenched on her purse. She had a little money set aside. She hoped to travel, see the world. But this was for her mother. She swallowed a sudden lump in her throat.
Mr. Neeling patted her hand. "Your loved one will be alive, preserved forever by our technology. You can talk with them, visit them, just as you would now, except they will never age or die. No sickness, no health issues. Ever."
Mr. Neeling leaned back in his delicate Queen Anne chair and smiled his shark-tooth smile. "Biometric androidal assimilation."
"You're going to turn her into a robot?"
"Please. We are going to imprint her mind on a biometric matrix housed in a construct. I assure you, it will be your mother. Quick and painless for your loved one, eternal life preserved here for you to enjoy."
"How can you price your mother's life? You can have her with you practically forever."
Susan hesitated only a moment longer. Her mother's mind was slipping. She couldn't stand by and watch her fade into senility. "Where do I sign?"
Mr. Neeling's smile oozed satisfaction.