BODYSHOP • by Graham Brand

I went into the bodyshop to order new legs. The assistant had a screen projection in front of his face, but he burst it as I came up to the counter. Gleaming limbs hung from the wall behind him. He followed my gaze. “New pins?”

I nodded. There was a bright yellow pair with sprung feet that looked promising.

He flicked a new pad into vision on the desk and started to take notes. “What are you on now?”

“Titanium smarts with shock absorbers and stabilised joints.”

“Above or below the knee?”

“Below.”

“Was that a choice or an accident?”

“I was born that way. No shins. I grew up with prosthetics. I tried cloned flesh for a while, but it itched so I went back to the pros.”

He laughed. “Yeah, tell me about it. My wife gets a rash on her clones, and vein damage. Easy to treat, but why have the hassle in the first place?”

I frowned at that. My own wife had wonderful legs. That was part of the problem. I was here to put things right.

“Can I grab your details?” The assistant had opened a blink spot, and I swiped my ID card over it. He raised an eyebrow. “Still using a card? We can set you up with an ID tattoo, or chip you?”

“I like the tradition.”

“Of course, Mr…” He pulled up my profile. “Kesing?”

“Michael Kesing. Yes.”

He got down to business. “If you’re thinking about a full length pair this time, the surgery will take a few hours, followed by several months of recuperation and training.”

“I’m booked on the Mars cycler. I’m already going under for a rejuv package, so can this operation be done at the same time?”

He flicked through the data. “Are you flying from Collins or Wilmott?”

“Wilmott.”

“That’s fine. You can have the op in orbit, sleep through the transfer to the cruiser, and stay unconscious for the whole flight. We’ll get you in shape with auto-stimulation and calibrate the legs for Mars gravity.”

I pointed at the yellow pair on the wall. He made a note, then spun the display to show me a list of potential upgrades. “You’ll be under for six months. Do you want us to fix anything else?”

The prices were eye-watering, but it was tempting. I hadn’t realised this would be so easy. I already had prosthetics below the knee, so I knew there’d be no objections to changing those, but he seemed perfectly happy with my profile. Maybe I could risk some more dramatic changes?

It was amazing what they had on offer. Hands and arms, of course, and new eyes and ears. But also new… plumbing.

I tapped the relevant item on the list. The assistant winked conspiratorially.

“No problem, Mr Kesing. Large or small?”

“Small will be fine.”

He totted up the bill. “So that’s a complete refit from the waist down. In yellow. Anything else?”

I shook my head and authorised the payment. It came to a lot, but it was going to be worth it.

“Thank you, Mr Kesing, that’s all booked in.”

I grinned as I left the shop.

I am not Michael Kesing, and this is not my ID. Michael Kesing is the man who has been having an affair with my wife, and he is going to be livid when he wakes up on Mars.


Graham Brand trained as a metallurgist, casting gold bars in Zambia before returning to the UK and drama school. He spent ten years in the theatre, as an actor, musician and musical director, before becoming a father and switching to IT project management, which has taken him round the world. He now lives in the Yorkshire Dales and blogs far less frequently than he should at crosstimers.com.


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Rate this story:
 average 4.1 stars • 51 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Great story–until the end. How are they gonna get their hands on Michael? And why would a guy theoretically choose to have his pertinent parts made smaller?
    The conclusion made this very well-written piece, with fine voice and flow, just end with a “huh” instead of a “wow.” Plenty of word-count in which to give us a hint on how this was going to be accomplished.
    I’d certainly like to read more from you. But here, with the whole story hanging on the plausibility of the ending, I have to give this only three stars.

    • Carl Steiger
      Oh poo, I was having fun until you made me think about it. Since it's Michael that's going on a trip to Mars, and presumably really is scheduled for a rejuv package, that's where they would get their hands on him. But would they put him under anesthesia without a final briefing on what they were going to do to him? I'm also not sure whether it's Michael or not-Michael who now has prosthetic legs. If it's Michael, then this wouldn't be such an attractive opportunity for revenge unless not-Michael knew beforehand that the plumbing alteration could be included. (And who would choose "small" anyway?) But I had enough fun here to give it four stars anyway.
      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
        I think both of them have prosthetic legs below the knee.
  • MaryAlice Meli

    I laughed out loud at the end. What a perfect revenge!

    • janetolearski
      So did I. I was happy to suspend my disbelief for this very engaging story. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    The story felt a little contrived so as to get to the punchline. An engaging read, though.

  • JAZZ

    Aren’t all stories contrived…..?

  • I thought you did a very good job with the sci fi ambiance. Set the ambiance and conveyed lots of info about the future without overwhelming us in techno babble.
    The conclusion does slip a bit—not up to the high bar of the rest of the story. Maybe that’s a constraint thing, not enough working space. A great start though. Just needs a bit of fleshing out.

  • Graham Brand

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, everyone. The criticisms are very helpful.

  • sandyish

    I don’t normally love lots of dialogue, but you did a good job with the shop banter here! Thank you for an enjoyable read. 😀

  • Glen

    Great storytelling. Period. I can’t believe how picky some self-appointed critics can be.

    • Paul A. Freeman
      I can't believe you've given the author nothing that will help him grow as a writer. I did enjoy you're little dig, though. "Self-appointed critics" - nice one.
      • Glen
        Pity I wasn't around in Leonardo da Vinci's time. I might have been able to help him grow as a painter with some helpful feedback about the Mona Lisa's eyebrows.
        • Paul A. Freeman
          None of us is Leonardo da Vinci, Glen. What an unbecoming comment. More of a snide soundbite, really.
          • Glen
            But you said you enjoyed my little digs?
    • Paul A. Freeman
      Too right, Glen.