Roger was scheduled for a medical evaluation on Planet X29, a planet specifically created and run by the medical industry. Roger’s flight was completely paid for by Regenetech Industries, in return for his cooperation in a series of interviews about the experimental stem cell and cybernetic treatments that he was about to receive.

“We’ll give you an interview each week for 16 weeks following surgery, just to follow up and make sure you’re feeling alright.” It had sounded great when Pete and Scott heard the pitch from the red-haired representative named Madge.

But Roger felt a stirring in his gut that was both elated hope for the future and fear about what he may soon experience. After all, the procedure was experimental, and sites on the Internet were not helping to allay his fears.

Roger had gotten into the habit of staying up until the wee hours of the morning, looking up the dangers—a site called NewsBomb claimed that by signing a contract with Regenetech Industries for cybernetic implantation, you would no longer be considered human and would thus be giving up your claim to human rights.

But, Roger thought, what choice do I have?

So he’d signed the paperwork on the dotted line when Madge came around. The idea of using his legs again was just too tempting to resist. It was an unfortunate farming accident that had left him paralyzed from the waist down.


Now, he sat in his locked-in wheelchair in the shuttle, heading to Planet X29 with his headphones on, listening to Beethoven’s fifth symphony and sipping his iced latte. “Five hours to landing” announced the computerized flight attendant.

A series of buttons on his armrest showed all the options for inflight snacks and beverages. The glowing gummy worms looked tempting and reminded him of his childhood, but he resisted for now, as he pictured himself walking on the deck of a ship on the ocean and casting a fishing line over the edge.


“How are you feeling?” asked the nurse, slipping on the armband with its array of tiny, microscopic needles that would numb him from the neck down.

“Oh, just fine,” Roger replied, feeling himself quickly relax, the drugs leading him into a happy stupor.

In walked Doctor Rai in his crisp white coat. “Hello, Roger,” he said with a friendly smile. “I know that you must be nervous, but try not to be. This technology, while still technically considered ‘experimental,’ has been perfected over hundreds of cases. By now it is fairly standard and straightforward, so there’s nothing at all to worry about.”

“What is it that you will be doing, doctor?”

“Well, we’re going to numb you around the affected area. You should already be feeling some effects of that. Then, I will be administering an injection into the base of the spine to implant an injectable ribbon that will mimic soft tissues so that your body doesn’t reject it. We have had excellent results in our testing with rats in this process, and most human beings gain full function in about a month or so.”

“So I won’t know right away whether the procedure has worked or not?”

“Correct. But we will be with you every step of the way.” Then the doctor added, jokingly, “I haven’t lost a patient yet.”

Roger was beginning to question his decision, but he’d already come this far. So he determined in the end that this was an acceptable risk.

“I’m ready, doctor,” he said.