Life in the Bubble World
"Please lie on the couch, Mr..." Dr Quaquarius glanced up at his next patient which left him none the wiser. A fat man with a beard but wearing a flowery dress waddled across the therapy room then collapsed on the couch.
"Mr or Mrs Pearson."
"It's Ms to you," Ms Pearson said with a frown and flopped onto the couch.
"Now, what is the problem?" asked the doctor.
"These creeps have the problem!"
Ms Pearson threw her dog-eared body service book at Dr Quaquarius. She had been written off by the scrap yard yet again.
"Oh my, you are in a bad way. Well I'm sure you will be all right by the time I've finished with you," said Dr Quaquarius reassuringly.
In response Ms Pearson wailed in despair as she contemplated a life of never-ending mechanical and psychological breakdown.
"Be quiet, be calm," shouted Dr Quaquarius, "Don't cry so loudly, you're damaging the fittings. Breakages you pay for, my dear." Her ear-splitting wail slowly faded like a dying air-raid siren. "That's better. Now that we are dependent on our prosthetic implants for our very lives, we have a love-hate relationship with them and even our so-called culture," intoned Dr Quaquarius, "In fact, we are all now griddled by our machines while narcissistically absorbed in our own sizzling."
Ms Pearson laughed.
"Whatever you say, Doc."
"What have you got now?" asked Dr Quaquarius.
"Mostly mail-order organs, with a few custom bits superglued on."
He lifted Ms Pearson's voluminous skirts and exhaled slowly.
"Well! Let me ponder your peculiar predicament," said Dr Quaquarius thoughtfully. "I recommend a complete fluid change, new organs of regeneration, and possibly a rewire, all included in the therapy charge. You will feel like new."
He continued examining the mysterious workings of the hidden organs.
"Ah, an old self-assembled organ of... love. An Airfix if I'm not mistaken. If this is playing up, I am not surprised that you have been cast down into a cruel well of desponditude."
"Desponditude! I didn't realise my problems were so serious... although I have been less popular with the gentlemen recently," she sighed.
Dr Quaquarius looked serious, then sniggered.
"Hmm... do you talk whilst making... love?"
"No... I usually read a book."
"A book! This is terrible! I would say that you are definitely dissociated from your daily delight... which book are you reading?"
"The Houseplant Encyclopaedia - I've got as far as Hanging Baskets."
"With these new organs you will be able to focus on the task at hand – whatever it might be!" laughed Dr Quaquarius. "Should keep your mind off the begonias! Hang on a second..."
Dr Quaquarius rummaged about in his organ box in the corner of the therapy room. The box was rather small. If well-stocked, it expanded to wardrobe size. During one particularly busy period it became as big as a house, but the neighbours complained about the bumps and shudders from within, and business had to be legally restrained.
"Not many left - we are in the middle of a boom, you know," he lied. "I recommend a new sub-organ chassis."
This was all he had left, apart from some purely mechanical parts and a few malfunctioning sub-organs twitching indolently at the bottom of the organ box. "It's just the thing! I'll whip out the old one and you'll be as right as rain in no time, no time at all!"
"Will it hurt?" asked Ms Pearson.
"No, it will be a pleasure to fit - I mean, to wear!" Dr Quaquarius fiddled about beneath the cape. Ms Pearson resembled a prone hovercraft having a refit. Dr Quaquarius' breathing grew heavy and beads of sweat appeared on his brow.
"Aagh... here we are - huh!" Dr Quaquarius gasped and shuddered.
"Is it all right?" asked Ms Pearson.
"I should say so!" spluttered Dr Quaquarius. He scribbled shakily in her service book and tossed it towards her. Regaining his composure, he produced his bill.
"That will be five hundred emus1, thank you."
"I've only got two hundred!" exclaimed Ms Pearson.
"Well, then I own your sub-organ chassis! You'll have to work for me!"
"No chance, you revolting old fart! Take it or I'll leave it!"
"Well! Call that gratitude! You're soon back to your old self. OK, it's yours. But don't expect any free services if the bolts pop out!"
"I should hope so!" said Ms Pearson bafflingly. "Good-bye, creep."
She disappeared, another satisfied (or not) customer. What had happened to his smooth bedside manner? Dr Quaquarius sighed and looked inside the organ box. Business was very bad. He couldn't afford any new organs, and the old ones - like Ms Pearson's ancient kit organ - were worthless, except to nostalgiaverts.
Dr Quaquarius pressed a button and a Searchbot appeared before him, blinking in anticipation of a request.
"Find me a new organ dealer, cheap, must have a good range and accept credit - even mine."
The Searchbot throbbed and disgorged a grey tablet with a fat red face staring out.
"Hello, I'm Mr Banks," it said. "Organs, blood, sperm, data, money, memory - what do you want?"
"Organs - do you have the Honda range?"
"Perhaps. What are we talking?"
"Twenty a week max. I'm small time here - I've been legally restrained."
Mr Banks frowned.
"All right, two thousand emus a week, no haggling, with one thousand up front. Bring the rest to my Bunker tomorrow."
"I can't get my hands on that many emus by tomorrow!"
"No emus, no deal."
"What about data? In my profession I gather dirt on people. It comes with the territory."
"You little fish, you make me laugh. See you tomorrow in my Bunker, an hour before dawn."
In the Bubble World, dawn broke at noon sharp after the all-night revels.
Another dodgy deal done, a typical day in the Bubble World. Dr Quaquarius rubbed his sweaty hands together gleefully in anticipation of all the new business.
[1 easy money units]