Solid Body, Gas Soul


Nope. Not a trip update. Though, I am sharing a piece of writing I created whilst on this seemingly never-ending boat trip for the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop’s Flash Fiction Contest. It placed second! As a writer, in a world where rejection is the norm, that is worth celebrating!

Where did the idea come from? Back when I was articling (lawyer internship) at a Vancouver law firm, I thought how silly it was I sat at a desk for 12 hours a day, hurting my body which really wasn’t needed for the job other than to act as a vessel for my mind. How cool would it be if I could put my body on a treadmill all day while my brain worked elsewhere? I drew on that old thought as well as inspiration from the films Us and Her, the podcast Ellie and The Wave, and Ray Kurzwiel’s The Singularity is Near, to put together this piece. Thanks for reading!

When I learn my body escaped, I can’t react. At least, not like I would have before. I have no nails to chew, no shoulders to tense, no cortisol to signal fight, flight to my brain. That’s Disembodiment’s whole selling point, after all. Lack of physicality increases productivity! Without a bladder, there’s no need for bathroom breaks. Without a stomach, no need for lunchtime nourishment. Coffee even becomes irrelevant. Coffee! It’s surprising how alert your mind functions when not captive to a demanding body crying, “Feed me! Walk me! Let’s play! Squirrel!” Kidding on that last one, but really, without the benefit of higher consciousness, humans are more or less like dogs. I’m not saying kill your dog. Just sometimes, when you need to get stuff done, the dog’s best left with a sitter. That’s all.

Luckily, Disembodiment Tech set up shop (in my neighbourhood of all places!) in a clinic on Fourth above a weed dispensary. Like weed, I thought I’d give it a try once, just once, see what all the buzz was about—though I sorta, kinda got hooked. You can’t blame me. Disembodiment was a game changer! At first, it was just about distraction-free productivity. You know how your brain creates dopamine whenever you get a Like, essentially addicting itself to social media? Not a problem when you don’t have organs! I finished a week’s worth of work in eight hours. Then, two weeks’ worth in a half day. Soon, it evolved into something else entirely. It’s not just that I’d meet up with other Disembodied in the Cloud, it’s that We’d become One.  

Click. A chord painlessly plugs into my cervical spine. OK, it hurts a little, but not more than a bee sting. My consciousness releases into the Cloud, while my body—set to Zombie Mode—dumbly walks the day away on a treadmill like a hamster in a wheel. Good for the heart they say. Not to mention the calves.  

Except today, when my session expires, I’m not returned to my body.

“The bodies escaped.” A clinician appears on a billboard beside the Information Super Highway. Her pores look like tar pits, nose too close to her webcam. I zoom out. Better. She’s panicked, sweat beads dripping from her forehead. “Details are scant, though we’re told it was a large-scale event. All over the globe, bodies walked out. Just like that.”

Enslaved to my body, I would have angered. Asked to speak to a manager. Demanded a refund! WROTE A SCATHING ONLINE REVIEW! Not my fault. Damn adrenal glands. I was under the influence of cortisol and adrenaline, mmmkay?

In the Cloud, it’s different. Not beholden to bodies, We Free.

We fly into the universe. On our way, We see headlines providing clues to Our bodies’ fates. Mass Migration to Coast! Bodies Taking Over Beaches Worldwide! And, Our personal favourite, Should Bodies Be Granted Human Rights?  

With no pulse to keep rhythm, We chant: We Free, We Free, We Free.