“Okay, then,” said the sales rep, with the breezy goodwill of someone who is getting a commission soon. “I just need to run through the Ts & Cs”.
The customer nodded.
“Your consciousness will be loaded into a random human embryo at the time of the first cellular division. From that instant you will experience time at human scale and you will have no conscious awareness of your real identity. Do you understand?”
“I’ll be disappointed if I do.”
“Initial here. All the preferences you’ve recorded will be encoded into the DNA of the embryo but there is no guarantee that your preferences will be expressed in the human form that is produced. Do you understand?”
“No guarantee, sure.”
“And initial here.”
“Why not? Why can’t you choose?”
The sales rep was ready for the question, the formless were always interested in form.
“That’s just not how humans work. It’s all part of the experience…it’s hard to explain now, before, but you’ll see…eventually. So much depends on the luck of your birth in the human world. The body’s DNA has some influence but…it’s what happens after you’re born that really counts.”
“Could I pay extra…?”
“It’s just not how it works, or I’d have your money, I promise.”
The customer nodded. The sales rep picked up the spiel.
“We guarantee free re-births until you inhabit a body that survives past the age of 12. There’s have been some amazing stories, people who’ve reconnected after only living five or six years as a child but it’s pretty rare to be honest. But most customers get a full adult experience after 2 or 3 re-births.”
“Can you guarantee an adult human experience?”
“That’s the Deluxe Package. It’s more expensive, but we keep re-birthing you until your body lives until at least 27 years of age. We’ll also guarantee that you have a full adult experience in less than two centuries.”
“Gimme that, then.”
The sales rep regarded the customer. The being was doing the job for the same reason the customer was buying: boredom. Something to pass a millennia or two.
“Most customers like to do a couple of trials before they commit to a package. Once you’re in, you’re in and…well, you do know, humans are pretty awful to each other, right?”
“Yeah, yeah, most experiences end because one human kills another, I’ve heard.”
“Or one of the things they ‘invented’, the sales rep snorted.
“You’ll see. They’re always making stuff. “Solving problems”. Most of the time they’re just busy making new ones. So busy. Anyway, you’ll see.”
“Is it true…?” the customer hesitated. The sales rep nodded encouragingly: AMA.
“Is it true that some…get lost?”
The sales rep leaned in close.
“Look, it’s a powerful experience, right? It’s not for just any being. As humans say, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”
Translating the human world for beings who hadn’t been there was…tricky. The sales rep considered.
“It means if you’re scared, stay away.”
“I’m not scared. I just wondered. Is it possible? Do some beings stay there forever?”
The sales rep gave something like a deep sigh.
“Being a human is like nothing else. It’s all consuming. As a baby, oh man, it’s like the universe is centred around you. And the senses: what you can taste, and smell…”
The being allowed itself a reverie. Some of its memories of being human were…horrific…but others were transcendent. It shared a ghost of the sensation with the customer, who groaned.
“But it doesn’t end until you figure out how to connect on your own. Or your body dies and we re-birth or retrieve you.”
“Will I remember all the re-births?”
“Not usually until the end. Some customers say they do remember previous lives but mostly you start each life with a blank slate. We can restore all your experiences at the end.”
The customer shrugged.
“Fuck it, what else do I need to sign?”
What was there to lose? Infinity is so freaking boring.