The Kamisuru complex sat squatly just off shore. It sat in the ocean so it could suck up cold filtered sea water to cool it's reactors and processing columns, and spat it back out warm. The local fishermen had protested its installation but the local government was in the pocket of Kamisuru. It didn't really hurt the ecosystem under normal operation, but when it comes to the end of it's lifespan, in a hundred years or so, it's going to be a monumental nightmare. Not that anyone will still be around by then.
It was dawn when I first saw it. I was in the company van, which had tinted windows. People lined the road down to the dock that extended from the bleak spit of rocky beach. They stared at the van impassively. I assumed they were trying to wrap their heads around the decision I had made, and which they might make if they lived long enough and saved up enough money. It's a cruel world still where there are people that can't afford to make this decision.
I remember looking out at the complex. Its front, or what faced the beach, had a large rectangular portal lit up in bright white neon. A neon lit ramp gracefully extended down from the portal and into the water. The light from under the water danced on the surface. The rest of the building was white and windowless. It had a swayed in saddle-shaped roof that rose to points on the corners, and pulled up further with network antennas, dotted at the top with blinking lights. It was also, I was told, was connected to several massive data cables that were buried under the seafloor and ran to shore, which was just a quarter mile from the Internet backbone. It was a redundant system because the process of data transfer could not be interrupted.
As the van slowed to a stop on the beach, the cooling system revved up in the complex in preparation for my appointment. Vast jets of foaming water shot out of the lower sides of the complex. The crowds turned to look at it unison. It was thunderous. The driver got out and then opened my door. There was a chill in the air. I wrapped my coat around me tightly and did up the top buttons. I slid out, with the driver's hand helping me. I looked down at the wet pebbles on the ground. I suddenly had the desire to take off my shoes and feel them, one last time, with my naked feet. But I didn't. I didn't need any distractions.
The driver closed the door and led me down to the dock, which oddly, was a rickety wooden affair. He led me down to the end, holding my elbow, where a small motor boat was waiting for me. It had it's own driver, a young woman. The driver helped me down towards her. She smiled at me warmly. She wore a smart polo with the Kamisuru logo. She didn't say anything to me. She started the boat and we smoothly rode the short distance to the ramp.
Once we were there, she turned off the engine and hitched the boat loosely to a mooring next to the ramp.
"It will be cold," she said.
"I know. I wasn't looking forward to this part," I chuckled.
"Once you're on the ramp I will have to go," she said.
"Yes, I understand," I said.
"Would you like me to turn away?" she asked.
"No, I guess it doesn't matter anymore. MIght was well have someone see it while it's still around."
"Okay, well just hand me your clothes when you're ready." She opened a large plastic bag. I wondered if they would be incinerated, donated, or put in storage somewhere. I'd already sold off all my property and disposed of my belongings.
I took off my hat and scarf first. I felt the blood depart slowly from the tips of my ears, as it sunk in closer to the core of my body. I realized that a body meant feedback. It wasn't something that just carried around our brains, but was a symbiotic organism. Bodies react to our behaviors and changes in the environment, independent of what we may want to them to do. And today I was going to sever that symbiotic relationship permanently.
I handed the woman my hat and scarf, then my coat, sweater, shirt, shoes, pants and underwear. She folded the items and stuffed them neatly in the bag. I was shivering. I looked down at my loose, papery skin. It was dappled with spots and various benign growths I had accumulated over my many years. My toes were starting to go numb in the cold. I should have done this six months earlier.
I looked over the side of the boat. The water was clear but dark. There were minnows nipping at the side of the boat, investigating its foreignness in their territory.
"Do I just jump?" I asked the woman.
"You can. Would you rather I help you in?"
"No," I said, slightly unsure. You'd think they'd have a better system for all this, but I guess it was meant as a sort of rite of passage. You had to do it by yourself. I turned and looked back at the shoreline. More people had gathered. Some had binoculars. I knew none of them personally. They were just gawkers. I turned back. Once I left the boat, that was it.
There was a step up, and I took it. The boat slid and shimmied in response. I felt my balance was in jeopardy, so I just leapt to get it over with. I plunged down into the dark sea. Bubbles foamed up all around me. The world went a velvety mute. I kicked up, and emerged. I sucked in a lungful of air--the pain of the cold water felt like someone threw a cinderblock at my chest. I swam towards the ramp. There were handholds, and I pulled myself up. I was aware of the eyes on the beach and I suddenly felt undignified. How could they worship me after this? I quickly banished the thought. It was ridiculous. Those who worshipped only regarded the body as a pupal vessel, to be used to grow to a certain stage, then discarded as you moved onto the next. It was a means to an end. The complex was my chrysalis. Those who didn't worship, weren't worth my time worrying about.
I scrambled up the ramp rather unsteadily. The ramp was textured like sandpaper. I was grateful for the sake of my balance, but a fall could have been painful. I straightened up and walked up the ramp. As I did so, it started to rise up and level out. The woman nodded to me, powered up the boat and set off back to shore. I walked towards the portal and through. When I was inside, the dais in the center lit up. I walked over and stepped on it without hesitation. I extended my arms up into the air, and spread my feet apart. It was a pose necessary for the process, but it was also the signal for the process to start.
The coolant system revved up even further, and the dais vibrated underneath me. Then it's gimbal system engaged, and I was held perfectly still. The walls lit up and I was bathed in intense warm light.
And that was all. All that I remember. The end of my body. The next part of the process was where I was instantly frozen at the quantum level. My entire body was scanned then disintegrated.
Some times I rent an artificial body when I have to go out into the old world to conduct some business or other related to my estate (I couldn't dispose of my intellectual property), but I'm always still connected. There are many other minds. I can't really get away, but it doesn't really bother me. We practice a quiet time, for an hour each day where we all try to meditate and clear our minds. It works with varying success. We're working on new software that will help us better regulate how much we interact, but there's always the fear that it could be abused and cut someone off completely. To be alone is to be dead in this new world.
Someone asked me recently, someone who still had a biological body, if I still have a soul. Did the transformation destroy it? I don't have a clue. I don't feel that I'm any different, other than I'm no longer a slave to a watery bagful of mortality. If I lost a soul in the bargain, it doesn't bother me.