Chapter 20: Symptoms of Bad Change

"Edison," Jenny said as Edison arrived at home. "Edison, you have to talk to Bryce. Please? Try to make him see sense. He wants to kill himself."

"Bryce," Edison yelled as he rushed in. He half expected to find Bryce with a razor or rope.

"Relax," Bryce told Edison. "Jenny doesn't have it quite right. I don't want to die. I just don't see any alternative."

"He's right," Bryce II told them.

"Yeah," Jenny snapped. "Because you're going to disagree."


"Meet Bryce II," Bryce told Edison, introducing his construct.

"Bryce II?" Edison asked. "How original."

"The confusion will be over when this body is gone," Bryce explained. "Edison, look. What do you do when your vidicam no longer works right? You get a new one. A better one. I've transferred my mind, brain, soul… all of it… into a new body. It might not be physical, but it will do. Now I'd just like permission to get rid of the old one if and when it breaks down too much to be useful."

"Your asking us to kill you," Edison shook his head.

"No," Bryce explained. "I'm asking you, when the time comes, to let me die. Don't force my body to be kept functioning by machines just so you can see my face. Don't let some doctor keep me alive just so he can say I didn't die on his watch. Let me have dignity when the time comes, Edison. Jenny. Please?"

"What about the nanite project, Bryce?" Jenny asked. "What about the terrorists?"

"Bryce II can make the marshmallows," Bryce said, frowning. "That's not what I meant to say. I'm sorry. I…" Bryce tried to think of what he wanted to say. But all he got for his efforts was a wave of dizziness that he could not shake.

"Bryce…" Jenny asked.

"Let me just lie down for a moment," Bryce told her. "I think I'll be okay for now. Just pass me that… that…"

"You want the pillow?" Jenny offered.

"Yes, pass the bloody pillow. Damn it." Bryce swore. "Look, at me. I can't even remember what a pillow is any more."

"Considering that you almost never sleep, it's no surprise you don't remember pillows," Edison said, trying to lighten the mood.

"Shut up," Bryce snapped. "Just shut the fuck up!"

Edison was shocked. Bryce had never sworn at him like that before. He didn't even think Bryce had ever heard the F-bomb before.

"I'll come back later," Jenny told them, as she quietly slipped out the door.

"Don't look so shocked, Edison-fucking-Carter," Bryce exploded at him. "You think this is all some kind of joke? You think it's funny when someone as brilliant as I am has to go through every day feeling their mind …. their intellect… the very thing that defines them… just collapse into nothingness?"

"I think you need to watch your language," Edison told him. "Otherwise, you're right. It's not funny. And I wasn't joking about that. I was just trying to lighten the mood."

"Well, find something more appropriate to joke about next time," Bryce snarled, lying down and burying himself under the blankets.

"You still want the pillow?"

"Go to Hell!"

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