Going to my Uncle Manny’s is always an experience. He’s taken the whole Radical Personal Engineering fad about as seriously as anyone could – more so than even the people who came up with it, probably.
We’re driving up to his estate – you kind of have to be rich to be so into RPE – and he’s standing outside, grinning, hoping we’ll notice everything he’s done to himself this time. The silver white hair is obvious, and there’s something about his smile – it’s glowing, kind of. He hugs everybody, and I try not to touch him too tightly. You never know what you’ll feel under his flowy shirt and jacket.
Dad makes a joke like “I hope I won’t go that white by your age, Manuel” – as if he doesn’t know it’s engineered – but Mom compliments his hair’s silkiness, which makes Uncle Manny happy. Mom’s actually right – it is silk. He’s had all his follicles replaced with silkworms. They’re modified to be really small but output twice as much silk, implanted in some kind of mesh under his scalp that feeds them nutrients his own body produces, probably via some prescription.
Wally whispers to me as we go inside: “There are bugs living inside our uncle! Awesome!” Boys.
Uncle Manny pours everyone drinks – juice for Wally and me, liquor for my parents – but sips on a clear drink that smells positively antiseptic, which has been prescribed by his dental engineer so the teeth he had inserted will retain their bioluminescence.
Uncle Manny blinks his big lashes at me and I notice that there are silvery flecks in his eyes. He notices me staring and explains that they’re photosensitive platinum slivers, which capture what he’s looking at and upload it wirelessly to a satellite server.
“So it’s just a less sophisticated brain,” I say. “Something that stores the images you see so you can review them later.”
“No, Cassie, this is a server,” he says.
“You’re paying for a brain,” I say, and excuse myself to the bathroom, while he laughs and says, “Kids.”
In the medicine cabinet, there are one hundred forty-one pill bottles – I get irritated just counting. But to Uncle Manny it’s worth it.