Not massively happy with this, I suspect that this section will be completely rewritten in editing.
The next few days are something like a whirl. I’m prodded and poked for the new biometric passport when it turns out that my old one was just that, too old. Photographs, fingerprints, DNA markers are all now needed on the chip in the passport. All nicely encoded, but of course that hasn’t stopped a few thousand people from having their identity cloned and used in the commision of fraud.
I make certain to buy one of those tinfoil covers for the it. It might make it more difficult to use at the airport, but at least it’ll mean that someone criminal with a £100 RFID scanner on the tube won’t steal my credit rating from under me.
I’m also sent for various medical tests in order to keep the suits who are arranging my travel health insurance happy. I’ve no problem with the blood tests and x-rays, I know that my HIV, Hepatitis and TB status are all negative and so I don’t get worried about that sort of testing.
There then follows half a dozen vaccinations and pills to take, but the end of it both arms are basically one huge bruise. First black, then yellow. I wonder if it will affect any tan I might get.
What does worry me somewhat is the psychological testing for the onset of CLBD-7, lot’s of little memory games, coordination tests, reflexes poked and lines walked. My gait is analysed by smart cameras and my speak by smart microphones.
I worry about this because it’s possible that I’ve been infected, that I’m showing the symptoms already and not noticing it. Confusing my early morning fug with damage to my QQ Hypothalamus QQ, mistaking a headache or eyestrain with holes appearing in my QQ optic region of the brain QQ or stumbling up the stairs not because of last nights drinks but because the balance centre of my brain is turning into Swiss cheese.
So I jump through hoops (which is a metaphor, but not by much) before I find myself sitting in a consulting room at the company that provides healthcare for Finsbury Group workers.
The nice nurse sits opposite me and in silence prints out a hardcopy of her computer screen. She reads the printout rather than the screen and looks over her glasses at me.
I hold my breath.
The sick feeling in my stomach is about to spread to my whole body when she tells me that I’m 97.5% unlikely to have the early symptoms of CLBD-7. I take a moment to let her words sink in. Does she mean that I have it or I don’t? All I heard was a large number.
She passes me the printout and I relax as I read it. Basically my chances of having CLBD-7 are around 2.5%, around a one in fifty chance. That’s pretty good as the test is all to do with your psychology and physical exam. There is no blood test for early CLBD-7 all they can do is say that, as you aren’t wobbling too much on your feet, and as your memory isn’t worse than it should be it’s unlikely that you have the disease.
Only a one in fifty chance? I’m happy with those odds.
With the insurers happy that I’m not going to go zombie on them while in the middle of nowhere the rest of the week is taken up with paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. The first couple of tickets have been bought for me and my mysterious fixer cum bodyguard, who I’ll have you know, I’m yet to meet. Accommodation has been booked for the first two weeks of travel, although I’m warned that if I open the mini-bar the money will be coming from my wages and not the expenses budget. I notice that in some places I’ll be sharing a room with my companion. I hope he doesn’t snore.
They upgrade my phone, I now have one of the latest systems. It’s less a phone and more like a computing hub. Wired and wireless connections are easy to make with it as is the ability for it to be the hub of my PAN, my Personal Area Network. Like the eyeglass video screens it can hook up with my camera (although it has a pretty handy one built in), my videocamera, a microphone or pretty much any other bit of kit that I might have within a metre of me. The techs in the media lab load it up with software, including a complete GPS map of the world, a translation suite and some writing apps. I stick the entirety of the Guttenberg Library and a few other less legally downloaded books and film on it. I have a feeling I’m going to hate air travel very quickly on this assignment.
Like all the other personal computers I’ve owned I name it Box, and in this instance it does indeed look more like a rectangular black box than a phone.
They also give me the standard tech for a one-person media collector, still and video camera, sound gear, a gucci folding keyboard and a bag to keep it all in.
I'm also given a mini medical/dental kit. I’m kind of hoping that I don’t need it.