He cannot be saved, they said. He must be reborn.
Ten Years Ago: He woke up in a dirty alley: twelve years old for ten years, freshly beaten, his head full of electronics and eyes owned by the World Media. He stumbled out into the sterile city light, and flagged down an automated taxi.
"You no bleed on my seats," the EthnicProgram muttered as he crawled in. "You no bleed. No one bleed in Iraq."
It was true, no one did. The boy muttered his apologies, lay across the seat, and replayed the beating in his head.
Five Years Ago: Twelve, forever twelve, he walked into a clinic in New York, intent of changing, of growing. The receptionist was an empty cherry smile in the air, and ushered him through a room, where a wingless angel awaited him.
It is expensive, it told him.
Outside, everything was clean, bright, safe, the sky cluttered with thousands of airships. With fortunes.
Three Years Ago: The first airship bought him two million, but it wasn't enough. He was left with only five hundred thousand was expenses were paid, and that five was worn out on buying weapons, declaiming his eyes (it was unsettling to watch his hijacking on the evening news, and hear that the police were mystified).
He visited his wingless angel, who whispered assurances, and told him that he would be a man when he had enough money.
One Year Ago: The Police burst through his door, and he shot them. The following chase lasted a month, and he lost them only when he paid to have his fingerprints switched to a man rotting in a spaceway jail for forty years.
The next day, he hijacked his last airship.
Yesterday: His wingless angel whispered, It is time, prepare yourself.
Today: He is blinking, sliding away, and they have gathered around him, whispering, cutting open his skin, preparing him.
Tomorrow: He will be reborn, age eleven.