The meeting had hit the usual dead end. There had been no new information in the last month, so the discussions had ultimately resulted in no new insights.
“Why Florida?” one of the attendees shouted in frustration. The others just stared at him. “What? You can’t tell me that it isn't bothering you a little bit? Why it’s Florida that gets credit for this? I mean, I'm all for states rights and shit, but even on the world stage its always ‘Florida recognised for breakthrough head transplant technology.’ As if, somehow, they were separate from the rest of the country.”
“Damn, you need to sleep, Jonas.”
“Whatever. This is bullshit. We aren't ever going to get answers to these questions so whats the point of doing this?”
“He had another transplant last week!” someone called in equal amounts frustration and astonishment. “I mean, there's no reason why that should be an issue in and of itself, but ignoring, for the time being, the source of the body, what the hell is the point?”
“Remember when he put his head on that OD’d pornstar? Brilliant.”
Jonas’s head fell hard on the desk and his feigned sobbing did little to lighten the mood. The rest of the room fell to silence again, with no one wanting to say anything that might set any of the others off again.
Jacob Love looked his new body up and down. He admired the muscle tone and definition the previous owner had obviously spent a lot of time at the gym to achieve. He was a little disappointed in the penis size, but it was still larger than the one he had been born with, so he wasn't going to complain about it.
The bandage around his neck prevented the motion needed to look at his back in the mirror, so he made a note to call in Noriko to take photos when she got in in the morning.
He took a step, then caught himself on the railing on the wall as he lost his balance. The legs were slightly longer than he had anticipated and first steps were always a brand new experience. He pushed the wheelchair away and tried again, aiming for the other side of the bathroom. It didn't take him as long as the previous body to walk normally, and he hoped that, as he continued to be able to switch from body to body as he saw fit, these learning curves would slowly flatten out and all of this limping and stumbling about would be easier.
After an hour or so of practice and smiling that famous million dollar smile of his, he walked confidently to his bedroom and lay down on the bed. It wasn't the body he was after, but it would do until the doctor could find him a new candidate.
One wall of the room was covered, floor to ceiling, in screens. Each of them showing some different global feed. While most of them were focused on previews of the next Olympic games, a handful here and there had some American government officials being interviewed. Each screen was on mute and the only sound came from a desk some ten to twelve feet back from the screens. A figure lit only by a desk lamp was scribbling something by hand on a piece of paper while mumbling something angrily to himself. Sheets of paper covered his desk and the floor around his chair and every so often, as he filled the current one, he would shove it unceremoniously off to the side and start on the next.
Each piece of paper was littered with names and seemingly unrelated numbers and all sorts of mathematical equations.
If you were to gather them all up and put them in order, you would notice the writing and ideas get worse and worse as the pages wore on.
The man at the desk is Doctor Otto Von Hausenberg, the German doctor who emigrated to America in the early 2050s and went on to develop the first successful method for transplanting someones head onto someone else’s body.
Everything about his work, and everything that was a result of it, was driving him insane.
Jonas Turner, a career cop, recently promoted to a sort of acting detective role so he could aid in the Von Hausenberg case, paced across the meeting room angrily. He wasn't angry at anyone or thing in particular, just the nature of this case was beginning to test his patience, and he wasn't the most patient person in the world.
His boss was constantly breathing down his neck for updates on a case that was almost universally accepted as being unsolvable and, as the next meeting approached, there had once again been no substantive updates. Rumour and gossip magazines were no way to approach a case of this magnitude.
He slowed his breathing and focused his thoughts.
What was the case?
How was Jacob Love able to change bodies multiple times per year without there being a single body volunteered.
What was the angle?
The doctor who administered the surgeries.
Where was the crime?
That was what really burned him, deep down inside. There had been no direct evidence of a crime. But everyone knew one had been committed. The only thing that even remotely resembled one was the acquisition of bodies by the doctor. But no families had come forward claiming a loved ones body was been paraded around by this strange man.
So here they were, the haggard few, a small group who were investigating a well-regarded doctor and a fucking celebrity over something that had literally zero evidence of occurring. And the powers that be still demanded results as if it were a normal case. “I should leak all of this,” Jonas said to himself, only half seriously.
The lab was darkened, the only light source now was three of the screens lit up showing the same stream. A replay of the previous nights World Athletics Championships, an event second only to the Olympics in the world of running. The doctor, bloodshot and exhausted to the brink of collapse, watched again the young Kenyan, Riitho Jimiyu, for the first time in human history, break a 9 second 100 meters.
“Finally,” Von Hausenber said, before collapsing into an almost comatose sleep.