The sign over the door read “Pulse Trading Emporium.” The advertisement had guaranteed in soothing tones that the experience would be pleasant, even positive.
This kind of thing used to be illegal or impossible. However, two breakthroughs in different sectors paved its way to acceptance and possibility. First was the landmark court case of Smith vs Evans, which resulted in the recognition by law of people’s inalienable sovereignty over their physical bodies. Thereafter, if you could show that you might continue to live a satisfactory life, as defined in White Paper #4C35A, you could sell any part of your body to benefit that life. Later cases confirmed that this ranged from the equivalent of renting space, as in modeling or prostitution, to the equivalent of selling goods, such as a kidney or a tooth.
The second breakthrough came from bio-rhythmics. What had been a highly esoteric semi-religious practice turned out to have practical benefits. When practitioners learned to save their breath, using modified Tupperware containers, industry moved in. Within a few years, the range of commodities that could be harvested from the human body grew enormously. Not only could you sell half a lung, you could sell 1000 breaths. There were controls, of course. No one could legally reduce a life below the recognized Reasonable Life Span of 70, and you had to be healthy, otherwise the breaths would be substandard.
All of which made this moment possible. I took a deep breath and pushed open the door.