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A glimpse into the future

After the heat and glare of the street  the inside of the building felt cool to him. He turned up his collar and made his way over to one of the booths which was set apart from the main atrium.

Medicentres like these had sprung up all over the city. They offered instant diagnostics and could calculate your risk of developing a clutch of diseases, everything from brain tumours and diabetes to liver cancer and thyroid disease. Known for their accuracy the tests were expensive and only available to those who could afford them; if you had the money went the theory, you could afford the certainty. 

He entered one of the booths and a soft female voice greeted him from the machine’s casing.

‘Please swipe the screen with your Medicentre card and select the tests you would like to order today’

He tapped at the screen and pushed his finger into a slot which had opened up in front of him, even though he’d done it many times before he was still a little nervous.

A small wasp-sting needle flicked out and drew a sample of blood, he watched as the fine tubing suctioned it up into the innards of the machine.

‘Please take a seat outside the booth whilst we process your preliminary report’ said the voice. As he waited in the marble-quiet of the atrium he noticed a message board overhead which ran the same message over and over ‘Why roll the dice with your health? Peace of mind could be yours for  now and forever more’. Talking of peace of mind he couldn’t remember the last time he’d visited a real doctor, he vaguely remembered being taken to see one as a child. The doctor smelt of coffee and made him stick out his tongue but the booths had made them pretty much redundant these days, slick technology and the quantifiable had dispensed with compassion and convention.

An older man, who had just left the booth next to his own was holding up a thin roll of paper: ‘It’s great news,’ he beamed. ‘I’ll live for another 20 years at least. I can tell my wife I don’t have to give up the drink just yet!’

In the silence his own machine whirred and began to print out his preliminary report. It had screened him for his risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes and had calculated his future risk of colon and prostate cancer. All the numbers looked good. He decided not to wait for the final report, it always said the same thing anyway.

He half ran, half walked out of the building, back out into the glare and dust of the street. As he stepped out into the road he didn’t see the car coming towards him. It was an electric driverless model, the type that looped all over the city.

As he fell into the ripped shadows and as the street darkened and became a silent reflection on the black and white mirrors of his eyes the machine inside the Medicentre printed off his final report.

‘You have only a 1 in 18,000 chance of being killed in a motor vehicle accident,’ the booth said, before finally shutting down.