A Question Of Faith

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"Faith Ejnajim was a woman, who you would walk past and forget her immediately. She looked very similar to the American average, as far as I could judge it. I know quite a lot about averages, mean square deviances and the like since I worked at a market research firm called Aliflanke Inc. . We knew quite a lot about Joe and Jane Average and if you are American, I bet 200 dollars that within the last 8 hours you used a product which was designed with our help. I started to like Faith not for her looks, but for her wit and her humor. It was also remarkable that she knew a lot about many different subjects. When Roy and me got into an argument about some baseball stats, she often happened to know them. She also could help me once with a crossword puzzle when the name of a Brazilian philosopher was needed (I normally do not do this kind of things but the main price was a really good holoprojector). Sometimes we spent time together - at least from my side without a second thought. When people thought that we were dating, she explained we were just friends, albeit close ones. Our colleagues joked that the right people have met: a gay man and a lesbian woman, but we both just laughed about that.

My landlord often was annoyed about me, thinking I was too loud or too dirty. That meant I was not that surprised when he refused to renew our contract for another year. He however could have hardly chosen a worse time, even if he tried. My work was quite stressful at that time and I hardly had the time to search for a new place to live. Faith came to my rescue: I knew that her finances were not in the best state since she payed installments for her house, so I did not suspect anything unusual when she offered me to live with her as sub-lessee.

I knew that her house was rather spartan since she did not want to spend a cent too much while being indebted. A lot of things from my household came handy for both of us and so we shared them. We started to spend more and more time together and I had to admit that I missed her when she was not in my proximity. Was that love? I did not admit that, even to myself. I also did my best to chase the thoughts away which dealt with her naked body. I said to myself, that I was just yearning for female contact - and for sex because, I admit, even though I never needed much of it, I have had less than I needed for years. This did not stop me from behaving strange: I knew she was from Israel and so I started to learn her native language Hebrew even though I never told her about it.

One day, Faith could not go to work. She told me, she was ill, that her head and her muscles ached horribly. I assumed she was hoarse as well, because her voice sounded... just not right. It was quiet, monotonous - even slightly robotic. I asked whether I should take a day off as well to take care of her, but she declined, stating that there was no need to give Rat more reasons to dislike us. I heard her call a doctor, a doctor Rofe while getting ready for work. I found myself being absent-minded during work. It was a task as hard as pushing toothpaste back into the tube to concentrate on any other thing than her. I realized that this was the first time in all these years that she has been sick and it worried me more than it could calm me. When it rains, it pours, as the proverb goes. I left work earlier than I ever did before, ignoring speed limits, stop signs and the Geneva convention driving home. A car was parked in front of our house and the numberplate said ROFE. I felt better almost instantaneously, seeing she was in good care.

I unlocked the door and entered the house. From her bedroom, I heard strange sounds: something beeped too often to be a clinical thermometer. I knocked on her bedroom door and then put an ear on the door, thinking that if she was as hoarse as this morning, I would not be able to hear her answer otherwise. Feeling slightly like a criminal from the German Democratic Republic (Faith once told me that there, criminals so often pressed an ear at a door to hear if someone was inside, that the police took earprints as well as fingerprints of criminals), I heard a lot of tech humming and the Doctor saying something in a foreign language. I first thought it was Hebrew but it had another melody and sounds that did not exist in the Hebrew language. I knocked again and entered. I almost stumbled back. Faith was in bed, her expression was blank, her naked body exposed. Cables from faiths body led to the computer, which Dr Rofe had on his lap. It sometimes beeped, then he would press a few few keys and hit enter. Faith did not react anyhow. When I slowly unfroze from my shock, I cleared my throat and said: "You are not a real doctor." Well, my brain was still frozen and my mouth had nothing better to do than state the obvious.

Dr. Rofe turned around, his gray eyes focusing and scanning me: "Oh, I am... I established good knowledge of Keli medicine from the Lu?ian databases."

Kel, suddenly my brain started working again and immediately came to a conclusion, which made sense: Faith was a kel, a synthetic being, partly genetically engineered, partly human. Created by the decentral states on the other side of the New Wall. A spy.

The doctor took a gun out of its holster and pointed it at me, I turned around to run, but the next thing I remembered was pain and collapsing.

I heard the weird language, and I thought that the decentrals apparently infiltrated the afterlife as well, then I opened my eyes and was at the place where I always wanted to be under normal circumstances: in Faith's bed. Faith and the doctor stood next to the bed and looked down on me. The doctor neutral and she sad.

"Ferenc! It is good that you are conscious again!" She said. Again she looked completely human and completely amazing. "I am so sorry that you... you had to know this, to get involved in this."

Faith and Dr. Rofe explained to me that since I found that out, they would have no option than to cause me to forget the last months and make sure I leave this house and my current job, just to be sure. Unfortunately the drugs only work when the person is conscious. I looked at Faith attempted to get up, still weak from the tranquilizer. "Faith. There surely is another option. I love you more than I love my motherland. I would do anything for you. If you would tell me to shoot the president I would without any thought. I attempted to learn Hebrew to be closer to you and I would attempt to learn Lu?ain as well!"

Faith helped me up and hugged me. "I never knew that... I always thought you really were gay as people jeered because you never urged me to anything... I love you too and it was nothing but love why I offered you to live here, breaching every Lu?ain security protocol."

"I was simply afraid to lose what I had with you to take the next step."

"I was as well" Faith said before kissing me on the lips.

We spent a while in each other's arms, kissing. Neither of us noticed that Rofe left and returned until he said something: "Under these circumstances, I have connected to centroregilo explaining these unprecedented circumstances. If you want to work for the misrad, we can employ you under a certain condition..."

I had no idea what the misrad was, except that it was the Hebrew term for ministry or bureau, but that did not matter as long as I could still be with her. "That is?"

"As human, you could rather easily tell the authorities without getting in trouble yourself. We can however turn you into a kel, which would make your loyalty much more likely."

I understood. as kel, I could not tell anyone about it without being arrested, tortured, deported - or worse. It made sense. I nodded. "You can turn me into a kel?"

"That is our offer, either you lose your humanity or your memory and your loved one."

"Can we... will we be able to..." I looked down Faith's body to her lower regions.

"Yes, that is possible." Rofe smiled and Faith blushed.

A few days later, I arrived at an abandoned building near Detroit. It seemed to have been belonged to one of the bankrupted car companies and not only the decentrals but a group of homeless people as well used it as shelter. The misrad occupied one room in the cellar, secured by a complicated locking mechanism. This room was the only one, which did not appear to be abandoned or falling apart. It was full of devices, which's function was unknown to me. Rofe, who was no doctor but a technician as I learned, told me to undress myself and lay down on the table in the middle of the room. I did and the material of the table seemed to be a gel because I sank down in it until nearly my entire body was covered. My head still sticked out so I could breathe and see what was going on. Then Rofe flipped a switch and the material became so hard that movement was impossible.

"We will use nanotechnological autonomous agents, so called nanites to perform the changes. As I explained the change will be so thoroughly that no one will suspect you are something else than a kel directly from the decentral republic. Last chance to chicken out..." he paused a few seconds then he injected two tubes into chest. At first, it felt as neutral as donating blood does, then my feet started to itch and to ache. I attempted to move them, but that of course was futile. I made an angry sound. The pain was so much that I thought my feet would fall off. Rofe adjusted something and even though the pain was still there, it became more bearable. The change started to move upwards into my ankles, my shanks. All I could do was to wait and more than the pain, the unspecificness of the entire process bugged me. I was yearning to find out want was going on. And suddenly realized that I had a certain urge. "Errr, boss, is there a chance to go to the toilet?"

"Not really! But that urge will subside soon, it is a temporary effect." Rofe attempted to calm me.

I did not reply, because I felt the change moving upwards. It became a bit more specific as I could feel shifts and movements or at least I fantasized that I did. Suddenly, my entire body seemed to be in flames. The adjustment of the qualia meant I did not pass out due to the pain, the twists and the shifting. I felt centers which seemed to be full of activity and others, which nearly remained unchanged so far - and unexpected swaps between these two types of regions. I had no idea whether anything of me still existed or whether I was feeling nothing but phantom aches. Eventually the changes left my body and moved upwards to my head. Then I passed out.

I knew I was at the basis a?tofabriko when I woke up, I realized that the material of the table allowed me movement again. I looked at my body and while it looked absolutely unchanged, I remembered the changes, which are related to the kelization. the stronger muscles, the quicker reactions, the possibility to link myself to decentralic systems, the improved eyesight. I did not want to think about the mental changes to much since that had the possibility to throw me into an identity crisis unlike any I experienced in my life. I realized that I remembered the plans to use the market data, which is processed at Aliflanke Inc to adjust American culture to make it less likely that the cold war would turn hot. I was okay with this. It did not involve killing the president. I smiled to Faith realizing she was the same model as me under the biological facade.

The next days were somehow reminding of the previous life, but it was as if the soundtrack of my life changed so to say - and the relation to Faith of course. I remembered how pale Roy was when we invited him to our wedding. I did not know earlier that there were people who placed bets on our behavior. I know that you want to hear much more urgently whether we did it. Well, that is left to your imagination. I think, this shows that the change is not something to be afraid of. Especially since they now made it hurt less."

Ferenc Ejnajim sent the message to the new recruits of the misrad, disconnected himself and smiled at Faith.

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