Steven ground his teeth so viciously that the screeching woke Tracy unnecessarily early. After elbowing him cruelly, which gave her ears some relief, she lifted herself out of their huge white bed and struggled, zombie-like, eyes partly closed, to the door, which refused to open automatically.
She sighed, rolling her eyeballs heavenward before yanking at its tiny underused crisis handle. An appendage so minuscule that as she tugged, her fingers slipped and the metal tore the tips of two of her carefully curved plastic fingernails. Now she did more than sigh. Grunting, as the suction from the pneumatics resisted as it released itself allowing her to escape the cloying dark room, she heard her husband’s molars begin to grind again.
Coffee was waiting. At least that machine understood her needs. Tracy managed a smiled, and after pouring a dark strong cup, she sat at their long high breakfast table, her two hands supporting her chin, her long and thin jewellery-festooned fingers stretching up nearly to her eyes, her thumbs locked together near her throat.
She remained in that contemplative position for a few minutes until the sleep which had fogged her mind lifted a little, then picked up a remote, and aimed it at part of a white wall, at the same time lifting the white coffee cup to her surgically-formed lips for the first of several hot and bitter sips.
By the time, she placed the cup back down onto a coaster, a detailed, but altogether too-glossy, simulated female anchor television presenter with an unruly hairstyle and too much make up had spoken the main headlines, which consisted of nothing more interesting than the furore about Mrs Petal, the new Prime Minister and her vicious attack on the opposition’s recent disgraceful behaviour.
By the time she took more sips, had rounded the tips of her chipped nails and devoured half the coffee, the early news was already switching to an outside broadcast where a real live person was braving a snowstorm, commenting on how much more snow that region was to expect in the next week. Despite the hullabaloo that her shrill voice brought into Tracy’s morning, the freezing woman’s unnatural excitement drifted over her, emotionally touching nothing.
Because this was the day. The day Doctor Brown, their Nigerian surgeon, was arriving for Tracy and her husband. Snow would not stop him. Not the amount that the chilled anchorwoman was cheerfully babbling about anyway. Poverty, although not an issue with Tracy and Steven, would not stop him arriving either. Politicians a while ago had had their say, and the opposition had lost. England's National Health Service was a wonderful thing.
Tracy glanced at a picture of an ice building, December’s visual representation of winter on her calendar, and pleasurably noted the crossed off X’s and how they stopped at today. She nearly shivered with excitement despite her blue kitchen being a pleasing twenty-five Celsius.
More hot sips of brain-awakening coffee took her mind briefly away from the achromatic weather, but not for long. Despite the brightening morning outside, and the everlasting gloom which winter brought, she noticed the whipping effect of snow flurries on the double-glazing. A carpet of softness and white furriness had settled over their carefully manicured lawns and extensive gardens during the night. Coffee in hand, she crossed to the glass, and pressing her small and pretty, surgically enhanced nose against one of the warm panes, she smiled delightfully. No, Doctor Brown and his team would be able to get though. It wasn’t so deep. After enjoying, for a moment, the white world, she returned to her stool and muted the television, enjoying the rest of her coffee with only the early morning soft and white visual peace outside as company.
The kitchen was well appointed, unusual considering the type of people they were, and given what the essence of a kitchen must supply. A comfortable space though, and now settled, she did not want to move. However, eventually, a familiar nagging, full and bloated feeling moved though her lower half, and although she foolishly tried to ignore the discomfort, she knew that was quite impossible. How she wished it were next week.
Now she clenched her teeth while a distressing yet familiar feeling came over her until, to a mute yet another joyful weather woman, this time apparently describing the UK’s weather, she uneasily removed herself from the stool again and walked a few paces past the perpetually open door of the kitchen into a darker lobby. With a swish of another door, a door that, amazingly unlike their bedroom one, never failed to work, she walked into an brightly lit clinical area, which smelt overwhelmingly of pine leaves and flowers from some unknown and man-made forest.
Poporee was everywhere. In every assorted colour and mixture. In every glass and china plate and bowl. The sweet and cloying smell was suffocatingly overpowering. Their bathroom was spacious, and completely covered with large white plain glazed tiles from floor to ceiling that perfectly matched the white and dense shag pile. One huge mirror reflected her thin body, slightly trembling under her white chemise. The white sink was plain and functional. Everything was functional. The gold taps glinted. The disinfected lavender soap in a pinkish translucent plastic bottle welcomed her as the only colour. The white bath was huge, oval in shape and sunken.
Equidistant as it was possible to be from those items of bathroom furniture and the only door, the horror sat; the lavatory bowl, Lifeless and white as death next to its associate, the bidet. Beside it and plugged into the only electrical outlet, was a pre-programmed deodorizer, squirting puffs of radiant freshness every seventy seconds except when it detected the presence of a warm body, whereupon it increased its output sevenfold. From above, twin fans, connected to the same sensor, began their silent business of extracting air.
By the time, Tracy had finished glaring at the lower part of her body in that mirror, a process to which she was looking forward to never doing again a week onwards from that day, the deodorizer had squirted out six invisible puffs of scented perfume.
Finally, after checking and manually locking the door against any intrusion, even though only her husband was in the house, she lifted her chemise, and tugged down her knickers before uneasily lowering herself on the toilet’s pre-warmed and spotlessly clean white plastic rim. Tensely, she took a warm and fragrantly scented white towel from a nearby white plasticised rack, and pressed it hard against her mouth and nose. The effect of sitting signalled the increased weight to the toilet’s control system, which governed the waste system, and began a hidden DVD player. Whereupon Wagner’s, ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ sounded loud and sparklingly clear, its dark tones at odds with the barren room.
Now she was nervous. Her bowels, aware that it was time, were beginning to expand, and she was forced to remember, as she had to remind herself every morning, to control her breathing, and take in large gulps of air and not to descend into panic, which was a place to which she could so easily go.
The towel smelt wonderfully of freshly cut spring flowers, and as her anus expanded, she tensed her open legs, knees and toes as she imagined the nausea and overwhelmingly sickening odour, which was probably already enveloping her. She was, as always, grateful for the music although Steven’s choice that day was not one she herself would have chosen. He did have a sense of humour though, it had to be admitted.
As her body began its natural process, expelling its ordure, a frisson of hateful electricity stirred its way up her spine spilling across her rib cage, causing her nipples to rise, and despite the temperature of the well ventilated room, caused virtually all of her skin to experience horripilation.
By holding her breath at the fullest capacity of her lungs, the abhorrent process was eventually over. However, upon it finishing, her bladder sought release, and began its own process.
In her imagination she knew how what she had done might have sounded, and knew that anyone outside the closed and fully locked door, would have been able to hear her efforts if they had wanted too despite the volume of Wagner and she cringed. Moreover, she shuddered, perhaps for the tenth time, as she waited for her morning's ablutions to come to a hideous end.
There was some more panic after her bladder had emptied because it had not been unknown recently for her body to have another go at passing yet another motion. Which was why she regulated and monitored her food intake with almost mathematical precision, working out, to the nearest gram, her intake based upon her dynamic output for the previous day. It was true to say that after twenty-three years of married life, her best friend was not Steven, but the application on her phone, The Delimiter, a specialised medical and nutrient counter.
That first time when she had felt the need to go again, she had been horrified, and that very day had fired off an e-mail threatening a law suite despite having used the device and their service with a great deal of success for over five years. Steven’s own Delimiter had never been in error she had argued, but as the company patiently explained, the science of faecal and urinal matter calculation was one in which development was always taking place, and after assuring her that it would probably never happen again, she retracted her legal threat, her demand for a refund and had calmed down.
Already, and this was two years ago, she had in mind their newly offered alternative, and it was with increasing surety that she looked forward to the day when taking that option might take place. For Steven as well as herself. As Tracy tensed her fifty-year-old legs and stood up gently, she never dared for one moment to look down or behind her, least she saw the dark horror, which nestled at the bottom of the pale blue water.
Keeping the warm soft towel covering her mouth and nose with one hand, easily moved a step to her right at the same time smacking a glass panel with her free hand, which simultaneously released an overwhelmingly large volume of water into the toilet bowl, as well as starting up an extra two fans hidden in the ceiling. Calming herself, Tracy sat on the warm rim of the bidet still clutching the towel to her face.
Immediately the unit recognised her weight it began, and sprayed her with a gentle stream of temperature-regulated and scented water while she closed her eyes in deep relief. The horror, which she dreaded at the beginning of each day, was over. Forever now.
Outside of the white bathroom, and after she had spent a great deal of time washing herself, mostly her hands, Tracy was now undoubtedly a different woman. She hummed a nonsensical tune as she dressed before treating Steven to a coffee as he lazed in bed. It was now nearly nine o'clock, and in the freezing December day, quite light thanks to the new daylight saving time. A winter sun was beginning to enter their bedroom, bleak but nevertheless, welcome. They enjoyed seeing how deep the snow had become overnight for their large estate was now spotless, a white cold expanse drifting in central Essex.
Tracy never joined her husband for another coffee unless she was desperately thirsty and then her App only advised pure water, perhaps because of an unexpected exertion for instance.
However, nothing of that sort was to happen that morning, or indeed for the next forty-eight hours, for all their activity had been scheduled with precision weeks before. More so than on any other day.
For instance, neither of them, besides their one early morning cup of coffee, was allowed to drink anything else except double filtered water. Moreover, and more importantly, no food had been allowed either for the last twenty-four hours. But that necessity had not worried them whatsoever. The fast they had had to endue was even pleasurable. The pain of hunger, they felt, easily outshone the misery of their morning abolitions.
They were to remove any nutritional implants before the great doctor arrived, complete their assigned exercise format for the day and rest thoroughly. These were specific instructions coming from Doctor Brown, their surgeon because he had a known habit of surreptitiously checking the health logs of patients upon which he was going to operate, a habit his insurance company insisted upon after his seventh year of surgery, owing to a patient once dying on his mobile operating table.
Both Tracy and Steve had been on this famous surgeon’s long waiting list for over eleven months, and so it was with great anticipation that they enjoyed some quiet time together on their bed, their arms linked in agreement, watching the snow becoming deeper and deeper.
Until Steve himself sighed deeply, and Tracy knew what that unhappy sound meant. It was his time now. He rose and moved towards the door, and immediately he did, any warmth for him evaporated like ice on a hot day for she was well aware of what his body was about to do, and she found it unbearable. In her mind, he shifted from being her husband, her lover, and her partner to a hateful biological mechanism that daily did something unmentionable and irredeemable. She became angry, as if it were his fault.
After he left, she dressed quickly in slacks and a loose top and, given the choice of walking on a treadmill or shovelling snow for an hour, she opted for the latter and pulled on a cardigan and her favourite pair of boots which had seen better days but today, she thought, was a day whereby she didn’t care less about what her postman thought. She would shovel snow and clear a path for Doctor Brown’s air-surgery craft.
He was scheduled to arrive at four that afternoon, and as he always brought his team with him, the operations would begin at six after prepping his patients at five. By then, the surgeon would have all the information he needed, his team of seven expert assistants and nurses would be up and running with all the programs and permissions loaded and all would be in place.
A reporter was supposed to arrive to cover the opperations, but due to the weather closing in and a report of a far more interesting operation on the other side of London, which eventually appeared as ‘Man has mucus plug problem solved’, the editor of the evening paper decided to go for the nearest and, quite frankly, the more interesting story.
For although the procedure which Tracy and Steve were to undergo was reasonably new and innovative, it was hardly, as the editor explained to one of his reporters who was, at the time, staring dismally though the snowflakes touching the windscreen of her car wishing the damn man would make up his mind, cutting edge. And there he was right of course. A man with excessive mucus was a top story, and was more newsworthy to the general public.
Bowel and large intestinal removal, although pioneered several years ago as an adjunct to cosmetic surgery, although out of the development stage, was still an oddity, but an oddity which was becoming ever more popular as more people discovered that they were becoming ever more distanced from the processes of their own bodies.
In the larger and more famous cities of the world, although it was not yet commonplace, it was seen as the next big thing to do for ones own satisfaction; to replace the foul, maculate and physical process of defecating and urinating by the sanitised process of the urinary drain and the clean and hygienic process of the sterile bag.
‘This eliminates the animal within’, so the public program had informed them. ‘It enables the patient to go about their daily business unencumbered by the very worse that the body so seemingly haphazardly produces’.
As well as the three-hour operation, what was known as a CR (a Compelling Regulator) would be fastened at the end of the small intestine, and that had the effect of only allowing waste to flow when the user was asleep. This was, of course the icing on the surgical cake, as the user did not have to wear the equivalent of a colostomy bag during the day.
Therefore, after clearing snow for fifty-one minutes for Tracy and forty-three minutes for Steve, they spent a quiet day. Resting, reading and slightly excited, but not by too much. They planned to celebrate their last use of the unmentionable room in two weeks time with a celebratory meal, but in the meantime, they enjoyed the day almost breezily, and around three fifty five in the afternoon, listened intently for the National Health Service helicopter.