The Procedure

I’ve always been a minmaxer, willing to dump the stats I’m least likely to use in exchange for an occasionally unfair advantage in other areas.

“Oh, you’re so smart!” they always said. “Oh, what a handsome young gentleman!” they always said. It turns out there is such a thing as too much praise however. While the adults were consistently impressed by my brains and looks my peers were not. It bothered me, sure, but I had a long-term plan to deal with it.

About 20 years ago science made some sort of hand-wavey discovery that let doctors take a fixed amount of your intelligence and trade it for looks, or the other way around. Good looks ex machina quickly became popular, with many parents who at least were still pretty pushing for their children to have the procedure done too. The government officials, ugly sacks of meat that they now were, decided to establish an age limit. No one under the age of 18 was allowed to undergo the procedure under penalty of a reversion.

I think the age limit was a good thing. Kids don’t really know who they are until they’re older–sometimes they never learn anyway–so the age limit increased the chances of some choosing to get smarter instead of turning society as a whole into a bunch of Elysian monkeys.

On that note, I made my appearance my dump stat. Not because of bullying or being a pariah, but because I had a plan…. Well, most of a plan. I had a strong theory I could boost my intelligence high enough to fill in the blanks once the procedure was complete.

Operation day, my 18th birthday, was booked years in advance. My parents were pushing for me to become a scientist, so telling them I wanted to increase my intellect only made them drive to the hospital faster. They put me in one of those ridiculous gowns, stripped me naked so my underwear wouldn’t leave creases on my ass and sent me into OR.

Looking at the doctor, I could clearly see this guy knew what he was doing. I mean, he must have put at least 60% into intelligence. But I digress. In the privacy of the OR he asked me what I wanted him to do. “I want intellect. Take everything else. I want to look like a three week old carcass that washed up on the beach.” The doctor’s breath hissed through his teeth. He didn’t like the idea but he was legally obligated to follow through with it. Morally too, I suppose, since this guy wouldn’t be getting many dates without money.

When I came to, I knew they did what I’d asked; the nurse was afraid to give me a mirror. When I finally got to see my reflection I didn’t recognize the Lovecraftian horror staring back at me. “Perfect.” I croaked. Jeez, they even took my voice! I thought. As the anesthesia wore off I realized my gambit had worked; the missing pieces of the plan were right there before me. I took a quick glance at the OR equipment, thanked everyone for their assistance and left.

I had to walk home. My parents ran. That wasn’t an issue though, it gave me time to think. At least it would have, if it wasn’t for all the screaming…. Parents pulled their children back, adults ran across the street, dogs snarled at me… but it was all right, I just needed to get home.

When I got back to the house I set to work in the garage. I had a pretty solid understanding of how the procedure worked before I had it done but now I’d also experienced it and seen the equipment. I pulled a few boxes of components off the wall and laid them out on the workbench, next to the soldering iron. Assembling the equipment was child’s play, the path to success was clear as crystal. Four hours, eight minutes and nine seconds later I was ready to test my own version of the procedure.

The lights in the house dimmed, some of the breakers flipped, but it worked.

“Oh, you’re so smart!” they always say. “Oh, what a handsome young gentleman!” they always say. And they’re right of course, I just can’t help but wonder if they only say it because I run things now.


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