SWAP – a synopsis
SWAP is set in 2099, in a future society where everyone has become obsessed with the spread of diseases and staying clean. Cities have been sealed off from other parts of the world, and only people with money remain. Everyone else has been forced to live outside the Wall, where disease and crime are part of daily life.
Huge electronic billboards blast out messages to ‘stay healthy’ and ‘keep clean.’ Hospitals have all been rebuilt underground to try to limit the spread of diseases, and people can no longer move freely from place to place, only between designated ‘clean zones.’
An infectious disease called Mortax is rife and is the leading killer of people at this time. Those affected are monitored and supervised, and when their symptoms become severe, they are hospitalised and no longer allowed to return to society to try and limit the spread of infection.
However, they can still sometimes live their lives normally thanks to a new medical breakthrough that led to a process called Syncing With Another Person, or SWAP.
SWAP relies on healthy volunteers donating their bodies to the hospital for a few hours. The mind of the sick person transfers into the healthy person’s body, and vice versa. This enables those who are ill to go back out into society, to spend time with friends and relatives, and to live their lives as they would have done before they got sick.
They can only SWAP for a few hours, however, as before too long, the volunteer’s mind will begin to believe it belongs in the sick person’s body, causing irreversible damage, and they then would be unable to swap back.
The story follows the lives of Eric Kingston, Dougie Ledger, Camilla Klien, and Claire, all of whom have been affected by SWAP in different ways.
Eric works as a journalist at the Barrymore Gazette. He is single, quiet and likes to keep himself to himself. His dream is to leave the local newspaper, to get a big break with one exclusive story that will change his career. His beloved sister, Kate lies dying from Mortax in hospital, and he now only sees her when she is allowed to SWAP.
Dougie is Eric’s colleague, an overweight loser who seems content to be distinctly average at everything. However, Dougie has a secret he is trying desperately to repent for, and so regularly donates his body to the hospital to try and make up for his sins.
Camilla Klien runs the Barrymore Gazette. She is beautiful, smart and mean. She always imagined she would be rich, famous, and living the high life but when she was diagnosed with Mortax years ago, her life turned upside down. Camilla’s father is a well connected and dangerous man, and when she went to him for help, he let her in on the world of the SWAP black market. Here those in desperate need of money, or who have gotten themselves into trouble are captured and used to swap with the rich and famous people who contract Mortax; only these people never swap back. Camilla is plagued by the fact that she took someone’s life to save her own, and her self-loathing leads to destructive behaviors such as heavy drinking and sleeping with people she doesn’t like.
Claire is a nurse at the hospital. She grew up outside of the cities in a cult who kept away from contemporary society and didn’t believe in modern medicine. However, when she was a child on a rare trip into the city, Claire became mesmerised by the hospital and knew it is her calling to work there. She is kind, gentle, beautiful, and fiercely intelligent, and oversees the SWAP process.
It is when Eric begins to investigate a seemingly innocent story about a local man falling into a lake that he unwittingly begins to reveal a story which exposes the black market swapping. The deeper he delves, the more he uncovers, and the more danger he finds himself in. When he gets in touch with Claire to help him track down some old medical records, they begin to realize just how many powerful and dangerous people are running the black market, and it becomes a perilous race against time for Claire and Eric to find the evidence they need to expose what SWAP for what it is.
The stories of these four characters become inextricably linked, and they end up working together to reveal the horrors of the SWAP black market, though doing so may cost them their lives.
Image courtesy of Jimmy Brown @flickr.com