I'm signing my life away for the next thirty-six hours. The woman who does my physical is smiling and blue. She has the perfectly serene smile and cyanotic complexion of a hiver. In about an hour, I'll be just like her.

Since returning to the City, I have heard little things about the hivers, but few people seem to understand what the Hive is. I started with the source, of course. The Hive promises the closest thing to bliss humans can have – belonging, peace, society, comfort, and freedom from pain.

The price?

Just your individuality.

A piddling thing, they say. Who needs it? Human pain comes from individuality – individuals hurt, the Hive endures.

They have my DNA, blood, hair, semen, saliva – even fluid from my eyes. Mucous from every imaginable orifice, and at least one I would have preferred not to imagine. They'll be readjusting some of those little details to ensure concordance with the Hive; my DNA will be the same as that of every other post-human cell in the greater organism.

The Hive is the single greatest producer of new software technology in the world. With the hive mind, the programming continues seamlessly morning, noon, and night. When one body moves out to get some rest, another body takes up the coding without a break in the flow. There's no ego to hold up projects, no workers unsuited to the job no matter what the job may be.

It (the Hive claims to be singular) swears that it does not want the rest of humanity to become one great Hive. When I asked why, they – it – told me that some humans are constitutionally incapable of bliss.

It's why the Hive offers the three-day immersion.

I leave my clothes in a locker that will open only to the print of my human DNA. If I choose not to revert, my belongings are the Hive's, of course.

I have permission, as a reporter, to continue to wear my Live Shades for the next three days. The Hive says it has nothing to hide. With everything as public record, I'm sure I'll get my 'self' back.

I'd be nervous if my lawyers weren't bloodthirstier than the Voodoo Revival cult in Robson Canyon.

Those who are curious about Hive life can sign up for three days of the Hive experience. Seventy-two hours: bliss or your money back.

That's right – your money back. The Hive claims that ninety percent of those who take the test run never want to leave.

The price is quite simply everything – your possessions, your body, your mind, your individuality, and some would say your soul.

Seventy-two hours.

Bliss? Or oblivion?

It begs the question of whether there's a difference.

This is it.

The table is cold for a split-second, then it warms to my body temperature. The DNA reprogramming will begin any moment.

I say goodbye to myself.

Why only seventy-two hours?

They tell you that you only need seventy-two hours because three days in the Hive is an accurate predictor of what can be expected for the next three years or three decades within the commune.

If you're unhappy after three days – you'll be unhappy forever.

I'm me again.

It has been the most peaceful, tranquil, fulfilled, blissful, blessed, delightful – the superlatives just keep coming – seventy-two hours of my life.

I belonged. I was happy. I was productive. I wanted for nothing and I knew my place in the order of things.

I fucking hated it.

Of the various ways we try to transcend being human – transients, foglets, the people at Farsight – we still remain human. We have our failings, our fuckups, our selves. Most of us aren't worth the oxygen we breathe.

I don't need to tell the blue man who has brought me out of the Hive mind; we all know I'm one of the ten percent not meant for bliss.