Photo sapiens

Radiant sunshine. Just incredible. It was the sort of weather that could make you weep at its sheer brilliance. So Sandy did just that. She more than appreciated the value it held for her, as a solitary tear caressed her soft cheek.

It did not take as great a leap in technology as one might expect to create a generation of Photo sapiens - human beings capable of photosynthesis. Some common or garden gene splicing from cyanobacteria into embryos or even adult stem cells and whizz bang you have humans with chloroplasts - organelles which carry out the photosynthesis, the process of using light and carbon dioxide to sustain life.

Food was only required to supply micronutrients, taste, and social lubrication. Since they were still mobile, they could not get micronutrients or water from the soil, so the occasional snack or drink was required, but nothing more.

Countless restaurants and cafes across the globe closed down due to lack of customers, and solariums popped up in their place.

The real estate market was revolutionised: the price of properties in sunny areas skyrocketed. Governments in some countries instituted a rationing system for these properties - a form of timeshare that was publicly run. The world was divided into countries which supported free real estate, and those whose real estate was more regulated.

Not all people could afford the conversion from Homo sapien to Photo sapien, and a new kind of gap between rich and poor emerged - the autotrophs versus the heterotrophs - those who did not need food for energy versus those who did.

Those without money were forced to work even harder for their food, and had to compete with those who consumed food only as a luxury just to sustain themselves.

Sandy Shore was one such photo sapien. Blond hair, blue eyes, and privileged to the extreme. Dark tan. Now here was the rub. Tanning inhibited photosynthetic activity, so the more one did of it, the more sun was required to produce the same effect the next time around. It therefore became addictive, and the cost of maintaining a photosynthetic body blew out.

A sunny day such as this gave her a glimmer of hope of staying afloat financially.

When a contract was signed for conversion to a photo sapien body, the Government agreed to buy back excess energy produced in the form of sugars, pumped out of the blood and converted into biofuels. A contract was signed, and the sugar sold back to the system was used to pay off the debt for this conversion.

Once a week, the photo sapiens went to blood donation centres to pump out their sugars.

The problem became, since the sunlight required to produce a given amount of sugar increased with more production, the debt became increasingly hard to pay off, and people were forced to maintain the situation just to keep going.

The cost of conversion back to a regular human was even more expensive than the original conversion to a photo sapien. With sunburn and potential skin cancer as an added cost, not to mention the induced diabetes from high levels of sugar in the blood unless frequent pumping occurred, it would be foolish to enter into such a contract lightly.

Sandy had no concern for such negative issues, and simply thought of the status that a photo sapien body could afford her in a photo-class-driven society.

Laying on a sarong on a popular city beach, she rolled onto her stomach and unhooked her bikini top. Not an inch of real estate on her prized skin was allowed to go idle in her quest for sugar credits. She was determined to pay off this conversion debt and start making profits.

Spud Farmer had no such privilege. Not only was he required to regularly eat food; not only was he forced to work, rather than sunbathe for a living; but he also worked in the food-production industry. He was about as low in the social scale as a wart on a cockroach. His tan gained from working in the fields went completely unrewarded.

For the most part, Spud rejected the photo-class system, and avoided the sun-privileged individuals who made his life a constant struggle. For Sandy, he made an exception. Her glistening skin entranced him in a way that was beyond the control of his conscious mind. Every time he saw her, an etherial harmony pervaded his consciousness.

His world stood still as long as she was in sight, while the heavens descended and the sun was alive. It was as if the sun was responding to her photosynthetic activity - while she soaked up the sunlight, the sun soaked up her aliveness, her humanity, and the world reflected this change.

No doubt Sandy was oblivious to the existence of Spud, he assumed, and he did nothing to remedy the situation by making his presence known. He stared at her perfect luminous body from behind a beach umbrella as he sneakily ate a sandwich, careful to avoid exposing his food requirement.

Spud thought long and hard about his position in society, about his desire for a woman who was outside of his reach. He grew increasingly disparaged. He tossed his sandwich distraughtly into the sand and ran into the ocean in a panic-stricken reverie.

Sandy returned to lying on her back and looked out at the shimmering water. She could see a young man there who looked familiar. Quite attractive, she thought, maybe I should start up a conversation with him. She had often seen him around the place, and he seemed like a genuine and caring person. Tired of the tedium of the photo-privileged-classes, she was ready to interact with somebody different, to try to understand what it was like in his world. To try to understand what it was like to live a life of substance.

Sandy could see his head bobbing above the water as an ominously large wave crashed over him. Fortunately, his head was in sight again.

She grew anxious for his well-being, leapt up and ran into the water to try to help him.