"Alright, allow the Jung-Unit 2-6 hours to fully integrate itself with your neurology. If you start experiencing headaches, insomnia, nausea, seizures, or hallucinations, please call user support."
This friendly warning was the last thing the sales girl named Alex told Josh about his new purchase. Just before, he walked out of the glass pyramid that wasn't a store but a "gateway," and only after friendly technicians had injected a microscopic brain-altering machine into his blood.
Alex didn't seem particularly worried about these potentially lethal side effects, so neither was Josh.
It was with the most profound conviction Josh believed the power of information technology made humanity the master of its own evolutionary path. While Josh was walking to the bus stop, a machine a fraction the size of a grain of sand was busy weaving itself into his nervous system. When it finished, Josh's physical brain would be powered by the latest in 6G network technology. He expected nothing less than a veritable electric utopia where he could cast off the pain of this existence and escape into the world of endless pleasures and possibilities code could generate.
When Josh's eyes opened in the morning, he was welcome to consciousness with an enormous feeling of relief. All of his work emails were answered, his social media accounts flawlessly managed, and he was completely caught up on what he considered to be the news.
"This is fuckin amazing," Josh whispered.
His fiance Kate stirred in the bed next to him. "Huh? You say something? She muttered sleepily.
"It's this implant," Josh said on the verge of giddiness. "You won't believe what this is like."
"Oh, your brain phone thing?" she mumbled into her pillow.
Josh rolled his eyes at her cynical indifference. "No, seriously," Josh said.
Turn on vocabulary expander?
"You're failing to grasp the significance or appreciate the long-term impact of this revolutionary new technology. My very brain matter has been converted into a bio-hub in the global information network."
"Ok," Kate said indifferently.
"Let me give you a demonstration. Go ahead, ask me anything, anything at all," Josh challenged.
"What times does the gym open," she asked with no trace of interest.
"8:00 am," said Josh.
"Well, I guess you can replace Alexa then."
Josh gave up on trying to impress Kate. She just wasn't an early adopter like him. Josh was in the shower perusing the ThoughtCast library when the image of Kate laying in bed, pouting her lips. Her pink shirt hung loosely from her body appeared in his mind's newer and better electronic eye. She arched her back in the air to give a view of the top of the fleshy mounds that were her nicely rounded buttcheeks popped in his head. Josh grinned as he looked down to take a picture of his own to reply with.
Derek: Now I'm definitely looking forward to lunch :)
Josh froze up immediately. The words lingered in his mind for a few seconds before being replaced by the ThoughtCast catalog. What was that? Was it just thought, or had it been something else? Josh waited for a minute, but there was nothing more. Eventually, he shook it off. Kate had sent him pictures like that before, and he had a close friend named Derek, and at one point or another, they must have talked about lunch. It was probably just old data or something.
"I'm sure they'll release a patch for that," Josh thought.
Josh wrapped himself in a towel and went back to the bedroom to get dressed. Kate was gone, but her phone was charging on the nightstand, its green light blinking.
Josh dismissed the incident for good this time and left to catch the bus downtown. Josh grabbed a seat near the back. Josh couldn't decide on a ThoughCast, so he just settled on NPR.
In a way, it was just like any other morning. Josh repeatedly scrolled through his Facebook and Instagram feeds, read a few articles, answered emails as they came, only now he didn't need a screen.
Josh suddenly became acutely aware of his hands. Now that he didn't need to hold his phone, his hands were free to do pretty much anything else.
"That's almost liberating," Josh mused.
He stared at his hands for a moment and considered the different things he could do now that he was unbound. He could draw, learn an instrument, maybe calligraphy? Eventually, he settled for just crossing them in his lap.
Josh was looking through his YouTube recommendations when his thoughts were again abruptly invaded.
Ben: maybe tomorrow
T_Ellen: That wouldn't work
These messages were like whispers in Josh's head. They started in a trickle, but soon his mind was flooded with chattering voices.
Mall: We're seeing a specialist next week
Thank you for your order!
It wasn't just the constant voices; his mind was processing a flow of information beyond anything it could cope with. Profile pictures, Tweets, emojis, pornography, selfies, nudes, shopping lists, calendar reminders it was all being received by Josh's brain. Soon his nervous system seized up with electrical traffic.
Josh looked around the bus with wide panicking eyes and saw everyone vigorously tapping away at their phones. Dozens of videos and conversations were happening in his brain all at the same time. A sharp pain ran from his skull and shuddered through his spine. It was all becoming louder and louder.
Josh's mind was washed away in a torrent of digitized information passing through his neurons. He was trembling, but he managed to stand up and stagger to the back door.
The bus stopped, and he tumbled out of the door onto the sidewalk. Josh covered his ears and curled up into the fetal position right where he fell. He felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, are you ok, man?"
Josh didn't hear the question. The tabs were opening quicker now, and the ceaseless chattering grew louder and louder. Josh lifted his head and saw a dozen phones pointed at him before darkness brought the sweet relief of silence.
When Josh came to, he was in a hospital bed. The only sound was the steady beep of a heart monitor. There was an attractive redhead, probably in her mid-thirties sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed reading a newspaper. As sensing his eyes had just opened, she put the paper down and welcomed him back to the world with a smile.
"Oh, good, you're awake." She said with a warm smile.
"Yeah..who are you?" Josh asked.
"I'm Emily. I'm here to talk to you about your Jung-Unit experience," she said, flashing a pearly white smile.
Emily explained that while it was nothing to worry about, there were a few faulty Jung-Units out there that "worked just a little too well" and started intercepting all cellular traffic in its immediate vicinity.
"Don't worry, though. We are going to take you somewhere to get this fixed up," Emily assured him.
"My fiance has to be able to come with me," Josh insisted.
Emily directed his attention to a note left on the bedside table before leaving the room.
I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say I will always love you, and I wish you a speedy recovery. I wish I could be there to help you heal, but they said cellphones and laptops aren't allowed, and I just can't be away from work that long.