The implants were meant to help people.
They were meant to make things like international communication between disparate parties easier, to negotiate the human unknown and diagnose the precursor for diseases before they could ever even start to plan an attack on the body.
The lists of purported advantages for the conditions of the implants were endless. They touched on everything from improved eyesight to aggravated social incline, from an instant cure for depression and anxiety to the ability to change one’s eye or hair color at will. When they first arrived, everything was a pure frenzy. Everyone wanted one for one reason or another. The best part? The procedure was completely free. Poor, rich, young, old, shelf-stocker or the owner of the company – it didn’t matter, as long as you were fully committed to the premise of a fresh reality.
My own implant came on the morning of my 32nd birthday, six months after the launch. Other than my appointment, it was a droll affair; a morning workout, lunch with a few friends, and a new watch for myself – my only other present. But none of that mattered, because *today was the day of my mortal reckoning*. I remember proudly and pretentiously crowing those actual words to my still implant-less friends, hands folded behind my head a smirk playing at the corners of my mouth.
The procedure itself was quick and painless. It felt almost euphoric. Under the skin, just an inch down from the ditch of my elbow, my new companion pulsed with life. I’d always been against body modifications, but something about its bright white shining through my pale skin felt entirely natural. I spent the rest of the day playing around, changing the fingers on my left hand into various utensils. That night, I willfully removed the memories of my wife’s suicide and cured the onset symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis that I’ve dealt with since I was twelve. When I awoke the next morning, clearing away the remnants of sleep was as simple as blinking. After a few weeks, I developed a formula to only require an hour of sleep per day. Through trials and tribulations, I ecstatically perfected myself piece by piece and arranged the building blocks of absolution until I was a walking portrait of the person I’d always wanted to be.
It wasn’t until I was coming up on the one year anniversary of my implantation date that I started to hear them; tiny, soft whispers in the corners of rooms, peripheral things that slipped easily into the shadows of the night. At first, I thought I was just going a little mad; maybe I’d been overworking myself. The lack of required sleep had pushed my productivity into overdrive, and I was getting more done in one day than I’d previously been able to accomplish in a month.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t will the whispers away. They sank into the background of every moment both waking and unconscious. I could never quite pick out a word or phrase. The sounds were like a sheet of rain, transparent and wordless. Eventually, they became a part of me.
Halfway through the day of my one-year anniversary, my hands started moving on their own. I was sitting at my living room table poking lazily at a plate of food with one eye trained on a book I’d been trying to finish for weeks. I blinked, and in a split second I’d sent my fork flying into the wall across from me with enough force to drive it straight through the molding. I stared at my spasming limb, fingers curling and flattering like a deranged spider, and tried to still it to no avail. After a few minutes, it returned to normal. I could bend my wrist and wave my fingers without issue. I don’t know why, but I shrugged it off. But then over the course of a week, I lost control of my other arm, left leg, mouth, and the same hand once more. Each time, I had the same results; I would become a puppet for this unseen marionette, and then after a moment things would return to normal.
There was never any pain, nor discomfort; just loss of control.
Not being able to deal with it any further, I finally dug up the owner’s manual for the implant on my computer and pored through the hundreds and hundreds of pages of text. Line upon line of superfluous business bits and bites, nothing that presented any use to me or referenced my problem.
Then, buried in page 529 of 1203, I found the following:
N. 120. YOUR SUBMISSION TO OUR SERVICES
Our Services may allow you to continue to physically inhabit your body for as long as eighteen (18) months (with the Macritera Package). The base package’s allowance of autonomy will officially end at twelve (12) months from the initiation date (end of autonomy will henceforth be known as the Marked Date). Personal control may or may not begin to diminish leading up to the Marked Date. On the Marked Date, the Farrow Worm (model number dependent on your purchase date) will begin its agency. You may experience fluctuations in the world around you in regards to any of the fourteen (14) senses, and accept any and all responsibility for actions performed as a result of these fluctuations.
Sickness sloshed around in my stomach. I wondered, faintly, if I was actually feeling the nausea threatening to creep into my throat or if the implant was just having fun. I frantically scrolled to the very last page.
Thank you for becoming a part of Our Services. Within three (3) months of your Marked Date, you will begin to receive your instructions and will be placed in your Permanent Role.
Last updated June 13th, 2038
The Farrow Institute
That was a month ago. Since then, I’ve lost about 90% of my autonomy. My days are fairly grey, but thankfully I still have brief spurts of control burst which through the haze. They allow me to get these thoughts down, out of my head, making way for the wasted space of nothingness waiting to take over completely. I can’t take my own life; it’s in the manual. Likewise, I can’t destroy whatever is left of my mental faculties. Any permanent destruction of property owned by The Farrow Institute is strictly prohibited (page 338, section H. 14).
Now, I simply sit and wait, welcoming the eventual void. I just wish I’d read the Terms & Conditions.
Narrated by Raygun Readers