Near the corner of his lips, below the skin, there is a twitchy strand of nerves.
“Sorry,” He mutters, “I-I-I...” He halts, his face contorting, teeth straining to nibble and quell his lip. “I’m not sure what will happen anymore…This is ridiculous, right? I mean, you’re not recording this, right? All whatwashisname guy, that James Veritas or something… I feel like some informant.”
No, I tell him, nothing is being recorded.
“It really doesn’t matter, I guess… This cafe is kinda a safe space for people like me. People who…” He sips his coffee, grunting. “I dunno, people who have them removed.”
A few months ago, Seth, was toiling away for an unremarkable Silicon Valley startup, a hapless venture that was inexplicably attracting investors willing to have their monies siphoned into oblivion.
“Then, we got an influx of cash from… I’m not going to say his name, but he’s like a notorious fascist. Big Republican donor. But, he’s all secretive about it. I subscribe to a lot of super-super secret email lists of tech writers, activists and influencers, so, I’m really in. Or, I was.”
“But, he was also an investor in this bio-hacking firm, so, after a few weeks, there was a company email stating we were all gonna be chipped. Which, we were all super excited about."
“Yeah, dude. My old roommate was the chief disruption officer at this one firm, and he had it done… it’s amazing, right?”
But, it didn’t work too well for you, did it?
Seth grimaces, “Yeah…but…I mean, this guy, this Nazi capitalist, used us for experimentation. When it’s in the right hands, like my buddy’s firm, it’s gonna be huge for humanity. I mean, one day, when you have the implant in your hand, and your jeans have RFID sensors, all you gotta do is wave your hand, and the jeans will unzip! I mean, It’s gonna set people free! We will have all this time to devote to our passions, to a journey of changing the world!”
Uh-huh… But, what happened to you? I asked.
Seth pointed to the soft, outer patch of skin between his index finger and thumb, “That’s the injection spot. Then, it spread, I guess…” He stops, unbuttoning the cuff of his shirt, then rolling the sleeve up his elbow to reveal a long, serrated scar. “From wrist to my elbow, as you can see… that’s where… that’s where the chip grew. Like, muscles, veins, even bone, was turning into… I dunno, like, a bunch of us where turning into the Terminator or something.”
“Yeah, it’s like, cool, isn’t it? I remember thinking, I already have a tattoo. My dog has an ID microchip, so…what’s the big deal, right?” Seth unrolled his shirt sleeve to cover his scar.
The Company knew what was happening, correct?
“There were three of us who had this experimental strain implanted. So, we went to HR and they said it was stated in the disclosure form we signed that we could be randomly injected with an experimental transhuman chip. But, who reads those right? You’re so excited for the new update, you just click AgreeAgreeAgree... And, that’s what we did.”
Uh-huh… So, you had an operation?
Seth hunches, leaning over the table, “So, for awhile, we all thought it was cool. These super secretive transhumanist doctors would monitor our progress and all, but one day, I was working at my laptop, creating code for our latest app update and…” He sighs. “I couldn’t write code anymore. When I typed, it was…poetry. So, I stopped. I was freaked. I took a sip of my Starbucks, and started again. More poetry. So, I did a test on myself: When I typed with my robot hand, everything was code. My human hand, poetry... Both hands, everything was poetry. Like, my body was trying to tell me something."
“Yes… Like, I just had a few of those poems published in The Iowa Log Cabin Review.” A surreptitious whisper, “I even got accepted into a prestigious MFA program.”
“Yeah, but soon…other things started to happen. I would take long walks…outside. I started reading actual, physical books. I began to empathize with women. They weren’t just big breasted comic book heroines, anymore, they were human."
“Yeah, it’s been traumatic. I even had to sell all my board games.”
“So, I mean, I had to have the chip removed. But, my company said it was impossible. They reminded me of the disclosures, all the legalities, everything I had agreed to. I could be, you know, terminated terminated they said. So, I found out, there is a lot people in Silicon Valley who had this done to them. Like, they're experimenting on us. So, my one buddy who had it done to him, we found this super-secretive online community and they helped us move and hooked us up with the doctor who specialized in these reversal operations... So, that's how I ended up here. But, we really have to watch ourselves, watch our backs, worry about our privacy because they really don't want anyone to know about what's going on..."
Your bones, muscles, everything grew back?
“Yeah, slowly, after I had the chip removed.”
Seth glances down at his iPhone, a notification appearing on its screen. “Oh, sorry, man. I gotta go. I’m meeting this guy. He want’s to interview me for his podcast.”
Sure. I got everything.
“Well, I hope to see you around Austin, man…”
I shake Seth’s feeble, indecisive hand as he departs.