Friday, 10 January 2014

Elective surgery

“Glass,” said the man in the gaberdine mac.  He paused, waiting longer than necessary for his computer glasses to let him know that they were listening and waiting for further input, so that the people around him could process what he’d said and start paying attention too.  “Glass, get me a taxi.”
A woman a couple of steps to the side of him sighed loudly and theatrically, letting him know how unimpressed she was that he had such a device.  A man standing next to her took her arm suddenly, and they both abruptly turned away from him, acting as though he smelled back.  A little way behind him a small boy looked up in awe, and the boy’s mother’s face fell as she guessed what the child would be talking about all the way home.  In front of the glasshole a teenager pretended not to have heard anything, but he was clearly trying to check the glasses out without staring or being caught looking.  The glasshole smiled smugly, having got the attention that he wanted.
My wrist tingled, and I casually looked down at my feet, turning my hands towards my body as I did so.  Cupped inside them, embedded in the palm of my hand, a tiny screen turned from flesh-coloured to black and text scrolled smoothly over it.  I flexed my fingers carefully, the sequence and speed conveying commands, and the screen highlighted a single selection, flashed once, and then reverted back to flesh-coloured.  I relaxed my hands, and scratched the back of my wrist.  A set of embedded magnetic beads created a braille pattern there telling me the expected delivery time.  I was pleased, but I didn’t show it.
“This is by far the easiest way to travel,” said the glasshole.  He wasn’t talking to anyone in particuarly, but he knew that everyone around him was listening to him now.  No-one said anything, with most people pretending to ignore him.  I looked up, caught his eye, and smiled.
“It does seem easy,” I said.  “Although is a phone call that much harder?”
“No time,” said the man, making a cutting motion with his hand.  “I’m too busy to have to worry about remembering to bring my phone with me, then find it and check that my PA charged it before I left, and then find a taxi firm’s number and order a taxi.  I can just pass the work on, and it’s all done for me.”  A taxi went past, its light on, and I had to stop myself pointing out that it would have been faster still to have stuck his hand out and taken that one.
“You’re probably thinking that I could have taken that cab,” said the man, pointing after it.  He made a point of scanning the street for his taxi, though there were no others visible.  “Well I could, but who could predict that it would have come along here now?  And it’s a public taxi, I could catch anything in there.  Plebs take these taxis.”
The couple who’d turned away earlier now started walking off, the woman walking quite stiffly as though angered by his words.
“I get my personal taxi, hired for me by my Glass,” he said, and smirked at me.
“Don’t you worry that it’s dehumanising?” I asked.  My wrist tingled again, and my fingers found the braille.  Less than a minute.
“I can take it off any time I want!”
I shrugged.
“And it’s not like I’m one of those cyborg freaks,” he continued, warming to a theme.  “They’re building all kinds of crap into them, I bet they can’t go through airport security without being taken aside and strip searched by an electrician.  Hah, maybe that’s why they do it, they’re perverts who get on off on that kind of exhibitionism!  They’re all freaks, not me.  I’m just using the tools that we have available to us, and I’m using them better than other people.  That’s all!”
His Glass beeped to let him know that his taxi was approaching, and my wrist tingled to let me know I should take cover.  I smiled, waved at him, and stepped into the nearest shop entrance, where I stood in the doorway watching as his taxi pulled up.  He reached out for the rear-door, a supercilious grin on his face, and then it changed to a look of puzzlement.  He stepped back, his hands coming up to protect his face, but the bullet broke through them as easily as it tore through his face, lodging itself finally in the back of his skull.  He still stepped backwards twice, jerky, stop-frame motion steps as though he was trying to remember how to walk, before collapsing to the floor, blood pumping out from his ruined face to form a rapidly growing lake around his body.  The screams started then, so I waited a moment and then joined in.
“Oh my god,” said a shop assistant next to me, so I toned the screaming down a lot.  “What happened?”
“He was a Glasshole,” I said, and that was all that was needed.

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