Eyeballs

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They had infected him while he was sleeping. Somehow the little Bugs had slipped in through a crack in the window, or maybe they’d squeezed in though the floorboards, and they’d infected him.

Jamison couldn’t stop seeing spam everywhere he went. A little pop-up would appear when he walked through the kitchen, telling him about great deals at local stores he’d never heard of. When he went by the TV, a thousand ads for shows, for movies, for illegal downloads, for torrenting, would all whizz in front of his eyes. He’d try to go to sleep, but whoever was sending the brunt of the spam was likely on the other side of the world, in another time zone, sending him ad after ad after ad for Viagra, or for prostitutes with bizarrely punctuated names. He’d been contacted by seven hundred Nigerian princes seeking to give him money.

He’d have to get his eyes removed. It was the only solution. Either that or a software patch of some kind. New eyes would cost several thousand dollars, probably two month’s salary, but a software update might make his eyes work even worse, and that was assuming they got rid of the Bugs at all.

Jamison shook his head every time another ad came up and he brushed it away. He wished he’d woken up before it happened. He wished he’d heard the little tittering of the Bug when it climbed up onto his bed. He wished he’d felt it crawling across his chest in the night, slipping into his eyelids and infecting his cyberware. But he’d slept through it, and he hated himself for it.

Every day was agony. He’d wake up, swipe away some ads, go to work swiping away ads all the while, sit at his desk and try to get work done while swiping ad after ad, and then he’d go home and just switch his eyes off, because he was sick of the things completely. He’d rather be blind than deal with another Russian woman trying to seduce him with inexcusably bad grammar.

But he needed his eyes! Jamison always liked to check his vitals in the morning, and his nutrition, but the diagrams that he brought up would always get smothered under the spam. He could barely read off his own heart rate under all the crap. Even trying to use his car, adjusting the settings to avoid traffic, he couldn’t trace his finger along the GPS before another ad popped up in his eyeballs, ruining the route. Jamison had gotten very good at drawing routes quickly, even if it meant a little clumsiness that sent him down a weird side-street or two.

He put up with it for a week and a half. Then he went to get some new eyeballs.

“A Bug, huh?” the surgeon said. Jamison could tell that the surgeon had a chart drawn on his eyes, the way that he was moving his hand in front of him to scroll through it. Jamison had no idea how his chart looked, because he hadn’t had the heart to check on it since he’d been infected.

“I’ve had the Bug for a week and a half,” Jamison told the surgeon. “Ten days. No, maybe eleven. It’s all a miserable blur. I can’t even remember.”

The surgeon nodded, still flipping his hand through invisible pages. “Health has been on a steady decline. Nothing serious, only minor, but the change is there. Sleep cycles are, ouch, really quite poor. My, you should have come in sooner. Your mood has been nearly at the level of a person with chronic depression.”

“I’m really sick of the spam,” Jamison said. “But I’m not sure that I’m looking for a software patch. The last update that I got made my vision a little blurry around the edges, and I think the resolution was lower.”

The surgeon paused, his eyes clearing as he brushed the chart away. “You haven’t gotten a patch since that one? That was quite some time ago. You should be keeping up. That may be the reason you were infected by the Bug so easily.”

“I don’t like the patches,” Jamison said with a little shrug. “All the settings go back to defaults, and I have to relearn some of the hand gestures.”

“Only every few years is there a patch that changes the gestures,” the surgeon said. He looked like he wanted to get off of this topic. “So you’re thinking of getting a new model of eyes, then?”

“I do have some concerns about, um, cost. If there’s any kind of virus detection program that can remove them…”

“This Bug is quite advanced. If you’d kept up on the patches, security may have… Ah well, what’s done is done. I think we can find new eyes that will fall into your price range, though you may find a decrease in resolution, and perhaps fewer features.”

Jamison quickly said, “I don’t need a lot of features. Besides the health monitors and the maps, and the other basics, I really don’t use much of anything.”

The surgeon nodded, pulling up a page on his eyes. “Good, good. I think you’ll be an easy customer, if that’s the case.” He swiped his hand, brushing page after page in front of his eyes. “The very cheapest model is currently running in 720p. Quite a downgrade, but it’s on the table.”

Jamison nodded. 720p was pretty terrible resolution, but he could consider it.

The surgeon gestured at the desk between them. He’d really meant that they were on the table. A small vial of white eyeballs were sitting in the corner. The surgeon picked them up and displayed them. “All of your basic applications, three-year warranty. I can pull up a price sheet if you want to include phone calls and video calls.”

“Oh, right.” He’d had forgotten how often he used the video calls. He could go back to only audio, couldn’t he? An ad for teeth whitening popped up, and he swiped it away angrily. He’d gotten so quick about swiping away the ads, he’d accidentally deleted a couple of important emails already.

The surgeon rattled the eyeballs in front of his face. “Do these suit your needs?”

Jamison struggled to convince himself that he could handle 720p. “Show me some more options.”

The surgeon lifted his fingers to his eyes and swept forward, sending a webpage straight from his eyes to Jamison’s. “There are many options,” the surgeon told him. “I’m sure we’ll find something to suit you.”

The prices were a lot higher than when Jamison had last gotten new eyes, almost a decade ago. The cheapest option was almost as expensive as the eye’s he already had had been, and that wasn’t including the monthly payments.

After shifting through the documents for a moment, Jamison let out a long, tired breath. “Okay. Alright. I’ll take the cheap 720p eyes.”

The surgeon lifted the vial again and rattled them around. “Good. I think you’re making a good choice.”

Another ad popped up, and Jamison swiped it away.

 

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