"Hunter, how do you feel after the big surgery?" his loving mother inquired.
Hunter, with a mild headache, responded, "I feel pretty good. A little bit hazy, but the painkillers are doing well." He felt the stitches in the bald spot on the back of his head.
"That was really fast for brain surgery. It's amazing how fast I've recovered so far!"
They were walking through a greenspace in the middle of their small town. Hunter was astonished that he could already be up and walking.
His grandfather told him stories about long waits at hospitals, MRI scanners the size of his bathroom, and doctors performing surgeries instead of machines!
Hunter's brain implant was mechanically installed into his brain in a process that took merely five hours: One hour to sign the paperwork and wait,
forty-five minutes to be prepared for the surgery, fifteen minutes for the actual surgery to be carried out, an hour to recover, and finally, an hour of questioning and experimentation.
"But as soon as we get back home, you'd better sleep," his mother advised. "Enough rest is important for recovery."
"Won't my brain malfunction in my sleep?" he argued. "That's what Grandpa said happens when you..."
His mother laughed. "Grandpa comes from a different time. There's medication for that now. If you're not able to sleep, I'll download a nice dream. That way, you'll actually be able to sleep."
"Definitely," Hunter said with excitement. "I can't wait to telepathically message Jordan. Or browse the internet! What if our internet router isn't compatible with my implant?"
"Did you forget? You don't need a router. It's built into the implant!" his mother said.
After Hunter and his mother got home, they downloaded a dream about exploring the Amazon Rainforest.
Hunter was so excited to fall asleep, but his stitches kept on getting caught in his pillow. He rolled on to his belly and turned his head. Sleep felt impossible.
He was way too giddy about his implant. He turned on the melatonin enhancer and fell asleep almost instantly.
"Hunter!" his mother called. "Hunter, it's time to wake up!"
There he lay, still as a rock. Panic pulsated through his mother. Remorse, regret, anger, sorrow... Her maternal instincts caused a flood of emotions and her brain's response was to crash.
But before she could faint, Hunter stirred.
"Ugh," he said. "I have a headache."
His mom tried to play it off cool. "Oh, you scared me for a second there. Let me get a painkiller for you. Your breakfast is ready, you'd better eat it before it gets cold!"
He nodded groggily as his mother walked off. It was a harsh awakening from the nirvana of his dream; reality sucked. He just wanted to lie back down and go off into his better world.
He attempted to preoccupy his mind by wondering why his mother made him breakfast that morning. What was with the special treatment? Of course! He just had a life-changing birthday surgery.
It was definitely a special occasion. With that mystery solved, his mind went straight back to longing for a better world that was not reality.
He ate his eggs and toast wistfully. His mother walked in with a painkiller and stopped.
"Why so glum, chum?" she asked, the concern apparent in her voice.
Hunter couldn't bear to see his mother disappointed. He didn't want her to think he wasn't happy, so he said, "Oh, nothing. It's just my headache. Thanks for bringing the painkiller."
His mother walked up to him. "You're not sick, are you?" she asked as she felt his forehead. "Did something go wrong with the surgery? If you want, we can get it taken out now."
"No, I'm fine," he lied. "I'll just go for a walk. Do you need anything from the store?"
She didn't need anything from the store, but Hunter was craving chocolate. He walked the short distance to the store and stepped in. He walked past the candy.
What he wouldn't give to have that Chocofudge bar. He could practically taste it. Oh, but those chewy Fruity Shoots...
They would almost be as good as a Megapop! He salivated over all of the sugary sweets, an irresistible urge gnawing at his brain. He filled his arms with whatever he could carry.
He couldn't buy all of that, he thought. His brain was betraying him! Dumping his load of candy on a random shelf, he walked into the cleaning supply aisle to take his mind off candy.
Man, he really needed cat litter. He didn't have a cat, but that brand of cat litter was...
Come to think of it, when was the last time he bought a broom? Or a mop? Everything he saw he had to buy. There was a chaotic ensemble of thoughts that weren't his, making his brain itch.
He ran out of the store and looked behind him. His mind... What was happening? He yearned for every last item in that store... Needed it all.
He massaged the back of his head where the stitches were, right below his skull.
As soon as he got home, he went to his room. He didn't even want to look at his mom because of his guilt.
He regretted ever thinking about getting the implant, but he wouldn't tell his mom. He lied in bed and surfed the internet instead.
He came to the realization that he needed Solaro, the new crypto-currency. No, he should download a movie for only $10.99!
Wait, did Brennan Gill divorce Celena Staymez? He could find out now! The voices flooded his head. He wanted them out. Now. He broke out in convulsions, sobbing profusely.
His mother spent too much on this, he couldn't make her spend more just to take it out! He could not let her down.
"The ads!" he screamed, unable to contain himself. He reached into his bedside table and grabbed his pocketknife. "Get it out of me!"
He cut through his skin, tearing the stitches. Anything to ease the itching in his brain. He felt blood pour out past his face onto his bed as he jammed the knife as far in as it would go.
"Hunter!" his mother screamed as she burst through the door. She tore the pocketknife from his hands, but it was too late.
"Why, God? Why?" she exclaimed, holding her limp son in her hands. Her heart was shattered with grief. It was all her fault.
If only she hadn't bought that damned implant, her life would still be worth living.