by Duane Carson |
It had all the latest high-powered specifications and then some. Jim pinched his fingers to focus in on the image projected in front of his eye, twirling his finger in a circular motion to rotate the image of the newest EyeGear™.
The new EyeGear™ encompassed the fastest duo-dec processor on the market. A processor that can process data at twenty times the speed, and also output a smoother gaming experience. Awesome, Jim thought as he waved his finger in the air to thumb through the rest of the electronic brochure. A twenty-six-megapixel camera with 3D capabilities, and it also had all kinds of sensors, as well as a kinetic power-pack. Reaching the end of the brochure Jim came to the conclusion that he had to have it right away, or else the knowledge that something so wonderful was not his would kill him.
Jim touched the button next to his right eye to power down his outdated EyeGear™ and took off the glasses-like gadget by the earpiece. He took one look at the piece of outdated gear he was holding and decided that it was time for a new upgrade. So, he scurried downstairs to the living-room where both his parents were watching a holographic projection of that new reality show about people trying to live a week without any sort of technology. A show that Jim cared very little about because he thought those people were stupid for giving up the comforts that technology had to offer.
“Mom, dad. You guys know I love you, right?” Jim made his entrance with the biggest smile he could fake.
“What’d you want?” Jim’s father asked, narrowing his eyes.
With the fake smile still hanging on his face, Jim stood in front of his parents and said, “Well, since you asked. There’s this new EyeGear™ available and…”
“What about the one we got you for Christmas?” Interrupted Jim’s mother, “Did you break it already?” Realizing what the possible answer might be, Jim’s mother raised her voice a little, “It’s only been two months. What did you do to it?”
“No, no, no. No mom, it’s not broken.”
“Good. Then, there’s no need to buy you a new one.” Jim’s mother said.
Jim realized that begging was pretty much useless. Nevertheless, he persisted and tried to implant the idea of buying him the new EyeGear™ into his parents’ heads. “Hear me out guys,” Jim started, “with this new EyeGear™ I can do my homework way more faster than before.”
“Don’t lie. You don’t do homework. If you did, your grades would look way more better.” Said Jim’s father with a grin.
“That’s hurtful dad,” Jim retorted, “I do my homework every single day, except on weekends.” Jim turned his smile into a frown, “Maybe if you guys had invested more in technology that could help me, maybe then my grades would be better.”
“No dear. No matter what EyeGear™ we buy you or how many holo-tutors we pay for, you’ll always be you, a boy who hates doing his homework.” Jim’s mother said, her eyes fixed on the holographic projections in front of her.
“But dad, this new EyeGear™ has a kinetic power-pack. This means I’ll have to move around a lot more than I usually do. It will be great for my health.” Jim pleaded.
“Don’t worry son. If you ever get too fat, we’ll just send you to fat camp where they’ll slim you down with fat-manipulation therapy. You’ll be slim again in no time.” Said Jim’s father, with the grin still on his face.
“But guys, the pictures that this thing can take are…”
“The world will probably be grateful to us for not letting them see higher quality selfies of you.” Blurted Jim’s father.
“Nope.” Said Jim’s mother, shaking her head.
“The amount we pay in tuition, you’d think they would’ve taught him the meaning of ‘no’ by now.” Smirked Jim’s father.
“But guys. Pleeease.” Jim begged.
“No.” Said Jim’s parents at the same time, shaking their heads in unison.
Defeated, Jim retreated to his room. On his bed he lay and thought about other options for financial support. Maybe I could sell all my HoloBox™ games, Jim contemplated. They were not giving him as much enjoyment as they used to when they had first come out five years ago. And besides, most people play games on their EyeGear™ these days.
A decision was made and Jim proceeded to carry it out. Jim put his EyeGear™ back on. With his fingers he clicked the air, dragged and waved. After about thirty minutes of doing so, he had managed to post his digital licenses to all his HoloBox™ games online for sale.
The number in Jim’s digital-bank account went higher as he watched the games in his collection disappear one after another. And when he woke up the next day, there was enough in his digital-bank account to pay for the new gadget that his heart desired so much.
With the advent of virtual shopping, malls and stores have seen a decline in visits from customers in their physical forms. The EyeStore was no different. Even though it was a popular store and it was a Saturday, a day when most people had time off from work, the EyeStore was empty. People now tend to enjoy shopping in their pajamas from the comfort of their sofas.
When Jim entered the Eyestore, he was immediately greeted by a middle-aged man dressed in brown slacks and a green T-shirt with a picture of an eye on the back. The man was excited to see the store’s third customer for the week. And with a smile that ripped open his mouth to show too much teeth, the man asked, “And how may I help you on this fine day?”
The sudden appearance of the man took Jim by surprise, causing him to take a step backward. After taking a few seconds to adjust to the friendliness of the man, Jim answered, “I’m looking for that new EyeGear™.”
“The EyeGear™ E?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. Do you have it in stock?”
“Oh, yes, yes, yes. Of course. This particular model of EyeGear™ can’t be bought online because it needs to be installed. You know what the ‘E’ stands for?”
“It stands for embedded.” The man said before Jim could give an answer.
With his hands, the man gestured for Jim to follow him as he made large strides toward the back of the store. Without turning his head back to look at Jim, the man said, “The installation is pretty simple.”
There was no other customer in the store except for Jim. The man led Jim past all the EyeGear™ gadgets and accessories being displayed. Jim followed the man’s big steps until they finally reached a door.
“All you need to do is sit in that chair,” said the man as he opened the door to reveal a white, reclining chair. “You just sit there, relax, and leave the rest up to me,” the man pointed Jim toward the chair.
“Will this hurt?” Jim asked, standing in front of the chair still deciding on whether to sit or go home.
“Oh no, not at all. I’ll give you some local anesthetic. You won’t feel a thing.” The man said, patting the chair.
Jim breathed in deeply and then slowly let out the air. Then, he sat himself into the chair, his heart racing from the anticipation of the next few minutes to come. He was scared. But his anticipation of the installation soon turned into anticipation of all the new games he will soon be enjoying afterward.
“Now, sit back, relax and it’ll all be over in a minute or three.” The man said as he pointed an injection gun at Jim’s head.
Jim felt a pinch, then his face started to feel tingly and went numb. Jim watched as the man brought down the contraption attached to the chair. The man tweaked the contraption here and there and then pressed it down softly against Jim’s face. Jim could see only a red line in the middle and the cushioning of the contraption.
“Give me a thumbs up when you’re ready. And try not to blink.” Said the man, tapping on Jim’s shoulder.
Jim held his thumbs up and waited. The red line started to move up and down. There was something happening near the corner of his eyes, but he could not see. The red lines started to flash and move faster. He had the urge to blink, but he kept his eyes open for as long as he could.
“All done.” The man said, lifting the contraption up from Jim’s face.
Holding up Jim’s head and moving it from side to side to inspect his work, “Perfect. Now, how would you like to pay?”
“Cash.” Jim said, standing up from the chair, “Do you have a mirror?”
“Here you go.” The man handed Jim a mirror.
There was nothing wrong with his face. Though, there were the reddish cuts on both sides of his head. The cuts were small and hardly visible. But, the man could see the concern in Jim’s eyes. From the drawer, the man took out two small packets.
“Here you go,” said the man as he put the Nano-Bands on Jim’s head, “the nanites in these bandages will make those cuts disappear in about an hour or so.”
After having paid, the man hands Jim a booklet and said, “Now remember, wait at least an hour and don’t forget to read this manual.”
The concern that Jim had was not that the cuts would make him ugly, his concern was that his parents might see the cuts and start asking questions. But they did not ask. Jim’s parents were relaxing in the living-room and preoccupied with whatever the holo-projector was projecting.
“You’re back?” Jim heard his mother shout from the living-room as he stormed up the stairs.
“Yes.” Jim shouted back.
Jim opened the booklet and studied it as diligently as he could, but it was boring. After thumbing to the third page of the twenty page manual, Jim’s boredom finally took a hold of him, forcing him into a deep nap. And as he napped, the new machinery under the skin beside his eyes began to attach themselves to his optical nerves.
The loud laughs of his parents downstairs eventually woke Jim from his impromptu nap. The first thing Jim did when he woke was to check the clock. Seeing that enough time had passed, Jim excitedly tapped both sides of his temples simultaneously to power up his new EyeGear™. Seconds later, the view of his bedroom wall faded into an EyeGear™ logo.
For a second, Jim marveled at the sight he was seeing. The colors were brighter. The clarity was clearer. The angles and lines were smoother. Then, an irritating pop-up message created by the system jumped out from nowhere, kindly reminding Jim to take a tutorial for first time users of the EyeGear™ E. Jim figured since he had been using EyeGear™ most of his life, he was practically an expert now at using anything EyeGear™ related. So, he closed the pop-up message.
With a tap in the air, Jim commanded the little computer in his head to open an internet browser. The browser opened and immediately flashed an advert for the upcoming EyeGear™ E2 that will soon be available in a few months. It was everything like the one he had in his head, but more powerful and with even more functions. If only I had the self-control to wait a little bit longer, thought Jim, but I have none whatsoever. Oh well, at least now I can play all those new games. After a bout of struggling with regret, Jim then used his fingers to surf over to where all the newest games could be downloaded. And he downloaded the one game he could afford.
It was one of those games wherein players had to create an avatar and run around in a computer generated city where they did missions that involved stealing, hijacking hover cars, shooting some bad guys or good guys, all for the purpose of gaining enough experience to level up. Just thinking about it made Jim cringe with excitement. When the game finally finished downloading, Jim started it. The game took seconds to load. And seconds later, Jim was inside a 3D world where he could now do anything he was not supposed to.
Textures flowed smoothly in the game. Jim could not comprehend how everything in the game looked so real. He could even touch and feel everything, mostly due to the fact that the wires from the EyeGear™ E in his head had finished making their way through the optical nerve and connected themselves to Jim’s brain. The sounds were vivid and clear. He could hear the sounds of the city coming at him from all directions at once, unlike when he was playing those HoloBox™ games where the sounds came directly at him from the speakers of the screen in front of him.
For the larger part of an hour, Jim took in all the sights and sounds of the city within the game. Then, it was time to start playing. First off was an easy mission where he had to steal a hover car and take down some bad guys. Casually, Jim walked up to a car that had stopped for a traffic light and opened the door on the driver’s side. When Jim punched the driver, he could feel the stubbles on the driver’s face prick his knuckles. As Jim drove away, he felt the adrenaline pumping in his heart and his sore knuckles.
Everything felt so real, even during the shootout with the bad guys. Jim could feel and hear the bullets whizzing over his head. And he could feel the pain when one of the bullets grazed his arm, burning and searing his virtual flesh.
The hours passed like minutes for Jim as he played. Hours had passed when Jim heard something strange. While driving, over the loud noise of the city streets and gunfire, Jim heard his mother call, “Jim, come down for dinner.”
With as much haste as he could muster, Jim gobbled up his dinner, downed his orange juice and then rushed back up the stairs into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. In his bedroom, Jim continued his gaming escapades. Stealing hover cars, gunning down people, leveling up all while his parents were watching their shows, reading their books and went to bed. Jim was wholly immersed in the world of the game, blissfully unaware of what the time was in the real world.
Within the game, Jim came to a point where he had made enough money to buy a little apartment. On the sofa in his virtual apartment, Jim sat and dozed off. Jim snored not just in the game, but also outside of the game. He snored for a long while. And when he woke up again, his eyes opened to see the new, virtual apartment he had just bought.
It was time to go to bed, Jim thought, waving and moving his hand to bring up the in-game menu. But the menu did not appear. So, Jim tried other gestures and movements with his hands to try and exit the game so that he can take himself back into the real world. But nothing worked. After realizing that he might be stuck in the game forever, Jim started to panic.
“Didn’t read the manual, huh?” Said one of the paramedics as he rolled Jim down the stairs.
“I got to page three.” Jim said, laying on the stroller.
“The important stuff is always at the back. If you had read a little more and gotten to page fourteen or fifteen, then you would have read the part where it says that leaving your EyeGear™ running a game while you’re sleeping is a bad idea.”
“Oh.” Jim raised his eyebrows.
“If you’ve read the manual,” the paramedic smiled, “then you would know that if you left the thing running while you slept, you’ll wake up to the game and have a hard time exiting. It has something to do with the EyeGear™ E being attached to your nervous system or something.”
“I think it’s because your brain is tricked into thinking that the game world created by EyeGear™ E is actually real. So when you wake up, your eyes see the game world and not the real world.” The other paramedic added.
When the stroller reached the bottom of the stairs, Jim’s parents were there waiting. The paramedics stopped. “Sorry guys,” Jim said, lowering himself lower into the sheet that was covering him.
“Yes you are. And you’re grounded for an indefinite amount of time.” Said Jim’s mother with her eyebrows squished together.
Jim’s father grinned, “Well, there’s a lesson here somewhere.” Jim’s fathered lowered himself down closer to Jim and seeing the puzzled look on his son’s face, he said, “you should’ve spent a little more time studying that manual.”
“And your point is?” Jim’s mother asked.
“No point. Just wanted to point out that our son here doesn’t care much about studying anything, not even the things he likes.”
As the paramedics rolled Jim past the front door and toward the ambulance, Jim could see the neighbors all standing on their lawns, watching. And neighbors like to talk. And soon everyone will know. The scene at school was already playing out in Jim’s head. How he will be mocked. Mocked and embarrassed for being the first kid to literally get stuck in a game. Jim closed his eyes, sighed and blurted out, “This is embarrassing.”