Break free, break out, run from the Capital.
In Tendo Capital
Most of the people in my village have no empathy for the Bolters as they are called. They say, “Let them suffer, let them see how their technology serves them in the real world.” But I had been a Bolter myself, I knew there is no real choice to refuse the TE6 implant. It’s done at the age of two, I would tell them.
With the help of Verm and Kiak, I had set up a clinic down by the fiord. Verm helps me with the surgery needed to remove the TE6 and to open up the sealed eyelids which accompanies this latest version of augmentation. Ironically, TE stands for third eye, now it is the only eye. Kiak does the hard work and nurses the patients – slowly introducing them to light and a world devoid of the constant directions and warnings given by the internal voice of the TE6. It’s always surprising that the natural world of beautiful vistas illuminated by sun and moon, and the aural landscape of voices and birdsong, and rushing wind and falling water, can be so disturbing for a human.
And that’s why I admire these Bolters. We know that the TE6 generates images of an impenetrable landscape populated with dangerous monsters to anyone daring to approach the city limits. Most people turn back. With a lifetime of trusting the world view presented solely by the implant, courtesy of its finely crafted crystal lens and clever virtual reality coding, why would anyone doubt what they experience as they walk towards the edge of Tendo Capital. I at least did not have my eyes stitched closed when I made my escape.
Ryder, a recent patient at our clinic told me how she made it out. “I had been told in the secret Otherworld Forum that if you got down on your hands and knees you could feel your way and crawl straight off the edge of the cliff. It was a weird sensation feeling solid ground beneath you when all you could see was a three hundred metre drop down onto sharp rocks and a boiling sea. I also knew that the images of threatening raptors and aliens were just that, images.”
Ryder’s voice was weak and her enunciation was strange. It is so rare for citizens to use their real voices once they have been implanted. I remember the first time I tried to talk a full sentence when I first encountered people outside of the city.
Once our patients can handle full light, we take them into the village. It can be quite humorous at times. They ask questions like, “How did you know how to find your way to the food hall?” It seems so obvious for us to use memory. It is hard for those never augmented to imagine that every decision is informed, in the immediate present, by a machine. But I get it, I lived in Tendo Capital for the first thirty years of my life. My first implant was the TE2 and by the time I was twenty eight I had, operation after operation, been upgraded to the TE5. When the decree came for all citizens to sign up for the TE6 with its requisite permanent eye closing, my father, once a fervent champion of augmentation, told me to bolt.
“It has gone too far, way too far,” he cried that night he came with me to the outskirts of Tendo Capital. “Go my son, and forgive me for allowing this to happen. I was fooled, and to think it all started with a game of Pokemon.”
He would not come with me. He said he needed to save others, it would be his only chance at redemption. I have since learned that he is the master moderator of Otherworld Forum.
After the village celebrations of the spring equinox, Ryder comes to my cabin. We had been dancing and drinking nectar wine to enhance nature’s display of the southern lights. At least the enhancement is not an electronic signal from an integrated circuited implanted on the forehead between the eyes, I justify to myself. The intoxication, I argue, is a natural gift of life on Earth, and the invigoration of dance and human connection an absolute necessity for fulfillment. Ryder’s wound is healing well and her spirit is expanding, thank you Verm and Kiak.
“Thank you, for taking me in,” she whispers in my ear. “I may be one of the last to come, and though I am grateful to have made it out, I feel guilty to be so happy and free while so many others will be trapped forever.”
“What do you mean,” I ask.
“I have heard that the TE7 is nearly ready. It has been heralded as a quantum leap ahead for human progress. But word in Otherworld Forum is that the TE7 will be able to induce pain and evoke fear through it’s expansion into the dorsal posterior insula and the hypothalumus.”
I know now, what I have dreaded for some time; I must return to Tendo Capital.