Augmentia (Chapter 2)
You’re awake. Sweat drenched, slumped up like a fetus on your lumpy, pale brown sofa. It’s some Ikea piece of shit you found on the sidewalk three years ago. You’re pretty sure there are still vomit stains on it from the previous owner.
You sit up and inhale the stale air. Animal noises are coming from your StreamScreen. A baby elephant is getting mauled to death by a pack of hyenas. Some British voice narrating. You find the controller between the two middle cushions and turn off this African massacre.
There’s an amber light coming through the window. Beyond you, in the haze, other apartment buildings stick out like black barrels from a machine gun pointed at the heavens. Big ugly pill boxes filled with people instead of uppers.
You lean over and grab the coffee mug from the floor; you don’t even recognize your scrawny arms anymore. The mug reads “Get Shit Done” in futura font. You sip the coffee and then spit it back out. It’s room temperature. You contemplate why room temperature coffee is disgusting, yet hot and cold coffee isn’t. And why is it called room temperature anyway? Go to some hut in Botswana in the middle of July and the room temperature will be boiling. Whatever.
So where are you? You’re in your downtown loft overrun with technology. It’s an old loft with brick walls and steel beams up above. This would be a cathedral for bums if you decided to evacuate. There’s nothing homey about this place. You’ve got computer cables running amok, twisted around walls and winding around your furniture. Wires drooping from the ceiling like vines in a rain forest. You look around and realize you haven’t organized this dump since you moved in.
In the middle of your loft is a large wooden table that’s covered with more circuits, glass samples, solders and metal welders. The latest iteration of your OcuTron branded glasses are at the center of it all. The dazzling fruit of all your scheming and hard labor for the last six years. The glasses stare back at you with murderous contempt.
You hear a faint phlegm cough from outside. The type of cough that terminal people make in their hospital bed. You peer out the window at a busy mid-city street corner where two intersecting avenues form a constant state of confusion between the drivers and the pedestrians. Directly below you, you spot an old homeless man sitting on your stoop, picking his ass. You feel sadness for him, but only for a moment, and then you’re overtaken with disgust. Imagine the germs he must be spreading. Are you a bad person?
Suddenly, there’s a harsh knock at your door. You look over at it. Wait, what’s the time? Another knock.
“Coming,” you blurt out. Who the hell could it be at this hour?
You open the door a few inches and peek out. It’s Jeff Crowe, the guy you’ve been sleeping with for the past three months. He’s finishing a text on his smartphone; an unreleased android model that he’s probably reviewing for work. He’s wearing the same worn black cardigan that he always does. What kind of guy wears cardigans? The kind you sleep with apparently.
“Ready to give me the pitch?” Jeff says.
“Tonight? I thought we were on for tomorrow.”
“I figured I’d surprise you. You should always be prepared for an impromptu pitch. Consider this a lesson.”
This guy is an asshole, but you need a sounding board at this crucial moment. “Fine,” you say. “Are you coming in or what?”
Jeff enters, scanning your disheveled apartment. He’s judging you. So what if you’re messy? If you can’t take care of your apartment, how could you ever take care of a child? That’s probably what he’s thinking.
“I’ve missed you,” Jeff says, moving in closer. You just nod. He leans in for a kiss and you give him a distracted peck on the cheek. His thin lips are chapped from the outside world.
“Shall we give it a shot?”
Jeff agrees. You move him to the center of the room, as if preparing a magic trick. Except this isn’t magic, and you’re certainly not a trick.
“What you’re about to see will change everything you thought you knew about human interaction.”