“I don’t want to do the mindworms, again, Janine.” Early said over video chat. Janine was his sister.
“First of all, they’re called ‘cerebral annelids,’ and second of all, you need five years of pay.”
There were brochures and holographic charts and vid-sheets all over the kitchen, as if anyone needed to know what the mindworms were about.
Go in and get a mindworm, wake up five years later with five years of pay in your hand. No rent. No expenses. Tax free.
“Cerebral Incorporated. Any job, any skill.” Janine said, parroting the vid-sheet that had been slipped under his door, in word and tone.
“Corporate secrets? We provide the ultimate NDA!” Early said.
“Haven’t heard that one.” Janine replied. Her line went dead. Early flipped the vid-sheet over, uncovering a bill. The sheet had read it.
“Get debts financed into your pay package, Early Johnson. There’s a lot of interest on that.”
Early tore the vid-sheet in half and threw it to the floor where it joined the others, the once vivid screens now grey slate.
He redialed Janine.
“The number you are trying to call has been disconnected.”
“Our employees are more productive and adaptable than robots! Each employee has access to millions of man-hours of practice!” The vid-sheet said, in Early’s voice. It was a different one, this time, belonging to Cerebral Incorporated, Corporate Edition.
He didn't know why, but he panicked, tore it in half, threw it to the floor, which was clean. A roomba drone buzzed in, dropped to the floor, scooped it up. He remembered flying something similar. Joystick. Soft things on the back of his head.
“I used to fly drones. You can’t get PTSD when you’ve got one of those things attached, because you don’t remember any of it.” He was telling his neighbor. He’d knocked on her door, but she seemed afraid, he didn’t know why he’d gone over to talk to her. He turned to see a man with a stack of vid-sheets slip one under his door. He was wearing the Cerebral Incorporated hoodie, to cover the mass at the brainstem.
He stepped across the hall and his door was locked. The vid sheet was malfunctioning, reading the fine print. A Cerebral Incorporated check was crumpled in his hand.
“For the first time user there’s no risk of side effects. Repeat employees may suffer brain damage.” He was saying to a patient at the clinic where he was giving the implants. “Confusion. Impaired judgement.”
The door slammed in his face. He knocked on it again. “This is my apartment!” The vid-page on the floor. He reached for it, but it was talking about mergers and Mars and the need for new workers.
There he was, at a computer terminal, where he decided to lay down, in the dark, as machines beeped and the hooded doctors left him there in the nursing home, another check on his bedside table.