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  • Writer's pictureathinabampinioti

The chip of your end


The doorbell sound echoed throughout Jane’s and James’ apartment. They lived on the 25th floor, so the mailman always delivered their monthly package later than their assigned friends’ apartment. Jane got up and opened the door. She greeted the mailman by holding her hand up and lifting the second and third finger; this was the previous month’s acceptable greeting. She closed the door behind her holding a sealed paper box. James tapped the table in front of him twice and Jane placed the box and opened it. She took out about fifteen books with black hard covers with a sticky note that read “Replace column 5 row six.”. She got up and with a violent shove she threw the old books on the floor and neatly placed the new ones. With her legs, she kicked the old ones to the balcony, where she threw them down at the street on “the pile of old ideas”.

“Get in here or you will miss it.”, James shouted to Jane who ran to the living room, turned around herself twice, just like it was meant to be done for this month and then sat down. The daily news report was almost over and so was the countdown of this month.

In order to minimize conflict between the citizens, the government had created microchips that were placed behind the people’s neck and controlled their movements, their words, their voice, their life. The new microchips, with the new ideas of the government, as well as the new books of their doctrine were sent to every citizen on a monthly basis. Any practice that resulted in more resistance was never repeated and every rule that promoted respect and conformity was never missing. Even though people were forced to say what the microchip told them to, they had thoughts of their own, that went unexpressed and died with them. Thoughts against the government and any attempt to prematurely remove the microchip was punished by a burning sensation around the microchip; the more intense and spiteful the thought, the more memorable the scar.

The number three appeared on the screen, followed by a two and then a one. Jane placed her head on James’ lap who pulled out the chip from the back of her neck, took the new one out of the box and plugged it in and Jane did the same for James. They both looked at the television where a new journalist appeared in the screen. Her hair was dark and slightly covered her right eye and a part of her lips. It was not clear how big of a smile she had, but it was obvious it was fake. Jane and James looked at each other to make sure that killing your spouse was not included in this month’s commands; their constant fear was that the government would one day turn them against each other. Suddenly, a scream echoed through the room; it was coming from the television sound system. The image went dark and just second later the feed came back with a new journalist; this time it was a man.

“Her smile betrayed hair. Classic rookie mistake.”, said Jane, touching James’ hand. James nodded and pulled his hand away. The new journalist started presenting the government’s new ideas about taxation, legal issues, politics, economy. Jane never really liked that part. She got up from the couch and turned around herself five times, as if she had lost control of her body, and fell back on the couch. “They really want to test our physical strength this month!” Jane said and giggled. James looked at her with a meaningless expression and sighed. Jane got up, turned around herself five times –prepared this time – and walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water for her and a glass of orange juice for James; last month it was the other way round.

The sound of the television suddenly stopped. Jane stopped pouring water I her glass and looked out the window into the neighbor’s apartment; his television was still on, and his eyes were still fixated on its bright screen. She turned around and saw James leaning on the doorframe looking at her with a very icy look. His right hand was pressing his neck down and his left one was made into a fist. He lifted his right hand and screamed out in pain. Jane was so scared she dropped her glass on the floor. James walked barefoot on the broken glass and fiercely grabbed her hand, pulling her towards his direction. He let out another scream. They walked to the living room where James opened his first, threw the chip on the floor and crashed it with his foot. “This. This thing is what has kept me in silence for so long…”, he uttered and let out another scream; his neck was red like burning fire.

Jane tried to pull away, but it only made James hold her tighter. “You. You are the reason I have been kept in silence.”, he growled and led Jane to the balcony. The sound of people cheering around a bonfire of old books covered James’ screams. He pushed Jane against the banister and held her neck between his hands, squishing with all his power. He let out another scream and tears rand down his cheeks. Even the front of his neck was red; he was burning up. He leaned in, placed his lips on Jane’s ear and whispered: “This is for every chip you placed in my neck.”. He pushed her off the balcony and into the flaming bonfire. The people kept on cheering as Jane was getting forgotten, like the books of the previous month.


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