Edit: I knew what I meant when I wrote the above. Unfortunately, that was under the influence of sleep deprivation, and I have no fucking idea what I was going on about now. Deal.
A Day in the Life of a New Man
by Stewart Wilson
I wake up in need of a smoke.
That's not exactly true. I didn't wake up so much as stare blearily at my ceiling, only this time my radio was on. The local Krautrock station, one of the few things guaranteed to get me out of bed. Unfortunately, checking the cigarette packet in my pocket draws a blank. As do the spares in both jacket pockets, and the emergency emergency tin of tobacco in my bag.
A vat of coffee and I'm on the road, early enough that I have time to stop in at the shop for more cigs. They don't have any of my brand.
"Try these, mate."
"What are they?"
"New kind. Koffin Nails. The smoke for the person who doesn't give a fuck."
"Sounds like me. Gimme forty."
I spent the day at work engrossed in the Reimann Zeta hypothesis. It's nothing like what I should be working on, which is why I did it. I spend the rest of the time avoiding replying to the letter that was waiting on my desk, because it's from my wife.
At precisely ten fifty-seven a.m., my outboard brain dies. I've forgotten to charge it. I never forget to charge it. But nontheless, the battery is down to emergency only. I hear the screams as threads of my consciousness are ripped out of my distributed mind for hours.
By two, the screaming is so bad I need painkillers. Unforutnately, since the NHS talked shop with the FDA, paracetamol has been banned. Wonderful unless you're an ulcer case like I am, in which case the side effect of the only other commonly available painkiller includes messy death. Having no desire to take a one-way trip to the hospital having shit out my own intestines, I sneak off to the bog.
I can feel the monitors, even in here. The low hum of bandwdth. Without my exobrain it shouldn't be possible, but I'm too used to it. The ghosts of external thoughts whisper in my ear, telling me when the drug sniffers are active. I pop enough to kill the throbbing in my head and run like fuck.
The letter is as bad as I feared. My wife's a modern luddite, she still doesn't know what e-mail is. She claimed that me and my palmtop were fornicating when I installed part of my mind into its memory. Being on a born-again kick, she denounced me and tried to stone me to death. So I locked her out of the flat and told her that if she came back I'd firebomb her unto the fifth generation. The fuck else did she expect? The letter's asking me to go see her, "maybe we can work something out" happy clappy bullshit. I type up a form FOAD as a response and mail it off. I don't tell her about the girl. Even to me, it feels like cheating when I bring her up at work.
There's more American refugees as I get off the bus home. They want to know where the nearest McDonalds is, despite that chain collapsing up it's own arsehole along with all the other fast food places once they fucked the North American ecosystem with their apple-farming tactics. I tell one that I can't help them, but offer them a cigarette. He refuses. Apparently he's from a weird cult, the "Californians" — whatever religion that is — and while stuffing weed and LSD through every possible entry vector into the human body is good, a single cigarette will kill them. Or some wacko logic like that. I offer him a light and laugh as he runs away.
I don't do the sensible thing. I don't head home, I don't eat or sleep or put my brain on charge. Instead, I do whatever I feel like utter hell, and go for a drink or ten.
After a drink (which arrived in four glasses) I begin to notice something's wrong. Nobody seems to want to know me, even though I know them. Then I remember. My brain's on charge. I light a cigarette at the revelation. Without me broadcasting my authentication keys, I could be anyone wearing my face. Why they'd want to I have no idea. But it's true. The ID thieves are everywhere, and with home plastic surgery they could be anyone. And here's me staggered through the door with nothing but a computational graveyard strapped to my belt.
The girl's there. I don't know how it started with her. A chance meeting through a mutual friend, loaded conversations, and suddenly I'm in bed with her and damn the consequences. It worked at the time and had done more for longer than that. But she's ignoring me the same as anyone else. I wander over and lean in.
"How do I know? I've pinged you for the past twenty minutes and got no ack."
"I could tell you, but you'd kill me. And... this is embarrasing. I'm out of power."
I can feel the haze around her. Bluetooth queries, good old wifi and a RFID reader hidden in her upper arm. Only the chips in my clothes and skin answer her.
She slides something thick and dark in a glass over to me. "Have this."
"Thanks. I need it."
"Too bad for you it's all you're getting from me."
By the time that sentence has sunk in, she's no longer there. I look around to see her dancing with another guy, and I can see the gleam of hardware peeking out of the top of his pocket. I light another cigarette and head for the door.
And the last thing I think before the autonomic systems that cover the walk home kick in is "All I'm getting tonight, or ever?"
I slip my second brain on to charge, and my meatbrain cries itself to sleep.