Short Story – I Heart Tech

The doctor stuck his hand into the holographic display and expanded his next calendar appointment. It was a Monday, and Dr Benson hated Mondays as much as he hated the constant stream of state-dependents that demanded urgent attention for their ailments. They were, to Benson, worth a lot of money to him, so he tolerated it like an irritation he needed to have.

He waved his hand over the buzzer icon which triggered the display in the waiting room to call his next patient, a Mr Coco Burberry Messi, no doubt the product of desperate-but-penniless consumers that tried to convince others that their luxury product-named offspring were living a luxury product lifestyle.

His door burst open and Mr Messi entered, swathed in an odd combination of replica sports gear and colourful denim clothes. His sharp ratty face was half-covered with a tribal tattoo and every extremity had at least one metal piercing in it. While keeping his eyes on his phone handset, he flumped down into the chair opposite and continued typing.

Benson knew that polite convention wasn’t needed. “What can I do for you?”

“I keep blacking out, innit.” Messi snorted and put his phone away, mercifully. “Sort me out.”

“Let’s begin. How much do you drink a week?”

“Nuttin’.”

Benson smiled. “Mr Messi, you must be truthful with me otherwise I won’t be able to help you.” He knew Messi’s type. He drank.

“A bit. Now and again.”

“Every night?”

“Yeah. So?” Messi rubbed his chest.

“Do you smoke? Take drugs?”

Messi smiled. “Man tokes now and again, seen?”

Christ alive. “Give me your hand.” He placed a life monitor sensor in his palm and waved a finger at the appropriate app in his monitor. Messi’s vital signs appeared in the display; heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen. A cursory glance showed that everything was well, except the pulse was a little weak. “Any other dependencies? Any other drugs?”

“Nah man, nothin’ else.” Messi’s phone rang; Benson watched the heart sensor record a drastic dip in strength. “Yeah? Nah at the butchers innit.” He stared the deadless look of a man who’s brain was concentrating on something else. “No way. I’ll look at it now. Word.” He ended the call.

“Mr Messi -”

“Hang it up, doc!” He pulled out a device trailing a wire that hung from within the levels of Messi’s clothing. A smaller version of Benson’s holographic display appeared; Benson noticed another drop in Messi’s heart strength. “Just gotta do this one thing.”

Benson waited patiently for Messi to finish dicking around with his device. Each patient had a ten minute slot; if Messi wasted his own time then so be it. Benson would just diagnose some placebos, maybe some Omeprazole or Famotidine, and send this time-waster on his way. Benson watched the guy’s vital signs flicker, at one point dangerously, then return to its more acceptable but still weak strength as the devices were put away. “Please take off your top.”

“Ugh dude! You gaying me up?”

“Take off your top.”

Messi took his time pulling off his many shirts, muttering unintelligibly all the time. The final layer came off and revealed what Benson suspected; several devices and leads were attached to Messi’s chest like plastic leeches. Messi slumped in embarassment. “Well?”

“How many devices are you powering?”

“Dunno. Eight?”

Benson could hardly believe it. There were three phones on charge, a holographic output, and four spare energy cells on charge. Most people couldn’t take having one mobile phone leeching off the bio-electrical energy from their heart. Messi was something of a record breaker. “You do realise that a heart charger is illegal, Mr Messi?”

“It’s my body. I can do with it what I like.”

“Until it starts going wrong, at which point it’s someone else’s problem.” The typical mantra from the stupid; abuse the body to the point of breaking it, then burden the state with its care and repair. “I’ve never seen more than one device connected to a heart charger. You’re risking your life!”

Messi pulled his clothes back on. “Behave son! How else am I gonna keep my phone on twenty four, like? Man’s got a busy online social life!”

“You are putting an unbelievable strain on your heart. Your online life is killing your real life!” Benson found it hard to understand this kind of addiction. Surely an online experience could never be trumped by an electronic one? “You value technology more than your health, Mr Messi?”

Messi stared at Benson, long and hard, then quietly left the room.

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