The implant's biggest drawbacks were the headaches. The gear-man had assured her that would abate in time, but meanwhile she was dying for an injection, or even a good, old-fashioned aspirin. Too bad the chemicals would interfere with the implant's bonding process.

Text passed before her eyes, the latest news, the day's top story, ads for sexual aids and fast food joints. She blinked, but the visuals refused to recede into the background of her consciousness. Could she really take another day of non-stop sensory stimulation before she could control her access?

Resigned to stay plugged in, she laid back...

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Maurice looked at the empty mailbox and sighed.

His pension was supposed to be delivered today; first of the month, just like always, but instead the inside of the cold metal tube held only a few bills and a postcard advertising the latest whatever that he didn't need. What he needed was his damn pension.

He took a deep breath and took several careful steps back up his driveway to his front door. He checked around the bushes, painfully walked the outer perimeter of the house, even checked the cat flap, but no pension.

Son of a bitch, those damn...

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It was difficult getting to people to understand that actually you wanted to be in the cage. That the cage was the safest place at the moment.

The rest of the world had gone mad - or at least, it seemed that way. Maybe the world had always been like this, maybe there had always been something in a stranger's eye, maybe there was always something in the rain that made it taste funny.

Maybe the drugs were wearing off, maybe he was finally waking up to the reality. Or the drugs were taking effect, maybe he was devolving (he'd...

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100 feet away, all hell was breaking loose. Everything was going to change, forever - but for now, I was willfully ignorant. I chose not to look through the windows, not to know, to keep the door closed, locked.

Real life was not going to invade my sanctury.

It had been my prison, up until the moment when I had heard that damned siren, the one that we had all prayed would never go off. The one that promised that it was all too late, that everything had gone wrong, that it was too much.

That sacrifices must be made,...

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