The Longer View

The Chief Surgeon sat in a padded leather chair, and I sat in a hard plastic one. The wall vents behind him blew fresh, filtered air, which dissipated before it got to me. Even on the top floor of Darden Institute, stale air smelled of ammonia. I coughed. He didn’t.

            At last he said, “Mr. Jones, dozens of FTL candidates arrive at the Institute every year. Every one of them swears that he’d give his right arm to get a cranial implant, and every one of them except you is prepared to wait his turn. Nothing you’ve said gives me a reason to jump you to the head of the queue.”

            “I’ve bought the chip”– I held it up – “passed the test, and –” I coughed. Again. Again. “I’m coughing my lungs out. I can’t wait eight months.”