Stories

Perception


Ever wonder if there’s more?

Ever think that everything looks so dull and lifeless?

Ever wish you could hear the tiny creaks of the station as it cools during an eclipse? Or wonder what the person across the room is saying?

No more! With Zainou Biotech’s newest SeeHearMore Implant, you’ll get all that and more! The SeeHearMore Implant is an ocular implant designed to increase the perceptive powers of the human mind.

Notice the difference between Carmine and Burgundy for the first time! Discover a color between Carmine and Burgundy! Listen to your favorite piece of music and be amazed by the subtle notes that you missed the first time around!

The SeeHearMore Implant from Zainou Biotech. It will change your life.




“Are you awake Mr. Sands?” The doctor’s voice was firm and confident. It wasn’t as deep as Yacob remembered, but it was richer; fuller.

Yacob opened his eyes, then immediately shut them again. The bright glare of the hospital room stung his eyes. “Ugh,” he groaned.

“I think that’s a yes,” the nurse said. There was a slight rasp to her voice that he hadn’t noticed before. The first onsets of the voice change associated with heavy smoking. In a few years, she’d have to get her vocal chords scrubbed if she still wanted to sound feminine.

“How do you feel, Mr. Sands?” the doctor asked.

He opened his eyes again, more slowly. The light filtered in, a piercing too-white that was almost blue. “Alright,” he said, quietly. He was surprised by how nasal he sounded. He wondered if it was from being groggy or if he had always sounded like that. “Can you turn the lights down?”

“Of course,” the doctor answered. “Lights at seventy-five percent.”

The lights immediately dimmed. Yacob opened his eyes all the way, then blinked several times. Even in the dim lighting, he could make out everything as perfectly as he could before the surgery. Maybe even better, he thought, as he looked at the doctor’s face. He could see slight wrinkles, tightened and smoothed from the effects of cosmetic surgery.

He looked over at the nurse and could see her own wrinkles, covered with a layer of makeup. He could see the slight smudges around her lips from her latest smoke break and the small, think hairs that covered her upper lip. While before she had been (while not beautiful) attractive, now he couldn’t bear to look at her.

“I think I could use some rest,” Yacob said.

“Of course, Mr. Sands. I’m happy to say the surgery was a complete success. You should be healed up enough to leave by tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll be back to check on you in the morning. If you need anything just say ‘Nurse’ and one will be paged for you. Alright?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Good night, Mr. Sands. Lights off.” The doctor walked out and shut the door behind him. The room was plunged into near darkness. After a brief moment, Yacob’s eyes adjusted enough so that the scant light emitted by the biomonitors illuminated the room like a lamp.

He closed his eyes and hoped to drift off to sleep.




“Don’t worry, we can get rid of him easily enough.”

“Are you sure? He’s been tough to get rid of so far.”

“You haven’t come to us before.”

Yacob opened his eyes and sat up in his bed. “Hello?” he said.

“Well, I guess that’s true. You are highly recommended.”

“Is anyone there?” Yacob asked, louder this time.

“We always get the job done. Especially in cases like these.”

“Lights, seventy-five percent,” Yacob said. The lights flared on, Yacob’s eyes immediately adjusting. He looked around the room wildly. It was empty.

“I’m glad I have someone to come to.”

“Well, let’s discuss the specifics.”

“Nurse!” Yacob called out.

“Alright. What do you think would be the best way to do it.”

“Well, I can give you two options. We can take a more cautious approach or we can go right at it. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks.”

“Oh, what are they?”

Yacob could hear footsteps outside his door. The door slid open and in walked a nurse, different from the one earlier. “Yes Mr. Sands?”

“I hear voices,” Yacob said. “I don’t know where they’re coming from!”

The nurse frowned. “Voices? What kind of voices?”

“People’s voices! They’re talking about - ”

“The invasive option has a greater chance of success, but also has a much greater likelihood of leaving scar tissue. It’s also a quicker surgery, since there’s less precision required.”

“Surgery,” Yacob said, suddenly feeling sheepish.

The nurse smiled. “Ah, that’s probably your neighbor,” she said, pointing at the wall behind Yacob’s head. “Mrs. Avery is in for a consult on an operation.”

Yacob sighed. “Oh. Well, I’m trying to sleep. Could you ask them to keep it down?”

The nurse chuckled as she looked at his charts. “They are keeping it down, Mr. Sands. You’ve just got that new Zainou implant, I see. You’re probably just barely able to hear it. I’ll turn on the sound dampening in the room and that should keep the noise out.”

Yacob rubbed his forehead. “Yeah, I guess that’ll work. Thanks.”

“No problem. If you have anything else, feel free to call me.” She pressed a button on the wall next to the door. Immediately, the voices stopped.

Once she left, Yacob lay back again. “Lights off.” He was plunged into darkness for a brief second before his eyes adjusted.




Yacob walked down the walkway of the station. Below him, throngs of people passed by. They weren’t far off, only a dozen meters or so. Even though he was a capsuleer, he never had the desire to live too far away from the common people.

He stopped and leaned over the railing, looking down at everyone as they passed by. It was a rainbow of colors. He read that the human brain could differentiate ten million colors. Now he could see all of them, and maybe more than that. None of them were new, really. There was no color past red on the spectrum.

But just like the commercial said, between carmine and burgundy, there was something. He didn’t have a name for it, but it was there. It was something. It was amazing. He couldn’t keep himself from grinning as he stared down at the people.

An Amarrian man walked by with a robe so red, it looked like it was made from blood. It was more red than any Amarrian robe he’d seen before. He wondered if the Amarrian even knew how red it was.

Walking the other way was a Gallente woman wearing a shimmering, semi-translucent dress. When the light caught it in just the right way, it was totally see through, but only ever for a small patch of skin. For most, it was a delightful tease, but Yacob could only watch the cacophony of color trickling prismatic across it.

Even the dull Caldari gunmetal was something to behold. He watched a Civire woman stiffly marching down the walkway. Her suit was more colorful than she realized. She suddenly paused, then turned and looked up at him. He waved and she glared and kept walking.

There was a giggle from behind him. Yacob turned, barely catching an Intaki girl turning away from looking at him and returning to talk with her friend. He turned away to look down at the people again, and then there was another laugh.

He turned back and once again she looked away almost as quickly. “Is there a problem?” he called out.

The two girls turned to each other with mischievous surprise, then giggled to each other, and the first one shook her head. “No, no problem!” she called out, then started to giggle again.

Yacob sighed and walked off.




Yacob sat alone in a coffee shop, slowly sipping on a cup. It was hot and soothing and the aroma was amazing. The implant had increased his sense of smell, but just barely. It was nowhere near the level of his vision or hearing. It was only with very strong aromas, like the coffee, that he could sense changes. It had levels that were unbelievable. He didn’t even drink it. He just smelled it.

He suddenly noticed two men outside of the shop, on the walkway. They were talking to each other and occasionally glances slightly in his direction. They appeared to be very animated. One pointed right at him and said something angrily. Yacob couldn’t make out the words, they were too far for even his implant to help him pick up, but he could tell they were upset about something.

He recognized neither man. Suddenly, one man turned and started to walk toward the shop. Yacob’s eyes went wide. He couldn’t imagine they’d do anything to him, not in such a crowded place. But the man looked angry and seemed quite intent.

Yacob reached for his sidearm. It was a small blaster, easily concealable and packed a mean punch at short ranges. Perfect protection for any capsuleer who mingled with the plebians. He didn’t draw it, not yet. He waited.

The other man caught the first one and pulled him away. The angry one began shouting, loud and close enough for Yacob to hear now. Something about being cheated. “I’ll get that bastard! He won’t cheat me again!” But the second man dragged him off.

Yacob sighed and took his hand from his gun. The men couldn’t have been there for him. He went back to smelling the coffee.




He was being watched. Everyone he went, someone was watching him. He couldn’t figure out why. He was an industrialist, in a small corporation that had never angered anyone. But he was being watched.

It was always someone different. A man in a hat glanced at him occasionally from behind a data pad. Two women kept looking at him and whispering quietly to each other. A teenager stared at him until he looked back.

Some were subtle. As soon as he looked at them, they looked away. Others weren’t. They kept looking even when he did. When he’d get up and leave, a few would say something. A few wouldn’t.

And then there were the people talking about him. When he’d walk by, he’d hear them. They’d whisper to each other in voices they thought were too quiet for him to hear. But he heard them. “Egger,” they’d say. Or maybe “the capsuleer.” Or “that pod pilot.”

He never stopped to hear everything they said. Then they’d know he knew. Sometimes, he’d catch a few more words. But it was never anything too substantial.




Finally, he went up to someone who was watching him. “What!” he shouted at the woman. She was older, a Jin-Mei. “What do you want? Why do you people keep watching me!”

She cowered. “I’m not… I’m just…”

“I know!” Yacob yelled. “I know you’re watching me! Who’s having you watch me? Why? Tell me!”

“I wasn’t watching you!” she said quivering. “I just… I just looked at you! We don’t see a lot of capsuleers up close!”

“That’s impossible!” Yacob shouted. “I’ve been a capsuleer for months! But I’ve only noticed you people watching me since…”

He paused. He straightened up. Everyone was looking at him now. He could feel all their eyes on him. He looked around at them. None looked away.

He shook his head and started to laugh. He walked away without saying anything more to the woman.




The feeling didn’t go away. Even though he knew, now, that they’d always been watching him. He’d only just noticed them. Everywhere he went, people stared. They pointed. They talked about him. There was awe, and fear, and hate, and jealousy.

He knew but he couldn’t escape it. He could always feel and hear them.

Finally, he departed from a station in his pod. He waited a few seconds, then started the self destruct sequence. A few minutes later, he was waking up in a clone bay.




He no longer felt like he was being watched. He couldn’t hear people talking about him. Their snippets of conversation were their own. Their curious glances and awe-filled stares were their own to keep.

He still noticed them, every so often. But he didn’t feel them.

And he couldn’t see the colors any more. Everything was dull and lifeless. People seemed like mannequins. Sounds were flat. Music was lackluster. The coffee was just an odor, no longer an aroma.

He sat in his quarters, looking at the blaster in his lap. He wondered if the flash would be spectacular or if he’d even register it at all.


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