Author : Rollin T. Gentry

Ever since the drone dropped Arnold off on the balcony, his language had been atrocious. He continually dropped the F-bomb, the D-bomb, and the S-bomb, not to mention both C-words and the recently coined Z-word. Mary Ann jacked the children into VR while she tried to deal with the situation.

She knew that she was partially to blame. She should have stopped Arnold from getting the implant. But all the partners at his firm had implants, and Arnold had no hope of making partner without one.

She rushed to the wall in the kitchen and pushed the white button with the red cross.

The hologram appeared in the living room: a doctor in a white coat. He looked down at Arnold, sitting in his favorite chair, swearing at some daytime drama.

“This is a rare side effect,” the doctor said. “One in a million odds. A drone should be here momentarily. Arnold, is it?” Mary Ann nodded. “Arnold hasn’t been physically aggressive has he?”

“Oh, no,” she shook her head, “just the foul language.”

“That’s good. No need for tranquilizers and all.”

A gleaming white drone hovered over the balcony with a man-sized basket hanging below its sturdy frame. Once Arnold was strapped in, the drone lifted off and disappeared behind a nearby high-rise.

“Mrs. Dalton, I’ll contact you when I have more information about Arnold’s condition.” The doctor flickered twice then disappeared.

Mary Ann heard nothing for three weeks.

The only sign that Arnold might still be alive was the regular deposit of his paychecks into their bank account. Then finally, news came. Not in the form of a doctor, but a man in a navy blue suit and striped tie. His hologram appeared without warning.

“Mrs. Dalton?”

“Yes?” Who was this man? Why no doctor? She wondered.

“Mrs. Dalton, my name in Clayton Peters. I’m the attorney who represented you and your husband in the lawsuit against the company who manufactured your husband’s implant. Under the new Expedited Legal Initiative, everything has been completed concerning the matter.” He swiped through a holopad projected from his wrist. “The company settled for eight trillion credits, which have already been deposited into your account. And you’ll be happy to know your divorce has been finalized as well. You, of course, were granted sole custody of the children.”


“The doctors were unable to help your husband. If they tried to remove the implant, it would most likely have been fatal. So the courts decided the merciful thing would be to place Arnold in a new line of work more suitable to his condition. The high court ruled that giving both of you a clean slate, allowing you to remarry if you wanted, was the most merciful outcome. Do you have any more questions before I go?”

“Yes!” Mary Ann gasped. She could scarcely keep up with this man’s banter. He must deliver life-altering statements like this all day, every day, she thought. “What new line of work? And where is Arnold, anyway? I’d like to speak to him about all this.”

“Unfortunately, Mrs. Dalton, Arnold departed on a deep-space, asteroid mining vessel three days ago. But don’t worry. I received word from the captain that Arnold is adjusting wonderfully. Supposedly, he already has a nickname, and a tattoo, and a few friends. Any more questions?”

Mary Ann stood with her mouth half open. She blinked once, and the attorney was gone.

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