ANTI-BAD

Author: Mark Renney

I once had the Anti-Bad. A petty criminal, a repeat offender I was deemed suitable. Someone who couldn’t help but help himself. They made me an offer and I didn’t refuse. The prospect of prison, of another chunk of my life diced and cubed behind bars, was unbearable and so I chose the chip.
I didn’t read the small print just signed the documents and allowed them to insert it into the back of my head, just above the neck, in a place where I still have some hair left. No-one can see the scar or ever know it had once been there.
I didn’t really believe it would work. If it did I was convinced I could beat it or would cope with the pain and discomfort. The worst-case scenario was I would have to toe the line for a couple of years. I was arrogant, cocky, they were the suckers, I was the one in control. How bad could a few headaches and a little nausea be? I would be out in the world and not locked in a cell.
A minor operation, relatively painless, performed at a private clinic, I was in and out in a matter of hours. I had to report in once a week but otherwise, I was set free, allowed to go wherever I wanted. They informed me that I wouldn’t feel any effects, that it wouldn’t start working for about twenty-four hours.

I walked away from the clinic, head spinning, in a state of confused elation. I hadn’t expected this free time. It was a gift, a whole twenty-four hours in which I could do as I pleased. My first thought was that I would go out that night and do a little breaking and entering. But I would have to wait until dark, and this would mean wasting most of the time. All of the day light hours squandered. No, what I needed was to purchase a gun. I had a little cash hidden away in my room. I would steal a car and set off on a spree, robbing convenience stores and service stations, moving quickly, helping myself from the cash registers. I would build up the kitty, my nest egg. And whilst chipped, I would make use of these spoils and live in the lap of luxury.
But what if the chip did work and I couldn’t spend the money acquired dishonestly? I needed to clear my head.
Wandering, I eventually found myself sitting in a quiet café. I should have read those documents – if I had I would have known this and made preparations and planned something big, swift and lucrative, a bank job perhaps.
And then suddenly I felt the pain in my head. It was searing, excruciating, arriving suddenly it didn’t dissipate, didn’t lessen. And through the pain I saw the counter girls were staring across at me and, holding my head, I continued to howl.

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