20/20

“How much money are we talking?” Jake asked.

“Fifty thousand dollars.”

Jake couldn’t see the doctor’s face, but he’d developed a mental image of the man over the past few days and was certain that he had grey hair, a white jacket, a mustache, and an utterly blank expression. His voice carried as much energy as a hypoderm of sedative, and he made a shuffling sound when he walked.

“And what’s the interest rate?”

“Our reports say that your credit isn’t sufficient,” the doctor said.

“But I earn twice that every year!”

“As a graphic designer.”

Jake was silent.

“Your credit line is dependent on your projected income,” he continued. “Without your eyesight, you won’t be-”

“I’ll have my eyesight back, if I get these implants.”

“Unfortunately, that’s a technicality.”

Jake inhaled slowly, smelling the still air of of the room. He’d only been blind for nine days, but he already felt that his other senses had heightened. Beneath its antiseptic tartness the hospital concealed thousands of odors: chemical, human, and several that could have been either. Right then, the room smelled like body odor, bleach, and metal.

“There’s an alternative, though,” the doctor continued. “Are you familiar with bio-ads?”

Jake shook his head.

“Jenson Pharmaceuticals has been working on it for years, and they’re in the final stages of testing. The display would take up less than an eighth of your field of vision.”

“I don’t have a field of vision,” Jake said.

“You will. The display is embedded in a top-tier implant, which they pay for in full. All you’re responsible for is the aftercare.”

“They’ll just give me fifty thousand dollars worth of hardware?”

“In exchange for a captive audience.”

For the first time since the accident, Jake grinned. “And all I have to do is watch their ads?”

“That’s it,” said the doctor. “About forty years of them.”

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