Always Read The Label

Check it out!” she exclaimed at last as the bedroom door was carefully closed tight and she was joined on the bed by her best friend. The package between them, and they huddled close together. The excitement in the room was palpable. Their hearts raced with glee and impatience. Sarah had almost exploded with anticipation as she exchanged pleasantries with Naomi’s parents, not wanting to appear rude and knowing that they could not run the risk of letting ‘parentals’ think that they were up to anything. Even a hint of what they were about to do and they were sure to get into big trouble.

Parents, she thought fleetingly, parents never understood.

The two fifteen year old girls exchanged a glance which spoke volumes in the few seconds that it lasted as they looked at one another before their attention was once again focused on the brown padded envelope which lay between them.

Are you sure?” ventured Sarah, glancing at the bedroom door. It did not have a lock and so she was concerned that they may be interrupted.

It’s fine,” breathed Naomi, “they think we’re studying. They won’t want to bother us.”

They’d been nagging for days that Naomi should start studying properly and so she was banking on them being happy that it was finally happening.

There was a brief pause as the two teenagers continued to stare at the envelope.

You’d think it was going to open itself,” remarked Naomi with a smile. “Or that there’s something alive in it and it’ll move if we keep watching.”

I know,” agreed Sarah. She took a deep breath, filling her lungs to their fullest capacity with air. “You ready?” she glanced at her friend.

The intake of breath was duplicated and then came the words.

Yeah. Okay,” soft and quiet, like Naomi was afraid that saying them any louder would shatter the moment.

Sarah slowly picked up the packet, turned it over in her hand and began pulling at the sealed flap, opening it inch by inch. Naomi’s eyes were riveted to Sarah’s fingers as they worked. She licked her lips, nerves building further. The envelope open, Sarah carefully tipped the contents into her waiting hand.

Two microchips.

One Information Leaflet

The girls’ heads were almost touching. Sarah looked up and met Naomi’s eyes. Looking down once again, Sarah offered a microchip to Naomi who took it between finger and thumb.

So… this is it?” Naomi breathed, holding the chip up to look at all sides of the foreign object she held.

Guess so,” replied Sarah doing the same, turning hers over and over in her own hand.

Guess we should have a quick look at this,” Naomi said, picking up the information leaflet. It was the same sort of thing you get in medicinal pill boxes, she thought to herself as she opened it out. She caught some movement out of the corner of her eye as she examined the paper. Glancing up, she was just in time to reach out and grab her friend’s hand, stopping the movement which had distracted her.

What are you doing?” she exclaimed as loudly as she dared, knowing her parents would feel the need to intervene if too much noise came from her room when she and Sarah were meant to be studying.

Trying to swallow this thing!” hissed Sarah, anger seeping into her tone. “What do you think I’m trying to do?”

You don’t think maybe we should read this first?” rebuked Naomi, waggling the leaflet at her friend.

Listen,” Sarah said in a half whisper, her emotion beginning to get the better of her, “I didn’t spend all this money to not take this thing. When I ordered it, the website says all you have to do is swallow it and you’re done. It’s that simple. What’s the point in wasting time reading that thing?” she snorted, pointing to the paper Naomi held.

Well, I just thought that maybe -” Naomi began.

Arching an eyebrow decisively, Sarah shrugged and gulped back the microchip, coughing a little as it went down, grazing her throat on its journey. Naomi could not finish her sentence but just stared motionless at her friend, waiting to see what would happen next. Shaking herself from her apathy Naomi ventured to speak,

Well..? What does it feel like?”she asked, hesitantly.

Sarah did not reply. Looking at Naomi her brows gathered together and her face became the picture of confusion. Suddenly, she screamed and clutched her head, covering her ears. She continued to scream and, clearly in pain, rolled into a ball. Writhing around, she fell off the bed and continued to roll around the floor, still squealing and clutching her head.

Sarah,” hissed Naomi, fear taking over her senses, rapidly replacing her curiosity and anticipation in milliseconds. Kneeling by her friend she begged, “Sarah, ssh! What is it?! Please! You have to be quiet and just talk to -”

The bedroom door opened, slamming off the wall of her room.

What on earth is going on in here?!” shouted Naomi’s father over Sarah’s pain-ridden screams which were unrelenting. Naomi’s mother was a half step behind as both parents entered the room.

What’s happened, what’s wrong?” added Naomi’s mum, expressing more concern compared to the displeasure and borderline anger Naomi’s father was exuding.

I.. I don’t know,” stuttered Naomi. Terrified she realised that she had no choice but to tell her parents the truth. “We.. Well Sarah just..” Unable to find the right words to express what she knew she needed to say, she proffered the Information Leaflet and the microchip she still clutched in her hand.

Oh my.. Please no,” breathed her mother as she scanned the paper, one very important fact jumping out at her that apparently Sarah had missed when she ordered the mind-reading microchips online. Naomi’s mother dropped the paper and the microchip, her hands reaching her cheeks, complete immobility taking over her body as shock took over.

There was nothing she could do, she realised. Looking at her daughter she wondered for a fleeting moment how her child could be so stupid. So careless. The fact that Naomi had not swallowed her microchip was, at this point, irrelevant.

The room went silent suddenly. Naomi returned her attention to her friend, shaking her and calling her name. Sarah did not stir.

Sarah!” she called, louder with each repetition. “Sarah, wake up! Come on!” she became frantic.

It’s no use,” her mother breathed.

What?” asked Naomi, confused and very much afraid.

What is going on here?!” growled Naomi’s dad. “Would one of you please tell me what’s happening?” His anger was overflowing.

She was too young. She shouldn’t have taken it,” said Naomi’s mum as if she was in a trance; a world of her own. Her eyes were focussed on the middle distance and she became more absent from what was happening as shock fully took over her. She fell towards her husband in a faint. He caught her and eased her to the ground.

Not getting any further answers, he bent over his wife to retrieve the leaflet which had been dropped as it had seemed to provide some sort of a reason for the events which had unfolded in the room. Naomi continued to stare at her father, still kneeling by the body of her friend, searching for the same answers.

Standing, Naomi’s father read aloud the words on the paper.

After a lifetime of devotion and development, now available for commercial use:

The Mind-Reading Microchip

Simply swallow for instant results.

WARNING: Do Not use unless… you are 18 or over… as results could be…

Naomi’s father struggled to keep reading the words in front of him as disbelief threaded its way into his veins.

…results could be fatal for children and young people under this age….

Looking at his daughter and the body of his child’s best friend, anger seeping away, he concluded the warning in hushed tones.

This is… due to an overload of neuron receptors, which will… cause

the brain to experience a surge of stimulation

too great for the brain to process.

This causes the host to become brain-dead… and

unable to sustain life.

There was nothing more to be said. Naomi looked at her father, eyes welling up with tears, not wanting to believe what she had just heard. Looking at her friend, she could not allow her self to accept that this was it. It was over. Her friend’s life had been taken from her.

Full Disclosure

A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?

This entry was posted in Daily Prompt and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Always Read The Label

  1. TurboBlaze says:

    Your short stories are the best. I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. Check out.

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