“That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen.”

Kai had envisioned a more enthusiastic response. “Just wait,” he said, “you’ll have one too by month’s end; I guarantee it.” He slurred his words around the snorkel-like mouthpiece. It would take some getting used to, he admitted to himself.

Maddox plopped down onto the old worn armchair, its springs meekly begging for mercy, and called out to bring the lights up to 50% brightness. It was the brightest Kai had ever seen his friend’s home. “Well sell me on it then,” said Maddox, easing up.

Kai clapped his hands together. “Yeah, now I’ve got your attention.” He scooted a scuffed aluminum stool over and sat across from Maddox, bringing his face close for inspection. “The implant mostly goes under your lips and in your cheeks.” He pulled his mouth open wide with his fingers and rolled his head around to catch the lighting. “It’s like an old-timey vape pen, but it’s always on. Uses some kind of nanochem technology. Makes every breath taste good, has like a thousand flavors.”

Maddox shrugged. Time for the big guns.

“Plus,” said Kai, “it can do this.” He tongued the tiny receiver behind his front teeth. In seconds, smoke was pouring out of his mouth like a burning oil well. The microstrobes lit the coiling column in reds and oranges. Kai tongued the implant back off and waved his hands through the air to clear it. Maddox was grinning like a dumb schoolboy. Success.

“Okay, that’s pretty ripe,” he said. “So what’d it set you back?”


“Six thousand? Mate, you gotta stop buyin’ from Wheeler; he’s stealing from you.”

Kai waved the comment away. “Wheeler’s licensed. Just one nanovirus is all it takes to get your life all fuckup. Plus, he does a good job.” Kai drooled on himself as he said job, putting Maddox into a fit.

“Still getting used to it,” Kai laughed, and tongued the smoker back on.

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