Todays prompt reminds me of a theme from the old Twilight Zone series; pay for something you want and then have to pay dearly to get it removed. So here is my offering–if they ever decide to bring back the show, maybe mine will get spotlighted.
Protagonist (named Henry Misslewaith) really wants this chip that is offered to him…He is this miserly little guy (friendless, a loser in every sense of the word) He has no future in the business world and longs for the life of success he sees every day as he delivers mail to the various departments in the twelve story high-rise. So he is offered this chip one night on his way home from work–a long subway ride and then a long walk down narrow streets that finally take him to a small house where he lives with his mother. Her tight leash keeps Henry from having any hopes of happiness, but with not much income, he is trapped living in the cramped house where he grew up.
So on this particular night , he is surprised as he gets off the subway. A man falls in step with him and with no hesitation offers Henry a small box. Inside is something that promises a chance for a future. What he is offered will allow him to know another person’s thoughts. Something that seems impossible, but for such a small fee, seems worth taking. Henry hands over his last ten dollar bill for the box and the man disappears into the night. (at this point, I’m not sure how this chip gets imbedded into Henry’s brain, but we progress anyway.)
Henry, with his new knowledge is soon on top of the world. (in business, so to speak) Being able to read his associates minds has given him a chance to rise quickly to a place of power. He has even found himself a life, a new condo in an exclusive area. What it didn’t give him was the persona needed to attract women into his life. This was the thing he desired, but had no way of bringing it about. This was brought home to him every day as he walked through the hallways or met with others in conference rooms.
Eventually, the device that enabled him to climb to the top, became a device for his undoing. Disparaging remarks came to him unheeded. He wished he could just turn the chip off, so tired he was of the constant deluge of words. To them he was still the gopher and they did not understand his successful journey upward. Their jealousy turned to hatred.
A year had passed when Henry got a call from his mother. She was ill and could he please some to visit her? So he takes the subway back to his old neighborhood. ( You know where this is going, don’t you?) (And you are right, of course.) He gets off the subway and begins walking and footsteps join his and the questions he has been expecting–was he happy, was the device working–came to him not as a surprise at all. And then the chance that he had been needing…to get rid of this thing…and yes, he was willing to pay anything. Anything, just for life to be like it was before.
He dug in his wallet and offered all the cash he had available (yep, he paid dearly) and at once he was back to his former self…cheap serge suit with the spot on the lapel and shoes with the broken laces. But he was free! Just to make sure he turned back to the entrance of the subway and as people hurried by, he heard nothing. Oh, the gloriousness of that silence. He turned toward home with a spring in his steps and a whistle on his lips.