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Smarter™ / Delphine Gauthier-Georgakopoulos

“M-hm.” Patrick rolled his eyes, placed the phone against his right shoulder, freeing his hands to slice the remaining lime. 

His sister, Margaret, resumed her rambling about the environmental crisis in Uzbekistan. If only she had picked a different subject, her knowledge data would have been compelling, but no! Margaret had never been smart and—being acutely aware of it—was insecure, hence her choosing a random topic that was of no interest to anyone. To make matters worse, when most paid for instant fluency in Arabic, Chinese or Russian, she now spoke French—a language as redundant as Latin or Ancient Greek.

Patrick snorted.

“Pat, are you listening to me?”

“Of course, sis… Tell me, how are the girls?”

“They’re doing okay. Competition is fierce at school these days. Competition is everywhere… on that subject, I guess I should tell you… Andrew left me… for a full-package bitch—”

He dropped his knife. “Shit! He what?”

“He packed his bags and left… so I’ve applied for a loan to get it myself, the full package. You can’t compete in today’s market without it. Everyone has become so smart.” She sighed.

“Are you insane? That’s half a million pounds with the family discount!”

“I’ve put the house as collateral. I shouldn’t have spent all my savings on those plastic surgeries, but how was I to know being pretty wouldn’t be enough?”

“Have you lost your mind? What about the girls? You can’t re-mortgage your house!”

“It’s the girls I’m thinking about. Once I’m smart enough with unlimited knowledge, fun facts, languages, and the ability to read body language, I’ll make a fortune! Oh, it’s time for my livestream. I have to go. Bye!”

Patrick put his antique phone down, cracked his neck and squeezed the limes. This was not how it was supposed to be. When he had sent Christopher to that school, he never thought his own son would change society for the worse. The son of a populist politician. How ironic! He poured generous quantities of Cointreau and tequila on top of the lime juice, added the ice in the blender and pressed the button. Insane. They had all gone insane. And to think he had helped with the marketing campaign. He scratched his stubble, switched off the machine and poured half the mix into a pint glass.

When it had transpired that he, a leftist politician, had sent his son to an elite private school, the media had called him a hypocrite. He had ignored them and paid for his son’s further education in the US. Let the haters hate. Christopher had come up with the idea as part of his master's thesis. Implant a chip. Connect to an app. Instant knowledge, instant gratification with minimal effort. Even the anti-vaxxers ran to get their chip.

Patrick brought the glass to his lips, took a sip, and added more tequila. His arm was sore again. He lifted the side of the bandage to peek at the wound. The putrid, ammonia-like smell made him gag. He should have gone to a doctor or the hospital; he probably needed antibiotics, but the news would have leaked. If people knew he had removed his chip, it could destroy Christopher’s business as fast as Smarter™ had destroyed his own political career. He grabbed the surgical alcohol bottle and some cotton. After removing the stained dressing, he wiped out the pus. His legs went wobbly, his breathing uneven.

He had subscribed to the level 1 plan, the cheapest option, only £100 a month—£50 for family members—and had gained economic knowledge. Offering actual solutions instead of eloquent, empty discourses had ruined his populist aura… his populist era. It changed him. Patrick placed fresh gauze on his arm, tearing the tape with his teeth. He now knew he could never revert to his old self. When he had seized the knife one drunken night, and cut his flesh to remove the chip, he had hoped, but… he downed the last drops of margarita and refilled his glass.

Now, the richest man on earth was his son, yet Patrick respected his plumber more; a man who had retained the ability to work manually. A man capable of fixing leaky pipes rather than explaining the physics involved. Instant knowledge had come at a price; the loss of critical thinking and practical skills. Smarter™ had been a genius idea, but like Communism, it should have remained a textbook concept. Without the know-how to apply said knowledge, people had turned even dumber than they’d been before.

Patrick opened his outdated laptop, searched through his bookmarks, and registered for a plumbing course.


DELPHINE GAUTHIER-GEORGAKOPOULOS is a Breton writer, teacher, mother, nature and music lover, foodie, dreamer. She loves butter, needs coffee, hates easy opening packaging, and likes to create stories in her head. She lives in Athens, Greece. X/Facebook: @DelGeo14.

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