“It sits in the happy centre of the brain, and constantly stimulates it.”

That’s how is was sold to us. It had a science-sounding name, but we all called it The Bliss Chip. We stuck it in our heads voluntarily, and for a long time, the lines formed around the block to get one.

It just made everything a little bit better.

It wasn’t like a dopamine hit that quickly wore off, it just sat there, endlessly massaging that spot that makes everything seem okay. Colours were brighter. The weather seemed better. The house seemed tidy. And the more the chip worked, the brighter the colours, the better the weather, and the more the house felt like it was from a commercial or something.

My chip had a glitch though, and every now and then there would be a spark in my head, and the feeling would fade. The colours became drab, or at least real. The weather became rubbish, or at least real. And the house was a state, covered in dust and rotting food and peeling paint.

And before I could take stock, there’d be another fizz in my head, and everything seemed better again, and I would forget that I’d seen reality.

But a happy mind has to work hard not to be reminded of the things that make it unhappy. The chip started to do things to help it. The unchipped, bedraggled, underfed, and ill, slowly began to fade. They were blurry at first, but then they just disappeared.

Then there was a spark in my head, and the truth rushed back in.

I saw their gaunt faces, their starved frames, their pleading gazes. And my house was in ruins.

This time, there wasn’t another fizz. This time happiness didn’t reassert itself. My chip was dead.

What was left was a group of people who couldn’t afford to get a chip. Couldn’t afford the monthly subscription. And all around, were living zombies, walking around with dopey grins and vacant eyes, not seeing the world dying around them. Not seeing their own reflections, not seeing how they were even more gaunt and dying than the unchipped.

The crops had failed. The shops were empty. And most of the world was smiling about it.

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