Seeing colour is a luxury for the rich. With all the other augmentations and genetic upgrades that had become available over the last century, Jacob guessed it was only a matter of time before they started going the other way.
Jacob was born into the lower classes, his colour vision stripped from him before birth. He had lived his life in grey, walking under an ashen sky. The whole world was nothing more than shades. But that was going to change. Soon, he would be looking up at blue.
The clinic doors opened with a soft rush as Jacob approached. The dry air of the Sens8 Elective Treatment Clinic washed over him. The clinic was closed, but Jacob’s staff card allowed him to access after hours. It wasn’t unusual for him to be at work well before opening, growing cone cells for transplant.
Jacob entered the lab and headed across the white floor. He froze. Doctor Philips rose from his desk and turned to face him, looking at Jacob through eyes that were as grey as the rest of him.
“What are you doing here, Jacob?”
“Nothing. I have to check the cone cells.” Jacob hurried to his desk, trying to hide the disappointment that coiled in him like a viper.
“Jacob.” The Doctor’s tone was soft, pitying.
Doctor Philips moved to his side and laid a hand on his shoulder. “I know why you’re here, and it isn’t to check those cells.”
“Of course it is.”
“You can’t do the operation on yourself.”
“I know how badly you want to see the sky–”
“No you don’t!” Jacob snapped, throwing the Doctor’s hand off and jumping from his seat. “You’ve been a Grey your whole life. If seeing colour meant anything to you, you would have done something about it.”
“It’s forbidden. It’s not enough to have the money, or the equipment; without a signed order from the senate, no one can have the operation.”
“That’s bullshit!” Jacob ran his hand through his hair. The viper in his stomach writhed, lending to the heat that built in him from twenty years of seeing only ash.
“You could give everyone their colours back. Why don’t you?”
“It isn’t that easy. When people lost their colour vision–”
“Stole,” Jacob cut him off. “We didn’t lose it. They stole it from us. They stole flowers, and birds, and the God damned sky.” Jacob reached behind and pulled a gun out of his waistband. He had never intended to use it, but the object found its way into his hand. “And I want it back.”
Doctor Philips raised his hands.
“I can’t do the surgery myself, you’re going to do it for me.”
“Jacob, just listen to me.”
“No!” Jacob waved the gun at the Doctor’s head. “You’re giving me the implants. I don’t care if I have to live the rest of my life pretending to be a Grey, it will be worth it. It’ll be worth it to see blue.”
The Doctor gave a small nod and Jacob moved to the examination chair. The machine placed cold metal fingers on his eyelids, holding them open as Doctor Philips approached with the syringe. Jacob kept the gun pointed at the Doctor as he poked the needle through Jacob’s cornea and down his pupil, injecting the cells into his eyes. Next, an optic transfixer was placed over his eyes to laser the cells into place, bonding them to his retinas.
There was no heat, just a blinding flash that left great black spots dancing across his vision. The Doctor removed the metal fingers and placed a soft cloth over Jacob’s eyes. This was usually the point where Jacob would fetch their patients a drink of some kind. Orange juice. He was told it had a pleasant colour. Soon, he would know what that was.
Jacob pulled the cloth off and sat up, letting his fuzzy vision settle into clarity. The floor was still white.
“Jacob, I have to warn you–”
Jacob raised a hand to cut him off. Lifting his eyes slightly, he took in the Doctor’s shoes and trousers; black. And the hem of his coat; white. He needed to see outside.
Stumbling out of the chair, Jacob made his way to the window, placing a hand against the glass. He opened his eyes and looked down on the city, sprawled out below him in shades of grey, and other muted tones that weren’t quite grey. He hunted for something bright. A tree. He spied one on the street below. The colour, he knew, was called green. It was so vibrant, unlike anything Jacob had seen before. It filled him with warmth calm, and joy in equal measure. It had none of the purity of white, nor the strength of black, and yet it was more beautiful than both of them. But it wasn’t what Jacob needed to see.
Lifting his eyes, he sought out the sky. It stretched above him, a single flat expanse.
And it was grey.
Jacob stared upwards, his chest growing cold with each heartbeat as his mind struggled to catch up to what his new eyes told him.
“I’m sorry, Jacob.”
Jacob tore his gaze from the window. Doctor Philips looked at him with a sombre expression. His eyes were not grey; they were the same colour as the tree’s leaves.
“You…you can see?” Jacob barely managed the words. “You have colours?”
Doctor Philips nodded.
“The sky, what happened? It was meant to be blue, but it looks the same. I don’t understand.”
“My boy, this world bled her last drop of colour a long time ago. Our ancestors gave up their colour vision because it was worth nothing.”
“Plastic, and paint. A garish copy.”
“And the sky?”
Doctor Philips looked down, and suddenly his gaze seemed as grey as before. “There was no way to bring that back.”
FFM Day 24
Prompt: Seeing colour was a luxury for the rich.