SIERRE LEONE

 

I don’t know how my fucking life lead up to this point, but I can try to start.

 

It was ce 2103, I had just turned 29.  The reflection of my life at that time was a mix of stagnant loneliness and boredom.  I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking but I know I hated living so much I just didn’t care about what would happen next. But wait, let me back up and explain how the fuck I fucked up.

 

~~~~~~

 

I guess it all starts out with me hating my shitty job and shitty apartment.  As with I most people of my, er, designation, we stay in one-bedroom apartments stacked high in wide skyscrapers, or buried in complexes deep underground.

 

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Unfortunately for me, I lived about 70 meters up in a huge complex with white walls and no windows.  The first floor of the building is a giant grid with dozens of 3 meter tall semi-translucent cylinders. Each cylinder was made to transport one person to a narrow hall aligned with rooms, and you walk until you find yours.  There is only one cylinder per hall carrying one person at a time; you never get to see who your neighbors are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My one-bedroom, I assume, is standard for this hall.  I have a small kitchen, bathroom and living space equipped with a small bed, a couch, and a desk.  Utilities like energy and water are limited and based on how many units you use per week.  Any units left unused gets reset at the end of each week, so use it or lose it.  The allowance was not that generous.  Daily showers had to be quick; the room temperature was always uncomfortably hot or cold depending on the season.

 

 

The day all this started, or the day before rather, I was sitting at my desk at work like I have been doing for the past 4 years.  This job was a lot like the other 2 jobs I have been designated; I sit in a small 16 square foot room and work alone at my desk and computer terminal.  My computer terminal was a holo-projected screen with another thin holo-projection as a keyboard.  The projections were lit from slits on adjacent walls, that are the color (who could have guessed?) white.  My uniform is also white, and it’s not exactly a uniform, more like a hazmat suit.  The suits were designed to keep the mega-corp I work for’s building as sterile as possible.  We also wore headgear to cover our face and hair, so when I see other employees that work for this mega-corp, I can’t see what they look like or talk to them.

 

 

My job is considered pretty average, low wage labor.  Since machine intelligence is designated to all government service jobs like public safety and city maintenance, most people work for one of any unknown number of mega-corporations that exist in the world.  Since this is the age after the Market Crash of ce 2082, when hyper-capitalism failed as most of the world’s resources were exhausted, governments agreed to yield civil power to mega-corporations and abolish nation-state boundaries.  Government still controlled territory, such that it will keep it safe and running, as well as designate its citizenry to various labor positions; you never know what mega-corporation you work for.  It could be centralized from Japan, Brazil, or who knows.  All I know is I show up to the mega-corp’s building 6 days a week, live in my designated one-bedroom, and receive a bi-monthly credit deposit in my Social account.  

 

 

 

My work was very easy and monotonous.  I sit at my terminal and manually correct code that has spelling mistakes made by some human (of a much higher designation than me) that confused the digital intelligence that does the actual data processing for this mega-corp.  I scan thousands of lines of code per day and if I see any highlighted terms, I look in an inventory, pick the most likely match, correct the code, and send the file back.  I do this for sixty hours per week.  The salary is not that much; it’s about enough for one person to barely support one child, or enough for someone like me to go out once a week.

 

So back to my explaining why I hated my job and I hated my life so much.  Why couldn’t I get another job you ask? Well, that was impossible.  After you passed your twelfth and final year of schooling, you take an exam to test your intelligence, abilities, and potential aptitude.  Up until my tenth year, I had scored in the highest tier that would have lead to the highest employment designations, but I spaced out during the exam and scored slightly below average.  My life 

 

designation as spell-checker was forever embossed in metal.

It wasn’t exactly that I tried to score badly on purpose, it’s just that I really didn’t care about the test at that time.  My mind was preoccupied with my mother’s condition and how I was going to make more credits to feed myself.  My mother was diagnosed with dementia, and luckily she was in the labor force long enough to get a monthly unfit-for-labor deposit.  Unfortunately for me, it was just enough to afford her food and other necessities, so I needed to make income for myself.

 

I had began making programs and fixing old terminals for some shady people I met through my brother who died some years before.  I had gotten good with coding and terminals since we’ve had one in our two-bedroom ever since I could remember. My mom was physically handicapped and could only work from home.  Although she could have gotten into big trouble for it, she let me use the terminal at night and I learned as much about coding and terminals as I could.  My in-school side hustle was enough for me eat and also to save a little just in case anything worse happened to my mother and I was one my own.  After I took the exam and received my labor designation, I was escorted by machine intelligence officers downtown to my first one-bedroom unit, and my mother was taken to an old-people’s facility.

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According to the advertisements that were customized to appeal to someone of my lifestyle profile, most people my age go out to local nightclub spots, make friends and date, or use one of the other many entertainment services available downtown. Not me, I was already a bit of a loner and wasn’t interested in any of that.  I was saving all of my Social credits for a ticket to one of the Martian colonies that faced a labor shortage; since machine intelligence was too heavy and expensive to launch and land, humans could pay a large sum of credits and go instead.  It was very expensive and would take me about another 15 years to save up, and even then the only jobs available was shoveling regolith for resource utilization plants.  As terrible as that may sound to you, that life on Mars had to be better than this repetitive and depressing shit.

 

~~~~~~

 

So, back to how I got myself into some deep bullshit and now I am essentially hiding for my life not to mention all the other damage I caused.  

 

It began when I received a ping in my Social account from the mega-corp I work for.

 

EMPLOYEE EID: 734xdf21

 

BASED ON PAST WORK PERFORMANCE, YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO WORK AT A HIGHER DESIGNATION. REPORT TO ROOM EID: MU219 TERMINAL 12. YOUR BI-MONTHLY UNIT ALLOWANCE WILL NOT CHANGE.

 

Nice, I thought, and rolled my eyes.  It means I’ve been given more work for the same credits.

 

The transport cylinders at work were similar to the ones in the building where I live; you enter one, slide your EID chip into it, and it takes you where your only designated to go.  The cylinder carried me to a large room marked MU219. MU219 was filled with a grid of terminals each separated by three screens for privacy.  Passing by other anonymous hazmat suit wearers, I walked to Terminal 12 and sat down. Two familiar slits turned on projecting my screen and keyboard.  

 

My new job was similar to my previous one, only this time I had to spell check one line of code at a time and couldn’t move on to the next line until the digital intelligence on the other end confirmed it understood every term.  The terms were also very unfamiliar; I used to be able to breeze past thousands of lines of code and correct terms from memory, but this time I had to look up all of them in the given term inventory.  It only took a few days of me occupying this new designation to fully realize that my life is hell.

 

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Free Path Loss

Free Path Loss

By Dominique M. Awis

December 20 2016

Planet Earth is ravaged by civil unrest and destruction, humanity has ultimately destroyed itself.

Meanwhile, the robotic sentient being on a planet called Elonia in Alpha C bear witness to humanity’s destruction and send a league of their best as humanity’s last hope of survival.

Alpha C – Elonia

Tori sat, shoulders stretched over his computer, watching colored lights flash along his screen.  He inhaled, took a sip of his hot organic liquid drink, and began touching the screen furiously with one hand.  Today was going to be a long day.

Humanity was at it’s near end.  Humanity, the faithful little animal and ‘human’ planet Elonians have been observing for decades.  Humanity lived on Earth, the third planet from Sol.  Elonians observed Humanity around its own star Alpha Centauri.  It was humanity that taught our sentience about passion and hope, about destruction and chaos.

Worst part about Humanity was its disregard for not only its human life, but of the animals whom Elonians have been really observing these past few decades.  Animals.  The four legged creatures, the hunters, the wanderers, the forgotten; or the sea creatures: the turtles, the sharks, the whales that breathe oxygen… All these animals we worshipped on Elonia.  And the Humans threatened to destroy it over politics.

Tori sat and sipped his organic drink and sighed again to himself.  Well, at least we always have the plants.

****

Clutch grappled her waist belt fixed with all sorts of gadgets, and waited patiently until a couple walked past her on the market square.  After the couple was out of sight, she walked briskly across the street towards a small kiosk tucked off the street, somewhat hidden in shadows of a sunny afternoon.

Clutch approached the kiosk, and a small robot greeted her.  
“Hey Clutch!  Back for the usual?”

“Not today,” replied Clutch.  She touched her waist belt again.  “Company duty.”

“Right, right…” said the small robot.  The robot slipped her a small piece of paper with some numbers sczn6igjvqaa5xsvcribbled on them.

“Thank Meti,” Clutch said quietly.  She nodded towards the small robot and darted out of sight.

Clutch heard Meti whistle a tune as she czn6igkuuaacixswalked off quickly, Rolling Stones probably.  Earth music was very popular here, as was Humanity in general.  Clutch remember when she heard the news Humanity was on the brink of destroying itself, and nearly all its wildlife.  Clutch would not let that happen.  Humanity’s survival was too important to Elonia.  

She ran quickly through the streets towards a large square building covered in glass panels.  Company headquarters.  Her pace slowed as lasers scanned her as she walked up the brick-covered ground floor.  Entering the building, she took an elevator up to the fourth floor.

******

Tori was sitting in his chair, watching a Human documentary about lions, and wondering what it’d be like to on safari when he heard footsteps through the hallway and a loud bang on his door.

czn6igkusaaps_uHe look up and saw a female sentient, gears exposed as the symbol of a former soldier, waist belt full of gear as a soldier often carries.  Her face pressed against the glass and she wore a stupid grin on her face.

“Look what I got, Tori!” She exclaimed and pressed a piece of small paper up against the glass.

“Dammit Clutch!” Tori growled.  He got out of his chair, nearly spilling his hot drink, and pressed a finger to open the sliding glass door.

Barging in, Clutch took a sit in Tori’s chair.

“Let’s see the codes,” Tori said.  Clutch handed him the piece of paper and smiled widely again.  “It’s up to us to save the lions,” she said pointing at Tori’s screen.  Tori closed his browser window.

“Alright, alright, I have work to do,” Tori said.  It was up to them to save Humanity and therefore the wildlife after all.

*******

Clutch waited patiently for Tori to work.  She didn’t know what he was doing exactly save pressing symbols and numbers on a colored screen.  The screen moved too quickly for her to follow; Tori was fast at his work.  

She was eager to see what the codes would produce, but as a soldier knew to take her time and wait when waiting was called for.  At the Battle of Bast, she had waited days for her comrades to relieve her; she sat still for 5 days preserving all her organic calories until she was rescued.  Her body was programmed to endure the hardest work, her body produced chemicals for her muscles to run for dozens of hours, to lift the heaviest objects, and to take on intense physical damage.  Her mind was her own, and this took great strength of mind.  Training for her mind to endure what her body was built to was hard but proven to kept her alive all this time.  

And she was prepared to wait.

“Got it!” Tori said pleased.  He wiped sweat from his brow and leaned back in his chair, arms folded touching the back of his head.  

The screen changed into the familiar white noise of the distance from Alpha C to Elonia, sprinkled with the noise of the cosmic microwave background.  The screen flashed an assortment of colors in stripes, then a podium could be seen with familiar flags in the background.

“What’s up Earth?”  Clutch said smiling.

******

Sol – Earth

Esther scanned the reporters huddled in the massive White House Press Room, most of them, prepared with their cameras and microphones, awaiting the President’s arrival.  She could see big named reporters from newspapers from the US’ largest cities.  They were awaiting the President to ease their concerns; humanity was in danger and the Press was prepared to make it known to the public.

The doors to the Press Room opened and President Obamer walked in with his press secretary, a good friend of Esters, as well as Eshai, the President’s personal assistant robot.  Eshai had earned the highest grade military service of any robot and earned the President’s highest esteem, yet never took office himself despite public opinion of doing so.

Ester approached the podium.  “The President is here and will give the Press a short briefing of the task at hand, then the floor will open up for questions.  Mr. President please,” she ushered with her hands.

The President said a few words, mostly bringing up the disaster than had befallen mankind.  Mankind was ravaged by a disease that plagued software, and effectively data transfer had ceased to exist.  Banks were communicating through robots transporting data, space based electronic cut off from solar storms, asteroids were taking out cities in massive numbers.  The world was in crisis.

Ester waited for the President to discuss how the Administration was handling the problems, mostly through communicating with separate agencies to ensure proper handling of disaster relief.

As the President spoke, Ester thought of the massive rallies around the world about robotic rights and how Mankind’s dependency on hardware was a source of outrage from the American people.  She closed her eyes and thought of how much trouble the Administration was in and brainstormed further ways to control public outrage.  For now, the Administration was taking the crisis one day at a time and her Administration was in damage control mode.  She had to figure out solution to these crisies and fast or else humanity was doomed.

******

Alpha C- Elonia

“Well, that was hopeful,” Clutch said smiling.  She looked at Tori who only shook his head.

“I have more work to finish,” he said, putting his drink away and closing the browser window.  “I’ll send you a backup of this recording,” he told Clutch and turned his back to her.

“Good because I have more business to attend to,” Clutch said.  As Clutch was leaving, she heard a knock on Tori’s door and Zube entered.

“Hey Clutch, I have a favor to ask,” he said, handing Clutch a flash drive.  I need this delivered to this address.  Clutch scanned the address, saved it to her memory, and placed the flash drive in a small pocked on her gearbelt.

“And I need it deliver quick,” Zube said.

“I got this,” Clutch said and walked out the door.  She headed back down the hallway and threw the elevator and exited the building.

“I got your fast,” she said and entering traffic, forged her body on all fours like a vehicle.  She could feel her muscles changing shapes, her bones forming new joints.  She ran down the street faster than any motorcylce and pretended she was running with a pack of wild cheetas.