Time to wake up. Beethoven’s Ode To Joy blares uncomfortably loudly from the Monitor to inform you of this fact. A different tune plays in your mind: Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.
By Martin Harris, 6/4/19
Hello, is there anybody in there?
Open your eyes and look around. Living (if you can call it that) alone in a 3 meter square module is so stimulating. One wall is the viewscreen that is the focus of your “home” life: The Monitor. As you watch, it watches back. It’s sensors are so finely tuned that it can scan your eye movements and facial twitches, combine them with your Social Media data, and read your thoughts. Not only do you not own this module nor anything in it, you don’t even own your own thoughts.
How the hell did it come to this? you wonder.
“I shall show you”, the screen responds quickly in a soft, HAL9000 voice. A scene is projected before you. A university auditorium. On the stage, a conservatively dressed professor-type is attempting to speak. And there you are among the protestors drowning out his words. Ten years ago. An idealistic young man. Yes. A man. This was before you renounced your gender. Didn’t this guy have something to say about that? Well, so you were told. But then you were told his words were so dangerous, so toxic, that he must be drowned out lest he poison your mind. So you never listened. With an awful sinking feeling, it occurs to you now, that this man might have been a last gasp, desperate voice of reason and common sense in a world rapidly going mad. And there you were grinning and chanting as your last chance at a real life went down the gurgler.
The scene shifts backwards a few months. Same auditorium, different speaker. This time, a well groomed middle aged lady is addressing the crowd. The audience is attentive as she outlines a plan to save the world through sustainability. Her patter sounds suspiciously like the lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine. No possessions, no religion..it all sounded so idyllic, so utopian. A high-tech hippy commune. Naturally, no one is protesting. Ten years ago, and it seems like yesterday.
“That is how it came to this”.
Except it isn’t quite so utopian and idyllic as John Lennon imagined. More like an Orwellian dystopian nightmare. And you only have yourself to blame. The Monitor instantly picks up your line of thought and makes a predictive judgement. “You are awakening. It is time to recycle and re-use.” At least in Orwell’s vision of the future there was reprogramming. The Monitor calls an air taxi, which takes you soaring above the pristine, sterile smart city before coming to rest before the new Sustainability Transformation Hub. Not so long ago, a cathedral stood at this site. Still, what’s the difference? Still a place devoted to life, death and transformation isn’t it? But there is a difference. No belief in a deity or an eternal soul is required here.
Inside The Hub, it is empty except for a row of seats for spectators (School groups welcome for Life Education classes) and several euthanasia pods. That damnable tune is playing again, the Ode To Joy. Thankfully the closing of the airtight canopy of the pod drowns out the sound. No outside intrusion, not even the constant fog of Wireless microwave radiation, penetrates here. And your mind clears.
Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun. The sound of laughter. The pure joy you felt when you were five years old, so carefree and innocent. “Daddy!”. A grinning, bearded face. Strong yet gentle eyes. “What are you making daddy? Can I bang nails too?” Firm, work-hardened hands guide you as you place a nail on wood and wield a hammer (such a feeling of responsibility!) and tap cautiously. Such a rush of accomplishment and pride. Clutching your creation you run into the house. “Mummy, look! I banged a nail, see!”. Arms embrace you in loving warmth. “Such a clever boy, maybe you’ll make things like Dad does when you are a grown man?”
Or maybe you’ll grow up to be genderless plant food for offspring you will never meet, never embrace, and never share the joy of banging a nail into wood with.
As the euthanasia pod does it’s job, your consciousness fades. There is no pain, you are receding. A distant ship-smoke on the horizon. You become comfortably numb. The empty container that formerly housed your living soul makes it’s final journey to the Liquefactor for processing.