Volume2017.03.29Science Fiction

I just wanted things to go back to normal.

When the holographic projectors malfunctioned, I used the bedsheets as curtains to cover up the window that exposed me to the outside world.

It was the first time I've seen what was actually outside of my room. I wasn't the only one, the entire complex was disrupted. Through the window I saw a grid of rooms, inside were people just like me, all filled with distress and confusion.

I was used to being alone. The thought of being surrounded by all those people, lurking just outside these thin walls. The feeling was claustrophobic. My work began to slow down, with nothing to distract me from my fears, it was becoming harder to focus.

The projectors were still down, they sent a proxy to check up on me. I wasn't used to face to face meetings, I depended on the projects for communication with the outside world. This was my chance to find out when the projectors will be fixed.

"Nothing to worry about. The projectors will be coming online in the next few days."

There was no emotion behind the voice, it was difficult to tell if they were lying to me. The proxy had no face, it was just a machine that communicated messages, whoever was on the other line was merely following a script.

"I see, that's good."

There was a brief silence that followed, I felt inclined to stammer out some more words for the proxy but nothing seemed to form. Instead, I stood frozen and stared into the monitor growing out of it's robot body as it printed out a series of commands on the screen. It was analyzing something, maybe it had something to do with me and this wasn't just a routine meeting.

"Your current project..." It's eyes drilled for the emotions that boiled in my skull.

"What about it?" I asked nervously

"Tell me about it."

It's tone was different, like the proxy was taken over by someone else.

"Well, it was going well except for the last couple of days. I should make more progress when those projectors are back up."

"Your project was a portable... toilet, was it?"

"Yes, it uses the micro singularity technology that was recently introduced."

The proxy took a moment to ask it's next question, I guess the fact that I was using the latest technology might have meant something to them.

"Does it recycle the waste as efficiently as current recyclers?"

The clothing worn outside require waste recyclers to be built in. That mean, all waste produced is transformed into protein paste and water, which can be used for nutrition and refreshment. My device doesn't work the same way so this is a trick question. I try to explain the difference to the proxy, hoping to prove my case.

"The device still recycles the waste just not in the traditional manner."

I felt a moment of dread, staring at the Proxy's blank pixelated face.

"Explain" the Proxy demanded.

"The singularity transforms the waste into energy but it takes about a lifetime of use until the battery can be used for other purposes."

The proxy didn't say anything, I knew what I said wasn't enough. I had to be more convincing. This was it, the moment where I will either be allowed to continue my work or lose their support and be reaccommodated.

"This will be a device that can be used at home or on the go and it won't restrict you to specific garments."

I was finished, of course this was a bad idea. What was I thinking, a portable toilet. I always knew I was crazy. I was frozen while the Proxy radiated psychic disruption. Before I lost it completely, the Proxy broke the silence.

"Do not worry, we still support your work."

"Thank you! Thank you so much!"

"We expect your schedule to improve once the projectors are back online."

"Of course, I'll be in prime condition. The administration can count on me."

The Proxy folded into the hatch and my room was sealed off from the outside world. I felt relief from passing their inspection, my current life style was secure for now. I suddenly felt alone, how long would this last I wondered.

I moved over to the window and ripped off the curtains. Outside I saw a grid of similar windows, spreading out in all directions into the distant horizon. I can see the lights on several windows blinking off. Not everyone passed the inspection it seems. The Proxy was probably in the process of clearing out the complex of ideas that were deemed unimportant. The people assigned to those rooms, I wonder what happens to them after they're forced out.

"I wonder when my time will come."

The projectors started flickering, the window blinded me with a flash of light. When my eyes recovered, the room was restored to it's original state. The window had a view of a pleasant green field extending into a misty distance. The monitors shined brightly with a display of tools I was using to test the latest prototype.

I set aside my fears and began where I left off.


Reading Time4 min