World-Plex – The Room – Chapter 1

The Room – Chapter 1

 

Two small newborns, Sandra and William, rocked and swayed from side to side in their beds. The room they occupied was white from floor to ceiling and void of any fixtures. A mechanical arm reached down holding a bottle and fed each in turn. Somewhere off in the distance voices could be heard conversing in the kind of topics one would normally hear on a radio.

 

Time went on and by the age of two, the children were transported to a playpen in a nearby room. Here, they had various toys that kept them amused. A short time later the two children were introduced to a screen that displayed real and animated visuals accompanied by various sounds and voices. Most commonly, objects were shown in the centre of the screen and were usually surrounded by a black or white backdrop. It wasn’t long before the children began to speak short sentences: mimicking the voices they heard.

 

Soon after, ‘Grey’, entered into their lives.

 

Grey was a ‘voice’ that spoke to them personally and could be heard from the screen and hidden speakers placed around the room.

 

This voice became their virtual father. As the children grew, they came to know him not only as their father but also as their teacher and companion.

Years passed and during this time Grey nurtured and fostered their intellectual faculties through virtual games and conversation.

 

The two children turned into young adults and from this time they began to experience events which turned their lives upside down.

Sandra and William lived in a small home made up of five rooms. This place, their home, was the only place that they had ever known. They did not have any knowledge of what was outside the walls that surrounded them.

 

As frightening as that might sound to the ordinary person, this was not a phenomenal fact in two adolescent’s eyes lives. William and Sandra grew up surrounded by only white walls, however, they were not frightened by what they did not know.

Their home was quite large, and it gave the pair a lot of room to move around. The structure contained a sleeping quarters, a dining room, a hygiene area where they bathed and washed, and various study areas. The structure also provided them with food, water, reading materials and stationary, all of which were shuttled to wall compartments via pipes in the walls.

 

The kitchen contained an open steel wall compartment to which food was delivered throughout the day. Whenever a delivery was made the pair were alerted by the sound of Grey’s voice. Just as items were shuttled into the structure, disposables were also shuttled out via a suction pipe located outside the pantry to the left. 

 

Entertainment and study activities were conducted via a large screen located in each room. Never a dull moment went by due to the endless pictographs, illustrations and descriptive dialogues given by Grey. It was from these screens via ‘Grey’ that they learnt speaking, reading, writing and listening skills along with other subjects such as maths and chemistry. The pair also had access to a hand-held screen and a pen which they could write on and erase. Study was their favourite pastime because of the challenging tasks they were able to engage in as part of their formal education.

‘Grey’ which they only knew as a ‘voice’, spoke to them via speakers built into the walls. This was their main point of contact and communicative stimulus. This voice helped teach them how to communicate and gave them certain facts and ideas to ponder. Grey could be heard in any room and was able to engage in conversation about any topic. It was Grey, who provided their education and was also their friend and counsellor, though he wasn’t very skilled at the latter.

Neither of them knew their exact ages, though they had been told that they were above 18 and turning into adults. Although these ideas were not important in any social sense, they felt happy that they had formally achieved some level of maturity. Time was also set not by the sun nor by any other natural indications of time. Instead, it was set by a computerised clock and by an illumination lighting system which automatically dimmed the lighting within the structure: indicating when certain times came about.

Heating and cooling were also automated to give the pair a sense of different weather periods. The purpose of this was to break up periods of monotony associated with sensations, for example, a constant temperature or level of illumination.

As the children grew older, they began to wonder about the things that they couldn’t explain. They had questions such as; “What lay outside these walls?” “Where did their food come from? Where did they themselves come from?” These were just a few of the questions that often crossed their minds and were only to ignore some of them during game and study times with Grey. Thus, Grey tried to keep them occupied as much as possible.

 

Sandra and William sat on the floor in the study area one morning whilst passing each other pieces of paper which they were drawing on. Both were drawing imaginary images of people and animals. Grey suggested they do this for mental stimulation, but on this particular evening, both seemed to be in a mode of deep thought, as they concentrated on their drawings.

 

‘Grey?’

‘Yes, Sandra?’

‘Why are we here?’ Sandra questioned.

Grey’s voice was mostly humble and friendly, and he always tried to sound reassuring. ‘That’s an age-old question that no one has ever been able to find the answer to,’ Grey responded.

 

Sandra looked up at the screen trying to imagine Grey’s face.
‘Grey?’

‘Yes, William?’

‘Why am ‘I’ here?’ he stressed.

There was a pause as Grey considered the appropriate answer.

‘Perhaps there is no adequate answer to that question.’

 

Grey’s voice was sombre and yet resolute.

Sandra’s dark red hair draped around her shoulders as she sat with her legs crossed passing cards to William. She gazed up at the large blank screen with her bright blue eyes fixated on its centre.

‘William,’ she said with a soft voice.

‘Yes, Sandra.’

‘I don’t think Grey likes us anymore.’ she said, grinning indicating that she was joking.

‘Grey has never liked us,’ he said while raising his eyebrows. ‘He never answers our questions properly,’ he said also grinning. During the night, all the lights were dimmed but were never completely turned off unless requested. As one walked around at night, the lights would illuminate brighter in each of the rooms that they passed through. All these functions were automatic and managed by Grey. To make a request they either could just call out to Grey as if he were in the same room. That night after William fell asleep Sandra got up and went to the main room.

‘Grey,’ Sandra called.

‘Yes, Sandra.’

‘I’m here again.’

‘Yes, Sandra I know.’

Sandra stood in the centre of the room, staring at the large black screen on the wall. ‘I wish you had a face.’

‘Me too,’ Grey responded cheerfully.

Sandra chuckled.

 
‘I love you, Grey.’ The lights dimmed.

‘I know Sandra. I never expected it.’

 

Sandra often visited the main room after William was sleeping to tell Grey that she loved him. She found peace in this routine, although she didn’t know why. She had no idea why she felt that she loved him, or what the meaning of love really was. All she knew is that it made her feel secure deciding to feel that way.

‘What about William, Sandra? Won’t he be unhappy if you don’t love him?’ Grey asked her.

Sandra often thought about William, but she was so used to his presence that he had become more of a close friend than someone to love. She wanted someone or something else. Grey was that something and someone. Unfortunately, he was just a voice.

 

‘William. He is a….’she started but couldn’t find the right words.

‘What about children? You know about this Sandra. Without children how will you replace yourself after you are gone?’

‘He is a good friend, a brother.’

‘No!’ Grey said in a loud voice. ‘He is not your brother.’

Sandra had never heard Grey raise his voice and was quite frightened.

‘Maybe I should sleep,’ she said stepping back slowly. William might wake up.’

 

Sandra left and went back to the sleeping room. She stood at the door watching William sleep. He was a slender boy, much taller than her. His brown hair was short and curly, and his eyes were Hazel Green.

 
‘I’m sorry William,’ Sandra whispered. ‘I do not love you because I know there must be someone else out there somewhere,’ she said gazing at the ceiling as if trying to look past its white exterior.

 

Sandra went back to her bed and rested as she lay awake looking up at the blank white ceiling. ‘There must be a way out of this place,’ she whispered.

Although she had never been told of an outside world, logic told her that their supplies must come from another place. She and William both knew that this was an obvious reality that they had actively ignored.

 

Sandra craved igniting her curiosity and experiencing what couldn’t be seen. Although William felt this same urge he was a little more content, and a lot more afraid.

The next morning William awoke before Sandra. ‘I bet she was awake after I slept,’ he said to himself out loud.

William rose up out of his bed and walked into the food area.

‘Bacon, eggs and…chicken for Sandra, she doesn’t like bacon as much as me.

 
‘Very well William,’ Grey responded. Within minutes, two hot meals arrived on a tray from a compartment in the wall.

‘You know what I want before I order it,’ William noted while gazing down at the steaming hot meal in front of him. The counter was long and at the end of it there was a drink machine, from which, almost any beverage imaginable could be produced.

‘Today I think I will have lemon tea. William hesitated, ‘cold lemon tea. And for Sandra, milk. She is looking a bit thin.’

 

Grey was amused by Williams’s comment about Sandra since she was sleeping and unable to take note of it.

‘Your thoughts seem to be centred on Sandra these days,’ Grey commented.

‘Besides study what else is there to centre my thoughts on?’ William asked swiftly.

‘What do you want most of all in your life, William?’ Grey responded calmly.

‘To eat my breakfast in peace, Grey.’ William replied in an agitated tone.

William wished nothing more but to enjoy the simple moments and breakfast was one of them. Unfortunately, there were more important issues he cared about, issues that pressed upon his mind.

 

‘As you wish William. Remember this William. I’m here to help you.’

‘Perhaps my existence has been a waste of life’, William said as he gazed in deep thought looking his breakfast.

 

‘And if so’, he continued, ‘how could it be made not a waste.’

 

William often pondered over these ideas from time to time.

 

‘At least I have my friend Sandra.’ This thought was often his only salvation when he couldn’t come up with alternatives.

As the day went on Sandra and William became tired from their study activities and decided to rest in the main room. In the centre of the main room, two lounges faced each other.

 

This was not always the case, as furniture could be transported from below the surface to above the surface and vice versa. The furniture was designed this way to save space when required.

 

Despite their small living area, many ‘out of sight’ furniture and objects occupied the rooms including exercise equipment which allowed Sandra and William adequate opportunity to maintain their physical health.

 
As the two sat on the lounges across from each other, Sandra peered across at William who was staring longingly at the main screen which was frozen blank as if waiting for something to appear on it.

 
William’s attention span was limited and rarely paid attention to anything besides direct input. Sandra, on the other hand, was often lost in her own thoughts trying to imagine things she had never seen. It was this spirit of inquiry that kept her asking questions.

 

‘William,’ Sandra called as she looked at his perfectly chiselled chin. ‘We have so little. I wish there were more.’ Sandra’s voice was solemn: she lowered her eyes and then hung her head down.

 

Sandra wore a white night gown with long white socks. The gown was partially see-through making the outline of her undergarments visible. William wore a simple white shirt, brown shorts and a pair of black lace-up shoes.

 

William turned away from the screen and momentarily stared at Sandra with a blank expression. His eyes then began to wander through her night gown. To his knowledge, this was the first time she had worn such a garment.

 

William looked away trying to hide the fact that he was observing her body.

 

The temperature grew suddenly warm but neither seemed to notice.

 

‘Life is simple Sandra. Right now, nothing is a surprise.’ William commented. Once again, he was staring at the screen.

‘But…what about…out there?’

‘Out there?’ William tried to make eye contact. ‘We have everything we need here. We are…safe. Out there…we don’t know.’

‘But aren’t you curious?’

‘I’m curious as to whether or not I will have food, water and air.’ William said as he shrugged his shoulders.

 

Sandra let out a not uncommon sigh. This was another moment where she had no answers and little to offer in response. Deprived emotionally as well as physically, she felt numb to the core. The physical feelings were natural she thought, however, she couldn’t match them with her desires.

 

William, although not deprived mentally, felt the same way physically. However difficult it was, he often pushed sexual thoughts aside: he did with most other complex thoughts, often to keep life simple and harmonious.

 
Sandra, however, wanted more. She refused to accept that her whole life would be spent inside a dwelling where she could never experience anything else. The idea of an outside world was never discussed with them.

 

Although references were made to objects that they had never seen or touched, the whole idea that objects actually existed this space was ignored. This was a strange reality they lived, and one Sandra found difficult to cope with.

Grey thought it was time to intervene. ‘Are you two ok? Perhaps we could play a game.’

 

Sandra stood up and turned her head towards the main screen, to which Grey’s voice stemmed from.

‘I think our whole…existence is a game! Who are we?’ Sandra’s words were loud and augmented with emotion.

‘I’m not sure I understand your questions, Sandra,’ Grey was expressing his usual calm self.

 

‘You have not explained this!’ she threw her hands around the room.

‘Again, I’m not sure I understand correctly. Are you referring to the question of why we are here?’

William shook his head and chuckled. ‘That is a question I never ask. It’s too confusing.’

Sandra turned to William and gave him a painful stare and then shrugged in desperation.

‘I’m not talking about why we are alive. I’m talking about why we are here in this’, she began to stammer, ‘place you call our home.’ She paused momentarily. ‘Obviously, there is something out there,’ she said pointing up towards the ceiling.

There was a moment of silence. ‘You often play dumb,’ Sandra accused Grey. ‘We deserve an answer.’

They always suspected that there was more to their world, however, they had never confronted Grey with this issue in such an intense way.

 
The silence continued.

 

Sandra shook her head and shrugged once more.

 

‘We are trapped here, aren’t we? We can never leave. This will be our whole life. One big waste.’ She said angrily and then stormed out of the main room and into the bedroom.

She lay on her bed and wept. This was perhaps the first time she had ever cried.

 

‘See what you have done Grey? You have made her unhappy. You should just tell us about the happy space outside this place. Even just let us out. I hate to see her unhappy.’

‘I too,’ Grey said sorrowfully. A moment of stiff silence past as William pondered his life.

‘Grey?’

‘Yes, William?’

‘Life is not the same these days.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘Why is that?’ Williams’s eyes sparkled with curiosity as he stared directly at the centre of the screen.

‘Let me show you something. This is a film about life from start to finish. It shows you how people are made and what happens after they are born until they are old and eventually pass away.’

‘Is this film just for me?’

‘You can watch first William. Perhaps you can pass this knowledge on to Sandra, or she can watch the film later. Either way, it will be fine.’

The film began, and William sat and watched intently. It was narrated by a deep resonant father like voice; a voice that put William at ease.

 

There were a mixture of voices and animated images describing the cycle of life, including the act of conception. To some degree, it resembled the kind of sex-education film that might be shown to teenagers. Although Sandra and William were well past teenage years, they were still very unfamiliar with the concepts related to relationships and sex.

Williams’s eyes were wide as he watched intently. He had never heard or seen such things in graphic detail. As he sat there the lights dimmed and William felt he was in a world of his own. Of course, he knew Grey was there in the background observing him but as he watched he imagined that he was there all by himself seeing things that only he could witness.

‘William, what are you doing?’ Sandra called from the doorway.

William didn’t want to miss any of the film and so ignored her. Sandra had been secretly listening and watching from the hallway. She entered the main room and sat across from William on the lounge and watched the film in silence.

 

Towards the end, they became a little depressed by the description of the last phase of the human cycle, not because of its eventuality but because death was one more of those unexplained concepts that was suddenly introduced into their mind. The end of the film came, and the lights returned to their normal brightness.

‘That film showed us some things we really hadn’t considered,’ Sandra commented. ‘But’, she paused momentarily. ‘I have an important question.’

‘Yes, Sandra. What is it?’ Grey asked.

‘If we do this for you, what will become of the child’s life?

‘This is not for me,’ Grey sounded offended.

‘Yes, it is. It is all for you. Perhaps because you cannot have a child, you want us to have one for you.’

 

‘You do not know me, Sandra,’ Grey retorted.

‘That’s right there are lots we don’t know’, Sandra said calmly.

William stirred in his seat trying to shake himself out of his state of hypnosis.

 

‘Grey. Life is so simple. Why must it get complicated?’

 
‘There are things you must come to accept even if you do not understand them.’

William shook his head in irritation. ‘This is not right. I am happy. I do not need these strange feelings. I already knew some of what was on that film.’

 
Grey responded. ‘I knew you would subconsciously figure out the concepts of procreation, but now you have fully realised it; I think you should mature and do what comes naturally; Natural to humans.’

William shook his head once more, this time in anger. ‘I’m going to bed. I just want normality.’ He stormed off and slammed the door behind him.

Sandra and Grey remained in silence.

‘I feel I have failed with William. He doesn’t seem to have the courage and maturity I hoped for.’

‘How can we mature? We cannot understand any of this.’

‘Perhaps you are right and perhaps I should have waited longer before I pushed for this, but I knew that…’

 

Sandra stood up in front of the screen with her hands on her hips. ‘Why did you stop? What do you know?’

Grey refrained from answering, which made Sandra even more annoyed.

 
‘You know something about humans because you know there are others, somewhere else; Perhaps others who procreate earlier.’

‘You are very intelligent Sandra.’

Sandra stared at the screen with an expression of frustration and anger. She turned and left the room.

Later, that evening Sandra was lying down in bed while William was sitting at his desk reading. Sandra’s thoughts had been racing around in her head for hours pondering over the countless possibilities that could exist in her world but that she had never experienced.

‘William,’ Sandra called from bed.

‘Yes, Sandra,’ William replied while turning to look at her. His voice was calm and relaxed. In a way, he was glad that he had experienced something unusual in his life and his experience watching the film was certainly unusual.

‘I don’t want to be forced into things just because Grey wants me to.’

‘I don’t want to have a child either Sandra. Not in this life.’

William was happy with his life but also very frustrated with the challenges that his emotions and desires presented to him. He felt the best way to deal with this was to simply say no to them.

‘William, this is not about wanting or not wanting a child. This is about the choice of whom we should have children with and why.’

That sentence sounded very profound and strange at the same time to William for it was quite evident to him that he was the only one who she could possibly have children with. William’s eyes were wide with inquisitiveness as he pondered her words and expressions.

‘I know what you are thinking but there must be others, there must be a whole world out there that we don’t know about.’ Sandra tried to choose her words carefully.

Sandra continued. ‘This is not about I loving you or you loving me. There must be more to this existence than us.’

Those words scared William. He knew that she would never be content. It was clear that she would never fully accept him, and that left a hole in his heart.

‘What about you, William? You can withstand this life, but are you happy?’

William reflected on his life and the lack of expectations that came with it. He knew that he could accept Sandra and that would make life easier, especially concerning his desires but was that enough? Sadly, yes, but he had to agree that he wished there were more.

 

‘I’m a little happy,’ he paused briefly, ‘and a little bored. I guess if there was more to this,’ he waved his hands around the room, ‘I could be happier.’

‘See!’ Sandra exclaimed with excitement. Finally, William was thinking about the endless possibilities of life.

‘But what can we do about this?’ he asked waving his hands around once more.

Sandra’s eyes were wide with curiosity as she tried to imagine the outside world. A moment passed as they both stared aimlessly in thought, ‘We need to escape,’ she finally said with a cold stare. ‘Grey won’t let us go.’

This idea had been on her mind for a while, but this was the first time she had spoken of it. She knew Grey would be listening but there was no other way of telling William without Grey knowing her thoughts.

‘Grey hasn’t even said if there is an outside world.’

‘There must be William. He always goes quiet whenever I speak about the possibility. I know he is hiding a lot from us. We are probably some kind of experiment.’ Sandra was picturing a great expanse of colours in her mind. Flashes of white light would scatter over the horizon of endless blooming shadows of green, blue and grey.

 

William looked down at the white floor beneath him in thought. ‘As I said before. We don’t know what’s out there. What if we can’t look after ourselves?’ He looked over at Sandra. ‘Here we get fed and clothed, and we never have to worry.’

‘This is not life William.’ Sandra’s eyes began to fill with tears. She turned to her side and closed her eyes. ‘I will think on this. Good night.’

William didn’t sleep well that night. Many thoughts rolled around in his head as he tried to come to terms with his life. On the one hand, he considered Sandra’s dissatisfaction with life. On the other, he had conflicted thoughts concerning his desires.

 

‘Is contentment enough?’ ‘Am I content?’.

 

Contentment was a necessary part of life he thought but perhaps this was something someone had to convince themselves of. Could he convince himself that he was content, but Sandra could not?

 
As he pondered these thoughts, it occurred to him as well that Sandra was serious about leaving. This worried him. Would he try to escape with her out of fear of being alone? And if they left what would become of them? These thoughts went back and forth and still there no answers. Eventually, in the mid hours of the night, he managed to fall asleep.

 

The night passed along, and Sandra began to dream. Dressed in blue, her favourite colour, she stood in a hallway with a bright red rose in her hands that glowed bright as a flame. Her hair was woven into an intricate plait and placed around her right shoulder and her high heels were covered with white and silver patterns of interconnected flowers.

 

The image was serene and felt somehow static in time and yet there was an endless feeling of joy that ran through her veins. The air was chillingly cool, but she knew that warmth was only a moment away. She waited for her groom but knew not who it was. She was hopeful but did not know what she hoped for.

 

‘I’m sorry,’ a voice came from above. ‘Why,’ she answered.

 

‘I have taken so long,’ the voice replied.

 

A tear ran down Sandra’s face as she realised the dream was about to end.

‘Wake up!’ William was shaking Sandra. ‘You’re making noises in your sleep again!’

Her eyes opened, and tears ran down her cheek.

‘Crying?’

 

Feeling confused and frustrated he made his way to the main room and clapped his hands for the lounges to rise. As they rose he jumped on one of them and dug his head into the fabric.

Sandra lay in bed with her eyes wide open. She could remember her dream with such detail.

 

She was waiting for her perfect partner: a man she had never met. Although she was led to believe that man could never exist she felt the knowledge of this man had entered her sub consciousness from the outside.

 

These were joyful thoughts. Thoughts that she now wanted to extend with her imagination. It was this that kept her happy enough to focus on sleep. Eventually, she drifted off in a world of mystery and excitement.

The hours passed and out of habit, William woke at his usual time. This time, however, there was complete darkness. He checked his wrist watch for the time and surely enough it was 7 o’clock.

‘Lights on,’ he called. The lights remained off.

‘Grey! Turn the lights on!’ William ordered. There was no response.

 

‘How unusual,’ William thought.

The room was in complete darkness.

‘Sandra! Sandra! I can’t see.’ William called.

Sandra rolled around in her bed. She heard the last part of what he said and opened her eyes.

‘Tell Grey to turn them on,’ she said and then yawned.

‘I did but he hasn’t responded. I think he doesn’t like your idea of escaping.’

Sandra sat up in bed. ‘So, the lights are off, and he can’t see us. We have lived here long enough to know where things are.’

 
William was worried. This confirmed his fears about escaping.

‘I told you, Sandra.’

‘Told me what?’

‘Escaping was a bad idea. No one to look after us. No one to feed us.’

 

Sandra expected such comments. She knew William was not strong willed.

‘If I want to escape I will,’ Sandra asserted fearlessly. ‘Lights or no lights!’

‘But before you go maybe you should try to eat something. A last meal.’

Sandra shook her head and laughed quietly.

‘I’m going into the kitchen to see if I can get some breakfast,’ William announced with an air of defiance.

 

William didn’t need to see to be able to locate where things were. He knew this place inside and out and was confident he could roam around freely without any light to guide him.

William stood up out of bed and stretched his arms. ‘I can find the kitchen.’

‘I believe you, William,’ Sandra commented with sincerity.

‘I just wonder if Grey is mad at us.’

‘He definitely is or at least he is mad at me.

William stammered to his feet. The air was warm, which was unusual. Normally, the temperature was cool during their waking hours. As his eyes adjusted he began to make out the shape of the bedroom. He could see the outline the bed Sandra was lying on.

He could make out the position of the door and he knew roughly how many steps it would take to get there. He began taking small steps and then bigger ones until he eventually felt the wall come into contact with his hands. Soon he could feel the handle of the door and knew with great precision where he was in relation to the bedroom, the hallway outside, as well at the kitchen across from him to his right. He now moved with confidence and entered the kitchen.

 

Although the lights were still off completely his eyes had adjusted, and he could now see the outline of all the major objects in the room. It was almost clear to him as if there was illumination in the room.

‘Grey? I’m sorry for her. She has little understanding of how much we mean to you but regardless she wants to leave. Perhaps you could forgive her?’

 

William thought he had better find a way to make peace with Grey. He knew he was angry but there was no answer, and the silence grew chill. William stood and waited for Grey to respond.

 

A few minutes turned into at least 10 minutes, and William began to feel anxious. Perhaps Grey was somehow gone. ‘What if he is dead somehow?’ This thought sent a chill through Williams’s body.

‘I’m sorry Grey!’ William shouted. His voice was almost shrill with fear.

Sandra called out from the doorway of the kitchen, ‘William?’

‘Sandra, are you ok?’

 

‘Yes, William. Are you ok? What are you doing?’

‘I don’t know. I wish there was light. I just want Grey to come back to us. I feel he has left us forever.’

‘I don’t think so.’

There was a flash as the lights flickered momentarily above them and during that brief moment, a ray of hope shone through Williams’s chest but then suddenly sunk deep into his belly.

‘Grey is upset and so I am,’ William announced gloomily.

‘Oh William,’ Sandra said with a sigh.

William decided to walk and find his way around by feeling for the objects around him. He no longer cared about bumping into things in front of him. After all, he knew this place well. It was the only place he had ever known.

Sandra heard footsteps and then the sound of a thump. ‘What are you doing William?’

‘I’m looking for Grey and something to eat. There must be something in here to eat.’

 

Sandra began walking without caution.

From the corner of the kitchen room, a spark of light appeared and then a flash.

‘What was that?’ Sandra asked in a hushed voice.

‘A flash of light!’ William replied also in a hushed voice. ‘It is gone now!’ he added.

From the midpoint of the kitchen area on the left side, another flash of light struck and quickly faded. William suspected it was near the food dispensing pipe in the wall and moved closer towards it.

‘Over here Sandra!’ Over here!’ The food pipe where we get our food. It’s coming from there!’

 
Sandra felt along the wall on the right side until she reached a point where she suspected was opposite to the pipe.

 
William was directly in front of her crouched down. He lifted up the cover of the pipe and a bright light shone from it. The diameter of the pipe was now larger than they had previously known it to be, large enough for an adult to crawl through.

 

‘This is not how I remembered it’ William noted, now in a normal tone and volume. ‘I guess Grey must have enlarged it.’

‘For us to leave’ Sandra said in a solemn tone.

‘I don’t want to go Sandra. I will stay’.

‘William.’ Sandra said and then paused. ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’

A loud echo rose from the floor followed by a single word spoken in a booming deep resonant voice of male unknown to them. ‘Go!’

‘That’s not Grey!’ William screamed out.

 
‘Go William!’

William was still kneeling on the floor in front of the food pipe.

‘Grey!’ he cried.

‘Grey was never real William!’, The deep voice boomed back at him.

 

‘What have you done with him?’ William screamed back. Tears came to his eyes, and his chest was heaving.

 

The kitchen became a little brighter and Sandra stood behind William and watched him weep. Grey was like their father, and suddenly they had been told he wasn’t real.

‘William. It’s time to go. Leave this place behind.’

‘No! You go!’ William stood up and moved aside. He turned and looked at Sandra’s face. He was still crying.

‘William. I can’t go alone.’

William wiped his eyes and looked around. ‘I’m not strong Sandra.’

‘Oh, William.’ Sandra also started to cry. She moved forward and grabbed his hand. ‘I can’t stay, and I can’t go without you. Maybe we can come back one day and say hi to Grey. Or maybe there will be others out there. Real people William!’

William looked around at the only place he had ever known.

‘William. I love you.’

He turned to the food pipe. By now, he had stopped crying. ‘Take clothes and food. We will need them.’

 

A smile came to Sandra’s face.

‘This could be a big mistake, Sandra. What if there is no food out there? What if… there are bad things?’

‘Food comes to us and bad…well I don’t know, but it’s a risk I want to take. This is not living.’

Sandra held both of his hand tightly. ‘We will have each other William. That’s all that matters’.

All the rooms shined a little brighter. William and Sandra gathered as many things as they could and placed them into pillow cases.

Both stood at the face of the food pipe. ‘It’s time to go William.’

William nodded.

‘I’ll go first William.’ He nodded again.

 

She climbed up into the food storage area and laid on her stomach. She then started to squirm and crawl with a pillow filled with clothes and food items. William followed. Both were crawling down the pipe but after a few meters, William stopped and looked back.

‘Bye Grey. I’m going to miss you.’

 

 

 

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World-Plex – The Waste Disposal – Chapter 2

The Waste Disposal – Chapter 2

 

The sun shone down hard in the waste disposal site of east-central Australia where Roger was working. He was sitting in his new recycling vehicle with his communications headset on.

 

His vehicle resembled a huge insect with a disproportionate body shape consisting of a large backside and a smaller frontend. Two massive wheels protruded outwards from the tail end and two smaller wheels were located at the front section. The body of the car was a wide rounded capsule-like shape that had a glass covering.

 

Roger was not alone, however. Stephen who was a co-worker sat across from Roger in a similar vehicle. He was a technician who was sent out with Roger to help him understand the World-Plex technology, and how it was integrated with the council’s new recycling scheme. Using their vehicle’s communications application, they could speak to each other and give each other feedback.

 

Stephen was in his mid-20’s and in the prime of his life. He was youthful, strong, energetic, and most of all, intelligent. Regardless of everything in favour, Stephen was a troubled young man. He knew what his purpose was in life, but he often questioned himself out loud: though never in public and especially when his mic was on.

 

‘What am I doing here?’ he often asked himself. It was one of those age-old mysteries that no one could answer, not even approximate. Perhaps he was out here by chance: a trickle of atoms that fell in all the right places, or perhaps, in the wrong places.

 

‘Wow! This is great!’ Roger exclaimed.

‘What’s Great? Your new toy or these mountains of Rubbish?’

 

‘Not this rubbish, stupid,’ Roger retorted.

 

The waste around them was mainly a combination of faded grey and white. More than 200 years of consumer junk left to rot. The giant mountains of useless broken and unwanted goods were somewhat of a reminder of the throwaway society the world had become.

 

‘This toy is great because it will get rid of all this rubbish’ Roger said, as he was smiling from his vehicle.

 

Roger was 19 and energetic, but he hadn’t nearly as much experience or knowledge as Stephen about the work that they were doing.

 

‘There were a lot of things they could have done before it got to this point.’ Stephen commented while shaking his head, looking around at the crushed cubes of garbage that surrounded them, along with the trails of makeshift roads.

 

‘You are happy because you have a new toy. Now all you need to do is learn how to use it. Just remember you’re not here to play. You’re here to work.’

‘I know,’ Roger replied. ‘And I will. I just want to make the best out of this new assignment. After all, Waste Management isn’t exactly the best job someone could have.

 

‘What do you mean?’ Stephen looked around in his vehicle smiling. ‘You’re outdoors, and you’re cleaning up the environment. Soon none of this will be here.’ Stephen chuckled. ‘What more could you ask for?’ Although Stephens’s words signalled enthusiasm his tone was stagnant with sarcasm.

‘You’re right. I’m lucky, and not just because of this new toy!’ The both of them laughed at that and began moving their vehicles.

 

Stephen lead Roger to the new facility located to the north of the waste disposal site and explained the ins and outs of the assignment along the way.

 

Soon he would leave his co-worker here alone to finish the tasks required and upon completion Roger was due to return to the mines. This was an exciting time in both their lives however as their work was part of a world changing project called the ‘World–Plex’, the building of a structure for the entire earth’s populace to live.

 

For years, waste built up as a result of an inflated stimulus economy. To compensate for this enormous waste of resources, a new economy was gradually being introduced referred to as a ‘no-market’ economy. The World-Plex structure was going to be the ultimate driver of this new system. In this new complex where the entire world’s populace was to live, resources would be acquired by an automated workforce.

 

All resources would be developed from either waste or resources found deep below the surface of the Earth and allocated according to a set limit for each individual. Limits varied depending on work required by individuals but there would be no need to promote consumption for the sake of profit seeking. No one would ‘do without’ because the machines in the Plex would provide for the people.

 
The two drove their vehicles through various makeshift roads until Stephen signalled for Roger to stop. The two were faced a 500 metres tall tower of compacted rubbish. The stack resembled a dull grey miniature skyscraper interspersed with blues, greens and reds that sparkled in front a picture perfect heavenly blue sky.

 

‘What a magnificent sight’, commented Roger.

 
‘This lot came from Saudi Arabia. They are big suppliers of plastics. I had this one specifically marked for you to scan. The job is simple, but it requires practice.’ Stephen’s tone indicated that he no longer was in ‘joking mode’.

 

His duties to the Plex came first before fun. Roger was young, and Stephen’s job was to ensure Roger took this work seriously. Any mistakes could be very costly to both Stephen and Roger’s future, and more importantly to the project.

 

Roger initiated a digital screen which came up in front of him inside his vehicle’s front windscreen. This screen contained all the co-ordinates and information he needed to execute his work activities. He lined up his vehicle with the tower and began the scanning process. To his left of his window, a folder appeared which Stephen had just created and sent to him.

 
‘This should take a few minutes, so while it scans I want you to manually look over the contents inside that new folder on your dashboard. You should become familiar with the contents and make recommendations and notes regarding your vehicle’s assessments.’

‘So, I should look for patterns in properties?’ Roger asked as he touched the air in front him to access the folder.

 

‘Correct. Every so often you will be asked to make a report outlining your activities.’

 

‘Why can’t the computer do this for me?’

Stephen shook his head, and Roger could see this. By now, the scan was approximately 50%.

‘You need to know your rubbish! Its questions like that, that could get you fired!’

 

‘I’m sorry,’ Roger was now making notes with his virtual scribble pad.

‘Remember you have a mental scribble pad also. Press auto + shift + M,’ Stephen said trying to sound calm.

 

‘Let me ask you a question. What would you rather? Working in an odour-free scanner vehicle or living in a waste field on a slab of concrete?’

Roger didn’t answer because he knew it was a rhetorical question.

‘I thought so.’ The scan was almost complete.

Off to the north in an underground secluded structure, five kilometres past the garbage zone, a man sat tapping his pen as he scanned pages of information from his screen.

 

The man was dressed in a white button up shirt and black trousers; the usual attire suited to government employee managers. Sitting on a comfortable lounge facing a round table he manoeuvred a controller ball with his left hand and slid his right hand around a large keypad that was embedded into his desk. This computer was accompanied by six identical computers which circled around it.

The door opened and a woman in a long black dress who looked to be in her 20’s followed. She was 6 feet tall with long brown hair and was extremely slim. Her wide eyes were bright blue and her cheeks round and high.

 

‘Today we have a new member in training,’ the young-looking woman said in a deep voice that signalled she was older than she looked.

‘Serena.’ The man said in a low voice. ‘Good of you to join me.’

Serena sat down and turned on her screen. ‘According to this, the World-Plex will be completed within one year. That’s quite a change from the three-year predicament two weeks ago.’

‘Borgus’ boy is down there you know?’

 

‘Borgus.’ She muttered in an unimpressed tone. ‘The Head planner. Yes. He doesn’t mind giving his son work.’

‘Keeps him busy and he’s reliable. Anyway…’ he paused. ‘That report is based on an untested operation.’

 

‘Go on…’ Serena instructed without taking her gaze from her screen.

 

‘Borgus has new plans, hence the new approximated time frame.’

 

Serena shook her head because she has no knowledge of this.

 

He continued. ‘All those left behind. Homeless Souls. Left to die out their last days in the sun,’ he said in a cold voice, ‘That’s our new workforce.’ His expression was frozen and yet somewhere behind his dead wrinkles, an ever so slight grin was hidden away.

 

‘I see. And this workforce, are they going to receive education and become functional beings in the world? Do we really want that?’ Her eyes and expression were void of any emotion.

 
The two stared in silence for a few moments and Serena tilted her head towards her computer screen and started to check again for recent reports.

 

‘Well, it was their past generations who engaged in reckless consumption which resulted in well…” The man paused with a disgusted grin and then continued, ‘the waste we now oversee.’ He let out a deep sigh ‘they’ll have to be the ones to clean it up I guess.’

 

Serena widened her eyes and gave him a deep stare. ‘Mitchell, why can’t we just use machines?’ A few intellectual men and woman operating sophisticated machines to build us our Plex. Wouldn’t that make more sense?’

 

As she finished her sentence, a notice came up on both of their screens: ‘Formal visit rescheduled. No notice required. One minute till commencement.’

 

The door opened and three burley men in grey uniforms entered. Behind them, there was a tall heavy-set man in a business suit. The man’s hair was short and resembled someone of Chinese descent.

 

He clenched his fingers in front of him as he strode in.

Serena and Mitch quickly stood up and nodded.

 

‘I know you weren’t expecting me.’ He turned and nodded to the three men who had escorted him.

 

The three men nodded back and then quickly left the room.

 

Mitchell quickly made his way over to a chair on the other side of them and slid it out from under the table. ‘Please have a seat,’ Mitchel said stiffly and bowed.

 

‘Oh, stop that!’ I don’t have time for formality. ‘

 

Mitchell chuckled nervously, ‘Yes, of course’.

 

The tall man sat down and began massaging his left brow as he looked down in thought.

 

Mitchell quickly went to his chair and waited for the man to start. 

 

‘Ok. So here it is. Borgus. What do you think of him?’ The heavy-set man asked while clenching his hands together in front of him.

 

Serena and Mitchell glanced at each other momentarily as they tried to form an answer in their minds.

 

‘I trust him.’ Mitchell said in a stilted high-pitched voice, ‘but…’.

 

‘But what? The heavy-set man glared at him.

 

Mitchell opened his mouth to respond, but he was slow to make an utterance.

 

‘I also trust him.’ Serena’s voice was calm and direct. ‘But I’m not sure his plans are feasible’.

 

‘But you trust him?’

 

Serena wasn’t afraid or nervous around authority and shrugged her shoulders. ‘If we are wrong, then so be it. We don’t have time to monitor others we have no control over. Isn’t that…what’s his name’s job?’

 

‘Gary?’ Mitchell answered.

 

‘Gary? The heavy-set man asked with an emotionless frozen stare. Gary is an odd fellow but dedicated to our little project no doubt… but I’m asking what you think.’

 

Serena turned to Mitchell and then made eye contact with the heavy-set man who was gazing at her longingly.

 

‘You are mind probing Chen Ming, but that’s necessary. I don’t know anything about him.’ She paused for a second. ‘Neither does Mitchell.’

 

‘Mind probing is efficient’ Chen Ming retorted.

 

‘But not one hundred percent accurate. It only picks up general disposition and mood.’

 

‘You know a lot about it,’ Mr Chen grinned. ‘I suggest you read over the various updates. Perhaps now it is not perfect, but we will reach perfection.’

 

‘I see’ the woman said blandly.

 

‘Then it’s over. Thank you for your time and to you too Mitchell. Continue your duties.’

 

The heavy-set man’s tone suggested that his earlier demeanour was simply a charade. He no longer appeared to be someone in command but rather someone sent to carry out an exercise.

 

Serena gave Mitchell a direct stare while placing her hand over her terminal controller. ‘It’s time to add to our priority sheets. Add Borgus and his son. Those above have some doubt. However small that doubt may be, they have acted on it due to the priority of this project.’

 

Mitchell was nervously accessing his controller and making notes via his keyboard.

 

‘You really do act like them, don’t you? Serena asked.

 

‘Like who,’ Mitchell’s eyes were wide with a hint of fear.

 

‘Humans.’

‘I grew up with them, you know.’

 

‘Yes, well, let’s have silence and focus. We can talk about other general topics later.’

 

Mitchell didn’t respond and instead focused on his screen.

 

Meanwhile, off in the distance, Stephen and Roger continued their processing of the waste which consumed their paths. Mountains of waste that seemed to never end but beyond it was promised a World-Plex so magnificent and all consuming.

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World-Plex – Slab City – Chapter 3

Slab City – Chapter 3

 

A grid of cement slabs sparkled in the crisp sunlight along a roaring ocean of dead water. Men and woman laid on their individual concrete resting places and their children who mainly wore old ripped t-shirts and shorts could be seen crouching next to their mothers.

 

The concrete living spaces were rectangular and rested longwise against the ocean. Each slab was the same length and width regardless of the size of the person allotted to it and all who were granted a slab were allowed to lie in the hot sun until their last days.

 

This settlement of poor was often visited by council charity workers who would walk around attending to those in desperate need of food. Some were visited by ordinary people, who wanted to help, but their good will was often not enough as most were not expected to survive longer than a few years.

 

The once sandy paradise, now a cement shore, was often met with poisonous dead fish from the polluted water which surrounded it. This was the new, and perhaps the last, welfare scheme introduced for the disadvantaged.

 

Unlike the days of bath towels and umbrellas, today the concrete slabs were home to thousands of unfortunates who could barely gather the strength to stand. These were known as the ‘slabbers’ who occupied ‘slab city’, a new name, given to an old beach.

 

‘Do you know what day it is?’ A tall gangly looking fellow asked a slabber lying on a slab of concrete. Gary was 6ft tall and wore a plain green shirt and black jeans. His nose was long and pointed and he always seemed to hold a constant grin. This was no doubt helped along by his thin wide lips and high cheek bones  

 

Borgus accompanied him. He was of a stocky build and stood at 5ft and 8 inches. He had a short black beard and moustache and his eyes were blue. Borgus was wearing his typical government attire, which was a grey button up shirt and black tie, grey trousers and black shoes. Unlike Gary, ‘Borgus’ tried to maintain a professional look wherever he went.

 

The two walked through the grid of cement, stepping around people, being mindful not to disturb those who were sleeping.

 

Borgus looked down at a frail man sitting with his head between his knees on a sunbathed concrete slab. The man’s hair was long and grey and had a moustache which was brown and curly and poked from the sides. His skin was wrinkled, and his eyes were closed.

 

‘Borgus,’ Gary said with a strained voice. ‘They refuse to communicate with us.’

 

‘Of course, you idiot’ Borgus said calmly. ‘Wouldn’t you find it hard to talk if you were starving and in their condition?’

 

‘I suppose I would,’ Gary replied soberly.

 

Borgus put his hand into one pocket and returned with what looked like a dispenser of some sort. He pressed the top of it and from it he retrieved a large grey pill.

 

‘Here,’ Borgus said to the man crouched in front of him. He bent down and lifted the man’s head up by his grey hair and pulled his head back.

 

‘Open your mouth,’ Borgus ordered. The man’s eyes rolled to the back of his head, and his jaw fell open. Borgus threw the pill down his throat and rubbed the man’s throat like an animal forced to take medicine.

 

‘Now, what?’ Gary snickered.

 

He let go of the man’s hair and the man dropped to the ground.

 

‘Just wait,’ Borgus said looking down at the man who by now was beginning to tremble. Within moments, the frail man rose up, and although he was swaying from side to side, he stood tall and alert.

 

‘Now all he needs is a good meal and a wash and he’ll be ready to go,’ Borgus said grinning.

 

‘What’s your name?’ Gary asked abruptly.

 

The man stretched his arms high above his head and took in a deep breath showing the outline of his ribs as he did so.

 

‘My name’s Dave I think,’ the man was staring up high above him almost falling backwards.

 

Gary shook his head. ‘So, these are our technicians?’

 

‘Listen Gary. The Plex has to be up and running by late December this year and in the middle of a scorching summer. If we are to accomplish such a task, we’d better utilise every resource possible.’

 

‘I suppose council has always given us a surplus of labour.’ Gary sighed and scratched his brow.

 

‘And we do want our beaches back I suppose. We can’t leave them here forever. They never seem to die quick enough.’

 

Gary paused for a moment and then sighed. ‘We’ll never have this to ourselves.’ He looked across the slab laden beach and within moments a large smirk crept upon his wide lips. ‘However, what a better way to clean up these beaches than to get them working on the Plex.’

 

Borgus looked at the now alert man who was staggering to and fro. ‘The Plex is for all Gary. Even these lying on sweltering hot graves.’

 

‘Well….,’ Gary began. ‘Now’s not the time for philosophy. If this is your solution, then it’s your job on the line. I’m just along for the ride because I was told to do that.’

 

Borgus shook his head. ‘Come. We’ll inform the collectors.’

 

Gary Nodded.

 

The two walked away from the concrete grid as silky grey water splashed from behind them off in the distance. For those living near to the shore of the beach, life was only temporary and was usually reserved for the old and extremely weak.

 

Surrounding the grid, a high black wall separated the ‘slabbers’ from the rest of the world. Its length encircled the entire beach front with netting dug deep into the ocean floor to prevent any unauthorised entry or exit from either side.

 

To vacate the slab vicinity, one had to make their way to a simple door marked only by an ordinary handle. The two men approached the door and Gary grabbed the handle turning it ever so slightly before stepping back.

 

The pair waited and within moments, the door swung open and a man outfitted in armour and holding a large futuristic rifle ushered them through to the other side.

 

The once flourishing city of apartments and retail outlets was now an industrial zone made up of tall towers covering the skyline shooting out orange and yellow gases from their tops.

 

Borgus reached into a pocket and pulled out a small black device. He lifted it above his head and pressed a hidden button on the front of the device and then placed the device back into his pocket.

 

A few moments later a strong breeze brushed past and the pair looked up. Above, an oval-shaped black disk could be seen hovering.

 

‘Get ready,’ Borgus said. The two closed their eyes and braced themselves.

 

The breeze became stronger and seconds later a light shone down in the form of beam and covered Borgus and Gary in a stream of bright yellow light. The pair then began to levitate slowly and then paused a metre above the ground: their bodies bobbing up and down and side to side gently.

 

A loud vibrating noise could be heard from above and the two began levitating upwards again, this time at a slightly faster pace. Within a few minutes, the pair had been drawn into the shimmering black disk and without a pause, the disk rose higher above and skirted off to the north.

 

Inside the disk, the pair was taken to a small room with a single arched door. Seconds went by and the door slid up uncovering a large room with a long table and business-like armchairs, one on each side and a chair with its back facing them to the centre behind it.

 

Borgus entered first, then Gary shuffled behind him.

 

‘Why do you follow directly behind like an officer of the law following his superior?’ a voice came from behind the chair.

 

Gary swallowed hard and made his way to Borgus’ right side.

 

After moments of silence, Borgus cleared his throat. ‘You need an update of some kind I’m guessing.’

 

‘Yes. The voices hear good things and bad things.’

 

‘Yes,’ Borgus replied calmly.

 

‘Can you guess what those good things are?’

 

‘Yes, I can.’

 

‘Well…?’ The voice’s tone was deep and authoritative and yet calm.

 

‘You are in good hands. The project will go as planned,’ Borgus uttered with his hands behind his back.

Gary had been fidgeting and feeling uncomfortable.

 

‘And Gary, can you guess what the bad might be?’

 

Again, Gary swallowed hard. He looked down and then back up. ‘The time.’ His lips were dry, and his voice was hoarse.

 

‘Time?’

 

‘Yes. The time taken to build the structure is being tested. But I’m sure it will be completed according to schedule and…’

 

‘Of course, it will,’ Borgus interrupted.

 

‘Gary is worried my strategy won’t work because it involves utilising every possible lower-class human resource.’

 

‘The coastal dwellers?’

 

‘Yes. We couldn’t possibly hope to mobilise the higher classes, instead cleaning up our forgotten beaches will be simpler and less noticeable.’

 

‘I like it.’ The voice chuckled in a grim manner. ‘The good we’ve been hearing has been confirmed. ‘It’s you Borgus, the voice recommended you, and he was right.’

 

Gary pursed his lips and was clearly agitated by the praise Borgus was receiving.

 

‘This isn’t the time for childish jealously. Why did you bring him along?’

 

‘He’s good company. His less than perfect nature keeps me human.’

 

‘Excellent! Now go and keep up the good work!’ The chair turned and appeared empty. The room became darker and Borgus and Gary knew it was time to leave.

 

They walked back and entered the small room they had come from. The floor beneath them began to shimmer and a bright light came from below. Again, they closed their eyes and braced themselves, this time for extraction from the disk.

 

Moments passed, and they began to levitate downwards to a grassland area below surrounded by a high wall covered in green vines. To the right of them, there was a single-story white building with a footpath leading to the entrance. The two were gently led to the ground directly in front of the path, and then the disk skirted upwards and out of sight.

 

Borgus looked up stared at the endless blue sky. It was warm without a cloud in sight. He took a deep breath and then let out a deep sigh.

 

‘Back to work ay?’ Borgus commented.

 

‘I hope this plan of yours works for both our sake.’

 

‘It will Gary. Go back to your privacy checking. Sit in your office and leave the real work to me.’

 

‘You…!’ Gary’s eyes were ablaze with hatred, and his browed was slightly distorted. ‘Oh, I can’t be bothered,’ he spattered and the two began to pace slowly towards a white door with silver handles which was the entry point to their offices.

 

 

Slab City: Works in Progress

 

Only hours had passed before recruitment had begun. Black vans pulled up behind the coastal walls that kept the poor locked up behind the industrial complex. A number of doors opened, and armed men strolled in.

 

The process began.

 

The energy elixir that Borgus had used to bring a weary slabber to his feet hours before, was being administered to the thousands of concrete beach dwellers.

 

Crowds of hungry people, once docile and bathing on their concrete homes, were now up and alert and ready for induction.

 

Droves of slab dwellers were taken into vans outside the walls and taken to a facility where they were processed: cleaned and given nutrition.

 

Following phase 1 began the next stage: training. Since the slabbers were uneducated and not trained in processing data most were taught to mimic the actions of trainers who would demonstrate the operation of work stations.

 

Information seminars were broadcast on large screens in cinema like rooms. Although the work required was simple and repetitive, workers were encouraged to talk as a way of stimulating cognition.

 

Within a small dark office inside one of the various training halls, a man named Reece Warder sat at his desk typing up reports for higher-ups in governments. Most of his reports ended up in the hands of Borgus whose job was to oversee the entirety of the operation.

 

Reece was a simple man whose obedience was outstanding; however, he knew very little about what went on around him. On many occasions, Borgus, who sensed his lack of awareness, would scream at him over the phone in frustration.

 

The phone rang.

 

Borgus: ‘How far along are we now?’

 

Reece: ‘Well it ah…’

 

Borgus: ‘How many numbers do we have on the project? Are there infrastructures being built as we speak? It’s been four hours and no formal reports on actual progress. I want to see physical changes in the Plex appearing on my screen. What do you do all day?’

 

Reece: ‘Yes, we have progress. However, I’m told little. People here, those people from the beaches, they don’t catch on well. It’s hard to coordinate them. They cause trouble.’

 

Borgus: ‘Stop blabbering. I’ll have to go down there myself and do a formal report.’

 

Reece: ‘I’ll check the system for any reports that may have come through.’

 

Borgus: ‘YOU NEED to go outside your office and query your operation managers. Not WAIT around for them to inform you.’

 

Reece: ‘Umm, yes.’ His voice began to tremble. ‘I’m still waiting on more information…and my data pad hasn’t arrived yet…I’m sorry.’

 

Borgus: ‘Stop.’ Borgus cut him off and went silent.

 

Reece: ‘Sir…’  

 

There was another pause as Borgus breathed heavily over the phone.

 

Borgus: ‘WHAT ARE YOU doing down there?! If you don’t get me some progress reports of any worth to me by 7 YOU will join the slab dwellers!’

Borgus hung up.

 

Clearly, Borgus was beginning to feel the pressure of the deadline building up and felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.

 

‘I’ll have to go down there,’ he whispered to himself.

 

Borgus was in his office in front of his screen. There was a knock at the door. Without waiting for a reply Gary let himself and sat down.

‘So Borgus. What now. Your operation is failing.’

 

Borgus grinned but didn’t respond.

 

‘Seems your staff aren’t performing well.’

 

‘Including yourself?’ Borgus asked.

‘It wasn’t my idea.’

 

‘And what was your idea?’

At that moment, there was another knock at the door.

 

A woman in a suit and tie with long black hair entered. She was slim and firm.

 

‘Sir, we have a request for you to visit the training centre. Apparently, a man by the name of Andrews has requested a visit from you concerning the project.’

 

‘Andrews huh? Yes, we appointed him head trainer in bio circuitry. Why doesn’t he just file a report?’

 

‘He received a complaint from head of operations and insisted he give you a visual report.’

 

Borgus nodded and then turned to Gary.

 

‘Coming?’ Gary nodded.

 

The training centre was a black dome situated in the heart of the city’s industrial complex.

 

After being escorted into the main entrance room of the facility they were met by a tall slender man with short blond hair. He wore a black uniform with a badge on the left of his chest.

‘Sir,’ He shook Borgus’ hand.

 

Borgus nodded.

 

‘Sir,’ Gary nodded.

 

‘Andrews. How are you?’ Borgus asked.

 

‘Reece is a twit!’ Andrews spat. ‘He knows nothing. We don’t have time for reporting. He needs to come down here and evaluate.’

 

Borgus was shaking his head and then laughed. ‘I basically told him the same thing. So, do we still need him?’

 

Andrews shook his head slightly, and Gary pulled out a small notebook from his pocket and made a note of firing Reece.

 

‘What are you writing that down?’ Gary asked.

 

‘Never mind.’

 

‘Come. Let’s visit the bio circuitry lab. The reason I asked you down here was to assure you that at least my section is going well and to suggest that you find someone better than that Reece

 

Borgus and Gary both nodded and the three of them followed Andrews to a nearby elevator.

‘This is the bio circuitry manufacturing plant.’

 

The three were standing in a large dark room. Across from them, there was an incomplete wall made up of black bricks with blue wires embedded on the exterior. In the centre of the room, at the front, there was a long table that resembled a conveyer belt.

 

Here both men and woman stood to one side assembling bricks identical to that of the wall. On the other side of the belt stood a massive television screen showing a man dressed in a black cloak giving instructions.

 

‘So, what’s going on here?’ Borgus asked looking at the screen and then back at the workers.

 

‘Why are they building that wall?’ Gary asked.

 

Andrews chuckled, ‘Let me explain.’

 

Borgus nodded.

 

‘These dwellers are assembling bricks that will line the inside of walls of the mega-Plex. The wires are sensors. These sensors will record all kinds of information about what happens within the structure.’

‘What kinds of information?’ Gary asked scratching his left cheek.

 

‘Gary is in charge of privacy. This is right up his ally.’

 

‘I see.’ Andrews was a reliable worker, the only problem, however, was that he was specialised in one field. Ideally, Borgus would have him as a right-hand man except for this fact. Today, a new operations manager would have to be chosen.

 

‘Andrews?’

 

‘Yes, Sir.’

 

‘Who would recommend taking Reese’s command?’

 

Andrews straightened up and scratched at his chin. It wasn’t often that a higher-up asked him such a question.

 

‘I’d have to run through the list of personnel here, but I think I know someone who might be up for the job.’

 

‘Yes? And who might that be?’ Gary asked.

 

‘There’s a young man by the name of Ryan. He is new but motivated. Went well in communication technology and is currently in SNTS College.

 

SNTS stands for social networking technology systems.

 

‘Well if you think he is cut out for such a project as this get him here and ready for work. Now, this spy brick business you have going here. Tell me more.’ Borgus was clearly in high spirits feeling more confident about the project.

 

‘Ah, yes.’ Andrews pointed in the direction of the workers. ‘There they are working on sensor systems that are embedded into the walls. They can sense temperature, conversations and even smell.’

 

‘Like flies on a wall.’

 

‘Except even smarter.’

 

‘But…’

 

‘Yes?’ Borgus raised up him tip toes momentarily and raised an eyebrow.

 

‘These are just the physical components. They will be installed but will not be fully functional for at least two months to come. There’s a whole range of reasons…’

 

‘Never mind explaining,’ Borgus cut him off. ‘I trust your judgement. Now, all we need to do now is get that young chap in here, so we can have better efficiency.’

 

‘I agree,’ Gary added. ‘But bricks? The structure will be the largest in the world’s history. Will bricks be the main material used to line the inner walls?’

 

‘No of course not, Steel, concrete, and whatever we can get our hands on.’

 

The three of them talked together and then entered another room where men woman and children were sitting at tables.

 

‘This is where the workers come to rest and engage in talk.’

 

‘Why?’ Gary asked.

 

‘Because they are human Gary,’ Borgus gave him a serious stare.

 

‘Yes, these people are not well socialised. Making them slaves instantly won’t work. We need to help them feel at home.’

 

‘I see.’ Grey responded morosely

 

‘Come to my office,’ Andrews said pointing to a window in the far-right corner situated one level above a lift.

 

‘Your office is here in the lunch room?’ Gary asked looking around disgusted.

 

‘It’s good for morale. Come I will pour you a Pro-Vite. I’m sure you need a pick-up.’

 

Borgus pulled at his collar and sucked in his stomach and then let out a deep breath. ‘Yes, I’ve been running around all day. Let’s go.’

 

The three went into the lift and into Andrew’s office. Inside, there were five brown leather armchairs that surrounded a large workstation.

 

‘So, this is yours? Comfy.’ Gary was jealous.

 

‘I like my simple chair and computer desk. I don’t like to be annoyed by others,’ Borgus said glancing at Gary.

Andrews chuckled. ‘This is convenient, considering the work we are doing here. Often I’ll have heads of other departments join me for a conference.’

 

Andrews picked up a phone sitting behind him on a long counter that could be seen from downstairs.

 

‘Mary, could you please come here and introduce yourself? One minute? Fine. Oh, and bring me an update sheet.’ There was a slight pause.

 

‘So, have you submitted them?’ A pained look came across his face.

 

‘I see.’ Andrews paused and then sighed deeply.

 

‘Well do what you can. Don’t bother coming in. Deliver the reports manually.’

 

Borgus and Gary noticed the muffled sound coming from the other end had become noticeably louder.

 

‘No choice Mary. I can’t argue about this or maybe you will find yourself walking into the unguarded.’

 

Gary smirked, ‘Ruthless, I like it’.

There was a long silence before Andrews abruptly ended the call. ‘Something wrong?’ Borgus asked.

 

With some agitation, Andrews scratched at his forehead while nodding. He then sat down and pressed a large round silver device next to his screen. This was the computers control button as well as the directional device. All three screens turned on and displayed the words ‘World-Plex’ in large round black font.

 

‘I think it’s time to accelerate the firing of Reece Warder. This machine that we have created has come to a slow because we don’t have efficient information sharing.’

 

Andrews was tapping on the embedded keyboard in front of him as he said this.

 

‘Gary, do me a favour, will you?’ Borgus asked with a stern expression that could almost be mistaken for a sly grin.

 

‘Yes?’ Gary’s eyebrows were raised.

 

‘Bring me, Reece, immediately. He has to be informed about the unguarded’.

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