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.
‘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.