It’s always the case when you wake up, the grip of the sheets and the warm tug of the pillows begging you to stay. The alarm siren screaming at you to fight the urge to stay just five minutes with this perfect feeling. Why is it always life that pulls you away from moments like these? It’s probably a crime that I even have to do anything, and It’s a shame given that there’s very little I have to do. I cracked open an eye and the light burst through, bleaching away any dreams I’d had the night before. My room was a mess, mountain ranges of clothes and junk that could probably lend some insight into the formation of the planet If I’d ever let anyone in. Something caught my eye on the top of my wardrobe, Something I hadn’t noticed in such a long time. Not since I was a child at least. It was a toy car. Almost instantly highlighted in my vision. I’ve always wanted to see how they worked. I made a quick hand gesture, and my vision suddenly disappeared into the digital world.
Why had it not occurred to me before? How could people drive cars in the old days, with that old mechanical shifter grinding repetitively against the Cogs and gears while the engine rattles and Murmurs away? The Dangerous, Invasive, lumbering machines that the general public was liberally left in charge of for who knows why.
But, here it is, clear as day in the weirdly cropped video from 2017. Was there no alternative at the time? The previous owners of the house had of course owned cars back in the late 20’s; they’d felt the need to off-handedly refer to the lounge area as the “Old Garage”. But, eventually, They too had succumbed to the inevitable tide of technology, lapping against their shins.
The thought clanked around for a while and spluttered away into a distant passing intrigue, things to do and people to see. The idea of any regular Joe owning a car seemed patently ridiculous now.
Life was seamless from moment to moment, and the prediction engines helped gather your every want and desire to predict what you want to do or buy with fiendish accuracy. Of course, advertisers had taken advantage of this. I can’t say I ever actually fought it when different promotions appeared in my eyes.
“Your Auto will be outside in approximately 1 minute”.
Why does life always tear you away from these moments?
“Your Auto has arrived”
Sure enough, The car pulled outside the window, with a sharp surgical precision and accuracy aided by its rubberised spherical wheels.
After pulling on some clothes, I deftly shifted inside the belly of the machine while clutching at my jacket, creasing the folds beyond the slim hopes of iron and steam. The minimalistic interior of the car always struck me as bleak, yet modern. No matter what you called it though, it was just outside the clutches of most people’s wallets. There was always some apprehension every time I stepped inside one of these things, I swear it was only last week some people had been taken ransom by their own car due to hackers. The attacks had been getting worse.
The car interjected with a soft deep voice that instantly melted away nerves like butter in a pan.
“Where would you like to go?”
“Take me to Trafalgar Square.”
“I’m sorry, but [Trafalgar Square] is off-limits today, you’ll need to select another destination.”
I rolled my eyes and thought of somewhere close.
“Fine, take me to Covent Garden.”
“We can be there in 10 minutes, Enjoy the view.”
The outside swept by at a blazing speed, a tunnel came and went, along with the darkness and whistling streaks of light. The car gently halted, and the London scenery slowly came into focus. Silently and precisely the car stopped at a free space, and the door opened, exposing the outside world.
My wrist buzzed, and I stepped out onto the quiet, paved street.
The buzzing stung slightly but apparently not enough to motivate me to get it fixed. It’s become a part of who I am, part of my DNA.
The old train station always attracted radicals like a magnet, so you would often just walk by the home-made cardboard signs with slogans like “No Freedom, No Jobs, No Life” atomised onto them with Black paint. It always struck me as remarkable that they could never see the glaring contradiction in the message. How can someone be free when they are shackled to a desk every day? How had it come about that being a slave to the machine had become liberty to these broken people? I chuckled warmly and stepped into the wage handling office that had WHO stamped in bold black letters above the door. Inside it was a small dimly lit but neatly organised room that screamed mercilessly of bureaucracy.
“Better get it over with.”
I breathed out slowly in stuttered intervals and walked onwards towards the closest free unit that was on the wall at the back of the room.
There was a brushed metal inlet with a grated circle next to it that spoke with a harsh metallic voice.
“State your Pay Grade!”
“Tier 2” I breathed
“Hold your wrist next to the Beacon!”
I stared at my wrist for just a moment and moved it hesitantly toward the inlet on the wall.
I held my wrist to calm myself down from the pain.
I wouldn’t have to come back here for another month at least.
I used to enjoy the casual nature of the system; it’s automatic barriers guiding me toward a path of least resistance.
Maybe I could do something to take my mind off it.
I flicked on my HUD and brought up a Profile Matching app to satiate the boredom not because the app made me feel better but it’s become a habit, in fact, it had the opposite pull on my brain. We had been told by the government after they released the application that the algorithm was flawless. The app pulled on chat transcripts internet history and call data to create a “personality profile” that it would compare with other profiles to find your “perfect match”. I could never quite lay my finger on why it always seemed to bother me, but all I can say is that I’ve been through many “perfect matches”, all relationships are often just void of real emotion or effort. Maybe that wasn’t the best distraction.
The streets were surprisingly quiet for the middle of the day, but I wasn’t focusing, too much was rattling around my mind while I clawed at the errors in my logic. I’d need to reconcile later; I need to focus. There was a swarm of AutoCops around Trafalgar Square, people were being shuffled and pushed around the whole area to keep it clear.
“What happened, did you see?” I asked a passer-by
“No, Someone went crazy apparently, I heard they were a Tier 3.”
“How could someone do that?”
“Yeah, I guess some people sometimes they just snap, life gets too much.”
“Makes you wonder whether we are all capable of that sort of thing.”
Why was it so quiet? There was no panic or worry in the faces of those being hurried along, just obedience.
Even though the scene became more horrific with each flick of my eyes, there was no tearing them away from the horror of what had unfurled inside the now permanently altered history of the square. No, I’ll turn back. At any rate, This’ll be easier back there.
We pretend we act and yet we do nothing, hollow actions to solve empty problems. I’ve always felt as if I’ve achieved something with my life and pushed society forward but what have I contributed when push comes to shove. We have an innate human desire to feel as if we’ve solved something without actually having to face the hard part of solving it, maybe that’s why an automatically churning world was nothing but inevitable.
My impending visit to the anarchistic mass and Covent Garden drew ever closer. My glutton for reconciliation could be contained no longer.The journey was easier than I thought it would be but throughout the pilgrimage, my mind was waging a civil war.
Their slogans and signs came into focus and soon after so did their clothes and faces. Once I’d plucked up the courage and gathered my senses I made a beeline for the one holding the anarchic sign.
“What does it mean?”
“I’m not sure what you’re asking mate.”
“The sign, the sign.”
The man stared at me, clearing his throat
“Whenever I do anything, A machine can do it ten times better. I’m useless. I have no freedom to choose what work I want to do because a computer will always beat me, I add nothing to society so what’s the point in life? It’s simple economics, the cheapest and best solution will always win.“
“You can always make others happy though can’t you?“
“Can you? I think that used to be right mate. Pressing a few buttons for any relationship is hardly worth it, I can’t say I ever really appreciate anything that’s just given out on a platter, nobody values human company because they’ve never worked a single minute of their damn life to earn it.“
“But surely it’s better to have something rather than to have to work for it.”
“At the end, all we have is our emotions, but how can you feel happy about a work of art when you know some algorithm crafted it. How can you feel the warmth from a lover when there is no effort in the relationship? Look, my point is it’s not the result that matters but the journey that makes life worthwhile. Maybe you’re happy with your cosy little life and your house, but in being called ‘useful’, you’re no different from anyone else.”
That’s insane, Surely I contribute to society in some way. What would be the point of me otherwise? I Started to laugh, people began to notice. I’m not sure how I could’ve been so blind. Every moment shifting from start to finish is created bespoke for me by automatons, They make my choices every day and every ticking second.
I sit where the Master tells me to sit.
We’ve sleepwalked into a dystopia, a society that became so advanced that the society itself became obsolete.
I stepped out into the road and like that I had become irrelevant to the program.