‘Henry. You can tell a lot from someone’s footwear,’ his mother had been fond of saying.
He stared at his feet, lost in thought about his parents’ prenatal decision to enhance him, the embryonic Henry, for a life of fully fledged privilege. A high-performing human.
His shoes were scuffed, dirty and fraying where the plastic upper was coming loose from the sole. His whole body sagged with despair. Although, looking along the neatly lined-up feet of the bus queue, his were no worse than anyone else’s; public transport and poverty must be symbiotic, each dependent on the other.
In contrast, a pair of hand-made soft leather shoes stood a few feet away in the gutter. Nice trousers too, but why the hi-vis jacket and protective gloves? Aha, a streetcleaner. An extremely rich streetcleaner if he was willing to work in such expensive shoes. They lived in an effortocracy and no matter what Henry did or said would change that.
What a fucked up world.
Despondent, Henry continued to wait passively in the queue which he suspected was almost entirely made up of the morning’s appointments at the same assessment centre that he was being forced to attend. This poor struggling batch of humanity would be cajoled into behaving properly, to fulfil their potential. Made to acknowledge that they’d let themselves and everyone else down. Continue reading
Screaming white noise. Pitch black darkness.
What a way to be greeted into a new day.
Aiden felt around for the edge of his cardboard mattress. Beyond its frayed borders buried among the food scraps and his few discarded clothes was the nectar he craved. The withdrawal was intense as the nanobots issued their friendly warning that his addiction needed feeding for him to stay alive.
Fumbling around in the detritus of his life he found his last vial of nanobot nectar and gulped it down.
A pinpoint of bright light appeared. Then another. And another. And another. He blinked. The nanobots were working. A gradual shift from the oppressive white noise to the welcoming sounds of a city about its daily business.
As his sight returned he noticed the clock on the house control unit in which his robot waited while he slept.
‘Jessie. Why didn’t you wake me? I told you – 7am.’ Continue reading
‘Alexa. Who is the most popular person in the world?’ asked Nicole, even though she knew how her resident bot would respond because she was and had been for the past few years.
As she rubbed her daily dose of face cream into her skin she cringed at how old and wrinkled she’d become. Thank goodness she didn’t have to show her face to her public any more, one of the great things about being a social media star.
The blue ring around the top of the bot lit up. ‘Gamila.’
Slowly, Nicole screwed the lid on to the pot of cream and placed it on the shelf. This was a moment she had prepared for many times over the years, the moment when someone else became more popular than her.
‘Alexa. Show me Gamila.’ Continue reading