Tales of the Ela-Pocalypse – The Clone Saga : Neil

As long as you’re above target halfway through your shift you are allotted a five minute meal period.  It’s been so long since I’ve worked a single shift I forgot about that.  When you work a double you are supposed to be granted a meal period after your first shift is over and before you start your second but the calculation is based on your daily average and since you haven’t started your second shift yet you’re never above target.  I wonder if that’s a glitch in the system or the Algorithm calculated that you work better on a double with no break.   

Four hours into my first shift my Homunculus chirped at me that it was time for a break.  I was confused for a moment.  Then I figured it was my five minute lunch break even though I was working a double shift.  Maybe there was a new Policy.  Instead it was a message I had never seen before.   

MANDATORY BREAK PERIOD please log out of your station in the next five minutes

Mandatory break period?  I’ve never even heard of that.  Instantly I felt panic.  Maybe this is what happens before Termination, before you get sent Outside.  I calmed myself, if Human Resources knew about the woman I was speaking to they wouldn’t have left me work half a shift, they would have come down on me as soon as they knew.  Human Resources doesn’t mess around, if they know you’re doing something wrong they Terminate.   

My Homunculus chirped again, reminding me to please log out for a mandatory break period.  No mention of how long it was.  It felt weird to be logging out after only four hours of work.  It was like stopping with your pants halfway up and calling the job done with your ass hanging out.  I sat at my workstation for a minute not sure what to do when Apartment informed me that I had visitors.   

The Milena upgrade was working for once but after hearing the Ela voice it didn’t set my heart ablaze like it once did.  Apartment informed me that the visitors had been informed that it had run a sweep and that no weapons or contraband has been detected inside.  My voice acknowledgement and DNA scan was required to attest that the sweep was accurate and I was declaring that I had no weapons or contraband inside.  Once I gave my attestation I was instructed to move to the door – two lighted circles appear on the floor with was helpful because I had forgotten where the door appears.   

Once I was standing in front of the door space the wall turned transparent and I saw into the hallway.  I can’t remember the last time I saw the hallway, I know I’ve been in the hallway since I moved in but I don’t remember why.  It looked the same.  On the other side looking in through the wall were two Security guys, they weren’t in full tactical gear but they were wearing body armor and had sidearms.  If it had just been then I would have been certain that I was being Terminated.  That I was going to be sent Outside.  But Security probably sends more than two guys for that.  I bet six at least.  No one wants to go Outside.   

It wasn’t just the two Security guys though.  Standing between then was a woman.  She was wearing a grey business suit and she looked like the model from all the messages about the Junior Executive Training program.  Maybe she is the model for them.  She was smiling at me through the invisible wall and she was very pretty with her blonde hair and blue eyes.  Nice enough but the Elas are the only women for me.   

Apartment informed me that the door was going to opening and I should make sure that I was clear of the opening pathway.  The wall returned to its slate color as the door swung open with a hiss.  I wonder if that sound was air rushing in or out.  Is there air in the hallways normally or do you have to request it?  I haven’t looked at the hallway procedure since I moved in.   

The two Security guys came in first.  They hand their hands on their guns and they kept an eye on me like I was dangerous even though they were the ones in armor with guns.  They were probably full of red nanos too.  I bet they didn’t even need those guns, they could probably each grab a leg and rip me in half.   

No one had ever been inside Apartment before, not physically I mean, besides me.  I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it at all.  It felt like a violation.  Once the two Security guys were in she seemed like she floated in front of me, I didn’t see her feet move, she was just there.  Her smile became somehow even more beaming.  Almost blinding.

“Good morning employee number 77045, Neil Bluffton, it’s so wonderful to meet you.  Is it okay if I call you Neil?” 

Empirically her voice couldn’t hold a candle to Ela, or the woman on the message, or Milena, but it was a real physical voice.  I could feel it touching me.  This wasn’t a digital coming across a line, this was a human voice box producing vibrations and those vibrations traveling to bounce off my body in real time.  I couldn’t help but shrink away, I almost threw up my arm like I was being attacked.   

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