Technically I knew that there was a difference between outside and Outside. The information was in my brain that theoretically I could leave Apartment without going Outside, the wasteland Outside I mean. I just never thought about that difference. In the Employee Handbook there’s a section about how to request permission to leave Apartment on your time off but I never read it. Or maybe I did read it a long time ago and forgot it. Who would ever want to leave Apartment? For what? It has everything you need.
I don’t remember saying that I wanted to go for a walk but I was so unleveled by what was happened that I probably did and don’t remember doing it. Next thing I knew smiling Human Resources lady, who never said what her name was or employee ID, was leading me out into the Hallway with the two Security guys hot on my heels like they thought I was going to grab her ass or something. As if I would ever do such a thing.
Call me a rube if you want, but just being in the Hallway was quite a thrill. Seeing all those others doors, wondering who was behind them. Wondering what their jobs are like. Just like forgetting that there’s a little O outside I forget that there’s people on the other side of my walls. My Apartment is one of one hundred and eighty four in that Unit, and that unit is one of four in that Complex, which is just one of many Complexes in Housing. All working together to keep the Company profitable. It’s like the cells of my body working together to keep me alive. Does a cell ever wonder what the other cells are doing? Does it want to say “hi”?
I vaguely remember being in the Hallway from when I was assigned Apartment. I have no recollection of the Elevator. It’s a very simple piece of technology, all it does is go up and down, but I gawked at it like a time traveler from hundreds of years ago. It’s not that impressive, it was just something different. After a few seconds the doors opened up to a different Hallway, this one had no doors and no corners, it was just straight.
“Are we underground?” I asked.
Have you ever heard the expression your knees “turned to butter”? I know what that feels like now. There really is no other way to describe it. I had butter once three years ago when we exceeded quota by 64% so I know what I’m talking about.
She smiled angelically at me “Yes, that’s a very astute observation Neil, we are underground. We’re going to take the tunnel to the park because the air on the streets isn’t very pleasant to breathe in. You don’t need a mask for the few minutes it would take to get us to the park, we wouldn’t be harmed by it, but there’s no reason to discomfort ourselves is there?”
I smiled back at her, like the tiny LED light trying to emulate the sun “No reason at all.”
She laughed again and it was so wonderful and joyful and beautiful that I felt like I could just float off my feet, off the ground, and hover there like a rotodrone. She moved her arm to extend her elbow slightly my way and for a second I thought she was trying to clear me away from her like a basketball player even though I wasn’t walking very close to her. I realized though that she wanted me to take her arm like in the old flatscreens where the man and woman fall in love go for a walk.
I’m not one of those debauched sleazebags that brags about having tried “everything” but I’ve tried the sims. You know the ones I mean. Once I even tried one of the redsims from California. The ones they call dreamsims. The ones that don’t have inhibitors. Nothing that happened in any of those sims was one tenth as pleasurable as the elicit thrill I got from my fingers barely touching her elbow. It felt like there were radiating waves crashing through my body and bouncing off each other and me and getting more powerful each time.
I managed to keep myself from making a very inappropriate noise. I’m proud of myself for that.
This is like puberty all over again…
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