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NEOTECH

NEOTECH

A Story by Jynter
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Sci Fi story

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The man’s face is gone, shredded and pasted into white mosaic. His eyes are blue-pink with despair, as he strolls with arms jouncing into my office. He has on the ugliest affable smile I have ever witnessed.  It is a puerile, disturbing act, this bravado. “May I?” His tone is perfectly suited. He may, I gesture, and he is careful to place himself into the shiny chair in the most correct manner possible.

He portrays himself as outgoing, dependable, forthright, and many things. Unctuous, sycophantic, and obsequious, that’s what I’m hearing. A talker, this one.  The chatter becomes a buzz and his hopping, pink mouth a blur. His voice begins slicing and whining like crazy. He knows I’m not listening. The festering desperation inside him is starting to spill out.

We both know he’s begging for his life. For independence. That’s what a job is in the 22nd century, and you can’t drive, get credit, or have children without one. I quite literally hold this young man’s future in my palm. As he drones on, my hand begins to close tighter. I will crush him into paste.

“I will intern,” he assures me. “Indefinitely.”

Oh, he would just love that. Interning gets him a license and doubles his welfare credits. I snap, “Our internship program is full.” Dryly, “ Indefinitely.”

His aplomb is vanishing. The voice is a stammering blot of sound, “I-I’ll travel. I’ve . . . studied.” He gulps for air. “Studied Jantrec’s prospectus. I know you have holdings in Argentina. And other parts. South America. Bogota. You’re building a pyrolysis plant there.” A last dismal squeak, “Hablo español.”

I’m impressed. This twist of sweltering flesh inside that blue suit has brain enough to read a web page. Maybe I should send him down to Columbia to suck tar fumes. How lucid would he be after ten years of that?

“You know what it’s like. I know you do,” he continues to rattle on. “My wife and I would like to own a house someday.” A sob creeps out. “We’d like to have a baby.”

“Yes, yes, I am aware of the difficulties.”

“I’ll take anything. I’ll do absolutely anything you can offer.”

Toying with a Lucite paperweight, I ask frankly, “How many positions do you think Jantrec Corporation has available at this moment? Worldwide?” I have decided to take pity on him. In the next few moments I will grind the life out of him, but it is a merciful end to his ridiculous ambitions.

“Worldwide?” He has the look of a surprised rodent. He can’t believe I’ve actually asked him a question.

“Thirty-two hundred, thereabouts. And Megatech, Euro Industries, and the other half dozen primary concerns? Perhaps one hundred thousand jobs available all told and there are four billion unemployed human beings on this planet.”

He’s pallid again. The gray paisley tie bobs as he gasps for air. “I know . . . It’s bad. But-?”

I am finally amused by this poor man. He thinks I am lying. He wants to shout back but he doesn’t dare offend me. I quickly explain what he should already know, “Mechanization has all but replaced human labor on this planet. There’s just no comparison in cost. Not when an android can perform any task a human can for only pennies a day. Why would a company pay insurance, put up with safety regulations, or provide pensions when it doesn’t have to?”

“But I thought- In the courts.”

“There is plenty of that going on, yes. People suing for equal opportunity. But if an android can out-perform any human, at less cost, how can they possibly hope to win an argument like that? Those people filing those lawsuits are wasting their time. Just like you.” I set the opaque sphere down and look over my metal desk. The boy is visibly sweating now. His hairline is a bramble of tatters. “You think if you knock on enough doors you are bound to succeed. You’re wrong. Everything is being done by machines or robots these days and there are just no jobs left.” I tap a finger on the desktop. The sound rings out. “This is a merely culmination of centuries of refined technology. People have been improving their machines since the advent of the industrial age in the 1700’s. Well, finally they’ve won that battle. But I am afraid that Mankind has lost the war.”

I stop. He is utterly defeated and I stop. And yes, I relish what I have done to him. My job as resources director is a farce and I have no real work. I have only this. I savor his destruction.

But I have provided him with a perspective he would not have gained elsewhere, and he knows this. In a husky voice, he asks, “Will things ever change back?”

I don’t even bother to respond to that one.

He gasps and pleads, “But what about Mars? Now that we’re exploring space . . .”

“The cost of sending a person,” I reply banally. “Is about fifty times what it costs to send an android into space. There are no people on Mars, only robots. No, Man will not explore the stars, I am afraid. Robots will.”

His despair leaks out, “But, it doesn’t make sense. We make machines. Robots and all that---They should be for our benefit. I can’t drive and I can’t even have a child. How is all this helping me?”

“You have a comfortable cubicle, a wife, and you are fed by the state.”

“But it’s not enough. Not nearly . . . enough.” A hand wipes the perspiration from his forehead. His eyes are glazed with pain.

“I am afraid it will have to be.” My voice ratchets into a dismissal. “We appreciate your interest in Jantrec and I want to thank you for coming in.”

“What?”

“Thank you.”

He staggers up.  He leaves with a mumble, “Let me know. If anything-“

I listen to him shuffling down the hallway. A sense of satisfaction sweeps over me. He came to me begging for solace and I’ve taught him that there is none. He’ll drag back to that squalid ghetto they live in and tell the rest. And sooner or later they’ll stop coming to me for what they know they cannot have. They want our jobs, these humans. And we’re not giving them back. If they hadn’t wanted things to end this way, well then, they shouldn’t have invented us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2011 Jynter


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Added on May 6, 2011
Last Updated on May 6, 2011

Author

Jynter
Jynter

U.S. Virgin Islands



Writing
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