Friday, August 4, 2017

Free Agent

Free Agent
by William D. Tucker

Mid-cycle
None of the faces or uniforms or masks or languages registered
ran diagnostics on my eyes, ears, heart
it wasn't my eyes, ears, heart

I went to the company store to buy new getup
was promptly removed from the facility

And they were kinda rough with me
which was funny at first
made me feel like Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop,
but they weren't truly abusive,
didn't throw me through a plate glass window

The paramilitaries looked new and shiny
upgraded from combat webbing and shaved heads
into a league of techno demi-gods
or a cosplay science ninja team
heads encased in robo-insectoid helmets

On the street before the great and convoluted facility
I stood crying
I tried so hard to suppress all emotion
but the internal drug-pumps had already deactivated upon my termination
the tears flowed
I blubbered even.

I stood there for an hour or more,
half hoping I'd be shot by a shiny paramilitary
but no dice.

I stalked down the middle of the road,
hoping to be rundown,
but all the autocars swerved just so,
even broadcasting messages of compassion, recommending suicide prevention hotlines, Jesus Christ,
Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard;
one especially devout car offered to roll with me along my dark path,
but I mouthed insipid syllables 'til it left me alone with a pamphlet full of mistranslated, out-of-context Bible quotations.

A half hour passed
I settled into a stalking rhythm which the autocars found agreeable,
just a little deviation from their ground-plans
didn't even get clipped
I'd always wanted to test the collision detection on these machines
and an autocar pulled up next to me, told me to get in, and something inside me responded to a signal
-the chem-pumps I think-
which guided me to yes.

In the air conditioned cab, stimulant-alcoholic drinkbox in my hand
the autocar spoke at length about all the opportunities that awaited me inside RIVALCORP
which wasn't the true name, but a cipher
because the real name was knowledge reserved to the executive class
or possibly just the great algorithms in the Cloud of Clouds
the near immaterial  deities rumored to have the whole game on lock these days.

I couldn't even recall the name of the company I was just fired from,
my mind only coming up with PREVIOUS GIG, PASTCORP, variations on that general theme.

I swiped my consent through screen after screen
of terms and conditions
just like I did when I got headhunted for PASTCORP.

Why do they even allow any memories, for fuck's sake?
They write in so many strategic erasures and interdictions,
everybody's hacking into everybody else's chem-pumps,
just do the full wipe, fer Hubbard's sakes!
I'm pretty sure they like it like that-leaving in just enough to promote an illusion of free will,
easy enough to frustrate, tip over into despair in a world of unlimited choice,
and thus conformity, obedience, self-indoctrination follow on with the quickness
to still the cognitive dissonance.

Also,
a full wipe just means you gotta increase resources devoted to re-skilling, re-indoctrination lead times,
so,
yeah,
it's cool.

The autocar regaled me with readings of official poetry as it whisked me towards another great and convoluted facility. The verses stirred my at-a-distance-controlled heart. Shit would work out for a few hundred cycles more, I would know where I needed to be.
-August 2017

Copyright 2017 by William D. Tucker. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 
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