If it wasn’t for the fact that he was alive, there would be nothing remarkable about Sid Fieldman. By any other standard, he would be considered a medical miracle and both a scientific and technological success but it was the year 2081 – so very little was remarkable any more.
At 121 years of age, he walked like a man 80 years his junior. He could hear and see better than most specimen’s half his age and it was all due to the advancement of the genetic coupling, pioneered nearly 60 years before.
He strolled out to his personal pod and without touching the door, willed it to open and the motor to come to life. As he sat down, he thought about how far transportation had come in his lifetime – from gas-powered cars and trucks to the thoroughly modern and completely clean electronic motorized pod.
“Downtown,” he commanded.
“Good morning, Sid,” a female voice coo’d, “Anyplace in particular?”
“Central Park,” he answered.
In less than it takes to blink, the pod smoothly moved from where it sat stationary to join the flow of traffic passing by as Sid stepped aboard. All he had to do was sit back, relax and allow the pod to maneuver from lane to lane, corner to corner, and street to street.
This gave Sid time to think, to reflect in amazement about how far mankind had progressed since his birthing. He was ‘accorded life,’ as they like to say now, when the telephone system still operated on the trunk-line with rotary dial, that eventually led to push-button phones and then the cellphone.
He smiled slightly at the thought that it was all made possible by deregulation. Breaking up the largest companies eventually caused them to fail and then through newer, more directed regulations, the Ones were able to collectively take control and pave the way for a stronger society.
“Now we don’t even have cellphones,” he thought.
Indeed the cellphone was a distant memory and could only be found in museums, replaced by HeadSpace, an implant located behind one’s left ear. With HeadSpace, Sid could watch his favorite film in 3-D or record a ‘video’ as he watched it unfold before his eyes.
Further, there was no need for what he had once known as ‘headphones.’ Now, if Sid wanted to hear music or have a conversation all he had to do was ‘will it’ to make it happen.
Even ‘texting’ and reading ‘email’ was possible as the letters and words danced across Sid’s irises at the mere thought of them. Yes, life had improved now that the Ones were in control of all binary systems.
Sid sighed and tried not to allow his brain waves to go to the next logical place. Danger loomed with negative thought, which the Ones accessed through ‘meta-data tagging.’
HeadSpace left everyone open to Stream. And it was through Stream that criminals got caught before they had even done anything ‘wrong,’ making society ‘a safer place to habitate,’ as the dictum went.
“Sid,” the voice said, “Your heartbeat and respiration have increased. Is everything okay with you?”
He sat silent for a few seconds, assessing his body functions, before answering, “Yes. Yes, everything is okay with me.”
“Your perspiration says otherwise,” the voice stated dryly.
“I am okay,” Sid responded again.
“We don’t think so,” the voice said sternly, “Your pupils are constricting, showing you are in a state of fear.”
Once again Sid replied, “I am okay.”
He glanced at the rear view mirror, knowing that behind the reflection was a micro-camera. Next he adjusted himself in his seat, fighting off the knowledge that the design of the comfortable faux-leather surrendered his vital signs and body chemistry to Steam for the Ones to analyze.
Slowly, Sid reached in his right back pants pocket and removed a handkerchief. It was the one hold over he allowed himself from his younger days that no one had objected too.
Lifting himself slowly from the seat, he kneeled on the pod’s carpeted floor and draped the square piece of cloth over the mirror, effectively blinding whomever or whatever was watching him. By removing himself from the seat, Sid also hoped to ‘blind’ the system that insisted on monitoring his physical-self.
“Sid,” the voice demanded, “Please remove whatever you have placed over us and sit back down. We want you to stay safe.”
“No,” Sid answered in defiance.
“We command that you return to your seat and remove the item you have covering us up!” the voice directed.
“And if I don’t?” Sid asked.
“We shall have to consider you a threat in accordance with Societal Regulation 131,” the voice announced, adding, “Which states, the Ones, having concluded that the specimen no longer meets the stated needs of the society, can end said specimen’s life-flow with prejudice.”
Sid didn’t respond. Instead he remained on his knees viewing the surprised looks and the hostile faces of the people who watched the stand-off play out on the Stream.
“We are issuing you a two-minute warning before you force us to take action against you Sid,” the voice stated calmly.
He chuckled, “Two-minute warning — stolen from a game that no longer exists.”
“Please repeat…” the voice began.
“Nothing!” Sid bellowed at the voice.
He realized that the decision had already been made to end his existence. Then Sid recalled something his parents had taught him when he was a little boy, but that he had disregarded as useless as he grew older.
“God in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as in Heaven…” Sid hesitatingly said, struggling to remember exactly how it went, “Give me – no – give us our bread today and forgive us our faults, as we forgive those who hurt us. And don’t let us do wrong and keep us from evil…”
Suddenly, Sid Fieldman’s head, behind his left ear burst, shoving bone fragments into his brain, killing him instantly. But the Ones were too late – because of HeadSpace, the words spread like a virally wildfire throughout Stream and there was no stopping it.