Arpan_1402 didn’t know what to do. One moment he was sitting on his bed placed in a corner of his small room and the next instant, he was pacing the room,with the help of his bionically assisted legs. His bangs bounced above his eyes as he walked. He held something tightly in his fist and closed his eyes. This behavior would have been construed as praying or meditating many years back but in today’s times, one couldn’t even think about it. What was it that he held in his hand?
This was his so-called apartment but for all practical purposes, it was just a dingy room which had never seen sunlight. If he had the liberty to enter during day time, the incandescent bulbs would still have to be lit due to the sensors in the room which sensed any movement in darkness. But this was a big if, because his compulsory 12 hours shift ensured that he was never in the room during day time. And when he did enter the room at the end of his long shift, 4 cameras captured his every movement. There was no escape even in the small, attached washroom.And he wasn’t alone. This was how almost every Globizen lived.
Usually Arpan_1402 wasn’t like this. He always knew what to do. He knew that once he got up every morning, he had to get ready to go to the bio-cell factory of BioCerubro Conservancy Private Ltd., his employer. He was trained for that. However, since a few years the tight control of the employer had slackened. Or atleast Arpan_1402 felt that way. In no small measure, the object held in his hand was responsible for him feeling that way. At the same time, he knew that if his employer ever found out his secret, he would hardly survive another day.
Arpan_1402 had been informed that he had been randomly selected to receive Uugra. The chip embedded behind his ear ensured that his employer controlled his emotions well but sometimes the ancient reflexes were triggered due to outside stimuli. This was known as the ‘Hulk effect’, so named after a mythological character of ages ago. Today, the ‘Hulk effect’ had taken hold on Arpan_1402 due to Uugra. He knew that the Uugra download on his chip meant only one thing; his employer was already planning his next employee who would eventually replace Arpan_1402. He knew that a corresponding Uugra download had been planned on a totally random female employee and Arpan_1402 was anxious to know her identity.
Amanda_0214 was in shock. Well, whatever shock allowed to her by the chip behind her ears. This was a rare occurrence. So rare, it was a travesty, if one may say so. Being selected for the Uugra download was one thing; being selected for the second time was unheard of. This is what had triggered the ‘Hulk effect’ in her. That way, there was no bias in the ‘Hulk effect’, even though Hulk was a male figure in mythology.
Once she had gathered her senses, she decided she now wanted something more from the experience. It had been a very brief encounter for her the last time, when she had been blessed with the Uugra download. That time her partner had been like the proverbial blast from the past, when most men were nothing but ‘fly by night’ operators, who believed in one-night stands and vanished once the deed was done. They certainly didn’t believe in love and now ‘love’ had been banished, nay, erased from the human lexicon. But a chip controlling the body? Were they human at all? As it is, they all moved about bionically assisted, due to the withering away of the leg muscles, a result of everyone being forced into desk jobs for many hours a day.
But Amanda_0214 possessed something from ancient times which still held the same sway over her like eons ago. That way, some things never change. It was a paperback, the tattered pages now only just held together, telling the story of headstrong girl who lived and loved on her own terms. Whenever she read this book she was intrigued. If it was the depiction of the old way of life in her teens, by the time she matured into a young lady, the love life of the protagonist fascinated her. The heroine seemed just like her, only more human. Amanda_0214 yearned to experience the feelings of the ancient humans. And to experience love for a fellow human being was at the forefront of her wishlist.
Now that she knew what she wanted, her next step was to make it happen. As was the wont, like all other human feelings, love too had to come from outside. What Uugra was to lust, love was attainable to the modern human only through a potion, a love potion. No one had been able to develop a download for love yet. For love to happen one had to have a swig of the Love Potion. And for love to happen from both sides, both had to take a swig. If this wasn’t hard enough, it was expensive and not easily accessible to mere, lower level employees. But that was in the future. She did not yet know who her partner was destined to be.
BioCerubro Conservancy Pvt. Ltd. was one of the many Companies run by the Global Government of planet Earth. A few centuries ago, the Fourth World War ended in a decisive victory and the winner started ruling the survivors of the devastated planet. After all these years no one remembers which country or group of countries won that war but whoever they were, were cunning enough to totally destroy native cultures in a systematic manner. Entire nations and their peoples were made to follow a common code of conduct. But where there are humans, a resistance to foreign culture, an abhorrence for uniformity of culture is bound to simmer to the surface anytime. The next leap in technology came to their rescue; to the rescue of the rulers. Under the garb of Secure Identity proof, whole populations were embedded with chips. Chips to curb their passions, their individuality, their sense of freedom and more importantly, their very human identity was sucked away.
Almost overnight the population turned into highly controlled zombies. Zombies, who appeared humans, who went about doing mundane human tasks which too were dictated by the Global Government. They were the Globizens of the new world. And when new humans were needed to bolster the work force, Uugra was uploaded to the chips of selected individuals, which whipped up momentary lust.
The Love Potion was something else. Somewhere in the beginning of the establishment of the new world order, and long after the chip implantation was achieved in all humans, some maverick scientist had accidentally created the Love Potion and he saw how it acted on people, the guinea pigs. Love acted as a driver and suddenly they started showing varied forgotten emotions. Euphoria, ecstasy, passion, compassion, despair, anxiety, et al. You name it and it was there. Unfortunately, one had to keep taking the Love Potion to sustain these emotions. And here he saw the money-making potential. It was made available to the people in the top echelons of the various businesses at an exorbitant price. It was never banned for the humble workers but the cost was high which made it impossible for them.
Amanda_0214 had made her decision. She needed the money. Inspite of her great fear of the menacing reach of her employer, she had entered ‘Dun_G1’ for her rendezvous with 1031, with the VR glass firmly on her eyes.
1031 was pacing the room as he always did. Dressed as he was with a blue hoodie pulled low over his eyes, he appeared ominous with his face in the shadows. More than threatening, Amanda_0214 knew that this getup was mainly to protect his identity.
“Why are you showing this sudden interest in our mission?”, asked 1031.
Amanda_0214 was a bit overwhelmed by the dimly lit, gaudily coloured room with miniature globes of different sizes and colours hanging from above. The slow pacing by 1031 added to the eerie atmosphere.
“I…I…I need the money”, she answered.
“Money! I am sorry, but we don’t encourage this. You need to believe in our mission to join it. Sorry, you are not the right candidate. You can log out”. 1031’s response was curt and to the point.
“Wait!”, Amanda_0214 exclaimed in alarm. “Wait, let me explain. Request you to first hear me out. After that you can decide.”
Seeing no response from 1031, but no resistance either, she continued.
“I need the money for buying the Love Potion.” She came to the point immediately.
“I have been selected for the Uugra download for the second time. I don’t know whether this is by chance or deliberate but I don’t want this experience to be mechanical. I want to cherish the experience, with my would-be partner for times to come. And I know that this is not possible without feeling loved. I need the Love Potion desperately”. Amanda_0214 was almost pleading now.
“But why have you come to us? I have already told you, we don’t entertain anyone only for money. You don’t believe in our mission”.
With a heavy heart, Amanda_0214 almost proceeded to log out when she noticed the hanging globes of different sizes and shapes. As she extended her finger to log out, the globes registered and reached into the deepest recesses of her mind. Something clicked.
“Love!”, she exclaimed. “Yes, love. I am offering myself to your cause for love. Just imagine, my offspring will be my labour of love. And these…these hanging globes which I see in this room. These are different types of accessories, right? Sporting accessories? Are these not different types of balls? I see a soccer ball, a basketball, a cricket ball…”, when she was interrupted by 1031.
“Yes, you got this right. These are all various ancient sports accessories. Unfortunately, sports died out as an activity due to the foolish Glo#*##. Bastards, due to them we have ended up with these weak legs. But let me tell you, if we get a good human catalyst, we can make Sports a part of human existence again. And believe me, once that is achieved, the other human passions are bound to make a comeback. Unfortunately, no one is brave enough.” Then looking up at Amanda_0214, 1031 continued, “Are you?”
Have I made a breakthrough? Amanda_0214 thought with hope in her heart.
Without waiting for an answer, 1031 continued, “When we use your chip to upload the solution, humans will start getting a chemical surge to the unused parts of their brains…”. Looking at her puzzled expression he continued, “Yes, all humans are connected today on the chip level, thanks to these Glo#**##, which makes our job easier. The chemical surge would permeate to all parts of the brain, and over a period of time, humans would start discovering their long-forgotten passions…including the ability to love.”
After a brief pause, 1031 continued, “But, how did you know so much about ancient Sports? No one who has approached us till now, has been able to make the connection between these globes and sports. How did you?”
Amanda_0214 proceeded to tell him about the antique paperback which she possessed and how sports played an important role in a plot twist in the female protagonist’s life.
Amanda_0214 had got her payment and had logged out of Dun_G1 after being uploaded with the solution. As she logged out, 1031 too logged out and took off the hood. His bangs bounced on his temples as he did that.
Arpan_1402 wondered whether Amanda_0214 was his chosen partner. If so, he looked forward to having a decent sip on the Love Potion.
Amanda_0214 sat before Arpan_1402. She never knew that the one she identified as 1031 was sitting before her in person and was soon going to be her soul partner.
Image Credits – Irene Kredenets from website unsplash.com