Social Media: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Security concept. Laptop with exclamation mark on the display

Em dragged herself out of bed, croaking, “I’m up,” at the ever-present home assistant. “Assistant my ass,” she said to herself as she hit the shower. “Arial, extra-hard on the shower, hundred and seventeen.”

“That’s not your usual setting, Em.” The oh so soft and pleasant voice made Em want to scream.

“Well, it’s what I want today.”

“That temperature is not recommended for optimum skin care.”

Em clenched her teeth. “I don’t care. Just turn on the damn shower.”

“Profanity is a sign of maladjustment and social break-down, Em. Should I call your doctor?”

Em bit back a snarky comment. The damn assistant would report her to the local authorities. She didn’t need that sort of hassle. “No. I’m fine.” She stood outside the shower waiting for it to turn on. “I’m ready, Arial.”

The shower turned on. “Thank you. Please start the coffee.”

“Yes, Em.”

Em let the water beat on her back. She shouldn’t have drunk so much last night. The stress was getting to her. Without a job, she had been assigned three extra hours of social media. If she wanted her sub, she had to do it. Wallowing through the kitten pictures and the whining of people she didn’t even know had made her eyes bleed. She needed those drinks. Whose bright idea was it to link subsistence payments with social media? She hoped they choked on it.

Done, she toweled off and dressed. The coffee was ready when she got to the kitchen. “Do I have credits for breakfast, Arial?” Her stomach could use some toast, at least.

“Subsistance allowance provides three hundred calories of food block.”

Em’s stomach rolled. The stuff tasted like paste. “Sure. Food block.” The delivery door opened, and an unappetizing gray block of yeast food awaited her hand. “Yum.” She grabbed it and the cup of coffee and headed to the computer. Might as well start socializing.

With diligence, she stayed at the console all morning, five of her eight hours done. Some of it standing and marching in place, just so she could keep her blood flowing and eyes open. “What’s for lunch, Arial?”

“Spaghetti and meatball yeast bars.”

Em rolled her eyes. “I don’t have any credit left from my last job?”

“It’s slated for your rent payment, Emily. Should I redesignate that credit?”

“No.” She rolled her eyes again. What she did not want to happen was to have to move into subsistence housing. They were eight by ten-meter plas-crete cells. Might as well live in a dog-crate. “Fix the yeast bar.”

“Yes, Em.”

Emily took the bar down to the street. She had to get out into the sunshine and away from the console before her brain fried. “Hey, Lucy.”

“Hey, Em. Looking for a job?”

Em hated the way news got around. Came from everyone having to be on social media all the time. “Yeah. You hear about something?”

Lucy shook her head. “Nah. You’re an architect, right?”

“Yeah. Hook me up, when you hear something.”

“Will do.” Lucy gave her a thumbs up and went back inside.

The more money you made above subsistence, the less time you had to spend on social. She was going nuts. She had to get back to work. She tapped the comms contact in her temple. “Jason Bear,” she said.

The call went through. “Hey, Em. What’s up?”

“Jase, I need a job, man. You know I’m good. I won that award last year for best design in Chicago.” She walked along the sidewalk, nodding to people on their stoops or lounging against the building’s walls.

“What happened?”

“Company went bust. The partners overextended their loans and the government picked them up for fraud. The rest of us were escorted out of the building and told to find new work.”

“Bummer. I’ll check around.”

“Thanks, Jase, You’re the best.” She hung up. No sense annoying him by hanging on too long. With luck, he’d find something in his company. He did antique designs from the 1960s. Rectangular glass boxes were not her favorite but anything to get off of subsistence. She made several more calls then went back to her apartment. She needed three more hours of social to earn today’s meals.

Months went by. She called everyone she knew. All of her saved credits were just about gone on the rent. The miserable diet had caused her to loose thirty pounds. Twelve hundred calories a day didn’t go far. She’d cut everything else. No need for the gym, that was for sure. Though there had been times she’d changed into workout clothes and hung around the door leading into the gym to button-hole people she knew coming out. She kept it light, but she was desperately looking for work. Any work at this point.

“Jase,” she said when she called him. “You hear about anything?”

“No. Not really. How you doin’?”

“It’s getting down to the wire, Jason. Your company have anything at all. Anything?” She heard him draw a deep breath.”

“Well. The job board has second assistant admin position.”

“I’ll take. Just send me the application.”

“It doesn’t pay much.”

“It pays something, though. Right. Then I can work my way back up to architect. Come on, Jase. I’ll owe you a big one.”

“Fine. Fine. I’m sending now.”

“Thanks, Jase. I’ll have this back ASAP.” She clicked off and pulled up the application on her console. The listed pay made her heart sink. Just barely what her rent was. “Fine,” she said to herself. She filled it out and hit send.

It took three days. Half a day before her last rent payment was due.

“We have received your application,” the communique said. “Welcome to the Payvil Company. You’ve been accepted to the second assistant admin position. Your files have been updated to reflect this employment. You start tomorrow.”

Em wept as relief flowed through her. She’d be the best second assistant admin they’d ever seen. Anything to get off social media.

Thank you for reading.

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Future Curve: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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Photo: Inject by Furumaru on DeviantArt.com, http://www.deviantart.com/art/Inject-71167069

 

“Do what?” Security officer Dawn Mitchell stared at her Sergeant.

He consulted the wrist pad on the back of his SWAT suit. “Yeah. Crazy. But that’s the word from the government.” He tapped a key and her pad chimed.

She looked at the memo. “Holy space. Everybody? What about us?”

He shrugged. “I expect we’ll get the shots too, sooner or later.”

Dawn’s stomach rolled. She kept her voice soft. “But Sarge, docility shots? How’s that supposed to work?”

He looked around. No one was near. “Beats me.”

They spent the rest of the month, escorting medtechs from house to house and apartment to apartment, giving the mandatory shots. Some people were scared to resist. Dawn appreciated that. She hated having to shoot women and the elderly. Others resisted. She could appreciate their concern and admire their spine but it didn’t do any good. They just stunned them and the resisters were given the shot and marked down in a database tracking trouble-makers.

It wasn’t until six months later that the news began to report an increased number of hospitalizations. No word on what the problem was but it already affected ten percent of the planet’s population and was rising. Dawn was at weapons practice. “My mom had to go to the hospital,” she said quietly to her Sergeant. “I think it’s the thing. Whatever is going around.”

Her Sergeant coughed and made a quick look around. The rest of the team was focused on cleaning their weapons. “My father-in-law, too. They won’t let us see him or tell us what’s wrong.”

“Me too,” she whispered. “You think it’s the shots?”

He shook his head. “Who knows. But we didn’t get the shots. I haven’t heard of any of us getting sick.”

A month later the Sergeant stood in front of his team, all in full SWAT gear. “We’re gathering up all children under the age of five.”

Everyone in the room gasped, turning to their neighbor to whisper.

“At ease! Young children did not get the shot. We’re collecting them for Child Services for protection. The Illness is gaining ground. Parents are unable to care for their young. This is a humanitarian mission. Stun only for those parents not willing to let us take their children.”

Dawn swallowed. Her mother died two weeks ago, her father last week. Her husband, an accountant, was sick but not yet in the hospital. She wasn’t sure she could rip kids away from their parents. She called out. “What if the parents aren’t sick?”

The look on her Sergeant’s face told her he didn’t like the mission any more than she did. “All the kids.”

Back in the locker room, Dawn pulled off her armor. She was soaked with sweat. The day wasn’t too hard after all, since the parents had all had the passivity shot. There was weeping, cries of no, but it was the kids, screaming for their parents that hit her the hardest. She ran her hands through her hair. It seemed that security forces personnel could keep their kids, even if the spouse had the shot. She showered and put on her civvies.

“I’m home.” Dawn put a small bag of groceries and a bottle of wine on the counter and went to the bedroom. “Hey, Scott, how you feeling babe?” The bed was rumpled, blankets and sheets twisted and half on the floor. She ran to the other side of the bed. No husband. “Scott!” She ran to the bathroom and threw open the door.

Something from a nightmare lunged at her, growling and grabbing. A gash was in its head, blood covered the face. She screamed and backed up. Racing for the bedroom door she ran through and slammed it shut just before the horror grabbed her. It banged on the door as she held it closed. It didn’t try the knob. “What the hell!” She tapped her wrist pad. “Security, There’s something in my bedroom!” She gave her address. “We’ll be right over, Officer Mitchell.”

They arrived in full gear and with medtechs in biohazard gear. “Stand back, Mitchell.” The lead officer motioned two security officers and two medtechs into position either side of the door. “One. Two. Three.” He kicked the door in, the two officers stunned the monster and the medtechs wrapped it in secure sheets and put it on the gurney standing by at the front door.

Dawn, calmer now. Looked at the body. “No! No! That can’t be.”

Two officers moved to contain her.

“That’s can’t be!”

The lead officer motioned the medtechs to get the gurney out. He walked over to her. “Officer Mitchell.”

His command voice gained her attention. “You will not speak of this. Your husband was sick and went to the hospital. Understood?”

She blinked, still staring at the front door. “Scott is sick. He went to the hospital.”

He nodded. The two security officers left. “Keep it together, officer. Hear me?”

This time his voice was kinder. “They took my wife away three days ago.”

Dawn nodded, tears forming. “Understood.”

Within six months, the city was all but deserted. Children were in camps. Cities were being consolidated. The governments consolidating as well.

“This is a curve I wasn’t expecting.” Dawn said to her Sergeant as they packed up their gear.

He sighed. “Yeah. I just wonder if this is the future they expected.”

 

 

Thank You!

896 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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