Welcome back to Wednesday. It hasn’t changed much since your last visit.
The Earth is getting steadily closer to the Sun, but things are pretty much on course for Spring, same as last year. You might have noticed your fingernails growing faster as of late, and there’ll be fewer emails in your inbox when you get to work, and yes, those *are* the same sad-shaped entities you see riding the PTT and the Metro every weekday. But all in all, nothing’s changed. Wednesday has been Wednesday since someone thought to give it a name.
You probably woke up this morning as you often do, by bumping into your own consciousness in a dark room; running into your brain like an old friend at a party and being too drunk to remember you’ve known them for years. That half-awake state is mighty slippery, and rumored to be the consistency of mercury.
The experience of waking up is like sitting at a desk in the showroom of your personal dream factory as you dutifully review the feed from the previous rest period. According to these proofs, you were busy designing a weapon of sorts; a chunky, cartoonish pistol that fires lead-colored spheres designed to whip wildly about, gathering speed before colliding with the target, rendering them momentarily stupid. The effects are momentary, laughable, and totally harmless.
Eventually, curiosity forced you to open your eyes…
VERIFY nothing changed in the night. Still no super powers, unfortunately. Check your phone for the time. Count to thirty, listening to the sounds of your apartment, the sounds of your neighbors showering, making coffee and… hanging pictures, apparently? You counted backwards from thirty again, then you got up, showered, shaved, brushed your teeth and dressed. Bag over one shoulder, headphones in, you sat on the couch for a few moments experiencing that same strange flutter in your stomach as you did while attending school as a child. Then you walked up the block and waited for the Public Troop Transport in the pearly wet X,Y of 0745, in what history would come to know as January 20, 2010.
Pentagram Metro. Again, that stench of robot sex ozone awaited you in the tunnel. Crowded together with the huddled masses, you waited your turn to board. Suddenly, you detect a new smell, chlorine. Are they hiding a swimming pool along one of these tunnels? For a moment, you picture it; bright and shimmering like an subterranean mirage, soft gold griffins and immaculate white tiles, clear blue water reflecting the light from a sewer drain somewhere far above.
10 BOARD TRAIN
20 CLEAR PATH FOR OTHERS
30 GRAB SAFETY RAIL
40 RIDE TRAIN
50 WHEN/IF DOORS OPEN?
60 EXIT TRAIN
70 REPEAT TOMORROW
Open the doors, launch the Machines. “We’re like poorly paid nanites, plunged suddenly into the bloodstream of the city from a mobile hypodermic, programmed to infect, inspect, detect, erect, expect, neglect and reject, etc..” You fall through the converging crowd as is your custom, inwardly pleased at your lifelong ability to pass through a dense throng of commuters without touching a single person. You bound up the escalator, cross over the tracks and come down the far side before the Old Beast starts up with a hiss and a snort, lumbering slowly back through the tunnel in search of your hidden swimming pool.
Next, you board a shuttle at Elephant Plaza that takes you to your office building. Use your fancy ID to scan into your glass front office and change into your work clothes; a dark blue uniform complete with boots.
Seven more years of this. You still haven’t decided if this gig is a Trojan blessing or a soul-sucking curse. Maybe it’s both. Every coin has two sides. Balance is part of the game. It’s unwise to bite the hand that feeds you. Hey, whatever gets you through the night…
YOU WILL: drink your coffee, eat your breakfast, and shove email around for half an hour before scanning the internet for newsclips related to the Project. On your first break, you’ll harvest your own interests; Wired, Wikipedia, io9, Popular Science, CNN, and Gizmodo. Anything for your ‘feed. There was nothing of interest today.
Enviously, you read the reports of your peers and their brave actions in Haiti. Some part of you is jealous. THEY are doing something useful. THEY are making their lives count for something. THEY are helping other HU-MANS.
Email is helpful, right? Taking ‘graphs of awards earned for fiscal responsibility is helpful, right? Writing speeches can be helpful, right? Slap-boxing an unwieldy and sluggish database in search of current SAR figures in active Sectors for Congressional reports is helpful, right?
Yeah. And you’re a motherfucking Chinese jet pilot.
You’ve been thinking more and more about Saturn-9. You heard it gives you focus, which you sorely lack. You feel as though you’re just spinning your wheels, waving your arms, taking whacks at saplings, when you’re meant to be chopping down trees. In short, you feel as though you’re failing on every level. “Fake it till you make it,” as the saying goes. But what if you’re really a fake, and you never really make it?
Congratulations! It’s now noon:fifteen. Too early for lunch? Maybe you’ll walk over to the other building and pick up a spare uniform from the dry cleaners, or bum a F@rsi from a fellow encephalographer who works there. Although, entering that other building means you might come into contact with your peers, people you don’t necessarily enjoy talking to. So much in common, yet so little to say.
Walking into that office makes your skin crawl. Typically, wisdom falls from your mouth with all the fast ease of a race horse pissing on a flat rock, but somehow the uniform negates all sense of clever. WHEN IN BLUE / YOU AREN’T YOU. No one gets your jokes, no one gives a shit, and no one cares. To the techs in the lab, you’re just a Big Friendly Giant in Buddy Holly glasses and jailhouse tattoos. The tattoo jokes make you feel one dimensional; sadly, it appears to be the only gag they know. There are times when you’d like to ditch your polite veneer and explode in frustration, but you know all too well that a bell once rung cannot be unrung. End result: slack jaws, slow blinks, hurt feelings, pointless acts. Then where would you be? Consider this the pickles on your shit sandwich. Keep chewing, keep choking it down. Smile, dab mouth with napkin. “Yes, ha. Very funny.”
Mid-afternoon caffeine crash sounds like a gunfight in a symbol factory and you sit waiting for the credits, watching the clock; the grains of another day slipping away, wasted.
What does any of this mean? Is it a test? Voices in your head represent the Feeding Hand, you one you must be careful not to bite. A tut-tut of the finger and a disapproving glare: “Well, you’d better just buckle down and put those thoughts out of your mind, we’re not paying you to think.” They’re not here to help, nor are they here to care. Give him the speech, show him the manual, read him the paragraph, and let the record show that we did our part. “Frankly, we expect more from someone at your level!”
Am you crazy? Am you stupid? What the fuck am wrong with you? Why can’t you just decide to be happy, and then… be happy? Oh, that’s right. Because you still think such axioms are a trick, a virus initiated by the rich and powerful to keep the poor and common from storming the True Bastille. The same goes for organized religion, professional sports, and decaffeinated coffee.
Secretly, you think you’re poorly suited to be a human being; you see yourself as a half-developed character in someone else’s novel. Two paragraphs of background history. Don’t dive too deep, the pool only goes down so far.
The windshield wipers on your homeward jaunt look like two underfed pterodactyls trying to tunnel out of a diamond mine.
“The Machine is too big, our mouths too many,” you’ll type, hunched over the tiny keyboard of your phone. “We’re way out of balance; too many people are screaming for more. Entitlement is our battle cry. We take and take, and we don’t particularly care where it comes from or who has to do without, so long as we GET OURS NOW. Once upon a time, it was a point of civic pride to be a part of a community, to give something back.” You don’t want to become ugly inside, so you compartmentalize every dark instant as a separate occurrence. If you didn’t, you’d drown.
Off the Public Troop Transport, into the local Sandwich Chain. You’re hungry, thought you might like a change. The old homeless woman you spoke of earlier is back:
X,Y: coffee house, a roughshod elderly woman rocks to and fro, rubbing her legs and making sounds like VHF radio static. Transmission sent. 5:00 PM Jan 6th
She’s slumped and slumbering across a table, breathing slow and low like a suspension bridge in high wind. Her tattered shoes are off, exposing her bare feet. You glimpse her toenails, long and jagged, predatory, as though nature had intended her to spear chickens with her feet for her dinner. Her skin looks like something that left to dangle in the Potomac River for two or three hundred years.
Ahead of you in line, a husky 8-year-old with a Gluetooth headset and a cookie in his hand stands transfixed, gawking at the woman. It’s hard to believe she was ever a snoring pink bundle in a warm blanket, her future stretching out before her like a highway of pearls.
Maybe she’s happier this way. Or shit, maybe she’s just heavily medicated.
Once home, you’ll sit in front of your computer downloading BirdB®ain episodes and making clever comments on your ‘feed until you decide you’ve had enough of Wednesday. You used to devote this time to writing, but you haven’t written anything in awhile. Can’t really call yourself a writer if you don’t write, can you? You used to lift in the evenings, go for walks, take pictures. Nowadays, you devote too much of your time to the ‘Tubes and all the social crap that goes with it. It’s come to be your prime source of interaction and validation, and that’s not good.
You’re getting older, and friends are getting scarce. You’ve forgotten how to be a friend. In fact, you’re turning into a bit of an asshole. You thrive on movement, adventure and change but anymore you’re like a brain damaged shark; alternately forgetting and remembering how to swim, moving through the water in stops and starts.
Soon you’ll go to bed and close your eyes. When you wake up, it will be Thursday.
That hasn’t changed much, either.