He stumbled a few feet from his input terminal to his couch. The day was long and the meals were light. Even when there were extra boxes available, they never seemed to fill the gnawing hunger.
It was dark, but Marc knew the security eyes would record the every detail of his movements anyway. For a moment, he wished the soft hum of a hundred miniature cooling fans would cease – but that thought led to the abyss he could not imagine or stand to face. Mumbling, he broke the hum with a terrified thought: “Without our systems, there would be chaos.”
Admitting that fear didn’t help settle his unease. There was still something wrong, something that couldn’t be explained. A few more strained minutes passed before the netscreen blasted itself to life with the familiar nightly news.
“We have achieved great things! We stride boldly toward the future in the 22nd century!”
A thousand images span the screen of new towers, new engines, new computers and other various monuments to the human mind. The booming voice continued:
“Hello citizens of earth. This is truly a great day to be alive. Our hard work and sacrifice ensures the greatness of our mighty civilization. All opposition has been rightly defeated. As long as we all take our jobs and responsibilities seriously, there shall never again be a great crisis like the one our ancestors had endured.”
Marc shuddered again and sub-consciously scratched at the humming sound that was coming from inside his ear.
“We know you are taking great care to fulfill these responsibilities. We are watching, and we are very proud of all that you do.”
The screen went dark again, and the hum changed to a deeper pitch. Marc heard a click and suddenly all doubt was replaced with warm sensation of belonging and acceptance. He got up and stumbled the few feet from his couch to his bed.
“Good night, Marc. I will wake you up again tomorrow in time for work…”