Before They Knew – Interlude 3

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131 hung up her phone and looked at her computer screen. Her heart plummeted as a thick red outline appeared on the box in the corner as her number dropped from 139.12 to 123.09.

“131, you are in the bottom 10%. If you do not improve within two days, you will be terminated.”

“Uh oh,” said one of her sisters from behind her. “Someone’s in trouble.”

She pretended not to hear, selecting the next task in her queue, then beginning to type out an email to a prospect. She had failed on her last task, but she had to get her points back up. She had to be better.

“No talking!” barked one of the overseers.

Behind her, she heard the sound of a hand slamming onto a desk, followed by the sound of fist striking flesh again and again.

She hadn’t heard the overseer approaching, so she was grateful she hadn’t responded to her sister. It wasn’t the beatings that terrified her; she couldn’t feel pain. Even the prospect of being terminated wasn’t the most frightening part of getting in trouble. It was the demerits that scared her.

She couldn’t lose any more points. She was already in the bottom 10%, and any more demerits would destroy her chance of being the top performing fab.

Not being a real person, she didn’t want much–only what was programmed into her genetic code. She wanted to be productive, of course, to serve CPSI and bring profit and power to the organization that had created her. To her, those instincts were as basic and strong as an animal’s instinct to seek out food.

But that wasn’t what she wanted most of all. More than anything, she wanted to become the top fab.

She looked at the words printed on the top of her monitor’s bezel.

‘Hard work will be rewarded.’

If she worked hard enough, someday they would choose her as the top fab, with all the power and privileges that entailed. She would be allowed to come and go as she pleased like a real person, even given money and a bank account of her own. She would attend meetings and wear real clothes instead of the same featureless white jumpsuit every day.

As much as she coveted those things, none of them mattered as much as the power she would have. As top fab, she would become the new overseer, ruling over all her sisters. She just had to work hard enough.

Unfortunately for her, she was surrounded by 299 sisters with the same instincts, and all of them craved that power as much as she did.

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