Tuesday, January 29, 2013

State Of Care...Part Of A Story


Last year I had an idea for a story about a potential future world where we might all live. It's always fun to start new stories.

And, as with many of my attempts, the unfinished (and barely begun...) story went into a folder on my desktop and there it has stayed. I thought I'd dust it off and include a portion of the story in today's post. I'd love to hear what you think.

State Of Care

            Leisha rushed to turn off the quickly cooling water. She knew her warm water allotment ended a minute earlier, but she felt like standing in the shower longer in hopes of erasing the memories of the previous day. The electronic brain sealed in an iron box located just inside her front door regulated the water temperature, and after five minutes her time was up. Leisha could have continued her shower for an additional three minutes, but the water would have turned ice cold. After three minutes, the electronic brain shuts off the shower completely. Leisha allowed that to happen only once. She learned her lesson, a lesson she never wanted to experience again.
            "What time is it?" Leisha said to the darkened bathroom, a singular dim fluorescent bulb (its brightness also regulated by the brain*) gave only the necessary illumination to allow the room's occupant to function in a manner for which the room was designed. Leisha glanced to a small clock sitting on the counter. The hands of the vintage timepiece showed 5:45.
            Was that right? Leisha thought. Did she forget to wind the ancient contraband travel clock again? If so, it could be either 5 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. She knew it was still dark outside, but after a fitful night's sleep, she might have rose and showered after only a few hours of interrupted slumber. Leisha grabbed the clock, turned it over and found the winder. She began to gingerly turn the once golden-colored metal key to test for resistance and found the key movement hindered. She must have wound it last night though she didn't remember it now. Leisha stared at the clock, the clicking emanating from inside the plastic and metal contraption soothed Leisha's tired muscles, something the tepid water of the shower failed to do.
            The realization of knowing the correct time caused a deep exhale to come from deep within Leisha's lungs. The woman carefully folded the clock back into its protective case, opened a drawer crammed with feminine health products and underwear, and placed the small package at a point at the very back of the drawer. The soft vibration of the second hand's tick stopped the moment her fingers released the clock and all evidence of the clock's existence disappeared as the drawer closed. It was illegal for Leisha to own the item, an item not connected electronically to the home's brain and―by extension―the network, and if she were caught in possession of the clock, the ramifications would be dire, but to Leisha the risks were worth it. The small item was the only connection she had to her family.
            Leisha stood in the low light of the room and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She stood naked except for the white towel wrapped around her. Her 42-year old body held up pretty well, she thought as she looked more intently at her face. Sure, the wrinkles were there―some there for decades, but the recent thinning of her once thick auburn hair brought the latest health concern. An article she read said hair thinning could be a symptom of a particular nasty disease, a disease she thought she might have, but the same article said it could be something else.
            After a few moments of contemplative thought Leisha left the mirror and her reflection and got dressed.  Leisha already had the outfit she wanted to wear planned out in her mind so dressing went quickly. She knew the home's electricity would shut down at 6 a.m. whether or not she was out of the house. One final look in the mirror, this time a fully dressed woman, and Leisha left the small bathroom wondering if the clothes she chose to wear would have the desired effect on her health advocate, an effect she needed him to see. Maybe this time, she thought. Maybe…
            Leisha briskly walked into the home's small kitchen/dining room/living room/ area and glanced at the black box hanging omnipresent near the front door. A white digital readout showed 5:55 a.m. In another minute the lighted numbers would begin blinking, followed after two minutes by an electronic beeping―a sound meant to be non-offensive and even cheery. It ended up being anything but. Leisha hated those damn beeps and she had only minutes until the thing went off.
            Leisha opened the small refrigerator door and grabbed a paper bag containing her breakfast/lunch. She shut the door, turned and snatched her purse and a packet of paperwork off the kitchen counter, then headed straight for the front door. Leisha threw open the door and was halfway out into the brisk spring air when a terrible thought hit her.
            "My phone!" Leisha whispered. In a mild panic Leisha stopped and searched her purse.
            "It's not here!" Leisha said a little louder. "Where is it?" Now Leisha was scared. She had to get out of the house, not just because of the annoying little beep that would begin any minute, but because if she didn't leave by 6 a.m. she would miss the train and then miss her appointment with Hank, the government man.
            Leisha turned and ran into the house. She threw the paper bundle on a chair and ran into her bedroom. The phone! The phone! The words flashed in Leisha's mind. Where did I leave it? Did I make any calls last night? I don't think so…where is it?
            Leisha looked at the nightstand where some dirty dishes, her electronic reader, and a half-eaten box of crackers sat as if frozen in time from the night before. Leisha looked from the nightstand to the bed, then back to the nightstand where a small black object tucked under the crackers caught her eye.
            "There it is!" Leisha yelled in triumph and she grabbed the phone hitting the box of crackers in the process and spreading the contents on the floor and under the bed. The usually tidy woman barely noticed the flying food as she jammed the small electronic communication device into her purse and left the bedroom. I can't be without my phone, Leisha thought. If being caught with a non-networked clock was bad, being without your phone was extremely serious. Without your phone, the network wouldn't know where you were. It wouldn't be able to make sure you attended all your classes, or trainings, or work shifts. And, most importantly, if the network couldn't pinpoint your location pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without her phone Leisha's wage allocation wouldn't be transferred into her bank account. Plus, the fact that being without a phone was a criminal offense made Leisha more thankful that she found the phone in time. Leisha grabbed the bundle of paperwork off the chair and left the room just as the first beep erupted from the brain and echoed throughout the empty home. An electronic message from Leisha's phone told the brain that Leisha had left the building and the quiet beeping immediately stopped. With the phone out of the house, all non-essential functions inside the house ceased leaving the residence as active as a tomb.

* Photo used without permission from: http://geekmedico.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html

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