Author’s Note: I wrote this last year for my Science, Technology, and Society (STS) class. We were instructed to write a paper on our version of the future of technology, with the boundaries (i.e. how far off in the future) free to personal choice and all other details free to personal interpretation. Since Sir didn’t really require us to write an essay (all he said was “paper”!), I decided to let my creative juices flow through this short story :) I’m posting this now since I’m thinking of taking it to a whole new level – by that, I mean a possible novel or novella. But, I reckon I’d try to get the opinion of the residents of cyberspace first. Comments very much appreciated! :D Enjoy!
Awakening (alt. STS Paper 4.0 – The Future of Technology)
Even before she spoke, let alone come near, I already knew who she was.
What I couldn’t believe was seeing her before my eyes. I tried to get up, but I found that I couldn’t move. Though there was nothing that bound my arms and legs, I felt some sort of force holding me down. I turned my head, which appeared to be the only part of my body that I could move, towards her direction and watched as she walked closer.
I was lying down on some sort of glass platform bed, something like an operating table. When she reached my bedside, she raised a finger to the air and began pressing buttons that weren’t there. Or at least, I thought weren’t there. A keypad, appearing much like a hologram, materialized from a stream of data that seemingly came out of thin air or, not that it would make more sense, even her very fingers.
“Hold still,” came her voice, at last. I was more than willing to obey her request for I could not do anything else. A long, thin bar descended from the ceiling and gave out some sort of white light, which moved from my head to my feet, most probably some sort of full body scanner.
After she pressed some more of the keypad buttons, I felt the force that was holding me to the bed disappear and true enough, my second attempt at sitting up was met with success.
“Let her sit. Continue monitoring and begin interrogation when seen fit,” she said. Then, she raised her arm and spoke into the gold metal band she wore around her wrist. “To Headquarters.” And within five seconds of her voice command, she disappeared in a quick flash of light.
The one she instructed to ‘continue monitoring’ appeared from behind me and gave the air by my bedside a click. This time, there was no keypad that materialized. The new stream of data gave rise to a profile screen and it didn’t take me long to figure out that it was a profile of me, complete with my vital signs. That more or less confirmed my suspicions about where I was. This place was either a hospital or a laboratory of some sort. This person beside me was either a nurse or a research assistant. And I was either a patient or a test subject. Neither sounded highly appealing.
“Your arm, please.” He didn’t wait for me to raise my arm though. He simply reached for it and began clicking away at the metal band I was wearing. Unlike her gold one, mine was of a silver color. Before, I wasn’t even aware that I had it on. Though obviously made from metal, it had no weight. It felt like nothing.
When he finished with whatever he was doing, my arm was released. I took a good look at the silver band I was wearing and immediately wondered as to what the nurse / research assistant could have been pressing. There were no buttons, no screen, no mini-keypad, no anything. It was simply a thin, weightless, metal band.
“It would be best if you didn’t touch that,” said the one I decided to think of as a nurse. Compared to a laboratory, a hospital seemed like the lesser evil. “You might end up making it explode.”
Explode? If that nurse wanted to instill panic in me, he certainly succeeded in doing so. But, as if uncaring about my sudden unease, he continued speaking, “I’ll be asking you a few questions. Please answer adequately.”
Then, he raised something awfully familiar. It was, no doubt, my backpack and in the grimy state it had gotten into, it looked very out of place in the room I was in. Too preoccupied over seeing her earlier, I hadn’t gotten the chance to examine my surroundings. Now, I saw that the room was extremely clean – too clean, in fact. It was also spacious, brought about by the lack of furniture or any other significant structures, aside from the platform bed. Right away, I wondered if the missing furniture, and anything else for that matter, could be made to appear from a stream of data. After everything that I’ve witnessed, that doesn’t seem quite impossible.
“To start with, could you please tell me what the objects inside this leather container are?”
I rolled my eyes at the strangeness of his choice of words. “Leather container? What are you talking about? This is my backpack!” Making a grab for it, I made a quick check of my backpack’s contents and was relieved to see that everything was still inside.
“A backpack.” He kept on repeating the word and I tried my best to act as if I wasn’t bothered by the weirdness of it and continued examining the contents of my backpack. Cell phone? Check. Wallet? Check. iPod? Check. Journals? Check. Set of pens? Check. ‘A Walk to Remember’ novel? Check. As usual, I couldn’t resist the compulsion that made me bring out the paperback and check for damages – spine, edges, and pages.
“And what is that?” came his next question. He was looking very intently at the book I was holding. Again, when I told him that it was a ‘book’, he began repeating the word, speaking as if learning the word for the first time.
“Sorry, but I have to ask. Is it possible that you don’t know what paper is? Or even what this is?” I asked, holding up one of my precious pens.
“Indeed, we don’t. You have a lot to teach us.” The nurse wasn’t the one to answer my questions. It was her, who appeared just as suddenly as she had left. She now had something that looked like an iPad 2 in her hands – only ridiculously slimmer and sleeker, making me think that it’s already the 10th generation or even a completely different device altogether. She made a few clicks on the screen and eventually handed the iPad-like device to the nurse. “Take note of all the instructions programmed there. I’ll be continuing the questioning. And do put away her things. We can examine them for ourselves later.”
The nurse obediently carried out her instructions. With him forcefully grabbing my things, including the paperback from my hands, I couldn’t help but object. The edges! Watch the edges! “Hey! Give those back!” I protested. But try as I may, the nurse just continued to walk away and pretended to hear me.
“Save your voice. Personal androids won’t be able to process commands from people other than their respective masters,” she said.
Androids? “Wait, that guy’s a robot?”
“As I’ve mentioned, he is my personal android.” She stepped closer to my bedside and looked straight into my eyes. “Now, let’s get some things straight, shall we? I have questions and I want you to answer these questions.”
“Let’s start with: who are you and why do you look exactly like me?”